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Ron Sanders Feb 2020
(Glade, World, Master, Boy, Hero)

                                                 GLADE

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

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

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

                                               WORLD

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                              MA­STER

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

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

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

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

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

                                                  BOY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                HERO

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

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

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

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







Copyright 2020 by Ron Sanders.

Contact:  ronsandersartofprose(at)yahoo(dot)com
Sorry about the ghastly copy. This system makes graceful formatting impossible.
Chuck Jul 2013
Even the best mothers muddle
Some are just more subtle
Than the others who stew up
Emotional storms with every cup
Of tea they poor and sip
Not a loving word drips from the lip
How dare they conceive
There are those who believe
There should be a test
To have the job that's the best
My mother McNaughton
Has never forgotten
What it means
To love all fourteen
Of her tumultuous brood
For she is shrewd
And knows what it takes to be
For she is keen to see
A muddling mother
Must be an advocate lover
No matter what
A kiss or a kick in the ****
To let her children know
Which way they should go
The is no need for insurrection
Or for the pursuit of perfection
Just love and cuddle
It is okay mother to muddle
For my mother and my poetry mother, Mamma Mae, who inspired this poem by her humility.
Sabrina DLT Apr 2014
It's a nightmare of a journey
Through the rose hills.
White roses cover Death
Along side the 50mph ride.
We'll speed down the boulevard
Turning right, swerving left.
Drink some beer on Broadway,
Smoke some cigarettes at CVS.
Then I'll fill your heart with rose petals
And regret.
Grin and whisper gently
I'll met you in Whittier at Sunset.

Lets muddle through Greenleaf
Under a cerulean sky.
I got lost in the time in your eyes.
I stumble back to only trip into your disguise.
Only to drown in your lips and lies.
Dragging our souls to Hellmans and back,
I'll find you on Hadley letting the sun in
Wilted in Whittier at sunset.
Daniel Magner Jun 2013
Hands shake after intake
of brown and green.
Catch the breath
keep it till it leaves.
Pretend, through the muddle,
that this hasten heart beat
isn't bumping blood cells
filled with defeat,
that the O2 isn't poisoning
the alveoli that absorb it,
sending this brain, and all
it entails, straight to
hell.
© Daniel Magner 2013
I refer to hell with a lowercase because I doubt its existence. In this poem I use it as a metaphor.
David Lessard Mar 2015
We chase the ghosts of youth,
with glove and bat and ball;
running down the base-paths,
hoping we don't fall.

Like honey in slow motion,
we make our way to first;
panting... out of breath,
we hope our lungs don't burst.

If we're in the outfield,
we've "lost" the legs to run;
but it's the game we treasure,
it's mostly to have fun.

We laugh at our mistakes,
strikeouts and dropped flies;
it's but play... that we seek,
not self -regretted sighs.

Long gone, the grace of youth,
we muddle through the game;
and rest upon the off days,
tired... happy... lame.
Sean Tyler B Jun 2013
Does a fish go ***
when it's swimming in the sea?
Does it ever get the notion
when it's swimming in the ocean?
Does a fish take a leak
when it's swimming in the creek?
Do they do it in a muddle
when you see them in a puddle?
And then, for goodness sake,
do they go while in the lake?
Could you see a yellow gleam
as they do it in the stream?
Does a fish go ***
when it's swimming in the sea?
Phoebe Seraphine Jan 2015
On Saturday,
I bloom with the moon.

Flowing through foreign flowers,
rose petals stain my *******.
My garden grows for three
or five days during its monthly mignonette.

The first day, a thorny presence
cuts my guts. Raspberries rupture
the ache in my bloated belly.
I eat bushels.
Sighing on my side,
I wait for the pain to cease.
Grateful these aren’t actual contractions.

The second day, it subsides.
My **** are ripe and I remember how heavy  
these *******
hang.

The third day, at work
I’m asked for a ******. Cheeks flush.
I say I’ve quit using. She wants answers.

My Moon Cup collects my blood with ease.
A furtive funnel, just for me.
This silicone gymnast is flexible,
naturally balancing between veiled crevices.

One size absorbs all.
No super or ultra variety,
no matter how often my hose leaks.
It contains no bleach.
No money is paid to male C.E.O.’s
who make money from what the female body can’t control.
These negatives are positive, I say.
Yet, she calls me absurd for touching myself so deeply.
Horrified by my own
intimacy.

Women’s woes muddle our brilliance.

They say it’s a curse by Creation,
using the sin from Adam’s rib as a hiding place.
It’s true
of its inconvenience and forty-year pit of pain,
but I’m done.
Exasperated too long!
Embarrassed or ******* too often!
Ill-prepared too too too many times!

I’m kinder to my body. I praise each month of normalcy.
No Midol involved. No bulky cotton wads
that make me feel like I’m a toddler.
No dismal thoughts. I accept my fate.
My cramps ease, days decrease.
I go with the flow, instead of crawling inside.

The fourth day, I’m done.
My bags are packed until next time.
And there’s always a next time.

Until there isn’t.
Olivia Kent Sep 2013
The puppy sat by the door.
Near dying to go out.
Crying an abysmal wail
As if a naughty child.
Pawed and clawed the kitchen door.

No-one heard the honey pup.
Everyone was out.
Owner running late for work.
Neglected to let her run.
However could she forget.

It got to six a clock at night.
No-body came.
The tension built up.
Fluid build up.
Exploded sweet pup.
(metaphorically of course)

Owner came home.
Just couldn't be cross.
Cleaned up the muddle-some puddle.
Gave her puppy a hug.
Smiled to herself.
Said to puppy how sorry she was.
Cautionary tale acquired from here.
No matter how ever late you ever may be.
Put your cute puppy out to ***!

By ladylivvi1

© 2013 ladylivvi1 (All rights reserved)
Mateuš Conrad Dec 2016
by simply watching 'don't call me crazy'
with regards to mental health... a bbc3 documentary.

i find a few pointers, apart from the fact that i've learned
English to a standard that i could
be misjudged as a native, what with african psychiatrists
   and the history of England as  a postcolonial nation...
     the problems of premature depression
and other divergences from the "norm"
  (or is that a tu-dum tss... "the norm"?
i never know how to tell the joke a proper
way, so many jokes are mothered
by punctuation, i don't know
how many there are that aren't) -
so aside from that... the fact that i'm
faking being British... if you have any grievances
against me: you'd better me Ukranian
or Lithuanian... otherwise? *******.
yes, i know the Poles did terrible things,
Vlad wasn't the only person ready to
do sadistic **** on people by impaling them
on sharpened-wooden poles...
   and you thought the crucifix was bad...
but oh look... the artists inserted a peddle-stool
so he could stand while on the cross...
rather than actually: hang from it.
talk about a woman faking an ******.
then again: he was all kissy-kissy with
a centurion having cured the ravaging libido
of his "demon possessed" daughter who
had a hot bagel flirt under her skirt for him...
or as i say: **** a prostitutes
           **** for an extra ten quid: the sigma
of how many ***** that thing has seen
turns your tongue into a dagger...
that's where i have seen my salvation:
   not in the eucharist or degrading symbols
of a godly stature.
       no, the point is:
this misapprehension of where the origin of
thinking resides...
  the true materialists posit the origin of thought
in the brain... but, honey-bee, the brain
is preoccupied with its materialistic responsibilities...
to shoot adrenaline when bungee jumping...
why think it isn't already preoccupied with anything
but thought? the brain doesn't think
no more than the heart might... or your *******
wetted or your phallus becoming *****...
there's no point in ascribing thought to the brain,
even if you abstract the source of thinking
toward the brain as a *mind
,
     the suggestion parallels what the brain does,
and what the brain isn't...
   as with the notion of god...
          ridiculous for most people:
or also ridiculous when man is taught to stress
his "individuality"...
                               both seem on equal footing
to be considered phantoms, but the individual is
more of a phantom than god...
                             and as Diogenes of Sinope found out:
you'll find god and the Archimedean eureka
quicker than finding an honest man -
who takes a candle at noon into a market square?
     ah: that famous lunacy...
but in the beginning the word was with god,
       yes, because when we started we only said ooh ooh!
and made those frightening monkey faces to
war off evil spirits and the Arabic third eye, evil.
   Darwinism created historical fiction...
           a bit like science fiction, but instead of looking
forward, historical fiction is looking back,
toward a time when people struggled against
the elements, and had no sense of having to think
given their actual pentagram equilibrium was tuned
into what was around them...
                   the senses could never deviate from
the world of shouting down a cave and hearing echo,
it's only when thought emerged and conceived words
   that the dubiousness of simple musing:
chicken or egg first? created auxiliary sense perceptions...
   we have left the sensual world...
           for we have "enriched" our lives with
thinking, the byproduct of which is what scared me
about this bbc3 documentary... that all mental
illness stems from allow thought to automate itself...
      in other words having no moral compass...
in other words: not having read a single book
   and learned a process of equating thinking with
narrating... as a sensible option to what others tend
to do (the innovators), and allow narration to be a void...
into which they pour all their thinking to
fill that void... with, say, Thomas Edison and the lightbulb...
Isaac Newton and gravity...
it's just scary that people can allow automated thinking,
     made even more evident that counters
the punitive transgender pronoun scenario
   that only focuses on the pronouns: he, it, she.
these youngsters in the documentary are dealing with
submitting to a pronoun focus of: i, it, you.
                      in some vague sense of a religiosity,
that they cannot allow cogito ergo sum into their minds,
a possessiveness of body, that later translates
into an identification with the mind: which is -
well, if you're going to posit the origin of thinking
in your brain, which isn't even there - you mind
as well posit the mind, seeing how the soul
is argued against primarily through our mortal condition.
   is the eye the window to the soul?
  and the brain merely a paraphrasing of that statement?
perhaps...
              but i wouldn't be too worried
             as Walter Benjamin was about art in the age
of mechanical reproduction... i'd be worried
that art is bound to the morgue of psychiatric institutions...
that art is not a term that suggest the origins of
   such ailments:
due the original lack of it in such places:
  but that that it was never there... and that finding
art can be therapeutic is why art can be scolded
               and establishment art is nothing more
than the pinnacle of us, having abused words,
waging fewer and fewer words, can't produce
    a work of beauty... merely a work that occupies
a space.
                art = space...
          that's the statement these days...
being oversaturated with scientific assurances has created
this insurgence of over-competence or making
art not art in a sense timelessness, as in Dante's
comedy isn't equal to space,
            but that it's equal to timelessness...
    or a statue by Donatello...
                          these days art = space...
because it's not going to be timeless... it was once
the iconoclasm in metaphor of: the lion of Judea...
          Lucifer as the morning star...
                         it will not be timeless because it
has been reduced to the establishment's aesthetic
of tracey emins' unmade bed... or
       damien hirst's the physical impossibility
of death in the mind of someone living -
i never said these things aren't art... some people
said cubism would never be art compared to
surrealism... but shove a triangle into Pythagoras'
head and you get some sort of mathematics...
              it's based on that principle...
what wouldn't work in the case of hirst would be
to put a cancerous tumour into a plastic cage...
people would associate it as some sort of atomist
representation of a nanometre worth's of some
larger thing... i do appreciate the fact that big
art works... it needs so much face to embody
the fact that you are to think about it...
                         and not to have a **** over it:
it's art that's anti-arousal and more and more
and more about how to juxtapose it in your mind,
always to abstract the brain as the mind
   and to never appreciate the idea of having
to source thinking as solely endemic to the brain...
the brain is busy, the heart is busy...
            we have perpetuated an outer-body
experience throughout our time since the time when
we first acquired the phonos of thought...
                 and it is a peculiar "sound", thought...
a dance memorable to actually having a hope in
possessing a soul... even after all sturdy things
shrink into the obsolete, and even vegetable.
but the piece i'm referring to?
     kinda paradoxical... given that a shark would
probably eat you... but then again counter-paradoxical
given the fact that most shark-attacks
     make the shark refrain from eating you,
but merely nibbling on you and leaving you alive
albeit nibbled on... maned... with scars...
so i get the part where the shark is in fact:
an impossible death to conceive... only for the lucky few.
  apart from the fact that the shark is caged
like a prehistoric mosquito lodged in amber...
              woodland gold, amber...
  that's the literal interpretation...
                                 but it's still a moving piece,
modern art isn't crap at all... it's just something you
don't get an ******* over...
            take any still life and apply a cognitively
based chemical reaction: stimulate a narrative...
in that famous phrasing, connect the: dot dot dot(s).
    become, in that almost ridiculous sense:
     a Sherlock Holmes... but all that died was about
a minute's worth of your attention...
this is what's fuelling revising a need for television,
big static things... my personal favourite?
that Tate Modern installation by richard holt -
hand on heart: about 3 times...
              i felt like a mosquito drawn into that:
ah the bright shiny light... 180º and a glass ceiling...
that's all it was...
                   art in the age of mechanical reproduction
has to almost ridicule man, or at least ridicule
the idea that he can become an individual,
    as was the ridicule of man that he could become
a god...
               sooner or later any attempt at individualism
becomes trendy, vogue, and magnetises and
monetises a need to mimic, replicate... one punk today:
20,000 punks tomorrow...
       /
           but that sort of mincing is mostly associated
by the bewilderment of our own success...
                           it's almost like a we're engaging with
a sabotage process: deliberately trying to undermine
ourselves by staging a variety of "anti-social" endeavours
we promised ourselves upon a belief in the "individual"...
      modern pieces of art debunk that myth,
it's that modern art pieces require so much space that
gave them the most adaptation prowess over, say,
a puritan's concept of art, as in a Turner painting...
           classical art can be put into a Florentine market
square and be passed by quiet casually,
because it provides an assurance - it forbids engaging
in an iconoclastic vigil, it's an assurance of the past
and how golden it was... but a modern sculpture
in a busy place where many people congregate
without first allowing it the asylum of an art gallery
and people will treat it as a chance to hone on it,
vandalise it, or steal it and sell it from scrap metal...
       modern art requires an asylum to be accepted,
an art gallery is an asylum where people with
good intentions enter and leave appreciating something
that, to the pleb, would get a rotten egg thrown at it.
    and as with regards to how i phrased something
earlier? how philosophy talks of the logos
     that doesn't see the phonos: or the dichotomy
between actual sound, and sound ascribed a
optically-phonetic disparity encryption:
deepened by a self-styled aesthetic of the "ruling elites"...
          and in the beginning the word was with god...
we're merely licking the toes of such a possibility...
         and just you try to bypass the orthodoxy of
encoding sounds with queer spelling...
                     you, in a sense, learn two-languages
with every single one you learn...
   how to say it and how to write it...
                              and then there the how you hear it
and how sometimes you hear different lyrics to
the ones sang...
                         a bit like the Chinese,
who, upon reading the English translation were
bothersome to get rich quickly after seeing
too many matchsticks in ideogram translated as merely
Li Po; i'd too go bananas and become frustrated
and retaliated by getting to Einsteinian grips with
the mathematical alphabet that bore Li Po... i.e. 1, 0
through to 9.
      ah yes... philosophy that doesn't appreciate
grammatical words, or in that sense credible for a biologist
not necessitating a genus to ease any argument,
to actually further it... or to play ping-pong...
   grammatical words are equivalent to the subconscious
given we tend to write some a sense of fluidity...
the unconscious? schematics akin to triangles...
  "images" or rather shapes...
                             beginning with Δ: isosceles...
later varied to the Γ triangle of Pythagoras...
          and as far as we got, a respectability to
not conjure up a square as worthy of encoding a sound...
nearest being the H... and that turned out to
be much ha ha ha.
                   still... i can't come to grips with these teenagers
in the bbc3 documentary talking about
automated thinking! i'm not denying it, i'm not
doubting it... it's just a question:
          how could such a pronoun muddle come about
that you discourage ownership of all your mental
activity? and instead leave a rampant kindred of an
abandoned snail's shell body to wreck havoc?
   it's almost like a a want to refuse to use words...
or encode words... rarely are people told
that the eyes are used as encoding organs...
                   but that the tongue knows no filters...
what the eye ingests... the tongue sometimes can't
digest... and vice-versus... that what the eyes digest
the tongue can't ingest: hence the rebellion
against contrary political ambitions -
   the ears? well: the ears are allocated the heart as
a partner... the tongue and eyes are entwined...
but the ears are allocated the heart...
                     you tend to feel words more than
hear them... because by the time the tongue
represses combining itself with the eyes to
that elevation of thought... your body becomes
autocratically synchronised to a sort of music
of heightened of unanimous response...
             well, it's not exactly a fetish watching such
documentaries.. iconoclasm in metaphor...
  i swear i wrote this before... how philosophy avoids
grammatical genuses... and how all too
ambivalent poetically equivalent nouns and verbs
are to hide our imperfections that precipitate from
art... iconoclasm / anamorphosis in metaphors...
                         camaïeu in allegory...
                   divisionism in pun...
                                       chiaroscuro in imagery...
gestural abstraction in onomatopoeia...
                     just some examples, and none necessarily
     convincing - as ever... this is my excuse
for i am always bound to say language is Alcatraz
   and my escape from Alcatraz is bound to metaphors,
fo
Leal Knowone Nov 2015
going down this long lost road
traveling under the waning moon
thinking upon memories of old
I feel my impending doom
we are pilgrims in the age of fire
we are gods.. truth we aspire
voyaging deserted corridors
painted in cast iron blood
a great spectacle of gore
like nothing you could think of
elaborate scheme between hunter and pray
scrambling the mind and left in disarray
Kaitlin Evers May 2017
Even on nights when you can't muddle through
Count your blessings I tell you
Look to the sky, oh, so blue
Watch the leaves as the wind blows through
Count your blessings day and night
To keep your curses out of sight
The *** Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat:
If you offer him pheasant he would rather have grouse.
If you put him in a house he would much prefer a flat,
If you put him in a flat then he’d rather have a house.
If you set him on a mouse then he only wants a rat,
If you set him on a rat then he’d rather chase a mouse.
Yes the *** Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat—
And there isn’t any call for me to shout it:
For he will do
As he do do
And there’s no doing anything about it!

