Submit your work, meet writers and drop the ads. Become a member
preservationman Jun 2019
Energize with Fuel
If you want huge biceps
Remember there is a training concept
The muscles grow through Nutrition and weights
The key is PROTEIN
This is where the muscles become lean
The development coming in stages
It is a maneuvering approach
Without the weights and food, you will be no stronger than roach
If Bodybuilding and or Competition where you want to go
Then up the rhythm in intensity being the flow
But increase the nutrition if you want your muscles to show
But I must continue to emphasize that nutrition plays the role in giving your muscles shape
You do not want to come off looking like a Fat Ape
You want muscles that are strong, and a physique that stands out
Especially if you are competing in a Bodybuilding Contest, you to hear the audience encouragement as you pose
Nutrition is a suppose
It’s that nutrition that gives the protein muscles strength
It’s also every training routine in intervals with endurance at great length
So if your muscles have caught your attention in feed me
It’s the muscles you want to see
It’s conditioning the way the muscles should be
It’s Protein making the muscles possible
It’s determination showing you the way
If you don’t want muscles that too is ok
Yet you must have a determination being any fitness goal
The tempo was be absolutely slow
Remember, “You must feed the muscles in order for muscles to develop”
So fitness on with nutrition along
Watch as your body takes shape
Also remember, it all happened from the nutrition you ate.
preservationman Jan 2018
It’s time to tone
Leave the fast foods alone
Get to the gym and workout
Shape and conditioning is what I am talking about
It’s the bones and the vessels
Muscles are the strength
So exercise in going the mile in good length
You will be glad you did
Don’t keep those muscles hid
Exercise for good health and not be a bid
Muscles are meant to be in shape
Look how built on an ape
Muscles bring out the beauty in what your body should be
You will have confidence and people will see
It takes focus to make muscles strong
However, it is nutrition in how muscles get along
Nutrition and exercise work hand in hand
Muscles are calling throughout the land
Build me up
This is a new year
Let the resolution be your start to preserver
Muscles are ****
Turn your muscles into energize
Then watch as your body will amaze and you will be surprised.
i like my body when it is with your
body. It is so quite new a thing.
Muscles better and nerves more.
i like your body.  i like what it does,
i like its hows.  i like to feel the spine
of your body and its bones,and the trembling
-firm-smooth ness and which i will
again and again and again
kiss, i like kissing this and that of you,
i like, slowly stroking the,shocking fuzz
of your electric furr,and what-is-it comes
over parting flesh….And eyes big love-crumbs,

and possibly i like the thrill

of under me you so quite new
it didn’t take a lot a look a few words a few more looks bam not that any girl stuck around and so it was on to the next nothing is precious everything is possible forget what you know leave the road behind invent dance new dance cough spit breathe dance verbs multiplying gazillions of verbs stars what is it about art in my mind i hear all these things i was going to express all these itches scratch pick scabs get drunk write poetry dance ******* in your mouth ******* in my mouth salty sea surfing waves Caravaggio Courbet Turner Goya Ad Reinhardt Rothko Rimbaud Johnny Unitas Walter Payton Annie Proulx Patty Berglund Hannah Wilke Kim Gordon dark clouds rainbows meteor showers lantern licorice amethyst bone

in the end it’s you and your maker ashes to ashes dust to dust Mom questions it’s 4:30 PM December in Chicago and pitch black i don’t understand it’s not supposed to be this dark this cold she imagines a past that never existed events never occurred

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

it will be daylight soon and i am unprepared so terribly unfit for a new dawn suddenly realize tomorrow is today

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

when people die in masses is it any less lonely more comforting than when you die individually or is dying solitary for everyone

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

redemption is a powerful force but what if existence actually does not present second chances and we must live with the consequence of our mistakes

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

if there is an afterlife do i have any say in it or are we all merely lost baggage tossed from airport to airport

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

what if travelers at airports were met with welcoming arms shared stories food instead of suspicion body scanners separation boarding seating procedures

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

i built a magnificent sandcastle with wide open rooms interesting views spacious bathrooms huge kitchen secret places winding stairways auspicious towers swinging rope bridges welcoming gates but the tide washed it all away

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

i cry yet know not why am i a ***** i must take the goose by the neck whatever that means

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

speaking personally i’m never interested in the last bite only the first bite the middle tastes rather bland all chewing gulping automatic consumption talking swallowing stifling gases

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

horses mate with donkeys then out comes mules yet mules cannot propagate nature is so strange mysterious what is it about the attraction between donkeys and horses

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

2 gorgeous petite charming sweet young girls are subletting my place in Tucson i imagine ménage à trios or relationship with either one of them then realized how improper my thoughts will i ever learn

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

Reiko likes hanging out naked if the door is locked and they’re in for the evening she strips Reiko is one of those women who look better without clothes the curls under her arms are growing in dark thick her bush is filling out even her **** is hidden by silky brown hairs he cannot stop checking her out she pretends not to be aware as she trims her toenails he leers **** your cooch looks tasty Odys i like that you can speak crude to me he murmurs you really like that she answers yes i really like that he sees himself in her he is deep in sleep wakes by her hand pulling his hand down to her ***** bone he stirs confused in half sleep as she continues tugging his hand Odysseus realizes what Reiko wants it is 3 AM he touches her there warm distended begins to massage wetness gushes moves down bed puts face there she presses pumping grinding whispering repeatedly i want to *** so bad his mouth tongue breath work her hands grip his head push unyielding muscles stiffen arch shudder continues licking until her body lies still crawls up kisses her forehead hair bodies spoon fall to sleep in the morning he comments you were a naughty little girl last night Reiko grins answers i had an orangutan attack he questions an orangutan attack she confesses yeah they both laugh he has never known a woman so fierce urgent to ****** Reiko has a man’s libido she reminds him of himself they mimic each other hearing Reiko speak Odysseus’s own words back at him and visa versa convey how demanding insecure insensitive each can be to other they do not simply speak but mimic each other Reiko ‘s voice drops to low pitch as she grabs his buns kids hey Reiko Lee what do you think about us wiping each other’s butts we could become more intimate with our bodies Odysseus raises his voice sounding feminine replies Schwartzpilgrim you’re gross take a hike it is hilarious yet intuitive therapy that maintains level playing field neither allows other to be too weak or dominant

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

it is Sunday snowing blizzard freezing cold outside Odysseus sits on floor watching Bear’s football game at Reiko’s she sits naked paging through Art Forum magazine across sofa from him he hears her crunching on bag of barbecue potato chips during half time he reaches touches her bush runs fingers through her ***** hairs twirling them in his fingers she spreads her legs wide open he smells her hair breath perspiration ****** *** feet feels both repelled and attracted he is lost in fascination gently tugs on her lips slides finger inside massages probes her opening she directs him to kneel stands above him her arms at waist her pelvic bone in his face she orders **** it **** it good he follows her instruction **** my ***** she commands as she holds his head in hands her long skinny body thrusts hips forward Reiko presses gently pumping then more furious rough into Odysseus’s face ooohhh i’m going to shoot a load baby swallow my *** she shoves ***** bone into his face bangs his nose hard yet he remains ******* her legs thighs stomach muscles tremble oh oooohhhhh ohh Odys did you see that i came just like a guy oh Odys i loved that he wipes mouth laughs

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

a person’s sexuality is always in question how one interprets his or her own ****** persona relative to another person’s personality response ratio how one’s power measures reacts to another’s vulnerabilities strengths Odysseus and Reiko fit well together switching roles in impulsive volley he loves her masculinity the unpredictable equation of their love he teases Reiko Lee i’m so attracted to the tomboy in you i want to **** you off and let you **** me come over here and stick that fat hard **** in my pink little **** hole all the frustration rage pain pent up inside you i want you to harness that hurt and slam it into me and shoot your load all over me **** me good Reiko Lee she looks at him strange says you’re a weird bird Schwartzpilgrim how weird do you think he asks her voice takes on a creepy overruling tone Odys, you want me to fist-******* he snaps shut up Reiko Lee get out of here she runs fingers through hair breathes out through nose taunts Odys let me ******* a ***** and ******* in the *** Odysseus’s voice grows loud Reiko Lee you’re crossing the line just because i mention some crazy thought doesn’t mean i’m actually into such weirdness don’t try to take what i say to some sound conclusion i enjoy experimenting but i’m one hundred percent male i like to test limits because i’m secure in my manhood spicing our *** life with ***** fantasies is one thing but don’t overstep i got the **** and you got the ***** let’s keep it that way don’t mess with me she replies ok ok Odys i didn’t mean to offend you