The *** Tum Tugger is a terrible bore:
When you let him in, then he wants to be out;
He’s always on the wrong side of every door,
And as soon as he’s at home, then he’d like to get about.
He likes to lie in the bureau drawer,
But he makes such a fuss if he can’t get out.

Yes the *** Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat—
And there isn’t any use for you to doubt it:
For he will do
As he do do
And there’s no doing anything about it!

The *** Tum Tugger is a curious beast:
His disobliging ways are a matter of habit.
If you offer him fish then he always wants a feast;
When there isn’t any fish then he won’t eat rabbit.
If you offer him cream then he sniffs and sneers,
For he only likes what he finds for himself;

So you’ll catch him in it right up to the ears,
If you put it away on the larder shelf.
The *** Tum Tugger is artful and knowing,
The *** Tum Tugger doesn’t care for a cuddle;
But he’ll leap on your lap in the middle of your sewing,
For there’s nothing he enjoys like a horrible muddle.
Yes the *** Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat—
And there isn’t any need for me to spout it:
For he will do
As he do do
And theres no doing anything about it!
Elisabeth Sep 2018
These shots were never taken by chance

They were of anger taken under sunshine

This smoke can oh so muddle your view of the truth

They use smoke of their own to hide their intentions



But the truth can be seen rolling by, glinting red

The weapon of black turns their eyes white 

One shines with tears; the other dull and *****

The greedy man hides the youth of all seventeen



It could have been stopped

And the young could continue

This is preventable

But he continues to enable



His smiles are swamp green

His words are shiny gold

But he hides it all behind his suit of blue
I wrote this right after the shooting in Florida actually happened and poured all of my anger, sadness and fear into it.
Tori Edwards May 2014
The record player keeps spinning the Vinyl
black & white pictures on the walls
are beginning to talk
And the lights blink on and off

The same dark feeling of despair settles over me
during the early hours of the morning
It's a shame 'cause I've run out of whiskey
to help chase the inspiration and sleep
I desperately need

My thoughts cross to you sometimes
and I wonder where you are now
I guess you never kept that promise
as I've yet to see your name on a spine

I guess I'll go to bed now
I'll put on one more record
and muddle into the fog

These black & white pictures
are beginning to talk
And the lights blink
On and off
Experimental fictional piece. Thoughts and comments?
i will party all night dear, all night dear all night dear

i will party all night dear,  and there is nothing stand in my way

except for the realistic freaks realistic freaks realistic freaks

i want to party all night and not worry about bad things

i like Jimmy Barnes jimmy barnes jimmy barnes

he is a great singer, dude and he sings a great song

go the might of the sydney swans yeah they are the greatest yeah

i will party every night, to make you feel great

i will drink lots of champagne and lots of coke because i am cool

i am the coolest dude in canberra mate i have enough brains to make ya feel great

i feel like partying all night and all day long

party party party party party party al the body day long

i wanna put barnesy on for a party, and that is what i wanna do

partying is great and it doesn’t matter to me how many people are at the the event i am cool

i am cool enough for a party a party a party

i want to beat that drum and play them loud

send them off to an imaginary crowd cause my imagination is great mate

party all ****** day, and move on oh yeah

i don’t listen to adults mate saying don’t do that don’t do this

i just humour them and do what i wanna do because i am ****** cool man, eat my shorts

i wish to buddha that people would say that i am pretty cool

i wanna party party party all day long to barnesy, real loud

i don’t care if i have to stand up at concerts cause i am cool man

i am cooler than anyone i wanna really party

i don’t want to reform, i want to party to jimmy barnes on australia day

i am not there to cause trouble, i am just the coolest dude in canberra

party party party party party all ****** night long dude

partying is my middle name, my second name is control and control means

i am too cool for the yellers, cause i don’t want be yelled at, i am sooooo cooooool dude
Prabhu Iyer Jan 2016
December 2005; January

2006, Summer that year.

           2008 round the middle - no not the crash.

          2009, yes the muddle.

Tell me about how May 2010

was axed by December 2010.

Palm, palm, date palm, ash cloud.

February, April, August 2011 and
that dreaded December.

last grasp of the kite string,

off goes the dreamed of high
far far away the anchor moorings

when transmission stopped, all white
noise since then, empty

prattle chatter of the key board,

two millennia and counting thirteen, fourteen,
fifteen, march, October, March!

January 2016. A new landing.
It's the kite-flying festival of Sankranti here. Of course this poem has deeper layers..!
Hudson Everett Mar 2013
you ever feel like we’re too connected?
like everything is so crowded and jammed up that we don’t notice each other
the little things, the stop to smell the roses moments pass us by
and we are rushing from here to there
to and fro
ants in an ant farm
squished unknowingly up against the glass

the sun glares down
like a hungry beast
we scurry into our holes and hideouts
communicating in ones and zeros
but always missing the point

we seek meaning and passion and excitement
but complain we have no courage
our lives move and move like rafts on the Mississippi
But I had better things to do than read Huck Finn

hours of mindless entertainment
and then no inspiration
endless desert of desperation and depression
hop from one city to the next
no end in sight

run from problems
hide from anything that could make life exponentially better
callous and fearless and crude
joking about life and death to cope with grief

take everything for granted
burn bridges, never let them see you cry
let the status quo control you
go to college, get a job
don’t be a burnout, dropout, failure

let them define happiness
and let them measure my success

overweight
sunburned
living in a garage
if that’s not success

I don’t know what is

the adolescent american dreaming of easy money

can’t even drive a car

I need glasses and new pants
bought running shoes
but I’m only running from my problems

bury my anger and depression
nervous laughing
crack a joke, as long as you don’t crack
you’re fine


talk about your goals
but only half-heartedly pursue them
like a cop who wants the donuts more than the punks he chases

I want a wife, a life, of happiness with kids and a house
a degree and income
talk about religion and philosophy
read books, but never bother to finish

inconsistent, and never complete
talk when you don’t know what you’re saying
never admit “I don’t know”

count your friends on one hand
but don’t let it know what the other hand’s doing
my mind has a mind of its own
I never bother to follow through
like a tree that is uprooted by the storm
struck with wanderlust I fly away
Mateuš Conrad Feb 2017
for any of my work to have any meaning, i can only suggested browsing Empedocles (of Acragas), in saying that, i suggest the name, primarily it's a form of philosophy, written in poetic form... in that it exhausts the need for poetic technique: i.e., there's more to see, than actually hear.

- just like i don't understand people who fake doing the maestro whenever they listen to classical music, in the same vein: your greengroccer... your plumber... your electricians.... god forbid you t.v. guy....  don't translate that oddity in, modern music and imitating drummers... i get air guitar, i get air maestro... no one really bother the drumming brigade, when i listen to classical music, i am looking for a maestro, when i listen to contemporary music i, want a drummer, bad; ****! St. Thomas' gospel is becoming real... like i really, really, need a *** change.... never mind the 50cl of whiskey waiting for me, or sasha foxxx's eyes... the job? hammer in a thousand nails... industrialise ***, what do you get? a **** economy... why would god enter the equation if all the problems are theological self-made-heresy? it's not even that *** sells, and god gives gives rise to stampedes... what with the Koran and oil, are we counting to state the same arithmetic... i mean: the industrialisation of ***... nothing that hurts, nothing but a quip... that sorta of definition belongs in China or India with a billion participants... what we have is a case of mouthing off the competitors, when you're actually chihuahua in the Sahara of expectation.... i'm as mad as the numbers say i am... personal stories are non-essential.... i included mine for added effect... or a presumtpion that i might: acknowledged as having said anything in total....counter to english existentialism, so wholly preoccpupied with zoos and biology as the only scientific resource... i can't agree to it making sense, in the standard item-basis-list of following-up an argument... that dire, fake or indeed couch-sloth desert-prune is only half of *σ
... i mean there's a tendency of a natural disparity, to ensure a dialectical health of any if all argument... σ = per se... it's because there no single, identifiable argument, the one current is a vogue argument, in the realm of zeitgeist parameters... it's not the only one... the world will move on... it's only that at the zenith of civilisation, we are only bound to industrialise ***, and art is, as according to W. Benjamin, in a state of: ditto, in the age of machanical, reproduction... easier said than... and so done... i feel the anaesthetic needle doing the suggested thing, of numbing me... it's not when art is given onto this Moloch-like altar... it's when *** is industrially-scaled to require cinema... and the quickie-dip of dimension having repertoire in threes... i have no care to ensure there's a narrative and a frenzy... i just care to say: there's a narrative, and a frenzy.... that one has no insurance, and that the other has all the resources that would otherwise invole a familial life... which now, evidently, is prone to same-*** affiliations than compliment-*** affiliations... meaning less art from the **** realm, and more art from the hetero or h-quasi realm (origin ****)... you need to talk about the cushions, if you're going to sleep in the bed, ****'s sake! -

to really live by the "rules" of existentialism,
to live an existential doctrine,
is to really: live an uneventful life,
or should i say: rather ordinary?
  well... i wouldn't go as far as saying it
might be boring, just... un-spectacular.

and all it takes it five beers and, oh, about
6 miles of wet wintry cement,
   and o.t.t.'s album blumenkraft,
with the crescendo song: billy the kid strikes back...

walk 6 or 7 miles in winter
and you come back into a warm abode
and you have skeleton hands...
numb from the cold...
but in england winter is different
than on the continent...
a wet winter (which is very english)
is worse than a dry winter (which is
continental)...
  as honesty goes... -18C in a dry winter
is probably not as bad as -1C in a wet
winter...
    so there's me, completely
****-faced watching the t.v. series
this is us, and one of the characters is
a black kid that gets adopted by
a white family when
    one of the triplets of the white family
dies in child-birth,
and he finds his biological father...
and also a mid-life crisis:
white folks told me to excell,
so he does,
   black daddy was a poet and played
the piano...
and he experiences a mild
schizophrenia... see, it's not a scary word,
i mean: without the extreme symptoms...
   a split-mind...
thankfully i cushioned mine on bilingualism...
and i have been ever since: bilingual -
nothing to be proud of,
   after all: there's the genius polymath...
but it's not about that: it's about winter...
winters in england are so different to
winters on the continent...
the grey skies? oh, that's here all year...
    talk about being a weather man
in Saudi Arabia, most of them moved to England:
where the action is...
          
but really, i can't imagine why existentialism
as a movement, culminated in the zenith
it achieved (precursor movement?
phenomenology)
        oh yah yah: were nieche, very Kensington,
very, Chiswick...

but to really appreciate an existentialist
dogma, a truly uneventful life...
   and given that existentialism in the French
vein akin to Kant but not so much Heidegger
lends itself to the cartesian maxim...
well... that's because it kinda has to,
but not really...

  Kant took out i think and merely focused on that,
his biography goes along the lines of:
a ritual walker, stayed in one place,
    a rook of the clock, i couldn't exactly call him
a pawn... nonetheless...
             a very uneventful life...
why? thought.
    
    what's the most interesting thing i've done today?
i thought, or, i had a thought (a / the article scissors
cutting off the -ism)...
and that's about it...
    had a thought...
                   i hit the gong that thus translates into
the post ergo / therefore of i am,
   and then i realised: i wasn't motivated enough
by my thought: to do much!
              
historically speaking, my writing can only be placed
into a dynamic of being called post-existentialism,
it's not boasting, it's just a plain fact,
   like Monday will be St. Valentine's day, 2017...
and some men collect stamps,
   and some men like fishing,
    and some men have the habit of writing about
things that are, a bit like Avogardo's constant,
meaning they'd love to speak about these things
over, and over again, and never get bored of them,
or for that matter: start families.

strange how it works, have it all...
       or have none of it, to later only have that one
vector that's opposite of mortal, ******...
        or have both, in a way,
and be later traced to some Shakespearean controversy
about a mistaken identity...
well... there's that too.

that must be it, existentialism, and the most,
ordinary life...
         pause for what, akin to something else i wrote
about beginning the thought catching
up to the walk a few days earlier which began
with z and i and diacritical marks,
how northern slavs wouldn't necessarily disrespect
the already present diacritical mark
on the ι (iota), i.e. regarding acute z (ź),
and how if z & i appear together, i.e.
    z and immediately after it, i... you don't bother
writing an acute version of z,
   as a southern slav (balkan) might,
with his caron (ž)...

or a bit like stating the old chestnut of universals
vs. particulars...
   well... they can say what they like about
the cheapness of writing in this medium
but there is nothing so gut-wrenching as a deleted
passage, that will never return...
    immediate heartache... there on the screen,
the computer decides to "have a mind of its own"
moment by either your carelessness
          or the computer's defects and: ****!
gone, a shift+ and suddenly... writing while not
looking at the keyboard, as you do... ****!
gone... gone baby... gone...
    and if that's not analogy of: a lesson
in placing your hands correctly onto the computer
does me: you're looking at the keyboard
and not at the screen...

  how about writing with my eyes closed?
  haven't seen anyone attempt that...

here goes:

    and with that i give you hades...

not bad, i should try it more often... it's not believable
because it's actually correct and has no mistakes....
*******.

alternative? and with that i give you sheol...
   still the same... double *******.

((   ((
    
and that's all it takes... the part where you let go,
because you have to:
  the regret can be there, but soon has to
be overruled...
   it mattered at the zenith of logic,
it was really there, for such a brief moment,
i could call it a study in how you can ****
a very lucid moment, and then have to "resort",
but, rather: merely accepting it as having no place
in the overall composition...
    so to the windowsill, finishing off
blackbeard (whiskey and coca cola and
a cigarette)... changing the aura from
o.t.t.'s album taken home from the "marathon"
(yes, the prime existential tool is the transcendence
of synonyms, encouraging misnomers
or: how to not build dams, or become custard
beavers, looking for words...
    the river, every time, always looking at a river...
the sea and the people and time...
   rivers occupy an infinite concept of space
and the change within such a Thermopylae,
as it might give you indigestion,
or the highest serving rank of memory...
the sea and the people don't scare me,
and it's hardly a thing of admiration...
its just a sight of pulverisation, a headache...
the river, the solitude, and the fact that local
newspapers have adverts of only lonely women...
sure, read a national newspaper and there
are women seeking men, women seeking women,
men seeking women, men seeking men...
but look at a local, a local newspaper: only women
advertising themselves for candles and firecrackers...
it seams men were always programmed (a priori)
        into the gravitas of solitude...
what i really meant to say: existentialistic writings
can appear foreboding with the ditto...
with the perception that there's this ulterior,
dark-seeded motive...
      i just thought about bypassing the thesaurus,
like some writers do,
    you can spot it when they do,
a word they looked up from their labour
of lumberjacking the keyboard
sticks out like a modern statue, or a broken finger,
a word: right off the pages of a thesaurus...
   i just mean that there's nothing sinister enclosed in
the said "brackets"...  there's nothing additional about it,
but as narratives go... you sometimes want to bypass
Sherlock Holmes and write a synonym-antonym,
you want to bypass the thesaurus, content with your
own vocab riches, but too "lazy" / engrossed in
what's actually coming...
say, that interlude, a cigarette, finishing off the whiskey,
with the glass freezing and having a layer of ice
around it... and: why i'll never be part of the nirvana's
or the doors' cult...
     pearl jam's indifference, from their second album.

so it's sometimes thereuputic letting go,
  after all, no one built a house on the summit of Everest,
if i wrote something of such clarifying quality,
and lost it... i can only apply an imagery of having seen it,
the best i can suggest that i wrote something
akin to 1 + 1 = 2, and then accidently deleted it...
and that's the sad part,
universals as vowels, particulars like consonants,
    even numbers akin to 2 and odd numbers akin to 1
(divided into decimals, or the wormhole of 0.123456 etc.) -
it was a beautiful sight, and then, again: ****!
gone... like a magician doing a trick
   and then... the sadness of having lost the technique
to recreate it...
well, the best i can do to recreate it is based
on a short argument...
   if universals and particulars (relying on the fact
that both have a plural form,
  i.e. so not 1 in 1, but the many of 1,
   and akin to: the 1 in many, and the many in many,
and the 1 in 1 / focus, something identifiable) -
or loosely universals like vowels, and particulars like consonants,
but given the two experience diacritical distinction /
additions... i could best remember what i wrote
as: 1 e.g. particular, if divided: fractions, and after
fractions: decimals...
                2 e.g. universal, if divided: whole numbers,
and after whole numbers fractions, and later decimals...
   so on and so forth with 3 (particular), 4 (universal),
     5 (p.), 6 (u.)...
                 a bit like having your own telescope
and microscope, just looking at what we make silence
of, our two ways of encoding what could have,
or should have been said, that was nonetheless said,
transcending our contemporaries as, what can only
be described as... an echo, lost in the caves of aeons...

this promenade begun with something to z & i...
or z, i, ι, ź and ž (what a nice pentagram,
i was watching the six nation's match
between wales and england,
and lo! behold... a goat at the fore!
  mind you, i took a cigarette break when they scored
their two tries).
Cardiff? yeah, been there once...
         Poland v Wales qualifying match,
donning a polish football shirt, got approached
by two young welsh girls saying: your team is ****...
started giving it the local... how fast they ran away...
and they say we laugh more than we cry,
   and i could be the one to snigger a sly laugh at
that memory, but cinema memory says to me:
time to usher in the reverse-psychology,
calling white black, and laughter crying...
        or as i like to call it, the paradox marriage
that has, literally not tentacle hold on the world,
   the bilingual marriage,
             lodged deep inside my head,
most recognisable by my theory study of diacritical
marks, or actually having noticed them,
and having no real, authentic accent to remind me
that i belong in either geography...
         whether from beginning, or toward an end...
some call it acting, some call it faking,
  i call it: just what i was given, or, more precisely:
what i earned... and that was to no good use...
        unless... this is the best expression of what the foundations
look like.

what was i thinking of? ah!