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

often he personifies the lead and she interprets the willing or amendable he requests many ****** urges she for the most part eagerly fulfills yet knowing his desires run over the top he considerately concedes to her sensibility he asserts rule number 1 Reiko Lee please let me have my way with you ok please try to not refuse me she smiles consents ok Odys and i want the same from you he insists rule number 2 repeat after me i’m addicted to your ***** i’m codependent on your **** she repeats i’m addicted to your ***** Odys i’m codependent on your **** he challenges rule number 3 at least one ******* a day agreed? She answers yes Odys agreed later he thinks about their conversation approaches her Reiko Lee sometimes i need more than one ******* a day maybe one in the morning and one after you get home from work i need your adoring attention down there will you do that for me please she shoots sarcastic look at him what are you a cow that needs milking everyday all right Odys whatever you desire he gratefully acknowledges Reiko Lee you’re so good to me thank you next morning he says Reiko Lee when i think about you the first image that comes to mind is your eyes i love your eyes more than any other part of you she comments oh yeah more than my **** hole? he flinches surprised oh god i can’t believe you said that you are so outrageous Reiko Lee you have got the sexiest **** hole i’ve ever seen i love adore revere your hairy **** hole when are you going to let me get some of that she remarks we’ll see Schwartzpilgrim in due time the following morning he notices bathroom door is wide open peering inside he sees her sitting on toilet she looks up smiling as he nears he questions which are you doing peeing or ******* she answers why do you need to know he requests lift up and let me watch she raises her thighs knees legs curling toes on toilet seat her **** muscles pucker then a brown extent begins appearing from her hole her vaginal lips flare urethra presses as short spurt of ***** accompanies discharge the ***** length drops into bowl followed by smaller piece Odysseus perceives the action produced by her body as intimate natural expression occurring without contrivance manipulation he studies the form as if it were a sculptural object descended into water to bottom of bowl Reiko reaches for roll of toilet tissue he interrupts **** she answers let me wipe myself first it reeks in here you mean watching me taking a **** turns you on you are one sick monkey he says shut up and **** she follows his instruction after several minutes he pulls out of her mouth jerks off while she watches he shoots wildly on her chin neck chest she rubs his ***** on her ******* they both break out in laughter she says come on let’s take a shower together she begins speaking sentence he finishes it she says Odys i’m not comfortable with more than he breaks in one ******* a day i understand Reiko Lee she expresses thank you Odys one is enough agreed he replies ok ok

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

a week passes Saturday evening she comes from work to his place with stressed look on her face she falls back into wall on floor with her legs stretched out she asks got anything to eat he answers a couple of beers in the fridge her brow furrows as she speaks in low tone Odys i’m guessing there’s something seriously wrong with you he questions wrong with me huh what she comments your physique is weird your shoulder blades and rib cage stick out you’ve got a sunken sternum he answers yeah i know it’s not really a problem more like natural peculiarities she says yeah well you’ve got other peculiarities he asks oh yeah like what she remarks i’ve never known or heard of a man who gets hard as often as you it’s deviant you’ve got some kind of disorder you need to go see a doctor he admits i know i got a problem my libido is out of control it’ll calm down it’s been a long time since i felt so hot for someone do you really think it’s serious enough to go see a doctor she answers serious enough to insist you bone me once a day he laughs Reiko Lee you had me going she grins get over here you ***** ******* and **** me good Reiko’s favorite way to ****** is with her legs closed tight she lies beneath while his ******* presses in pumping her thighs buttocks squeeze stomach muscles tense whole body jerks spasms as she reaches ****** Odysseus’s favorite position is with Reiko on top he likes her rhythms and control

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

when Michael Vick was found guilty for dog fighting mauling cruel killing i wanted him dead dead dead but he is a brilliant quarterback and i was wrong who am i to understand another person’s background judge them maybe there is redemption

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

if another war comes it’s China we must fight to hate fear them run hide

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

it’s a long twisted road down a dark cold hole many are too damaged others work toward salvation yet some unscathed by all this filth

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

on the brighter side death gets a bad rap by mortals think positive perhaps death is graduation to whatever at worst death is release from life’s disappointments expectations responsibilities burdens betrayals pain horrors

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

i remember when Dad was dying all these new people who i still remember entered my life for a brief time it seems like the same thing is happening now

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

Mom i’m right here behind you don’t be scared i’m watching out for you

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache
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.
lucky died to bring his previous life back to the young dudes



you see, scott mcdonald, who was my old school mate died way back

in the 1990s and wanted to reincarnate as our family cat, lucky, you see

lucky was a cute, but cranky cat especially when it rained, it was scott trying

to rid his crankiness he was like at school, but dad copped all the flaming flack

and in the end lucky was tired and had to be put downy the vet, and it was from

that moment i started hearing voices at work, which drove me really crazy, you

see one voice was from my scott pushing words into pats voice saying, i am not mucking

with yiou like i used to muck with brian, your not a flaming adult, and the boss of mitchell ACTEW

sue, didn’t know what was wrong with me, as i was yelling at my voices through the building

and when i got the job at lower molonglo, cath was worried about me too, and scott mcdonald was

having a field day, trying to lift me away from the powerful thinking people away from me, you see

scott was a bit sick of me, and it looked like he hated me, but then as he reincarnated into my family

as our cat lucky, because one man called me a great big ugly snout and i called dad a great big ugly

snout pushing me with brendan our next door neighbour who i was trying to keep kidnapped with me,

like the song went kidnap brian and kidnap brendan keep brian and brendan in our cages, and scott’s spirit

wanted to reform me, so he made buddha reincarnate him into 2 cats, a grey cat named muscles, and a

grey and white cat named lucky, and muscles lived in my flat and lucky lived with my folks, and in 2004

i started hearing voices from scott mcdonald, trying to make muscles into a wild dingo or a raccoon

and i had to **** it before it killed azaria chamberlain, but i killed muscles and scott mcdonald created

pluto as the love planet and i went to the psych ward to try and be placed on more medications and mum

thought they let me out too early, and scott blamed dad for allowing to have muscles killed, like he could’ve

taken muscles out of my hands, and lucky was blaming dad for the rain and every time i picked lucky up he will

get cranky, you see lucky was caught up a tree for 3 weeks, where scott said, your not one of the young dudes

anymore, and scott was performing concerts on the love planet, and now when i played concerts, scott has been

planting the word woosey in pats voice in my head, and scott was getting tired of teasing dad, and said goodbye to

lucky and as i said, i got voices since lucky died which led me to the psych ward in november 2013, which made me

talk about my previous lives and made me do art and try and get better, while scott mcdonald is now baby **** on the

youtube family the shaytards, and scott is happy to be a human again, after all this crap, and now i am trying to get better

by writing stories and drawing pictures to get the evil out of me, my voices say from people on the street, is never ever

get anymore cats, ok
David Nelson Dec 2013
Intense Workout

I try to workout diligently,
at least 3 times a week,
the muscles are tight and strong,
I'm certainly no geek,

I pump the iron, walk the track,
listen to my tunes,
but lately I've been distracted,
watching for ms June

She's quite the lovely lady,
recently moved to this place,
she is French, with sweet accent,
puts smiles on my face,

vous êtes l'homme élégant she says to me,
her eyes sparkle bright,
I have no idea what that means,
so I just smile with delight

sometimes she reaches out,
and touches me on my arm,
de tels forts muscles she says,
and this makes me warm,

I need to study French I guess,
so I won't look the fool,
for all I know, there is a chance,
she is calling me a tool

the thing that's bad about this all,
is I work out way too long,
trying to impress this girl,
make her think I am King Kong,

now my muscles are getting sore,
I'm working way to hard,
if I keep this up much more,
I'll be searching for my doctor's card

Gomer LePoet...
preservationman Jun 2014
Barbells and principles
Intensity through determination
Shape leading to conditioning
Veins with the muscle peak
Creating just the right physique
I have long to have muscles
No relation to seafood mussels
However, its nutrition with a name
Looking for results being the aim
I want a reflection that is my own body composition
The idea is to be solid and strong
Feeling muscular in where I belong
A dynamite me
For all to see
My dreaming mind
I am visualizing with all combined
Muscles are just fine
It takes years of perfection and that means time.
i will be
    M o ving in the Street of her

    bodyfee 1 inga ro undMe the traffic of
    lovely;muscles-sinke x p i r i n    g S
            uddeni
    Y         totouch
                             the curvedship of
                                                         Her-
    ….kiss      her:hands
                                    will play on,mE as
    dea d tunes OR s-crap p-y lea Ves flut te rin g
    from Hideous trees or

         Maybe Mandolins
                                      1 oo k-
         pigeons fly ingand

    whee(:are,SpRiN,k,LiNg an in-stant with sunLight
    then)!-
    ing all go BlacK wh-eel-ing

    oh
        ver
              mYveRylitTle

    street
    where
    you will come,

                             at twi li ght
    s(oon & there’s
    a             m oo
)n.
Yasmine Dennis May 2014
Ouch. It hurts.
My muscles tighten...the pain intensifies
I reach for you as tears swell in my eyes
Take 1 every 6 hours, the bottle reads
Can 1 cure the pain? Yes, Indeed
Much better, symptom free.
Tomorrow.
Ouch. It hurts.
My muscles tighten...the pain intensifies
Let's try 2, I feel the symptoms on arise
Much better, symptom free.
No hurt. No pain.
***, he just said we're done.
Ouch. It hurts -more painful than the first day
My heart has been torn, torn in the worst way
Let's try 4, that would numb it to the core
A broken heart is hard to fix...4 didn't cure
1 more left...but I think I need 6
A simple signature from a doctor will help this fix
A quick visit to doc and I'll be fine
Ouch. It hurts...the pains still there...doc nothing works
Take these 4x a day they're called percs
Ouch. It hurts.
My muscles tighten...the pain intensifies
Fake doc signatures, false diagnosis, all the lies
Up to 25 a day...reaching for the orange bottle
...even when the pain is away
Fading in and out, in her own world
Still broken hearted no cure for this girl
Ouch. It hurts.
My muscles tighten...the pain intensifies
A bottle a day, she's losing the fight  
Who knew 1 pill could ruin my life
Ouch. It hurts.
My muscles tighten...the pain intensifies...
"Pinch the pink rose bud"*  He whispers

"ahhh mmmm"* she responds

"Harder dear one"

"ohhhoww" as the dark heat shoots through her body

"Yes that's it girl"

"Roll it between your thumb and forefinger"
"How does that feel girl?"