   it just involved the σ                       ς roundabout...
the aesthetic variation for one,
but on another investigation, well, sigma, total, sum,
and how be obey it like a golden ratio or pi,
   it's just auto-suggestive of how we are never truly
synchronised in our arguments...
   but, "paradoxically", or should i say: by a miracle,
make up the greatest potent to have an argument...
  we can never truly really synchronises ourselves
to fill the boots of expressing an utopian dream,
otherwise we wouldn't dream... period...
  so bye bye Freud and that method of escapism...
     we already ensured that, if they be our creation,
the gods are already at war with the Titans...
      i'll actually acknowledge that in an age of
pop philosophy in that Greece was, a place of allowing
a fertility of thought and later popularising it
(we don't live in times where there's a fertility consecrated
on the altar of thought, or what philosophy is, thinking per se /
for itself... innovators! scientists! up-starts!
or as some might say, the other pronoun battle,
the one without genitals involved,
as could only be sooner said:
  per se, or per per...
                       in in...
nothing sexualised... it's only that there's a limit in pronouns,
per se / in itself must come across the muddle
regarding the moment when people lose their
identity and begin their life with: ? thought
rather than i think,
       i can't place it anywhere else than inside my head,
better there than in the genitals,
   or wasn't Jesus circumcised and the zeitgeist
of St. Thomas' gospel and the transgender movment?
    the church is old, and counter-authoritarian,
it's just a tired institution, so it has no actual authenticity
over the current changes in society,
    might as well call onto Islam to move the chess pieces...
or that's what i'm currently seeing...
   i was just thinking about a logical limit in language,
e.g. timbaland's song the way i are...
   there really is a logical limit on how far you can
suddenly just forget grammar...
            so why begin with per se?
                 at best described as a cogitans (
Mateuš Conrad Jan 2017
that's 3 weeks without a keyboard,
that's 3 weeks on a dual-detox -
         that's that: roughly: antagonism
of: once upon a time...
           there can only be one Hans Andersen,
and as the story goes: ol' granny
   passed on the tales, without which:
no talk of posterity, and seances at
the theatre; alternatively: what if Kierkegård
opted for opera, rather than theatre?
    well: horrid is the task of dropping names,
as if being a village idiot, in that
capacity: giving directions... no such thing!
  nonetheless: a horrid task...
3 weeks... without this horrid world-entanglement...
amphetamines in the wild west,
                   and yet... everything slows down...
that's 3 weeks without such ''luxury''...
    and would you believe it?
3 weeks went by: in a blink of an eye.
             strange, or what 21st century writers
fail to recognise: the ******* canvas has changed!
any-single-one-of-them bothered to scrutinise
this new canvas? anyone?
     ah yes, it's still in its adolescence -
it's still: Dostoyevsky, scuttering in the grand
dungeon: that's the Moscow underground.
             the canvas! the canvas!
                             and indeed, if this be some
bellowing horn, from the depths of some forsaken
place... i'll go into the street, and sabotage
civilisation with graffiti...
                     then again: i have the least
expectations, such that capitalism works...
poetry... and what investment have you made?
nil, or almost nil... evidently: zilch!
      ah, but to have invested in canvases,
a studio, paints, brushes... see... no one sees
investment in poetry: primarily because the poet
has done the minimal...
            unless of course it turns out to ****
with a hot poker something once resembling
nations... which now resides in the insane asylum
(even though those, have been abolished)
                           , nation - ooh! what a ***** word!
the left irksome sometimes uses it:
in theory: the nation-state...
                        and then there's the resurgence of
ancient Greece... in a sing-along:
maybe 'cos i'm a Londoner... brother! brother!
Athenian! Athenian!
                                       but we are born into
a Spartan wedlock... no one really bothers to
**** our gob with Shakespeare...
    then again that is the schizophrenia (alias
dualism) in humanity... thus, to be frank,
psychiatry can be congratulated, it has provided
one useful term... and i will use it, over and over again,
in a non-symptomatic way, because, i find,
it stands, as if the Olympic Graeae (Zeus, Poseidon
and Hades) eating the carcass of some inhabitant
of Tartarus...
                               evidently: tartar steak...
doubly evident: tartars, or the remnants of mongols,
settled in crimea, and elsewhere in the Ukraine...
   tartar                      tra-ta-ta-ta... ku ku ryku!
a ja fu! krecha! a ja znow... fu!       radowitą
uprzejmość... skłaniam...  
    or what i call: rising spontaneously from the depths...
polymaths applauded, the tribunal resides in
bilingualism... trenches... history... perspectives
and current affairs... wicker man media...
                        so... an example of pedantry?
ó....               that's an orthographic dignitary -
        an aesthetic muddle... as is
c-ha                               contending with samo-ha...
     ch                            came from antagonism of
cz                                   which was later antagonised
by č               in česka.... say that: hen party
bound to Prague... in the Czech republic...
                                          ch      k..­.
i am, quiet frankly... standing at the feet of the tower
of babel... and i'm looking up, and i see
correlations, and i see decimal marks,
which, when given enough geography,
can seem like England and the isles,
       and central Europe...
    Iberia? phantom of Seneca...
  eureka! let's begin, once again...
  why is there a continuum beginning with
Plato and Aristotle?
                                           we could become
reasonable people... told to deal with madmen...
we could claim beginnings with Seneca...
and Cicero...
                      and why? the Romans loved poetry...
the Greeks antagonised Homer...
            the Romans loved Horace, Virgil,
                           Ovid... perhaps we should really forget
beginning with Plato and Aristotle...
       the former has become a church,
the latter a dentist's assistant (minus the ancients'
concept of a joke).
                      evidently i have to finish off reading
Seneca... his educational letters to Lucilius....
      moralising ******* that he was, thus, perhaps
a nibble at Cicero? but i must say:
                           it has to begin somewhere,
so not necessarily in stale-bread Athens...
                      and having such perspectives helps
in claiming casual conversation?
   assuredly - if it doesn't involve talking about
the weather...
                                which is always a great mystery
   if it's given enough aurora.
   onto the mystery of dialectics,
as discovered by Alfred Jarry in his Faustroll
Pataphysics contraband...
                                                nag­ging agreement...
nodding without approval... (chapter 10) -
beginning with αληθη λεγεις εφη
        (you speak the truth, he replies) -
   and ending with ως δoκεì
                              (how true that seems)...
and then some dub-step...
        know nothing dROP! boom! jiggy jiggy,
get the rhythm.
   as i always find it hard to look at
    diacritical arithmetic...
                                  given the following
represent a prolonging: hangman:
       å, ā and ä...
                             esp. in Finnish -
stratum: hedningarna täss on nainen.
                        rolling yarn, plateau, two dips;
and i will never say something profound...
i'll just say something no one else has said,
benefit of the doubt? somewhere, someone,
                                      kneels at the same altar.
  such are the distinction - invaders from the
north, and invaders from the south...
                                           even with
crusading Golgotha mann -
the times? many bats, supers, spiders,
but not enough readings of thomas mann...
                              easily befallen into prune-nosed
high-airs... it comes with the diet of literature...
   unfortunately.
                              and with yet another book:
i have burried yet another living person
i could have had a beer with, and conversed.
it always happens, every time i read a book
i have to attend a funeral... by reading a book
i have burried someone alive...
                          shame, in all frankness...
    i will sit in a congested train, touch a breathing
body, and consecrate the touch with
a warring genuflect - harbringer of a Teutonic
passion for initiation: a komtur's slap across the cheek.
   chequers played with passions...
           and some have to be approached like
caged animals, their vocabulary as cages,
                and the whole world before them:
cageless!
             some have indeed become so encrusted in
their daily: routine, that it would take a zoologist
(thrice oh, begs some sort of diacritical marking)
rather than a psychologist to understand them...
    like the darting dupes they are, enshrined in
20% gratis! smile! have a nice day! boxing day sales!
all but pleasantries, fathoming the grave.
   stiff vocab and all other kinds of perfume...
                           a king and his charlatan knights,
who are merely ditto-heads.
                  and not of this world, afresh -
among the nimble hands prior to birth -
surely there is: more grandeour in birth
   that entry via a ******...
                            the greatest pain of ****...
and when the ancient treaty was signed
under the name: Augustus Cesarean - or
recommended for a need of aristocracy -
    it was, for a time, the mana magnetism:
and such was the rule of poetry:
rather than a crown, donned the laurel leaves...
donned the laurel leaves...
    and such was the covenant from ancient
foes when trying to assimilate the Jew...
three kings from Babylon,
                         the child in Egypt...
          no good tides from Nazareth...
         a crown of myrrh - later overshadowed
by dogmatic sprechen, simpler: thorns...
yella things... or rzepak, Essex is filled with it...
rzepak... so why bother adding a dot above
the z, when you get capricious and use rz to
denote the same?! thus a science:
voiced retroflex fricative... Stalingrad!
                       can you really stomach this kind
of jargon? if it wasn't for science fiction:
science would be twice removed from gott ist tot,
*******' worth of pondering, given the close
proximity rhyme... nothing that rhymes should
ever be taken seriously, it should be hymnal!
                         Horatio! mein lyre!
   mein Guinness leier! rabbi krähe -
     and they deem that ****** white when talking:
thinking? i'd prefer Cezanne in real life -
   maggot wriggling and all...
                                          as much eroticism
as bound to a dog slobbering its testicles:
which means ****-all in an almighty stance
   for a dollop of halleluyah in Nepal.
well: pretty talk, pretty pretty pretty: i feel pretty,
oh so butter-fly-e.
                                    2 week stance,
***** in autumn... but so many Swiss hues
coming from the same concentration of decay!
shweet!  zeit-ser!        and that's me talking
kindergarten german: innovation begins with
a fork and a spoon, should the tongue come to it...
            i see a poem,
i see something worth bugging... c.i.a.,
f.b.i., hannibal's lecture in Florence, Venice for
the rats... bugging... shoving...
  shovelling... necro grounding, rattling...
    windy via north... Icelandic...
drums along incisors of abstract gallop:
violins... fringes of the mustang... airy airy...
all regresses toward the Vulgate...
         like ****, like said, and the only pristine
stress comes with vanilla ice-cream,
or a medium-rare beef ****! hmph!
                         fa fa fa excesses with that hurling
puff...
                      and i did finish Kant's
critique of pure reason... minus two calendars...
but, so help me god, the 2nd volume was hiding
under some corner...
                           thus, from transcendental methodology
came plump apricots, plums and pears...
             sweet decay fruit baron...
              and it's called sugars in the intricacy of pulp...
lazily grown, dangling on that caricature of
a formerly known: full crop of wheat-crude fringe.
    2 years... honest to god!
         but so many books in between...
i was given a recommendation...
i cited it already... kraszewski's magnum opus...
29 books...
                       although that's history fictionalised...
but nonetheless, it really was about
     the cossack uprising in the 17th century...
   and it was, as i once said, something i can forgive
sienkiewicz - the film version,
as in: i will not read a book once it has been adapted
to a movie... it's self-evident that too many
people have read a piece of work and are gagging
for a conversation... but where's the playground?
           ******* cherades!
  chinese whispers and a Manchurian candidate!
  i thought as much.
                          and whenever it's not a preplaned
escapade, what becomes of the day?
     was it always about a stance for carpe diem?
  syllables: di                em.
                            carpe is said with more lubricant.
corpus diem. well, that's an alternative, however
you care to think about it.
                and whenever you care to think about,
the proof is there: mishandling misnomers:
poets as tattoo artists... although no one sees the ink,
signatures on a reader's brian (purposively altered,
toward a Michael Jackon he-he, and other:
albino castratos the church venerates!)...
   that's 3 weeks in a catholic country...
  3 weeks... if only the football was better,
      i'd be called Juan Sanchez...
               but, evidently, the football is bad...
     so it's catholicism on par with a sleeping inquisition...
no one really expected Monty Python to conjure
that one... because it never really took place,
not until a trans-generational exodus
postscript 2004... once western brothels were exhausted,
and the Arab started ******* a hippo...
              then it was all about lakes and rivers
and Las Vegas 2.0 in Dubai!
                     you say quack... i say:
                                                    easy target.
and they did receive a blessing from Allah...
enough ink to write out Dante's revision of the Koran,
and some Al-Sha'ke'pir to write a play called:
the Merchant of Mecca.
  last time i heard, when the reformation was
plauging Christendom, no one invited the Arabs...
these days i think the little Lutherans of Islam
watched too many historical movies...
me? pick up a crucifix and march to Jerusalem?
  and is that going to translate into:
   blame the populists! blame the nationalists!
it's like watching a circus... why is the Islamic
reformation asking for third party associates?
                  i was happy listening to
the klinik... albums: eat your heart out...
time + plague...
                             once again: the world narrative
gags for enough people to conjure up
     a placebo solipsism... and that's placebo
with a squiggly prefix (meaning? how far
that ambiguity will take you) - ~placebo...
well: since existentialists were bores...
it's about time to head for Scandinavia
   and ask: is that " ''                 for passing on
an inheritance, or better still: ripe for
acknowledging ambiguity?
                          and if you can shove this
  into your daily narrative... you better be
a connaisseur of chinese antiques...
                frailty... then again, theres: ******;
well hell yeah *****'h, it's a murky underwold
after all.
                     and yes: that's called a petting word...
some say hombre, and we'll all be amigos
and muskateers at the end of the story.
                                    finally... i feel like i'm writing
a poem that i'll never end...
              why? it was supposed to be about
how John Casimir of Sweden championed
  the crown away from his brother Prince Charles
(volume 1)...
                      the bishop of Breslau...
a recluse... couldn't ride a horse...
    then again: nothing worthy imitation...
beginning with a donkey...
                               the transfiguration of palms
into whips... 2000 years later
talk of Hercules is madness... that other bit?
complete sanity.
                              well... if that be the case...
the book is there... i signed it, 2nd volume of
Kant's critique...
  
| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |
| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |
| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |
| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |
| | | | | | | | | | | | | Y| | | |
| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |
| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |

        an oak... in a forest of pine...
an oak in pine wood...

then onto the wood of sighs:

aH aH aH aH aH aH aH aH
aH aH aH aH aH aH aH aH
aH aH aH aH aH aH aH aH
aH aH aH aH aH aH aH aH
aH aH aH aH aH aH aH aH
aH aH aH aH aH aH aH aH
aH aH aH aH aH aH aH aH
          (somehow the surd escapes,
and later morphs into, but prior to)

a short script: variation on MW...

      pears' worth of blunting runes:
opulance s and ᛋ - versus z,
    congregation minor: the interchange, ß,
buttocks and *****, minus phantoms of erotica.
yet, taking into account trigonometry...
sine (genesis 0), and cosine (genesis 1),
or            M                                   W
(no Jew would dare believe the Latins have
the second 'alf of the proof: that loophole of all
things qab-cannibal-mystic - cravat donning
mystique - a flit's worth of sharpening,
or dental grit... flappy tongue,
flabby oyster, lazing for a crab's palette)...
so?

1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0
1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0
1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0
1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0
1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0
1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0
1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0

of course there's an
Poetic T Jun 2014
My mind is a storm
Of words,
Of verse,
Of things to be.

Like a cauldron
Its mixed,
Sipped,
To find the right word
Starting,
Ending
What will they be.

My mind is a muddle
What shall it be.

What ever I write
Its for me to decide,
The way it
starts,
Finishes,
Its is up to the words to decide.
#finish #words #start #muddle
Marigold May 2014
She's journeying they say;
Journeying.
They're too scared of the word
To simply say 'dying'
But it is all too clear.
I'm sure she knows,
Just us well as they,
Even though her mind is such a muddle.
She doesn't eat
Or leave her bed
And a machine outside her door
pumps air into her lungs for her.
When you try to talk to her
You get lifeless eyes,
As if she's already died
But her body kept on breathing.
Everyone can see it.
They stop what they are doing
To look into her room,
But they never stay for long
Even with all the curiosity in the world
It's not something you really want to witness.
The terribly slow
fading of a life.
Raj Arumugam Jun 2013
(1)
There’s one thing I must get off my chest
that’s bothered me now
even 50 years on
with the passage of time –
my English teacher then
she always told me when I grumbled
homework was too difficult,
she’d tell me: “That’s a piece of cake”
And I’d go home discombobulated how
anyone could eat paper
or homework
and she said this not once, but every time:
“It’s a piece of cake”


(2)
And my parents and I looked at it
every which way and from every point of view
and concluded in our Perfect Ancient Native language:
“This English teacher is a loony. She is wooly-headed.
She is the lamb Mary lost, silly and muddle-headed.
How can homework be a piece of cake?
Anyway, we don’t eat cake – we eat samosas.”