"Mmmss ohhh it feels so good"

"Pinch it hard now"

She cries out as the painful heat surges

"That's it, again now harder"

Calls out louder as the heat in the bud hurts but feels so decadent

"Take your other hand and slide your fingers between your rose petals"

She continues rolling the ****** as her other hand obeys His demand
Her fingers reach the nether lips and find them laden with dew
"Mmmsss" As the fingers slide through the moisture

"Slide your fingers into your well and pull forth what you find"*

Her hips lift off the bed as the fingers slip inside her tight wet well
the heat intense her tunnel soaking wet, how she wonders

"Pull it up over your little nub now and begin circling it as you continue to pinch that tight ******"

"OHHHHH ohhh yesss!!!"
It feels so good she wants to move her fingers faster but doesn't dare

"Circle Your **** round and round now pinch hard and hold it"

Gasping as she does so, her legs jump as the heat seems to stab her between her quivering thighs
Whimpering as desire washes over the ivory flesh, feeling the nectar as it flows between the cheeks of her ***

"What are you thinking girl?"

"How I wish you were here, How I want you inside of me so badly"

"Mmmm I wish I was there to girl"
"Now release your pleasure nub and begin to rub faster"

Fingers flutter over the taut nub, hips lift pushing into the fingers
Other hand continues to roll, pinch and pull the ******
He hears her moans, whines, and whimpers growing in intensity

"Lift your ****** to your mouth girl and suckle the hardness, I want to hear you, keep those fingers moving over that taut lil nub" He whispers sensually

Suddenly he can hear her mouth as it pulls upon her own ******, breathing through her nose as she ***** harder, fingers moving faster now as the passion begins to take over from his demands

"That's it girl, bite it hard as you ****, imagine my teeth against your chest"

Her scream is muffled by the large ample globe of flesh as fire shoots to her *****, nectar floods her well

"Yes my girl you sound so good, are you close" He asks softly

"Yessss" is muffled as she continues to **** and bite her bruised breast

"Rub harder girl, faster, I want to feel your release" He says firmly

Her fingers pinch and pull her **** as her mouth suckles on the breast harder pulling more of the flesh into her heated mouth

Tension builds, hotter, as body tightens, muscles grow taut, suddenly her breath holds, her body stiffens liquid shoots into her mouth from her ******, as the clear viscous fluid floods her bed

"Screaming yes oh yes oh **** yes"*  She cries

She hears him as he responds to her ******

"Yessss oh yes girl I am ******* you so hard, oh godddd yes here it
comess"


She hears him hold his breath as his body releases the slapping liquid sound is heard as her own body is still pulsating, muscles finally relaxing as fireworks still explode behind the closed eye lids

"You are so ******* hot ****, I can't wait to yank that long hair as I ram my hard **** deep into you"  He pants

"I can't wait either, I need you soon, please don't make me wait much longer" she begs

His wicked laugh is heard on the other end of the phone as He says firmly
"Now **** *** now"

Believe it or not she did, this time harder than before, thighs quivered where she could not walk, they were actually sore from the strain, she blushed at how easily he could get her to release

"It won't be long now girl, we will meet and you will feel my hand pulling those long locks as I push deep inside you, where you can taste the effect you have on me and I can taste your sweet essence"

"Oh yes I can't wait to be beneath you, on top of you, in front of you, I can feel your bites on my flesh already, I can feel your hard shaft opening me up over and over again, I can't wait"

"Yes that isn't all you will feel is it girl?"  He asked

"ummm no Sir" she shivered thinking of the sting of leather against her flesh, the feel of rope binding her tight, and the clamps all strategically placed to enhance her ******

"Sleep now My girl, naughty dreams"  He whispered huskily

"Sleep tight my Love" She responded softly
The pain scared her but she had experienced it before and the pleasure it brought was so all consuming words could never describe


****** pain can bring intense pleasure. I would suggest you not try things on your own without the guide of an experienced lifestyler.  This definitly enhances the ****** experience.  Not everyone is into it but I hope my poem did it justice
Written by : Jennifer Humphrey all rights reserved   Updated 1/31/15
The evil witch is after the 11 year olds


Once upon a time there was an evil witch,, and this witch was like no witch i n any fairy tales, no this witch was pure evil, you see she took pride in grabbing 11 year old kids avid locking themselves in the basement to eventually chop them up and put them in an oven, to give herself a feast, the first kid was young a 11 year old boy named Tommy Kinarfis and he was on his way to school and he was just minding his own business when this black car pulled up and before Tommy could run away, the witch grabbed him and shoved him in the boot of his car and being as scared as he was, Tommy really didn't want to die, and tried to bang the the walls of the boot to show that he has been kidnapped but nobody heard him and before he knew it, he found himself locked up in a cage being fattened up, so the witch can eat him up, and after about 12 hours Tommy was dead, and the witch was happy, the next kid was 11 year old daughter of president Frederick Leonardo, you see this president was so conservative and everyone was too scared to do anything bad to his kid, but one day when the presidents daughter, who was named Terri was waiting for her body guard after school when this car turned up and this man got out pretending to be her bodyguard one day, and after 2 hours of driving Terri realised that she has been kidnapped, and then the bodyguard took off his nice disguise and when Terri noticed it was the witch, she tried to escape but soon enough she was locked in her cage being fattened up, so the witch can enjoy her feast, and the presidents daughter Terri was dead and the president had a little burial for her.
The next kid was 11 year old Peter Vernin and he was a kid who loves sport, especially the AFL, because that was a boys sport, and Peter had it in his mind that because he played AFL, he will he invincible but as he was going to footy training, he had to walk because his parents had to work, a ******* car pulled up and this man pulled up and asked Peter if he would like a ride, and Peter, being only 11 said yes thinking he was being treated like a kid that everyone liked, but then he found himself chained up in the witch's basement ready to be slaughtered at any given time, you see because Tommy had muscles, that was enough to make him be nice and tender to eat and when the witch finds out that he had suffered enough, then the witch will cook Tommy up and before he knew it, Tommy was just a corpse and the witch was feeling very happy and this made her feel she can slowly get rid of each child as soon as they reached 11, and she was feeling like nobody will ever stop her from accomplishing this feat.
The FBI are having a hard time trying to find there missing kids because they just vanished without a trace, but they had every officer and forensic investigator in to try to catch the witch and make her pay, mind you the FBI were unaware that the persons responsible is a wicked evil witch.
The next kid was Raymond Terrestal, an 11 year old who was in a broken home and every day he went to the local shops to buy milk for the family but also he would occasionally steal a chocolate bar and also a few flavoured milks, and the witch said to herself that this boy needs to chopped him up and watch his shiny white legs slowly turn to very tasty meat. Even though Raymond put up a fight, saying you can't chop me up, fella, I am a sports boy and I have heaps of muscles, but the witch told him that the muscles make him even more tastier, and she wants to have Raymond to really taste nice so he can really get away from any way of being a sports boy, and as Raymond was cooking, he is yelling and yelling, saying, let me go, I am a big tough sports boy, I like playing footy, I don't wanna die, let me go and leave me alone old witch, but the witch said heh heh heh hen heh, no buddy you ain't a cool kid, all the other kids are tough, but you Raymond, no you are all mine, and Raymond was screaming, please save me from the wicked witch, And he also said why me, why me, why me, and the witch said, no mate your not like us,mate
You are still a little shy boy, and I am just doing what The Lord wants, you see Raymond, The Lord wants me to cook boys up when they turn 11, because then they are even more tender because they are mature enough so I get a good tasty bit of human flesh, and eventually Raymond died and the witch continued on her journey to rid the world of kids right till they turn 11 years of age.
The next kid was 11 years old Naomi Roberts who was a really family and friends type of girl and she very rarely strayed away., but one day she and her friends played outside the witch's house, because it was a pretty good place for kids to play in but unknown to Naomi that her friends were playing a trick on her and had planned to get her stuck in the bushes near the mail box and when the witch went outside to see what the noise was, she saw Naomi stuck in the garden trying to break free, and the witch used her powers to make her look like a nice old lady and brought Naomu inside to keep her safe, then the witch showed her true colours and told Naomi that she will never escape from her, and she also said she is hosting a dinner party and Naomi is the main course and from the moment she said that Naomi started to get scared and screamed and screamed for the witch to let her go, she also said it's not she that the witch wants, it's her friends, who stabbed Naomi in the back and the witch said, no they are young women and I don't want to **** young women, it's you, who I want, little girlie, and you are never going to ever escape from me, and Naomi said no Mrs Witch, you will be with me till my dinner party and then Naomi you will be no more. You will leave this world never to return little baby little girlie, Naomi is very scared and starts to feel like her perfect world is about to end because the wicked witch has her right where she wants her.
Naomi was trying to scream so loud that the witch's neighbour would hear and come and rescue her but nobody can hear her and Naomi starts to get very scared, so scared in fact, she tried to fight her way out of the cage but it is closed so tightly and Naomi is starting to get scared because still the FBI have no leads on the whereabouts of these kids, and despite being bullied by the parents of the missing kids, they feel tempted to give up the search till they get a lead, simply because there is no point in trying to find a needle in a haystack, but the parents wanted them to find their missing kids, even if it means they have to become vigilantes and defy the law and find those kids themselves, meanwhile the next day in the witch's house, the witch was starting to cook Naomi up so they can have their dinner party, a nice tasty little girl for dinner, heh heh heh heh heh heh heh, and when Naomi was slowly dying the witch kept of stirring and stirring to make Naomi really suffer, you see for the witch, well, she took pride in torturing kids as soon as they turn 11, and then Naomi died and the witch was happy and said that is another 11 year old under our belt, heh heh heh heh heh
The next kid was 11 year old Pat Roberts, who was a cool boy who loved to tease so much that he would take people away from their families to do so, unless they do as they do and one day he gave up playing football with the tough boys to tease a boy who he hates very much, and stop him from being a family person and also brainwashing everyone into thinking a family person is supposed to do as they are told, and one day the wicked witch who really wanted to keep taking these boys decided to go after Pat Roberts and cook him up and then she will get rid if this boy from the would once and for all, but getting rid of Pat Roberts will be a hard thing because this boy is so hard to catch, because he is ever so smart, and it will be a battle to get rid of this Pat Roberts because of that, Pat Roberts would say, no mr witch, you can't catch me fella, you can never catch me for as long as you'll alive, and you are going to die soon if you keep catching kids anyway, the next day on the witch's quest to catch Pat Roberts, she decided to use her ***** magic to try and lure him to his house but Pat Roberts is too smart for that as he kept himself inside saying no witch is going to get me, if you are going to catch me, you'll have to get past my father and I can guarantee old witch that my dad has the power to put you right in her place, you are mrs witch, you haven't got the power to overcome me, so come on wicked witch, just you try and catch me, but you won't get me, I can make you suffer of you try and get me ya wicked witch and the wicked witch straight away thought maybe one day I will catch Pat Roberts, I will try and take some other 11 year olds and the next 11 year old was Gordon Gullet and he was a boy who was a bit of a black sheep who went on a mission to **** the wicked witch but when the wicked witch captured him, but she had no plan to cook him  up, actually she planned to try to get him on side to catch Pat Roberts and when Gordon said, I won't tell you where Gordon is, I will never tell you where he is. Just let me go ya old cranky wicked witch, and because Gordon was talking too much the witch put her hand on her mouth, she eventually had to put sticky tape on it and then the wicked witch said, if you don't tell me where Pat Roberts is, you'll suffer, and I mean you'll suffer, mate, suffer forever mate.
The next day when the witch got up and saw Gordon trying up escape and the witch said, mate, you'll never escape from me, no you'll never escape, until you tell me where is your friend Pat Roberts, and Gordon said no, I won't ever tell ya, you will have to **** me first, Pat Roberts is a friend, no, I will never ever tell you, ya wicked witch, and the witch said no I ain't going to **** you, I just want you to tell you where Pat Roberts is, why won't you tell me, I will be your friend forever, and Gordon said, no, I won't tell you anything you old fucken witch, and you can do to me anything you want, I will never ever tell you, you mean nasty old witch.
The witch then said, ok, you will stay there in that cage till you tell me and when you are ready to tell me where your friend Pat Roberts is, I will make you suffer, even if I don't **** you, you will be suffering without anything to make you keep your mojo in tact, you will suffer Gordon, I will make sure of that, so unless you tell me where your mate is, you will suffer, and be kept there until you tell us of the whereabouts of Pat Roberts because I want you and him to cooked together and eaten, and if you don't tell me, I will keep you here for the rest of your life, so Gordon are you going to tell me and Gordon yells out with a loud voice, which went,  NEVER, my mate Pat Roberts wants to tease people who are trying to work to hard and push themselves into breaking point, and I want you to let me go, because I am tougher that you, cause you are a mean nasty witch, who should burn on the planet Mercury and the witch said no, mate, say hell, you see you are still a little Christian boy, and while you have your beliefs that you will die one day, you are like us, but if I find out that you are keeping the whereabouts of Pat Roberts from me, I will hold you at knife point and force you to tell you and Gordon said no, I will never tell you, never, I will prefer to do die myself, rather than tell you where he is mate.
The next day the witch went out to try and catch Pat Roberts and then Pat's dad said to Pat Roberts that he will protect him and when they heard a strange noise outside their house and it was the wicked witch, who was lurking about outside and when Pat Roberts went outside, the witch put a hand over his mouth and said I have you mate and then the FBI came and despite a desperate fight to get herself free, the FBI took off to Salem to get burnt at the stake and Pat Roberts and Gordon was safely going home with his family and the witch was reincarnated as a pig and then a tiger and after that a deer, she suffered, especially when she will be constantly bullied by hunters.
Turtle Eyes Aug 2014
I want to sneak up behind you and grab you
I want to slowly unbutton you blouse as I kiss the back of your neck
I want to undo your bra, exposing your perfect *******
I want to kiss your neck and **** on your ear as I slide one finger up and down your ***** slit and oinch your rock hard *******
I want to rub your ****, making your body vibrate
I want to **** tease your ****** with my tongue before ******* your amazing **** as I slide my finger slowly inside you
I want to lay you down and feed you my throbbing **** as i continue to slide my finger deeper and faster, rubbing your **** until you explode
I want to rub your juices all over your ******* and areola and ******* as I continue to slide my **** down your throat until I  explode down your throat
I want to slide between your legs and seperate your ***** lips with my fingers before I slide my tongue slowly inside you
I want to continue to lick your sweet *****, making your body quiver and your back arch as I alternate between licking, lapping and *******
I want to slide one finger inside your tight *****, feeling your muscles tighten around my finger and one finger in your tight *** as I focus all my attention on your **** with my masterful tongue, lapping soft and slow, then hard and fast until I feel you ready to explode
I want to **** your **** just as you begin to ****** and your bury my head into your sweetness, nearly drowning me in your juices
I want to stand over you and slide my throbbing **** up and down your *****, slapping your **** with my swollen head
I want to look you deep in your eyes as I slowly enter you, becoming one with you, rubbing your **** as I continue to pump myself deep inside you, watching your amazing **** bounce with each ******
I want to kiss you passionately as ******* hard and slow until you *** all over my pulsating ****
I want to stand up, taking you by your hair and put you on your knees so you can taste your ***** juices off of me
I want to bend you over and slide my hard **** deep inside you from behind as I spread your *** cheeks and lightly spank your beautiful ***
I want to tease your *** with my thumb as I ******* slowly from behind
I want to work my thumb into your *** as I begin to ******* deeper and harder until I grab your hips and pound your ******* until I feel you ready to *** again
I want to explode with you, filling your ***** with my load as you continue to cream all over my ****
I want to collapse onto the bed with you, wrapped in each others arm, completely naked and satisified, until....  26
preservationman Jul 2017
Do I have what it takes to step on the Bodybuilding stage?
Competitions to compete in
Intensity training too begin
Muscles focus at the end
Muscles to tone until pumped
Nutrition in muscles feed
Plenty of muscle magazines to read
Posing until perfect
Structure in the Bodybuilder’s mind
Having a mind set to take effect
Mirror checking flexing results
The hardness in muscles felt
Training through pain with the term dealt
Having a Bodybuilding Coach guiding any Bodybuilder to perfection the whole way
This is training principles usage every day
If a Bodybuilder intends to win, he must have high intensity determination to the very end
It’s more than just lifting weights
It’s the preparation in how it relates
It’s the protein intake
It’s also requires drinking nutritional weight gain shakes
Later at Prejudging during the day and competition night
The Bodybuilder must be properly oiled for the heavy spotlights
Practice posing backstage
Step on center stage to let one’s muscles amaze
Cheers from the audience encouragement being the phase
The competition will require standing next to other bodybuilding competitors in comparison
In the eyes of the Bodybuilding Judges whose muscles standout
However competitions can become a flexing bout
But you can depend on audiences with a shout
However, it is the winning bodybuilding circle where the focus will be a winner profile everyone will be talking about
Bodybuilding is about weight gain or weight reduce
Yet it is a sport where men and women are enthused
But there are drugs where including young people should refuse
Bodybuilding good or bad
No pain with everything to gain
It’s about exercise
Some might say it is an enterprise
But people must realize
Shape having tone
But I am sure this everyone has known
Muscle training comes from anywhere across the shore
Yes bodybuilding is something one should explore
Muscle Appeal
Having a muscle flex feel
The bottom line, Bodybuilding is for real.
DieingEmbers Nov 2012
You exercise two muscles