(3)
And yet the English teacher would put her nose
up in the air
and remonstrate: “It’s a piece of cake!”

Oh yeah, would you like tea with it?

Now, my parents, bless their Ancient Souls,
have gone on into the next world
And I’m left wondering about the secret madness
of that English teacher
who’d ask me to eat cake when I expressed genuine concern…

Well, my parents have passed on, as I said,
and I’ve moved on
as is plain and radiant to see
to master idioms and vocabulary
Punctuation, the catenative verb and Usage;
and, as for that wooly-headed English teacher,
I’m sure she’s moved on into
a comfortable nuthouse
where the staff makes her eat her cake,
and make her think she can have it too -
cos that’s what they do to nuts, and such instances

(4)
And now that I have got that off my chest,
I can comfortably resume memorizing
Volume 3 of theOxford Dictionary
as  I perambulate
and copy 100 entries from Fowler’s “Modern English Usage”
as I victulate
which is all part of my nightly ritual
since she told me to do so some 50 years ago
(cos I happened to look at her Union Jack knickers
when she sat high on the table, and I stood up *****
cos that's what they made us do in the cinemas)
- and that helps to put me into a state of dormancy, to hibernate
till the sun ushers in a new day for me  –
and a new cake for that wooly-headed English teacher,
she, I can presume with certainty,
elegantly reposed and superannuated


Now, I’m glad I’ve got this off my chest
and mastered my idioms and phrases
and I can go eat my samosas
- don't you think the teacher was mad? -  and by George! -  I'm as sane as King George 3...?
My mind is like a chemistry set
Mixing and reacting
Messes counteracting
I discover
Insolubility
Search for my identity
What’s my responsibility?
Reality?
Just wanna have serenity
Worn out positivity
But I’m not jaded
I’m periodically faded
Not easily persuaded
By the things they have created
Have never been degraded
Or hated
I don’t know what that’s like
All I know is it’s wrong
I want to be in the right!
Because love conquers ALL
No fight
In love with the light
At first sight
One thing ties us together
We are human
We are being
And breathing
That’s what I’m believing
So smile and go the extra mile

*Make your existence worthwhile
Experimenting with rhyming. Just thoughts
Aaron Wallis Nov 2012
A man is only half of what he is; always leaning towards the dim
Lacking a flouted need which whorls in the mute within him
A man bigots an ideal and will lark it away at the hold of his routed pith
A smile is not worthwhile if the smile does not have anything to receive or to give

A man is skyless; bound to his back with his dreams fixed on a rapture
He gorges upon tasteless feasts gasping for that sup he hungers to recapture
He does not know nor recall the times that did once befall
Of the lossless suffers and how they ever meant anything at all

He will become the most that he can ever endeavour
Be the creature he needs to be and whichever
Way it may engross him and how it moulds or claims him
It will be still him but leaning not so far in the dim

He would be a whole man who would give himself wholly
Who would be more and only more to her and her solely
His full heart would be tendered for it would not be his own
If it was still partial of the heart that had since budded and grown

A man would be raised and the sky would be without border
A bliss amid clouds where the undiscerning muddle finds order
There would be a sense to the road an approach to the wander
A reason for all a kiss a need to ponder no longer

There would be such rise in his depth and a contest behind bit teeth
To fight for the purposed kiss to hold her and keep her from grief
To offer her all embrace not too tense and not too slack
For her to breathe is to breathe; now half new he would never give it back

To be back upon his back with eyes busy to the sky
His bones broken as her feet glide indifferently by
Over his stare among cloud where she impelled his descent
He’d lay fallen and broken beaten and bent

If Half a man became whole does a whole man not become naught?
If he fights for a dearest never afore dreamt dream then what is left to be fought?
Was it his minds misgivings that would lead to such a trite giving reliving to doubt?
That surfaced more than he knew; the intended whisper instead a floundering shout?

Would it have been his heart that threw him from his felicity?
Could his relish overwhelm and mutate into potent toxicity?
Could it be fact that without thought nor without tact he impelled her?
Either overthought or over loved he would have fallen the hardest and he would not rise
No he would not rise anymore

If there ever was such a man and ever such a she
He would have her for as long as that may be
Her greatest gift is after saying all this to you
Is that after knowing all that you could you would feel the same way too.
Daniello Mar 2012
Of course we’re born sad little creatures!
To be born, we had to have the picture
broken & bursted—for, being born, we’re
fragments of it. (But not just us born—all
of it that’s born…all of it’s fragments.)
Us, though, we found out about the pieces
(and that we’re them) so shock-hearted and
weary-eyed we joggle ourselves around,
and waggle and babble (because we can move
and talk to the other pieces, like you) in the
sedulous task of trying to see what picture we all
formed before we were born and to see
if we can’t form it again while born and living.
And, also, inexorably, to see like fateless
naked goggling chicken-children what part
we have—is it a sun’s ray, a cloud’s feather, a
grass blade, or is it just the indistinguishable
shade of unctuous bole that’s laid there
almost smeared in between? I’m not quite sure,
our tabs seem flexible enough, and to add
we’re whimsy little interlockers, so no wonder
we’ve been going on billions of years now.
At this point it’s probably give-up or never-end,
and both options, frankly, seem quite abominable.
I wonder if that’s what it says on the box,
right above “meant for children” and “small
parts dangerous choking hazard.” But the
question is what to do when you’ve realized a
piece has been missing, always been missing,
and probably more. (Oh, and for after, you can
ask if it was never put there in the first place,
and why)—do you just imagine, then? I mean,
just that—just imagine the whole thing, after all
the fuss been going on to hold hands and make it out?
I’m telling you, I bet the sucker is something else
entirely, like something I don’t even know what,
but different—crazy different, I bet. And it’s
probably why they didn’t want to include it,
those ponzies—we wouldn’t choke on that one.
Not that piece. Still, though, I hope it says on the box.
I hope it at least tells you something on the box.
Wait, where’s the box? What box?
Aniseed Feb 2015
Waking up to hazy mornings.
To the bitter cold days of
Early Spring.

I've never seen such a beautiful sunrise.

Nine o' clock cigarettes during
The morning rush.
Saturday morning cigarettes
That muddle my head.
The chilly air mimics the smoke
Spewing from my lips,
Toxins sticking to my lungs
Like glue.

It's another day in Paradise.

The dishes in the sink
Pile up in mountains.
Like the skyscraper laundry stack
Overflowing in the hamper.

Just another day in Paradise.

The street lamps glisten as strings of pearls
Their light reflecting off the silver glare of traffic barrels.

The flowers have not arrived.
The flowers have not bloomed,
And the anxiety is killing me.
Killing me like the coffee craving
Pounding in my head.
The flowers are missing,
Hiding from the stinging cold
Of early Spring.

I've never seen such beautifully dismal skies.

In the mild conversations about the weather,
I tell them that it's never been better.
In a way, it's never been.

I walk down the battleground of sidewalk
And tree roots, the slabs of concrete
cracked and marred by Mother Nature's
Will.
Broken etchings of hopscotch
Blur on the gritty surface, besides
The rose bush peeking out through the
Fence.

They'll never fix these.

Because it's another day in Paradise.
Keith Frantz Apr 2019
The big, lonely bed, stationary in all its essence, longed for her return. It resented the man now, biting and clawing at his skin. Although he had done nothing intentional or malicious to the bed, the bed held the man accountable and punished him for it.

The bed was nothing without the man's mistress. She had lain on the bed, dressed it with color and sweetness and light. She adorned the bed with her body, her being.
At times, the mistress and the big, lonely bed seemed to meld, to become one. And this had filled the bed with life. The big, lonely bed was not lonely yet.

The man never offered any of this to the big, lonely bed. He would come home late and drunkenly pass out on the bed. He would eat his meals on the bed and pay all his attention to the TV. His crumbs would find the recesses of the bed's matting and he rarely changed the bedding. Sometimes, he would ******* on the bed without a care.

It wasn't clear if the mistress missed the bed as much as the bed missed her. Or if the mistress even missed the bed at all. The bed never spoke of it, as inanimate objects are forbidden from such things. The big, lonely bed considered greatly her long absence now but couldn't quite fittingly express its pain.

The man began enduring several sleepless nights on the bed. He was too determined to admit why. Denial was his restful tool. But the bed did wake him. The big, lonely bed scratched at his comfort. Scratched at the man's contentment and resolve. The bed kept the man awake with pain and desire and awareness. The bed was not going to let the man just “use” it. There is a price to pay for sleep and the big, lonely bed was determined to extact it.

The man tossed and turned these early, restless nights. Embattled by the bed's desperate curse, the man continues to lose precious, precious sleep. He was too self-absorbed to know he was under siege by the big, lonely bed. He tried applying pharmaceutical methods and concocted psychosomatic cures for his lack of sleep. The man began to consider himself an insomniac and openly complained to his friends about it.

The big, lonely bed's desire for the return of the man's mistress reached new levels of retribution as the bed started to manipulate its springs and padding to muddle its very own comfort and purpose. Now the man could only list one way or the other on the bed. He thought about his lost love. And his lost sleep…

The man was also losing to the big, lonely bed. He longed for the slumber he so desperately needed. Without restful peace, he began to teeter near ledges, dangerous and desolate ledges. There he quietly mumbled her name. The man sobbed as he whispered the horrors he had played victim to by the very mistress the bed adored.

The big, lonely bed listened as the man cried his tears of missed opportunities and sincere attempts with the mistress. She had treated him badly. The man's tears fell upon the bed. And the bed absorbed the man’s agony. The bed had been blinded by its own desire for her, never considering the man's love for her and his subsequent loss.

The man was broken now. Broken in his reckless actions and his desperate thoughts to relive and repair the relationship, to fix it. To fix everything, to fix himself. He was broken without sleep.

The big, lonely bed began to sympathize as the man counted the periodic struggles he weathered when confronted by his mistress's manic episodes. The man had indeed survived her bipolar tirades when she encouraged her fueled rage with doses of antidepressants mixed with long-poured ***** and tall glasses of Pinot Gris. The bed remembered these exhausting nights and recalled the punishment the man endured for simply loving her.

The bed did witness the man's suicidal flirtations and pathetic attempts to blame himself. To blame himself for all of it. If he could only share just one more night with her. One more night on his bed with her… in his bed. Talking and laughing. Loving and planning. He could fix this. With the help of his big, lonely bed, the man could fix it all.

The bed did take pity on him.
The big, lonely bed understood now. And welcomed the man that night, lonely no more.
April 18, 2019
musings of a kook surfer
(kook: 1. Dork. 2. A new or inexperienced surfer. 3. Someone who says they surf but they can't.(waxboy)

Logic and Perspective  (a poem)

Quantum Imagination Rules.
What-Ifs equal What-Is
in this, a shared creation.

If         we are surrounded by what we can see,
            what we see is what we are;
Then   matter is perception of resistance,
            time is the persistence of opposites,
And    space is an Electric Universe;
            not lonely nuclear fires,
            but Twin Ribbons of infinite energy
            traveling through plasma that unites all.

The Earth
        a wonder of positive and negative,
        not solid,
        is the infinite slowed into harmony.
The Sun
        a focus of resistance,
        not burning out,
        Burns In.

No small coincidence that
equals means is
You Are and
You See so
I am and
                  
You are, you see, the I Am
...


No Chance for Chance  (a poem)

What is Serendipity?
Seen miraculous,
Some thing done there,
Something done.

What isn't Serendipity?
The unseen miraculous.
What miracles undone,
in time
in time,
as it never happened.

Everything?
Nothing?

It cannot be a good thing-
Fortunate for you is
lost fortune for who...
Self-fulfilling for Jungian prophecy
or prophecy fulfilled for Schrodinger's Cat.

It cannot be a bad thing-
In agreement
with yes...
Self-fulfilling for Jungian prophecy
or prophecy fulfilled for Schrodinger's Cat.

I think,
so I think I am caught between
a wave and a particle.

….

Between Worlds

Never turn your back on the ocean – the mantra of the surfer in my thoughts as I continuously scan the horizon.  There is just enough time to position for a wave; decide to paddle left or right or quickly further out to avoid the random pummel of a looming larger wave.  Between sets, the water gently bobs me floating half submerged.  Staring introspectively at the water, I am learning to interpret ribbons of upward-turning sparkles in the distance.