not your own

My heart and ....
CK Baker Mar 2017
there’s a barnacle scar
deeply ingrained
on the basalt stack
at mark thirty two
whispering summer winds
scented oil
cotton and roe
drift
as waves brush
and shape
the sandstone shore

the briny air
and lost erratic
set a tone to this
pollyanna portrait
it's andrews undulations
and gifted benches
its concessions
and traces of the barry burn
its sculpted driftwood
and sanko lines
make this picture
almost perfect

children play
as venom spews
from the caterwaul pair
those odd looking mates
casting smiles
with arrested despair
settling shots
swiping bugs
dipping and darting
as photo men
and muscles
and long neck seabirds
make their turn

the hunched hoody
and his sorted sidekick
get their fill
(of moss and rubble ~ chubby and kelp)
nice to meet your acquaintance
the pho man would say
an odd drop
and ironic turn
from those horrific corners
of timeless desperation
down by cannon bridge

harbor seals
and carriage horse
are fronted by
raven shade
jolly tides pause
in quiet bays
(with curious looters
and *** pickers)
sand merchants
and field totems
all streamed by the light

cirrus strands
blanket the
outer edge
hovering craft
and shimmering willows
bolt the evening frame
blood orange
and tethered
with a filtered glare
bottle-nose dolphins
and seabirds
(and shifting tides)
are all settling in
for the long night stay
Nat Lipstadt Mar 2018
0 followers?

Dear New Poet:

Then I'm your man,
your very own
Northern star
one of a
3 legged stool,
upon which all,
we enthroned poets,
the world-over,
do rule

the honor you
bequeath me  
to be,
a first follower,
your very own
first responder,
cannot be
disdained
nor
diminished

this case,
this birth,
novice revival,
heart transplant,
makes it
the greatest
to be the first,
the quencher
of your thirst
so long in the parching,
the throat burnt by a
desert sojourn
of a now ended,
forty years

so come to me!

message me
a message,
find me a find,
your poem so fine,
I here now vow,
our embrace will
ne’er be broken

give me this
honorific,
let us together
be terrific,
raise our glasses,
arms entwined
toasting you  
all that mind and 
breast of yours,
bursting full of 
future~contains,
the full release of, 
bringing longer life
to us both

I am a father.
I am a grandfather.
I am a First Follower.
I am a First Responder,
for all who need a leg up,
so step upon my heart,
the first step upon a ladder
with no top, no end ensighted

my legs are as old as time, but,
measure me not by the rings and 
the metered scales of gray hair aging,
shock of white, a cain mark, wizard-wizened

but by the muscles
of my deep affection,
the solemnity of this,
my irrevocable promise

this,
the blessing
we both earn and make
when you write,
while we wait
in quiet attendance -
for all your good works,
your kept promises

Blessed are You Lord our God,  Ruler of the Universe
who has given us life, sustained us until now, allowing
the reader and the writer, to reach, meet, embrace and
greet this day, this new born poem, with hallelujahs,
                                         together!
love to chat & encourage new poets
Challenges and competition notified.
Every step codified.
Tears and sweat pacified.
Achievements and advancement glorified.
Regression and depression terrified.
Muscles and struggle verified.
Foes and conspirators mortified.
Plans of progress and purpose sanctified.
Grace and the Goodness of God testified.
Sweet pleasures of life.
Trials, Torment and Torture.
Eulogies and Elegies of visible characters.
Promising and decisive.
No conflicts, No dilemma.
DeeDeeK May 2012
I want to make love with you
wildly, savagely, viciously
insatiable need crowds out all thought
except for how you feel to me
it's more than lustful carnal craving
raw passions threaten to explode
we're one, together in that moment
senses burning, overload
hearts pounding, muscles shaking
salty sweat, bodies aching
driven into breathless frenzy
release, that moment stopped in time
once more, to feel that you are mine
There's a certain peace that settles inside you when you hear the wind whip through the forest, the sound soothes you until your muscles quiver with joy and you begin grinning with delight as the cool air runs soft fingers down your spine and sends shivers back through you. That was the feeling going through Fayowin as he stalked his prey, a nimble buck that mindlessly grazed in the snowy glade. Fayowin was a wolf, tall and regal, his fur ran a silver-white with intricate blue lines spiraling and writhing around his muscled body. His eyes glowed pure white in the night and shimmered in the daylight. The fangs lining his jaw were longer than the other wolves'... then again he was also larger than his alpha as well. Fayowin saw everything clearer and faster than the most skilled hunters in his pack, and he was also the swiftest. He should have felt proud of his uniqueness, but he felt outcast instead. The other hunters shunned him and disliked hunting alongside him, leaving Fayowin to hunt alone.

Today was no different. It was his turn to hunt and he had to hunt alone. If he failed, the pack would force him out into the cold. "If the pack starves, the hunter freezes," was the motto of his alpha, Alexei. Fayowin narrowed his white eyes and drew in the scent of the deer. As he did, he caught the hint of a she-wolf nearby, not of his pack. Distracted for an instant, he snapped back and sprinted for the deer, lunging for it and tearing into its throat and ripping out the windpipe and blood vessels all in one bite. As the smell of blood coated his senses, he began to feel uneasy and whirled around to see a silver wolf snarling at him. It was the she-wolf he had sensed earlier. She stood just a little shorter than him and had strange markings of her own: she bore black marks under her eyes and one on her forehead that resembled a paw. What struck him the most was the band around her upper foreleg. His eyes wandered as he observed her and she growled, bringing his attention back to her glaring green eyes.
"That... was my ****!" she growled. "I don't know how you managed to get it before me, and I don't know how you managed to escape my notice. Who are you?!"
Fayowin sneered and raised an eyebrow, "This, my dear, is MY ****. I've had my eyes on it for a while now. And frankly, this is my territory as well, and unless you want to become part of my territory, I'd suggest you treat me with respect."
She edged closer to him, surprised and infuriated at this male's straightforwardness. But there was something about that and his scent that appealed to her though. "I'm not leaving without this deer."
Fayowin chuckled, "It looks like you will be leaving without it, whoever you are."
"My name... is Feiria!" she licked her lips hungrily, "and that is MY deer!"
Fayowin narrowed his eyes thoughtfully as he studied her. Even through her winter coat, he could see the outline of her ribcage and could smell the desperation on her scent. He saw Feiria's muscles contract as she prepared to lunge at him. He sidestepped and she landed face-first in the snow, a mere inch from the warm deer meat. She looked at him hungrily, almost pleading. Fayowin sighed and nodded his head once, after which Feiria voraciously tore into the carcass.

He slowly meandered towards the center of the clearing and flopped down into the snow. He could hear the she-wolf eating ravenously behind him as he thought of his next move. If he returned to the pack, he'd be ridiculed and forced to live in the snow. If he stayed out here he faced the same problem.