Dawn is an hour away; visibility is dim but gradually lifting.  Morning’s light is so flat and the water’s glassy surface so smooth that anticipating incoming waves becomes almost a matter of intuition.  The illusion of separateness from creation is breaking down.  The water is almost chilly, but still comforting. I forgo a rash-guard; the subsequent chest irritation from surfboard wax is a small exchange to feel immersed in the ocean.  The bay feels intimate yet expansive with only two other meditative surfers in the distance. Turtles swirl the water, heads straining up for a peek and a breath.  Sometimes they turn their shells so their fins feel the air; they keep three of us wanna-be-ocean-dwellers company.

Yesterday a southern Kona wind brings volcanic-smog from Kīlauea.   Vog is high in CO2 and fumes, giving sensitive people muddle-headedness, lethargy, and sore throat-  a reminder this is Pele's paradise.  This muting velvet feels almost smothering to the horizon.  Is it fog?  Yet a glance behind verifies the ***** of Mt. Haleakala is visible, from the shore to the cloud blanketing the world above the 10,000' peak.   Hale means "house" and the rest can mean either "of the sun", or "of a special raspberry-like flower". Either way the mountain was pulled from the ocean by Maui while he was roping the sun from the sky.  Usually, from this place in the sea, sunrise begins with a torch-like beacon of illuminated mist right over the peak, flaming brighter in the turquoise sky just as the sun coronas into a brilliant gold spotlight over the bay.  Yet this morning waiting for dawn, islands, water, and sky are all various shades of hushed mainland gray.

Half submerged and floating quietly, my back is to the mountain and I face the close but unusually shrouded island Kaho'olawe. It was callously blasted to a streaked surface of wind-blown dust by a military just for "training".  Recently reclaimed for pono, it represents the hope of nurturing a senselessly abused, irrevocably lost paradise. To my right is far-off Lana'i; to my left is Molokini, the sharp half rim of an ancient crater barely rising above the water's surface.

The world suddenly wakes, shedding gray. The sky's far reaching dome overhead intensifies, glowing in layers of rose, red, fuschia. The atmosphere I’m breathing becomes thickly permeated with color, as if one could breath lavendar-orange.

What planet am I on?

It feels so foreign, time stops.  The two other surfers are still as well, dwarfed by distance, and I am alone. Tiny in this red expanse, I become quietly centered.   I turn to see Haleakala where the sun is yet to rise, awed to distraction, forgetting incoming swells.  A bright sun smoked crimson is hidden behind the peak, shining horizontally through what I imagine to be some opening at the horizon.  Illuminated ridged undersides of the high clouds are streaked neon red to half the sky.  The atmosphere is hushed over the still water, the tangible copper light presses down, infuses everything.  It feels disarming yet comforting and surreal, floating surrendered to this other-world light; sky to water, horizon to vast horizon, the calm apocalypse the turtles and Kaho'olawe have been praying for.
Nathan Horkstrom Jan 2016
It calls me closer, its calls me near
"Just once and it'll be over"
Death whispers in my ear
Irresistible is its sweet entice
Staring down, which one to slice,
I observe my previous tries
My unseen hurt and earlier cries
No peace in my mind, no peace in my head
The quiet intelligent me, long since fled
Anger and rage consumes me
My minds demons bursting to be free
The walls of my cage finally cave
"Just be still, just be brave"
I slash down with an improvised knife
"Forget this world, forget my life"
Blood oozes and drips down the drain
A slight tingle but no real pain
A Calmness comes over me
My last attempt please, it's got to be
"***** everyone, that's made me into this"
The very same people who I'm going to miss
Tears stream down my cheek,
My head feels heavy, I get dizzy and legs go weak
Darkness surrounds me, I get a glimpse of the abyss
I embrace the darkness, then hear a shriek...

Then nothing.... Blankness, no sound
I feel my body drifting
I hear scraping, something's stirring around
Surrounding me, I can here creatures shifting
I hear a scream, I hear a moan
I want my family, I'm all alone
I hear cry, I hear a sob
And realize it's my own
I know I have sinned, still I pray to god
"Please get me out of this hell"
I start to yell...
No sound out my mouth, only in my mind
No one to help me, no one for me to find
I've never felt so scared....
My soul finally screamed and despaired
"I give up..."

A light???
My consciousness returns
As it starts to get bright
I feel myself falling
A faint faraway voice, I hear someone calling
Brighter now, getting brighter still
I feel myself escaping from this hell
Has it been months or has it been years?
Since I was stuck in that prison,
Trapped with my fears

I open my eyes, and look around
I'm lying in a bed in a hospital gown
The worried looks on their faces makes me ashamed
Sitting and staring no one makes a sound
"Sorry" is all I say...
Mother starts crying, my farther is sad
Finding me like that, must have been bad...
I get a kiss and a cuddle,
A pat from my father,
My minds in a muddle
I still manage a small smile,
And close my eyes for a while,
I promise myself, from this day on and till I die
I'm going to be the best person I can
Or at least try
Like a old cliché
"Live everyday like it's the last"
Forget all the bad days, I'm leaving them in the past
The sun is shining, my dark clouds have vanished
My demons have gone, finally banished
Life is good, life is great,
Forget wallowing in self pity
I tell you, straight.
Devi85 Oct 2012
In department store foyers, free samples sprayed,
A collision of cosmetics muddle the air.
The olfactory overpowered by such obvious odours,
Why do natural notes disconcert you?

Not the gym heavy sodden or overworked,
Recognition of an individual, whilst eyes remain shut.
Faint trace of the familiar or frenzied pheromones,
A headiness misplaced by the cologne wearing clones

Preference for the perfumed, the artificial sweetener.
Marketed meticulously
Musk manufactured yet not made by man
Of flowers dear, of oils and compounds.

Fresh, fruity, citrus or spiced
Artificial aromas keep your own scent disguised
Society simulates this sophistication of the senses,
Masking yourself from me as you are wooed,
Accustomed to this attraction, till you let down your defences
How shall I know you when you are ****?
Mateuš Conrad Jan 2017
i can't believe i came across this today,
but i am certain did...
   an experience so vague i couldn't believe,
i actually experienced dyslexia,
call it quasi call it pseduo... but it was very
much akin... from the book's narrative...
but not from the footnotes, i read the footnotes
at perfect cognitive speed, but perhaps
returning to the narrative i did experience
a slack of the + (add) of how words are
dissected and quickly put back together...
  yes, that other arithmetic with very little
breathing room, yes, that thing without
a soul... the word... or god...
    i turned custard brain, fudge...
     i felt like watching the gymnastics at
the para-olympics... and if i was going for a cheap
joke / english black humor i'd probably
laugh at that... but since this is the most
perfect ideal, i can't only make that comparison.

and so it was, i sat there doing nothing productive,
nothing... counting sheep to encourage
day-dreaming...
       so i said: 'i'll read a book', like i might do
on the whim in my grandparent's house
(one of the many reasons i decided to be "canadian" -
and establish a firm belief in bilingualism -
since if i didn't speak the tribal tongue
i wouldn't be rummaging in my grandfather's
library... and stealing books from him...
  well, exporting them to england, where he said
on my last visit: your library is bigger than
mine, isn't? well... it can fill a double-bed
   and be stacked at about 300cm up...)
    maybe the fact that being immersed in the tribe:
polish on the radio, on the television,
the fact that i can be without the internet for
weeks on end and have no quick-canvas outlet for
my earned tongue is the reason i could read
Kraszewski's* Dei Ira / bozy gniew / god's wrath...
    (there is too much subtle differences between
capital iota and little-town lambda -
   or why iota had to have the dot above it, anyway) -
so dei ira looks better... which is why i'm
not orthodox about using capital instances all the time...
   what a whirlwind...
         but prior to that i was watching
a david jacoby film - love is the devil: study for
a portrait by francis bacon...
                                         and all i could think of:
what marvel, to have a **** shoved up your ***
and speak so beautifully...
  have such a vast array of narratives...
     i can only assume that experiencing **** ***
gives you the other man's **** shoved into
your mouth that acts like a tongue and speaks
      so many truths as could be possible,
as in Freudian dream: when a woman wears a hat...
a talking ****** on her head from slurping
at the vaginal grotto of another woman...
     such a marvel though, homosexuality, esp.
the type of homosexuality that has art to express
rather than a civil partnership, civil rights...
  i mean, i could watch this stuff for days and never
yawn or need to watch protests and marches...
  just the image of what is best described
   john william waterhouse's
   painting hypnos and thanatos...
      i can't help but see it like that...
         francis plays the female role, his model the evident
dominant male... and sure, francis having his
**** punctured for what could be best described
as diarhhea either side of the equator does so...
it's as if he is eloquent enough / intelligent to allow
this to happen, for another man to speak through
him somehow... the model's phallus in francis' ****
becomes the model's tongue in francis' mouth...
    which becomes the stage for hypnos and thanatos...
in that francis' tongue becomes a phallus in
the mind of the model: and it whispers him nightmares
in his sleep... a vicious cycle indeed...
           that's the homosexuality that's highly regarded
by me, not the confetti functional type that
    exploits science and social norms and can no longer
lend itself to art, to transcending the taboo...
      with homosexuality divorced from art...
i can't see anything profound by gays from now on...
i really can't... if there is no art in this deviant
love, no art is worth being expressed by this
once glorious realm that has grovelled into the gutter...
so let's start once more: with Onan!

and everyday i awake wake with only one identifiable
fear: will i not write a single verse as of today?
it's not a case of a single day encapsulating my
fear, but that that crux day: furthered into a silence
that can't compensate the act of writing with
anything, other than sleep... i just can't seem
to smarten up concerning this very rational phobia...
    and having said that: here is the incision mark
denoting an interlude, and how: what are originally
intended to be of enso quality, cannot
   stand up to the biological tick-tock of needing
the loo...
     and do i think o'keefe's music foundation
by children is so much better than the original
done by tool concerning the song forty six & two?
yes, yes i do... just look at the kid on the bass guitar,
the fact that bass guitar is allowed to state a layer
of cake just above drums to set the rhythm
means the rhythm guitar doesn't have to solipsistic
******* and scale the everest of solo...
   it can remain in the rhythm section,
actually be worth a rhythm,
   the guitar doesn't need to overload into a solo...
the vocals belong to that domain...
   as long as the bass guitar is allowed to be heard
(unlike in metallica) - then i must be tone deaf!
revise me!
                    jazz knew the importance of every instrument,
and the need to be spontaneous, but also
the need to be anti-synchronisation,
  and therefore anti-muddle tsunami of:
all together now!
            n'ah, **** that **** (yes, the Vulgate is
coming along, i like the pooch, i don't care what things
i might say, the rude growl-bark is coming along:
so we can admire him licking his *****, and for no
other reason he's coming):
as in the birth of sexes... which the animals don't
seem to comprehend that much intently...
                 i can't like my ******* or **** one off...
but i know i can abstract a woman into
a hand and just pretend it's me doing the ****
crap with her... than myself included,
   or as i might add: never drink or *******
before the mirror... soon enough your reflection
becomes a bit odd, not because of what you do,
but because you hide so much perplexity before
you in Lucifer's daylight with which
  the moon Narcissus governs the moods...
that you start to look at your actual shadow
   with more clarity and fact...
  looking in the mirror is the reverse of looking
at your shadow under a street-lamp at night...
the mirror sort of becomes a shadow...
             the form becomes a bit (ha ha, what
an exagerration) vague... i look into
a mirror and i am but looking into shadow...
                   and i can't exactly recognise the eyes,
or make our geometric approximations
of a skull...
                      it's not even a case of a poor Yorrick
blah blah.
    or as the new governing body put it:
there are to be no mirrors contained within
the gates of Pandemonium...
        each to his own shadow, each to his own abstract...
   for the shadow will be deemed the new mirror...
   the new found glacier of, yes:
when salt water freezes, comes pure white floating
on the oceans... but must you freeze fresh water
and there's this matrix...
as in icecubes...
       dropping from a vendor machine...
and i knew i shouldn't have digressed so much,
but then again, if there was no ****** tick-tock
       rebellion, i probably wouldn't have revealed this much...
with ancient lore...
    who'd use the word Pandemonium these days,
if you're merely trying to call it: the Houses of Westminster...
well sure, accusation due: i prefer
a bunch of kids feeding me a nostalgia over a song
i heard aged 14... such is the power of the song 46 & 2
done to a... wait wait...
  i was talking about bass guitars and jazz...
(i could never get to like rap...
            i liked when the blacks deconstructed classical
music, but they did after: i'll never like,
mainly people of blackies and that general fanfare
of rap feeding tribalism) -
          the greatest aspect of jazz:
that on some recordings there's a chance to hear all
the instruments having a solo moment...
you'll hear a quintent solo:
  the piano, the drum, the saxophone, the horn,
the double-bass solo... each doing a solo...
not some erectile dysfunction of rock music from the 1980s...
i mean: each one will do a solo...
  and **** me, that's grand... and given there's no vocals
makes it all the better... but where, the ****, can i hear
jazz music being kept with such high regard as i
might find mozart pickled and even mummified
     to suddenly rise again and compose like i might hear
it on classical.fm... maybe acid jazz killed it...
   i can't seem to hear of one place where i can hear
the range of jazz music i have in my collection...
which probably mean's i'm lazy and don't fiddle about
with the radio fm and am channels... to "look" for jazz...
  i'm all applause though: jazz allowed for
deconstruction of classical music and paved the way
for the current state of polyphony in plateau...
    meaning: too much drum, too much ump-pst-ump-pst...
   jazz paved the wsay from orchestra,
   and yes, maybe because it was too impromptu
as it was necessary, that there was no jazz composer...
  there could have been no jazz script... no pre
           to what was otherwise alway and only: uno...
a once...
    sure Thelonious Monk did use an orchestra at some time...
  but if only someone decided to do a solipsism
and write out jazz like mozart wrote out
      concerto... but no... jazz descending from on high
and invoking african villages could never do to
its practitioners the deadly fate of breeding a jazz
composer...
                   it was the communal idea, the musketeer
unus pro omnibus, omnes pro uno:
   you could never allow a silent dictator like
a mozart dictating to a throng of people contained
within an orchestra... which later made the once
silent dictators very very vocal... speeches in Munich
alike...
           the fact that jazz has no script,
and the fact that if someone tries to play a Miles Davis
from script... is completely an ***...
     put him on a donkey (backwards)
                     donning a sanbenito and lynch him
to the nearest traffic junction to **** louder than
a car klaxon... that will do the trick...
       they did bother to script led zeppelin though...
    maybe it was the stiff competition that did it:
jazz. airy... breezy... but what a quick moment it was...
i'm almost jealous of the beat poets experimenting
with jazz musicians... but then i'm not:
i like to think of them as parasites...
   you know... those things feeding of spontaneity...
parasites... or dare i say: plagiarising leeches...
plagiarisng what? well, not the content, the context:
feeding of jazz spontaneity... not working from
old composers like Milton or Dante...
thank god for Ezra Pound and Sylvia Plath.

seems i have a ****** for a larynx...

perhaps i just seem to mean: i am a firm believer
in bilingualism... perhaps that's based on
some sort of religiosity,
    and let me tell you: it's born with
a schismatic nature, siamese, but not like a
siamese twin, in that it really needs a surgeon...
  it's a nucleus that's inherently schismatic...
i can't blame the english nation being
so lazy in its multicultural ethos,
i quiet like it: i don't live in a ghetto...
but forgetting my native tongue just so i could
sing a national anthem with conviction?
na'ah, that's not me...
            we'll come to Kraszewski's rex piast
in a minute, and it really was a genuine
experience of placebo dyslexia,
the one on the other side: should i have written
zilch...
      i believe in something quiet Canadian...
i don't believe in isolated communities,
   or ghetto tactic... i am a firm disciple of the advent
of bilingualism: forget the *** for just one day,
your genitals won't suddenly drop off with
gangrene scabs... you don't need a doctor
to say that...
                i mean: bilingualism as a concern
for incorporated culture, and the culture you were
born in... why can't these people just care to juggle
three testicles?
                   oh, elaphantisis got in the way...
sure, two oranges and a watermelon: makes sense...
no!
      have mutual respect, you come to me sprechen
Piast i'll speak Piast to you...
   well: given that polish and polish aren't that far apart,
i'd feel inclined to utilise
           idiosyncratic lingo...
   lingua genesis...
                children are so much easier to utilise than
angels: they have yet to experience anything at all
on the Socratic basis...
            so if i talk Piast to me, you will know what
i'm talking about?
     it doesn't matter if you do... i chose to be
a library, rather than an encyclopoedia of immigrants...
    there's not need to test me on general knowledge:
the stuff i "know" already gives me membrane...
     i respect both the culture of my birth and the skin
i am sometimes told to make sure is called tattoo,
and what i see before me, and quiet frankly:
i see nothing before me... a turban here,
    a sausage & mash there, a pint of guinness there,
noodles elsewhere... all in all: globalisation
and the elements: earthquakes... torandos...
   there isn't much to see in a poly-ethnic society...
there are too many major changes taking place
in a pyramid of non-ethnic ascriptive
         non-this-and-that pawns...
  it's not even painful: just a bit disgusting to watch...
  and yes i have access to a voult of monochromatic
society:
   you know how many ethnic minorities i spotted
in a train station in Warsaw? three...
two asians and one black woman...
              i haven't experienced the cold winters in Poland:
but i knew there was a limit...
         only about three apaches in a crowd of
albinos... which doesn't translate as:
    i was somehow content, it just meant
that most signs in Warsaw are written with a bilingual
bridge of Polish... and Ukranian Cyrillic...
plenty of Ukranian Mecca-bandits, for sure,
     but that's the end of the line with what
western Europe is doing to itself...
        every time i come back from Poland
i'm smeared with a rainbow of variety,
   it's either: i want to **** all these girlies
or i want to **** them... mostly the former,
  but you get the picture of experiencing the alternative
of the western experiment: since marxist economy
was "doomed" or simply expected to fail...
the economy finally seems reasonable with safety
for the old and the pension plans...
that marxist-culturalism had to emerge... if we are not
on the same dough plan of being content with a table and
a chair: might as well say we're all prone to don
a ******* afro.
                ***** are naturally curly, no?
going back "home" is always a weird experience, i tend
to read books there... like Kraszewski (who,
even the locals **** as being an unbearable bore
and joke that Joyce is easier read)... with his dei ire...
my grandfather just dropped it into my hands
as an experiment, thinking i wouldn't read it...
    well, in terms of translation Kraszewski is a myth-broker...
no one would read him,
  meaning: i'm kind of grateful that poles
seem to sorta: not exist, when it comes to citing examples
that include modernity and the history being
formed... i could sorta believe it if i were Estonian
or Lithuanian, or from Liechtenstein...
          but we're talking about a place with a large
enough population to be a major player in some
wordly conflict... Poland isn't that small...
    but yet it appears like it appeared from
the 18th century onwards... a state partitioned...
    and what i love about remaining tactifully bilingual?
i can talk about my native in a "colonial" tongue...
hence the " " definition: self-acquired...
             that's why i became spastic-fantastic reading
Kraszewski's rex piast - nothing came in,
i lost all trace of syllable construction, i read the books
so slowly i had one page done in about 10 minutes:
prolonging my musing of world powers, thrones
and crowns on a toilet...
        *******... another interlude.

can anyone see the, dodo project? i really just see a dodo project, yes: eine dodo projekt... i'm white, i'm male: can i be allowed to express these nouns in a pronoun, or am i schizophrenic prone? it seems i c
Jared Eli Oct 2013
They said that I could be whatever my heart desired
But I don't know what I want; All I know is that I'm tired
The world's too big for someone like me
The world's too small to fit people comfortably
The cities are jam-packed and all of the bodies
Are writhing and bending like awkward pilates
But the abs don't develop, the friendship's avoided
The only way to the top is to blood dope and 'roid it
There's no one that smiles as I climb on the train
And true, my own smile I made plans to retain
But maybe that's it! We've got a vicious rotation
Of these serious faces, a shy person's vocation
"Put up the wall!" cries the brain in a fright
The same little voice that grabs the wall switch at night
So let's bring them all out of the hand-painted shell
That covers them up and locks them in so well
But back to the start, I don't know what I'll be
And it's so hard to think with these people around me
They crowd up the alleys, the houses, the street
And it's funny, two strangers with same routes don't meet
We wrap ourselves up with the survival of the day
And we become more robotic as our humanity slips away
We entertain the thought that we're cognitively higher
And we've been doing that since Prometheus stole the fire
We've got all our gadgets ideas and tools
And we set codes of standards and morality rules
Sure maybe we're self-governing and make our own laws
But how does this make us above those with paws?
Are we wholly smarter by gift of this tech?
Because it seems to me that the world is a wreck
We took over the planet with ignorant spreading
Closer and closer the moment we've been dreading
Is nearing the Earth through the vast population
We're nearing the point where we'll need a space station
To hold all the people, too eager to quit it
To keep it in your pants, think before you hit it

To keep our races intact, to ensure man's survival
We're our very best customer and salesman and rival
"Help yourself and I'll be right along"
Is the tired old phrase, the motivation song
And some things you can change and fix with a thought
But the number of things that need more? Quite a lot
You can't save a nation just by a mental notion
There's no telepathic messenger who will fly across the ocean
On the wings and dreams of the oldest dragon
Whilst carrying the remedy in a silver flagon
There's no Wish Police who will answer your calls
And pull down their Fix-it Guns from the racks in the halls
So to move a nation, you might think it funny
But the thing that speaks to all is valid currency: money
To make all the changes you wished up in there
You've got to pull out the cash and flip back your hair
Make a statement that sure, you've no clue what you're doing
But you're willing to try, and while politicians sit stewing
Over who voted how and which bill not to pass
"The elephant says yea; Let's legalize grass!"
None of that matters if you get full support
And when you work for the world, who takes you to court?
So I guess the whole point, the big picture theme
Is that changing the world will take more than a meme
It involves more than **** and ******* and wines
It's more than those selfies and twerking and vines
It's more than that petty stuff you find so amusing
The internet was information, but you all are abusing
You muddle up facts with your silly fan fiction
U and I are ovr because you've bastardized the diction
The syntax is wrong, there are so many errors
These are but one of the grammatical terrors
That plague the nation, plague the world
The torch is passed and the baton twirled
The next generation knows no better
Than to follow our actions to the letter
What can they change when we've taken it all
And compacted it down to six summer weeks small
The information they're using is paraphrased
And the original sources have been erased
To make more room in the data banks
For storing the info on nukes and rebel tanks
Let's all converse and stop these risk stunts
Grab the bat from the player; "Take a risk, not a bunt!"
Change to the world has got to be swift and loud
Stop mumbling ideas when you can shout at the clouds
Let loose the brain you've kept locked away
And shout at the world; let them hear you today
What will I be? Well, I've got to make dough
To make waves in the world and change it, you know
I'll do what I can, within moral reason
To gain leverage on everything and it might become treason
To fix the whole world using ideas and cash
But I'd much rather my back feel the sting of the lash
Than condemn my mind to the essential lobotomy
My only medical surrender will be to phlebotomy
So take out my blood and my money too
If the world's gonna change, I've got to learn to trust you
That will be our base, our motto and creed
To strive for the change fueled by trust, not by greed
Anji Mar 2018
Soft and firm, gentle and fierce,
A parting breath smothers on skin.
Wild and wanting, surrendered and stroking,
Fingers are searching and home.

Quiet, now listening, anticipating, wishing
Until the spell breaks beneath lips -
Blushing it comes, blooming it bursts
Against symphonies and rhapsodies
With melodies heaving, heavy, unheard.

Gasping for life, holding more tight
To another so fragile, human, finite
Stealing, giving, alternately taking
An appetite destructive, delicious,
Desiring, raging;
Flesh upon flesh, ragged, receiving.

Twisting, bones resisting,
A common ground with no space between
Reaching and holding, pressing and pulling,
Synchronized in silent sweet rhythms of time
Warm, willing, fantasies thrilling, perspire
Lovely and lucid, writhing, conducive
As dancing flames to the fire.

Thoughts are melting to muddle
Into puddled pools of passion
Dripping, swirling, flooding, licking
The innermost walls of the cowering mind
Bodies and hearts are pulsing, repeating,
Beating and bruising, until each breath
Is ******, divine.
I don't think mom would be comfortable reading this XD
M Dec 2016
I'm a medley of a muddle
In a puddle of a mess
I confess
To no love
No insanity stands best.
Alexei stood on top of a mountain, the wind ferociously whipping through his fur. He could feel the sun burning behind him and he saw the moon standing proudly before him. He looked down at the ground below h and saw thousands of Lycans looking up at him. He smiled as he saw them. Alexei looked behind them and his heart stopped as he saw a raging wildfire encircling them. They were oblivious to the wall of fire behind them, looking to Alexei to guidance. He began to panic. He tried to run to them but his body would not let him, he tried to scream but his voice was merely a whisper. Tears stung his eyes as he saw the fire approach them. Alexei heard thunder in the distance and everything before him froze in place. His body was shaking. He felt something behind him and he turned. Alexei's eyes widened as he saw a regal white Lycan with golden fur tips standing in front of him. Her eyes were a dazzling purple, sparkling like stardust. Alexei could sense the overwhelmingly massive power standing in front of him. The wolf stood a few feet taller than him and Alexei felt meek before them. Alexei bowed instinctually, letting his muzzle touch the ground. His heart was in his throat and for the first time in his life, he felt insignificant. The Lycan spoke to him softly, "Alexei, I am Mother Luna."
Alexei swallowed hard as he realized the gravity of the situation. He was talking to a god. The Lycan god. Alexei's voice squeaked out, "M-mother Luna,why have I been having these dreams? What am I meant to do?"
The Lycan blinked slowly, "I have chosen you, Alexei. You are my vassal. You have worked for over seven hundred years to build the Lycans into a thriving species. You single handedly created a nation for our kind. You did well in hiding your true self since then, but now it is time to reveal yourself once again." She paused, "There is a war coming. The Slayers have been working in the shadows for a while now, trying to undermine our species. But no longer. Now you must fight back." She gestured to the land below them.
"Those Lycans will look up to you, they will rely on you for guidance. You alone can lead them."
Alexei looked to the mass of wolves below him and whispered, "What if I'm not strong enough? What if I fail you?"
Mother Luna stomped her foot and the ground shook. Thunder rumbled and she said firmly, "You ARE strong enough, Alexei. And you cannot fail me. Tap into the strength within you. Awaken the powers of the Master Alpha."
Alexei felt strengthened by her words, taking a deep breath. "As you say, so it shall be done, Mother Luna."
She nodded. Thunder and lightning flashed around them as she said, "Now go! I have faith in you." The world faded to black, with only Mother Luna's glowing eyes and the sound of wildfire remaining.