Fayowin flattened his ears back and started to doze off, still listening to Feiria eat his ****. He began dreaming of gaping mountain passes, tall forests, and warm valleys. He felt oddly warm, not freezing cold as he had expected. He didn't care though, warmth was a gift in the winter. He slept peacefully until nightfall overtook the forest and the moonlight shone down and illuminated his fur, the lines becoming like blue fire. His eyes would have glowed if they were open, but they remained oblivious to the change in scenery until a cold wind blew through his fur and he shivered awake. He nearly jumped when he realized why he was so warm: the she-wolf lay curled up, pressed against him, sound asleep. He tilted his head slightly as he watched her sleep, probably the most peaceful she'd been in a long time. Fayowin would've hated to ruin his gift to her, albeit an unwilling one.
Feiria woke up soon after midnight, and gazed fearfully into Fayowin's glowing white eyes, taking in his
Cynical stare and his glowing body. She whispered, "I've heard of your kind..."
he looked curiously at her, "my kind?"
"the star wolves.."
he averted his gaze, "Never heard of them.. I'm just a normal wolf.."
Feiria glared at him, "You're glowing, *******.. Not normal. Unless.... Unless your whole pack is made of star wolves!" her face seemed to light up as she said it.
Fayowin whipped his head around, "No! I'm the only one like this..." he looked solemnly down at his feet as he finished.
She blinked, dumbfounded. Clearing her throat, she said, "I really should get back to my pack. They'll be worried about me if I stay out for much longer." she glanced at the massive deer behind them and sighed quietly.
"Your whole pack is starving...aren't they?" said Fayowin quietly.
Feiria nodded and he stood up and walked through the snow silently towards the deer. "you'll need to lead me to your pack if they're to get this meat."
Feiria blinked again, then nodded, getting up and starting off  
Towards the north. Fayowin gripped the deer's neck and drug the carcass behind him as he walked. After a half hour of walking, Feiria howled long and low, signaling her pack that she was near. Fayowin sighed as he heard their howls respond. He thought, there will be no howls for me tonight...
As they neared her pack's clearing, a group of young wolves sprinted towards them, rushing past Feiria and surrounding Fayowin. "Who is this outsider, Feiria? Why did you bring him here?"
there were five of them and they all went into attack mode, growling and circling him.
Feiria attempted to stop them before they got into a fight, but one of them pounced, and in a flash Fayowin had him pinned to the ground with his fangs around the wolf's neck. Fayowin watched the wolves around him react, stepping back and glancing at each other. Feiria shouted at them to stop but they didn't seem to hear her immediately, backing down only as Fayowin's growl tore through the trees, echoing throughout the forest
. They finally heard her, "he's a star wolf!" by now a crowd had gathered around them, Feiria's packmates watching Fayowin closely. He let go of the young wolf beneath his paws, who quickly scampered away, and Fayowin sat up straight and tall, his markings and eyes glowing for all to see. The wolves ooh'd and ahh'd amongst themselves before the alpha stepped forward and looked him up and down. "You killed this deer, yes?"
"I did."
"Why bring it here? We are strangers to you."
Fayowin glanced at Feiria, who shifted, uncomfortable with the silence. "I brought it here because i could tell that this pack needed the meat more than my own." Fayowin looked directly at Feiria and continued, "besides... She saw it first."
[[][][][][][][][][][][]
(End of day one of writing, really enjoyed it, look forward to writing again)
[][][][][][][][][][][][
Fayowin perched high upon an rock outcropping, overlooking the clearing below and the wolves within. The alpha had allowed him to stay, grateful for the meat. Feiria was pressed against him again, but this time Fayowin didn't mind. He enjoyed the warmth that she provided and felt at ease around her. She nuzzled his cheek affectionately, a move that surprised him enough that he turned to face her, brushing her nose in the process. He gazed fondly into her eyes for a moment before standing. "I have to return to my pack."
Feiria looked shocked, "No, stay here with us. We could use a hunter like you. Plus you're a star wolf, and it doesn't seem like your pack appreciates that."
He let the words sink in before replying, "I have to go. I'll return in the morning." Seeing the desperate and doubtful look on her face, he added, "I promise. I will come back."
Fayowin walked to the edge of the forest, the glow of his body soon disappearing from Feiria's view.
[][][][][][][][][][][][][]
...
[][][][][][][][][][][][][]
F­ayowin sprinted relentlessly back to his territory, smelling the familiar and not so pleasant scents of his packmates. The smell of blood ran thick in the air as he neared the clearing. The moonlight cast eerie shadows around him and he could feel the eyes of the wolves watching him as he reached the gore pile. The mound of bones and rotting flesh dripped blood into the white snow.
"You're late. And emptypawed. You know what that means, filth." the voice was that of his alpha, Marroy, who stood three feet tall at the shoulder, a whole foot and a half shorter than Fayowin. His fur was a mottled black with a grey underbelly.
Fayowin bared his fangs, the longest being three inches long, and he growled, "My name.. is Fayowin."
Marroy cackled in the darkness, "So straightforward. That's unlike you. No matter, you failed to bring us fresh meat. As punishment, you'll be reminded why we protect you in the first place."
Fayowin heard growls emanating from the trees. The pack of around 25 wolves was massive compared to other packs, and there were enough hunters to go around. Fayowin took a step back and let his eyes adjust so he could see them in the trees.
"You don't protect me, Marroy! You fear me!"
Marroy laughed again, "Not from where I'm standing, Mutt. You look pretty frightened." Fayowin took another step back. "Run! Run! Give us some entertainment!"
The wolves started bounding out of the trees and began chasing Fayowin out of the clearing. They seemed to be pouring from every shadow. He ran faster than ever before, the trees blurring past him as he tried to get away. He ran for what seemed like an eternity before seeing the snowy valley at the edge of the forest. He added a burst of speed and instantly regretted it. A rock beneath the snow tripped him and pain shot up his left foreleg. He tumbled end over end in a heap of blue and white, coming to a stop twenty feet away. Fayowin heard the pack coming for him and he tried to crawl away, but to no avail; the pain was too much. He whimpered as he was surrounded, and shut his eyes tight as he felt them bite and claw at him, retreating only after there was a ****** pool around the star wolf. Marroy walked slowly up to him after they had gone and said, "I hope you die out here. If you aren't, we'll make sure that changes." Then the alpha left him there, cold, ******, broken and alone.
[][][][][]][][][][][]]][]][][][][
* (End of Day two/Start of day three of writing and i'm really hooked on this, I believe this may be one of my better stories...)*
[][][][][][]]][][][][][][][][][][
Feiria lay silently on the rock outcropping above the pack and she thought of the star wolf. Something about the breeze brought thoughts to her mind.  
Feiria lifted her nose into the air as the smell of blood became present. She sniffed intently and heard her packmates do the same. She looked in the direction that Fayowin had left in and saw a dark form slowly shambling through the shadowy flora towards her. As it neared her she could see that it was dripping a dark liquid, trailing it through the snow in a scarlet path. "Its Fayowin.." she thought to herself. "Why are his eyes so dark? Why isn't he glowing?"
she rushed to his side and the smell of his blood was almost overwhelming. There were numerous bites and cuts all over him and his left foreleg seemed broken.
Feiria called for the healer, an older female named Sheya, and supported Fayowin as they walked to the glade and waited for the healer. Fayowin collapsed in the center of the clearing, the moonlight hitting him directly, making the blood seem black against his white fur.
Feiria whimpered helplessly, waiting for Fayowin to answer, but his eyes seemed so lifeless that
She felt it was almost a false hope. When Sheya finally arrived, the blood had stopped flowing and his breathing had slowed until he was asleep. When the healer examined him, she looked puzzled.
"what's the matter, Elder?"
Sheya pondered a moment before saying, "His wounds have healed. I'd say its a miracle, seeing as he lost so much blood."
Feiria examined the sleeping wolf herself and found the elders words to be true; there wasn't a scratch left on him. "Leave him here, the sunlight will warm him once daylight comes and his fur is thicker than ours so the cold will not affect him as much." the gathered wolves sat in silence as Feiria washed the blood from his fur with snow and lay down next to him, pressing her body against his. The blue lines on Fayowin dimmed and brightened in tune with his heartbeat, and Feiria listened as her own beat matched it.
[][][][]][][[][][][][][][][][][]
...End of day 3....
[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
Fayowin felt like he was in another world, this one so much quieter, but at the same time he could sense every noise, every movement, every vibration. His fur was no longer the bright white it once was, but rather a deep black with crimson lines flowing round him. He was lying down, surrounded by a wolf pack, Feiria pressed against him for warmth. He saw, or rather sensed her spirit energy, a type of green fire that outlined her entire body as she slept. Fayowin stood up, thinking to wake her and let her know he was alright, but she hadn't moved. And neither had he; his white furred body remained as it was a moment ago, but he was looking at it as if in another body. He took a step back as he realized he was roaming about in his spirit form. He looked around at the pack and none of the gathered wolves seemed to notice him. He exited the circle of onlookers and gazed up at the falling moon, watching it descend into the horizon, chased away by the rays of the sun coming over the mountaintops to the east. As the sun peeked over the ridge, Fayowin caught something out of the corner of his eye, a dark mass that didn't fit right with the rest of the environment. He looked and saw two sets of glowing purple eyes in the shade. He called out to them, hoping they might hear. "Hey! Can you see me?"
The eyes looked at each other and then back at him, staring for a moment before turning and running.
"Hey, wait!!" Fayowin called after them and began to chase them deeper and deeper into the mysterious forest.The beings moved faster than Fayowin had anticipated, disappearing soon after the chase had begun. Fayowin stood there in the middle of the woods, panting and searching for the elusive forms. After a moment he saw them at the very edge of his vision, their eyes glowing brighter, almost as if they were taunting him forward. Snarling, Fayowin bolted towards them and they led him on a winding path marked by a barely discernable scent trail. The smell was that of burnt wood and crushed pine needles and was oddly alluring to Fayowin as he ran. It seeemed as if he were running for ages, the sun and moon rotating numerous times around him as he traveled over mountains and rivers, through forests and valleys. On the thirteenth solar rotation, the figures finally stopped, joined by eleven other figures surrounding a circular rock with vines and overgrowth covering its base.
As he neared the figures, he saw that they all looked like him, long furred and covered in glowing lines. "Star wolves... Like me..."
The wolves all surrounded the dais and watched him with razor sharp eyes, watching his every move. As he gazed back, Fayowin noticed that each of them had some form of a trident mark right below their left eye, the color matching the lines tracing their bodies. He felt the urge to move forward, as if an instinct were telling him to stand in the center of the circle. Fayowin stood, all eyes on him as he waited for whatever was about to come.
[][][][][][][][][][][][]
....I have nothing to say to you HP... I dislike you at the moment....
[][][][][][][][][][][][]
Nightfall was coming swiftly, the moon and the stars swirling into place above them, reaching their peak and then halting completely. All of time and
Come see me
9 PM this Friday
In a park near you!