Alexei woke up, blinking away the vision. Aurora was coming down the stairs, and Alexei took a deep breath. He sat up in the bed and yawned, feeling rested but troubled. Aurora looked at him as she entered the room, "Up already, sir? It's still early morning. The sun won't be up for another few hours."
Alexei nodded, "I tend to wake early. Old habits die hard."
Aurora laughed, "I suppose you're right. I came to... To check on you, sir."
Alexei nodded and looked her in the eyes for a moment. In that single moment, he read her body language and scent. He broke eye contact and closed his eyes as he broke down the information. She was in her twenties, had no mate, and her musk was disguised with what Alexei assumed was perfume. He could feel Aurora blushing as he studied her, but he also sensed her body language change. Her stance was more submissive, and her heartbeat quickened a little as she watched his eyes move over her.
Alexei stood slowly, watching Aurora as she stole glances at his body. He watched as her eyes began to wander, studying the Alpha intently. Alexei could smell something new from her and he growled softly. Aurora gasped and looked up at him, her eyes mixed with fear and lust. Alexei could sense the heat from her body and felt a twinge of want in his own.
Alexei brought his head down low, eye to eye with the young beta. He said sternly, "You know not the game you play, Aurora."
She shrank back, shame clear on her face. He saw her ears flatten against her head and her tail curl around her leg. "I-I... I'm..."
Alexei sighed and sat down, "Don't be discouraged or ashamed of yourself, Aurora." She looked at him, still unsure of herself. Alexei asked, "You've never been mated, have you?"
She shook her head quickly, her mouth firmly shut but Alexei could sense the heat in her cheeks as she blushed. Alexei continued, "You wanted me to be your first mate, right?"
Aurora attempted to speak, but her mind was a muddle of emotions. She sank to the floor, defeated.
Alexei smiled softly. "There is nothing wrong with wanting that, Aurora." He looked at her, projecting his sympathy to her. Through their connection he could sense her calming down. "Is there no one in your pack who is a more viable mate?"
Aurora looked away, whispering, "No. All the males are mated already. I'm alone."
Alexei sighed softly, "I'm sorry. My paws are tied on this matter. I'm an Alpha. A mated alpha at that."
Aurora's cheeks were burning, "I-I know. I just wanted the feeling. I wanted to know what it's like to mate with someone."
Alexei shut his eyes and took a breath. His own mind was filled with mixed thoughts and emotions. He watched as Aurora lifted herself off the floor into a sitting position. Aurora continued, "When you pinned me in the woods, I didn't know what to feel. I was scared, but I loved the feeling of you above me, dominating me instantly." Her eyes closed for a second and she shivered. "Then I smelled you and I knew you were an Alpha. I... I didn't care that you were mated, I just needed you."
Alexei listened and sensed her desire in her voice. Instinct told him to indulge her, but his mind knew that he shouldn't. He whispered, "Aurora, this can't happen. Bad things could happen to both of us if someone were to find out."
She looked into his eyes, then down at her paws, "I know."
A few moments passed and Alexei made his decision. Alexei stood and took a step closer to her. She looked up at him and he growled. She gasped and shrunk down a little, her heart pounding. Alexei gestured to the bed and Aurora slowly walked around him, heat filling her cheeks once more. She got onto the bed and faced Alexei, watching him stalk closer to her. She tried to manage her breathing but each breath came out more shallow than the last. She watched as Alexei put one paw on the bed, then another. Alexei's voice shook her to the core as he said, "Turn around."
Aurora hesitated then did as he demanded. She raised her rear to him and she gasped as she felt him standing over her. Alexei leaned down and whispered to her, "No one can know about this."
Aurora nodded and mouthed, "I promise." Alexei's put a paw on each of hers and she felt a heat between her hind legs. She felt her back paws being pushed apart and she groaned mentally to him. She peeked back to him, her innocent eyes begging him to be gentle. Alexei pressed his belly against her back and felt their warmths colliding, forcing Aurora to loose a moan. She began to drool as she felt her urges being fulfilled by the big Alpha. She kept her mind entwined with his, repeatedly whispering her wants and needs to him, fueling his own carnal desire. She closed her eyes and let Alexei take over her, allowing the Alpha to tame her wild body.
They finished as the sun rose, and Aurora was breathless and exhausted. Alexei lay next to her as she recovered. She looked at him with a dazed look in her eyes and she nuzzled against his neck. "That was better than I ever could have imagined, Alpha." Aurora began to fall asleep and Alexei watched her. Once her breathing slowed, Alexei pushed his consciousness towards her dormant mind. He pushed healing energy towards her, helping her recover faster. As he began to retreat from her mind, he caught a glimpse of her dream. She was reliving the past few hours with him, and Alexei could feel the ecstasy that she felt. She had loved every second of it. Alexei couldn't help feeling guilty that she would have to keep it a secret, and that he was disloyal to his mate.
Alexei retreated back to his own mind, his thoughts darkened by his guilt. He took another deep breath and went deep into his own mind, searching for the powers that he had kept dormant for years. He felt it pulling him in, and he let it take him. The power was overwhelming, stored and growing for hundreds of years. Alexei tapped into it and anchored the power to his soul and heart. He opened his eyes and briefly saw the energy within the room. He blinked and it dissipated. He gently touched Aurora with his muzzle and a wave of energy passed over her, disguising the evidence of their night. Alexei's conscience kept him from wiping her memory, but he made certain that no one but them would know. He closed his eyes as he finished covering their tracks. He thought to himself, "What other holes will I dig for myself before this is through?" He didn't regret his decision, but he feared what possible outcomes would come of it. He stood up and stretched his limbs. Using his power, he quickly cleaned himself.
Alexei suddenly felt weak, and his head was pounding like a war drum. He stumbled back to the bed and collapsed, passing out before his head hit the cushion.

It was midnight. Alexei was surrounded by trees so tall that they seemed to touch the sky. He was standing on top of a lake, it's surface like a dazzling mirror. The water was cold against his feet, sending a shiver through him. Small ripples appeared around his feet as he took small steps forward. Above him was the full moon, shining down on him. There were multiple glowing eyes watching him in the darkness below the treetops. He could sense the presence of Lycans in the trees and he became nervous. Alexei stopped at the edge of the water, unable to move to dry land. He frowned and turned back, towards the center of the lake. He stood at the center, aware of the crowd watching him from the trees. There was a rumble of thunder in the distance and Alexei looked around him, searching for the source. Behind him stood Mother Luna, an amused look on her face. She was different somehow, her size closer to his than before. The water glowed a vibrant sapphire blue beneath her paws. She circled him slowly, the golden tips of her fur shimmering in the moonlight.
"Have fun, Alexei?" , she chided.
Alexei could feel his cheeks flush, "Mother Luna, I... I..."
She stopped him, her purple eyes fierce. "You let your instincts guide you."
Alexei looked down at his paws, "Yes, Mother Luna. It was a stupid thing to do."
An image of Aurora was looking back at him from the water and he sighed. His heart burned with guilt as he thought about his actions.
Luna shook her head, stepping towards him. She nudged him with her muzzle comfortingly. The touch sent a jolt like lightning through Alexei, and he could feel all of his urges and desires flow through him again. He groaned involuntarily and his eyes glazed over in ecstasy. He looked at Luna curiously as he fought to control the burning in his *****. Ice began to form at his feet, stopping him from moving. She smiled and whispered seductively, "Who do you think sparks instincts in Lycans, Alexei?" Luna leaned in close to his ear and whispered, "I do. You did as I hoped you would." She nipped at his ear, forcing another shiver through his body before she stepped back, clearly pleased with herself.
Alexei took a moment to respond, carefully forming his words while attempting to hide his feral lust. "You wanted me to mate with her. Then you have a plan, Mother Luna?"
She smirked, turning and flicking her tail at Alexei's nose, forcing another wave of urges through him. His legs began to shake and she grinned. "Of course. Whether you realize it or not, every move you make can affect the people around you. Aurora is now loyal to you. By satisfying her urges, you also fueled her lust for you." Luna laughed to herself. She turned and stretched her limbs, lifting her tail for Alexei to see. She grinned wildly as he whimpered.
Luna turned back to face him, hiding her amusement. She rubbed her body along his side, her tail curling around his neck and then down his back. She stopped as he whimpered fiercely. He was blushing madly, fighting the urges with all his might. Luna kept grinning, saying in an airy voice, "I can make you do anything I want, Alexei." She walked behind him and flicked her tail between his legs, the tip running along the length of his groin. Alexei lost all form of thought and he began panting. Luna licked her lips and walked slowly in front of him. "See? There's no use fighting instinct, Alexei. I gave it to you for a reason." She looked at Alexei, his eyes full to the brim with desire.
Alexei tried to speak, his tongue tied in knots, "I... Why...?" He shivered, whispering, "****."
Luna took a step towards him, "Exactly." She got close to him, enough that her scent was overwhelming to him. She whispered in his ear, "What's the point of being a god if you can't have a little fun." She stomped her foot once and the ice around Alexei's legs shattered. He took a tentative step forward, still under the influence of his desire.
Luna circled him again, standing with her back to him. She stretched again, lifting her tail as before. She glanced back at him, saying, "It's up to you on what to do now. Don't disappoint me."
Alexei couldn't help himself. He quickly walked behind her and put his front paws on her shoulders as he mounted her. Luna allowed him to push her hind paws away as he had done to Aurora. She did not wait for him as she ****** herself backwards onto him. She growled, pleased. "There you go."
As his body touched hers, his mind and body was flooded with vigor as her own desire amplified his own. Alexei bit down on her neck to keep from howling as they mated. His mind and heart were racing as he subconsciously tapped into his power, using a bit of its energy to invigorate his efforts to please the god beneath him. Luna felt his pace quicken and she grinned, "That's right. Don't disappoint me, darling."
She closed her eyes and let the waves of pleasure wash over her. Her mouth hung open as she panted. Luna howled as her lust was filled, soon followed by Alexei's growls of ecstasy as he finished. Alexei collapsed as he broke contact with her, his body still quivering. Luna stood smoothly, her legs and tail wet with their ***. She bent down and touched him with her nose, saying, "Good. You didn't disappoint me."
Alexei panted and closed his eyes, and when he opened them, he was back in the bed next to Aurora. His heart was still pounding as he thought about the dream. "Was it a dream?" , Alexei thought. He felt exhausted again, even though he had been resting. "I don't think it was."
He looked at Aurora, sleeping peacefully where he had left her. "Did I just mate with a god?" The thought ran circles around him as he relived every moment. It had felt real, and there wasn't the usual haziness of dreams.
Alexei shook his head and stood up. He looked to Aurora and he gently woke her with a nudge on the neck. She slowly blinked awake and she yawned, looking at him. "Morning, Alpha."
Alexei nodded, "Morning, Aurora." He gestured to the door, saying, "It may be best if you left before anyone finds out you stayed here. I don't smell anyone else awake yet so now is our chance."
Aurora nodded, "Good idea." She stretched quickly and ran up the stairs, silently pushing the door open and scanning the area. Once she was certain it was clear she ran back to the cabin. Alexei followed her soon after, covering her scent as she disappeared from view. He breathed a sigh of relief as he made sure no wolf was awake.
Alexei sniffed the air, taking in the myriad of scents nearby. To his knowledge, no other Alphas were nearby. He began to wander around the snowy forest, keeping an eye out for a sizable deer that could be his breakfast. Alexei looked up, seeing the daylight through the tops of the tall trees. He remarked to himself about how those trees were much like the ones from his dream.
His heart stopped for a second and he sniffed the air, sea
I thrive upon it,
And yet, it thrives upon me;
Grey muddle of life.
I feel surrounded by countless fears
The world for me has nothing but hate
It's getting harder and harder to hold back the tears
For I have an infamous tendency to be late

And that's just how they would phrase it too
So holier-than-thou with their watches
In this world swiftly turned to zoo
Time is king and we are just the notches

My teacher felt the urge to inform me today
That I am late in every way
Late in my work, late in my location
Late in choosing my perfect vocation

And even if you try your hardest
Treat your task as a craft
If you were there the latest
Everyone will view you as daft

Well from now on I will try hard to be on time
I'll cut the corners and muddle through the grime
This problem brings me so much shame
And my peers always choose my head to blame

But never assume that I don't care
Do not believe I enjoy this flaw
For like all the great singers and witty writers rare
My punctuality will someday leave the world in awe
A poem about my dissapointing tendency to be late.

— The End —