Come watch me eat ḋ̸̻̺̗͙̤͕̦͂̄̓̽̊̋͗i̴̡̛̙̯̗̠͇͉̼̲̻̅̊̃̍̆͞r̸͚̼̣͔̜̟̬̰͂̽̆̿̏͋̓̕͟͡͞t̄̍̈̃̆̕͘­͗ by the mouthful at the swing set.
Come see me scream till your ears b̨̩̫͕̘̊͊̉̾͛̍́̀͞l̤̺̫̰̘͎͉̓̅̌͐̀͜͢ͅe̡̙͚̟̯͙͕̖̾͌̽͐̀͊̓̌̒͜ḝ̰̙̱̯̻̘̈́͗̌̀͞͞­̬̥d̨̡̟̪̟̗̼͍͓̓́̈̍̊̇̿͋̅͢͞ as I slide down the biggest slides.
Enjoy my one man play reenacting the Silence of the Lambs!
(Your ķ͖̠͙̫̗̣͒̊͆̾̎̽̃̈͘ǐ̷̧̛͍̦̟̜͙̥͎̔̄̽̾͢d̡̡̮̗̜̻̱̮̼̊͒̈́̓̔̊̊͒͌͜s̤͉̈̆̓͗̾̓̅͢­̴̲̜̖̻ will love that one)

Stand and applaud as I attempt dangerouse ş̵͇̲̗͒͋͐̅̚͝ͅt̸̨͙̣̰̬̩̱̥̝͒̓̀̓̏̏̓͘͠ų̷̢̨̥͓͕̉́͑̿̕͢͝ņ̸͓̱͚͈̭̣̬̘̀͑͗͊̆ͅ­t̶̨͇̝̻͍͉̼̎̓͟͠͝͠s̴̡̧̗̹̰̩̘͇̤̈́̽͛̊͐͟ off the jungle gym that I have only seen In Hollywood movies!

Watch me .
p̝̞̖̳̪̮̫͙̅̋̉̄͐͆̔̆̔̿ę̺͔̘̭̺̲̫̐̅̀̿̓͢͟ẽ̷̗͔͍̬͔͗̇͊͛̽̓͘͜͜l̟̇̔̂͗̓́͠͡͝­̧̬͎̗͙̫͎͟ off my s̷̫̰̜̤̠̿̆̎͋̕͟͜͠k̴̢͔͔̳̬̻͗͑̀̌͂͐̔͑̊ͅi̷͓͖͉͚͚̠̝̙̝͌͊̄̀̏͊̑͝͡ͅṋ̻͙̇̽̈́͋̄̔͡­̧̩̜, and use my wet muscles as lubricant to make the roundabout go faster!

Watch me dunk your neighbors dogs s̴̢̨̘͎͉̪̪̦͚̄͋̃͛̊̆̀̓͘̕ȩ̧͎͈̀̀͒͋́̐͟͠v̸̦͚̠͕̏̂̎̔̀̊͆͢͝͞e̡̳̠̺̠̟͇͂͛͗͋̍͑͢­ŗ̢̦͎̮͉͕͍̊̐̓̂͛̽̒̄͒͗e̗̩͚͖̫͋̄͟͡͠͞ḍ̴̢̲͔͖̣̪̾͌͗̀̒̄̄͞ head in the basketball hoop!
For the f̫̺̰̜̘̺̩̳̝̖̒̊̃͒̀̇͐̓͡ṵ̸̩͙̼̮͓̦͋̓͆̈̕͟͠ǹ̻̰̣̼͙̰̀͐̎͛̀̈́͞ of it!                  

Have you ever seen a rat with no              
    f̵̢̣̘̦̱͚̟̟̱̀̏́͐́̍̄̚i̵̢̢͎̺̘͚̿͒̐̈́̀̓̌̚n̛͙̟̦̟͕̩͒̌̍͑g̢̰͕̤̝͑̏̅̆̕e͐­̸̡̢͈̥͓͉̊̋͑̀r̛̩͔̻̩̮̱͆̒̽͆͋̚ṡ̸̛̛͎͕̯̳̻͙̏͘͝?             
     
Would you l̨̛̦̟͎͇̲̼̦̱̠̓̀́̇̏̀į̧͎̭̫͓̮̫̮̌͆̎̐̀̽̎͌̚k̴̭̼̥̱͖̃̽̎͒͋̅́͠e̹̟͆͑̅̅͌͗̀̀͟͠­͖̩̱̰̬̯ to?!

Come one come all,                                  
to something, entirely new!        

Enjoy something.... .
.
R̴̛͕̺̝̜͔̈́͋͑͒̎͆̏̓̒͜Ā͙̻͚̗͌́̃͂̊̈͗̚͞ͅW̶̙̻̰͙̹̲̗̆͋̈̇̓͜
.
.!
.
.
I̵̖̬̘͔̻̹̜̫͊̂͌̓̽ a̴̧̢̱͇͚̭̹̞̅͂̄̌͒͝͠m̧̗̜͍̥͙̦͈͍̐̉̔͛̍͒̌ t̸̮̪̹̺̥͈͈̯͂̔͊̅͢͞ḩ̶̧̮̠̺͉̱͈̣͛̾̊̚̚̚ḙ̴̫̬͕͍͔̯̝̐̾͑͆͘ͅ ĉ̳̝̟̙̦̏́̈͆̊́͑̽͡i̜̮͔͕͓̐̑̇̂̎͑͑r̻̝̩͔̫̮̩̽͑̍̈́̈́͛͌̕c̶̰̱̥͚͕̻͗͊̂̊͗̑̏͌̚͜ļ̶̨̯̪̲̣̑̒͛̿̎̓̾͢͢͠ȩ̧̩͇̻̦̩͓̱̿̃̊̇̐̀͗̔̚ ą̨̦͔̼̘̘̔̉̓͒̃̐̎̍̕n͓͚͖̠̭͉̱̦̋̊́̋̀̅̕d̢̥̖̯͈̠̜̑̈̇͊̾̆̈͟͝ t̷̨̧̡̙̤̮̞̮͕̔͗́̾͒ḩ̵̙͇͈́̄͐̊̓̀̈́͒̌̎͢e̸̡̘̠͔̪͂̎̓̏͑̈́͘ c̶̨̧̟̱̜̘̊̌́̀͘͞ǐ̴̲̫̙̼̟̮̎̔̀̑̂̽͜͠͡ͅr̯̟͙̩̋̊͐͂̇͟c̵̬̫̲̰̱͔̯͓̘̀̃̅͊̀͋͘͜͡l̛̪̯̬̙̙̠̗̐̉͌̃̒̔̔͘͢ͅě̜̘̫̗̰̇̏̌̊̒́̕̕͟͝ͅ į̛̟͇̜̰͓̤͆̐̊̓͗͌̚ŝ̨̨̛̭̠̐̈̌̑̇̌͢͠͞ ṃ̶̯͎̲̝͎̥̽̿̔̈̀̚͞ẻ̛̻̙̪͚̣̘̺̮͛́̽͘͟
.
.

might remove this soon
It's a little tame
preservationman Jun 2020
The Muscle Man thought in let me stand and Flex
A see a guy staring looking perplexed
Posing with assurance
It was the muscles being trained filled with endurance
The Muscle man walked along the beach
His muscles illustrated fitness and let me teach
He had a body no women could ignore
But do women really want to explore?
He no sand hitting his face
His Muscles took up all the space
When at the Muscle Beach Pit, he lifted the weights with intensity up and down
He was pumped but not bound
Built with detail
But what would happen his muscles did fail?
The Muscle Man thought he had a body that wouldn’t quit
But had to have clothes altered for his muscle fit
So Muscle Man keep thinking muscles are it
Hold up to your enthusiasm a bit
Carry yourself with wit
Muscles are not what make the person, as it is character
My Muscle Beach philosophy
Mitchell Duran Apr 2014
Carrie walked down to Fell street through the park. He leaned upon his faithful cane which was split, splintered, and water logged from being left out on the back porch in the rain where he sat every night before bed. His free arm swung by his side, his hand spread wide open, letting the sun warm his palm. His other arm was constricted with his muscles tight as his hand gripped the polished wooden ball handle. Carrie's skin seemed to envelop the ball there was so much of it. The cane and Carrie were one whenever they walked together.
He passed the Japanese Tea Gardens. He had been there many times. He remembered the strong taste of the green tea he had been served and how energized he felt after his third cup. He remembered the sturdy wooden table and chair he sat on while over looking the crystal clear koi ponds, the seaweed underneath the water reaching up to the sun for nutrients like the hands of the long dead. He remembered how the children had gathered near the water as mothers watched them feed the fish food they were not to be fed, anxiety cramping their smooth skin as they watched to make sure they didn't slip in. The waitresses were all so gentle, so quiet, caring for whatever Carrie had wanted. In that solitary moment, he had felt like a newly appointed king, the 5 acres of garden his domain.
The gates were closed for the day, with many frowning tourists sitting on the steps that lead inside. Carrie figured they had been confused by the times but yearned to tell them if they stood on the street, they could still see the ancient replicas the blood red pagodas, stone lanterns, bamboo stalks, and cherry blossom trees which were just beginning to bloom. There was so much one could see from the street. But, Carrie trudged past them, figuring they would not understand an old man trying to show them beauty from afar.
A long line of benches stood before Carrie after he passed the garden. He sat down next to a young, Chinese couple. They both held a map and were looking at it upside down and sideways. Carried smiled. They were speaking rapidly, laughing sporadically, turning the map around and around in a circle as if they were both at the helm of a sinking ship. He wondered what they were so confused about - had they never read a map before? But then, he realized, they were probably on vacation and in love, maybe even on their honeymoon. He laughed, thinking, They're confused about everything.
A few minutes passed and soon the young couple was gone. Carrie sat with the cane between his legs, both of his hands drooped over the handle. In front of him, like a painting, were London plane and Scotch elm trees lined up in symmetrical rows and the Rideout Fountain. Carrie could see the water was still except for when a light breeze brushed over the water or a child threw a hand full of coins in to make a wish. Their hair reflected the bright rays of the sun. The sky was empty, save a few scattered flying birds going to where Carrie knew not where.
He closed his eyes and listened only to the sounds around him: tires rolling along the smooth concrete road; people chattering behind and in front of him; a door closing; the rustling of leaves from a sharp gust of wind; a car horn; a sneeze; two lovers embracing, their kisses sounding like the steps of kitten paws in the sand. Carrie opened his eyes and cast his gaze aside to the left. There was another old man. His back was bent, his cane was worn, and his legs wobbled with every step, much like Carrie's. The man was alone and dressed in a heavy grey sweater, a pair of beige trousers, and simple brown shoes. Carrie wondered where this man was going and at such slow pace. Why was he alone? Who had he been with before? Where was he coming from?
Carrie then realized he was leaning so far forward from the bench, he almost fell off. He ****** his cane out, catching himself, and pushed himself back. He looked around to see if anyone had noticed his mistake. Twenty or so asian people were crowded like sardines inside of the bus stop terminal. They all looked to be avoiding the sun, uninterested in whatever Carrie looked to be doing. The 44 roared by, stopped in front of the crowd, where they all laughed, giggled, and preceded to jumble in. Carrie looked over his shoulder, sure someone was right there keen to make a comment, but there was no one. He sighed, relieved. Being old and falling down with no way to get yourself back up was one of Carrie's biggest fears. The other, of course, was spiders.
Once Carrie reorientated himself, he looked up to see where the other old man was. He was gone. Carrie stood up, his knees shaking slightly. He jammed his cane down to steady himself and took a step forward. His eyes strained from the sun, which was beating down on him now, hotter than it was before. He took a slow step forward, then another, and then another. Once he got in the rhythm, his mind didn't have to focus on it as much. He could let it wander to wherever it wanted to. Sometimes, he let it wander to death, sometimes to past lovers, and sometimes to his late wife, Patty, but never very long on her.
He stopped to catch his breath and wipe his brown. Next to him stood a dark lime green statue of a lion. It was miniature and sun stained. The teeth were dull and the eyes were blank. It was very beautiful and Henry realized he had never seen a lion in the wild, only at the zoo. He wondered if they were any different out in Africa or wherever they were the most and if they roared the same. The one's he had seen at the zoo were sluggish and lazy; almost depressed. He could see why, being cooped in there all day long with only your wife to talk to.
"That wouldn't be so bad," thought Carrie, "To be trapped in a cage with the one you love. That's marriage, isn't it? Isn't that love?"
A cough startled him out of his meandering, love provoked thought. Sitting on a bench across the street where the apple cider press statue stood, was the old man Carrie had seen before. He was hunched over, fishing something out of his bag. Carrie wavered back and forth, watching the old man. A noise rustled behind him and Carrie slowly turned his head to see what it was. Two children were running around the fountain, splashing water at one another.
"Nothing to speak of," grumbled Carrie, "Wasting water all the same."
Carrie turned back around and saw that the man had pulled out a shiny, red and green apple. The man bit into it slowly, taking his time as he broke the outer skin of the apple so the juices spurt into his mouth. Carrie's stomach rumbled when a hard gust of wind hit his back, forcing him to step forward. He put out his cane and felt the peg slide and grind over the rough concrete. A man behind him reached out to help, but Carrie waved him away, mumbling that he was fine and that he didn't need any help. The man on the bench hadn't paid him any notice. The apple in front of him was all he needed. Carrie walked to the other side of  apple cider statue opposite the man and sat down roughly, for the man looked up from his apple a little wide eyed and a little annoyed. Carrie smiled awkwardly at him, but it came out more like a frown. The man relaxed his face, slowly letting it become blank while a line of apple juice rolled down over his lip. He licked it up, coughed, and went back to studying the intricacies of the half-eaten apple.
The mans face, Carrie saw, was *** marked and dented, like a car that had just been through the worst of accidents. His eyes were barely visible behind what seemed like hundreds and hundreds of creases, wrinkles, chicken's feet. The man's bulbous nose was an obvious sign that he was or had been a serious drinker. It was swollen and red, drooping from the mans face like a glob of honey that just wouldn't fall. The lips were creases of an old pair of jeans that had been left out in the sun. Though Carrie couldn't see his hair because the man wore a large, dapper styled hat on his head, he wouldn't doubt there wasn't much of anything under there. The old man was anything but beautiful, but Carrie, who had been staring at the man out of the corners of his eyes while pretending to look at the apple cider statue, could not look away. He was utterly fascinated with how the man held himself. Why was he so ****** interested that apple? Had he never seen one before? Carrie then thought the man was homeless, so he must be crazy, but when he had walked over before, Carrie hadn't smelled the usual musty musk that homeless people give off. He had smelled like nothing, usually meaning he slept in a bed and showered regularly. Then, in the midst of Carrie staring at the man's unbelievably shiny brown loafer, he said something.
"What you looking at there?" asked the man. He was hiding his ragged face behind the apple. A few pieces fell to the ground below. Carrie could see the bite marks were mere nibbles, like a rabbit had been eating it.
"Hm...I...uh," stammered Carrie. He looked up into the sky, trying to spot a bird to hide where his gaze truly had been, then looked down at the ground. There was a tiny pebble that resembled a hermit crab. He focused on that until the man asked the same question again.
"Were you staring at me, my friend?"
My friend, Carrie thought, He thinks I'm his friend? How on Earth did we get to there? I barely know him. I'll say something. He paused. Well, say something!
"I was staring at your apple there," Carrie mumbled, "It's a very nice looking apple."
"It's very tasty," he nodded, looking back it, admiring the colors of the skin that had yet to be bitten in. "Would you like some?" He stretched the half-eaten apple out to Carrie.
"Oh," Carrie laughed, startled, "I'm fine. Quite full." He patted his stomach.
"Are you sure? It's almost dinner time."
Carrie looked the man up and down, then smiled, "I'm fine. I ate just earlier."
"Oh really, where did you eat?" The man inched forward on the bench and rested his eyes on Carrie, waiting for an answer. Carrie's lip quivered with the thought of having to come up with a quick lie. The man had placed the apple back in his bag and was completely focused on Carrie's lie.
"Well, you see, there's a great place up past Lincoln Way toward the beach. I go there all..."
"Lincoln Way!" exclaimed the man, "You can make it all the way up there!"
Carrie was flattered. He could walk far past Lincoln way and up any of the side streets, if he had the energy, but had never been congratulated for the fact. Carrie shifted back and forth in his seat, blushing for being thought of so highly.
"With this cane," Carrie said, tapping the ground with the end, "I can go almost anywhere."
"Wow. Where'd you get it?"
"My son gave it to me when I first started showing signs of getting old," said Carrie, "It was kind of like a joke at first, but then, I really needed to start using it, and I've been attached to it ever since."
"That's nice," the man nodded, "I bought mine for 50 cents down at Salvation Army. You know the one on 3rd?"
Carrie said that he did.
"Spent 50 cents on this thing four years ago and it has taken quite a beating, but still, it works and looks fine as you can see."
"Doesn't look so bad."
"Well thank you, I appreciate that."
The two of them paused, looked each other up and down, then found something other than themselves to look at. Carrie noticed the soft lines of the man in the statue twisting the cider press and how his muscles were as detailed as a real man's. He had never seen so much physicality in a statue before. It really looked like this man was pressing apples in front of his eyes. Carrie was at a loss at how one captured that feeling of true action in stillness. He looked up to where the statues face was and saw that the eyes were cast down to where the press was tightening. He thought maybe the man was thinking if he stared to where he was working, he would twist harder. The statues hair was soft and smooth in the sun. Carrie followed the statues legs down, past the flat stomach and taught ab muscles, to the feet which were pressed into a large stone so to get more leverage. The veins on the feet were almost pulsating with blood and strength. They seemed to rise and fall with what Carrie imagined would be the mans heartbeat, if he had one. He didn't quiet understand why the man was had to be naked, but figured it was for the sake of art. Carrie was not an artist, but with the free time that was allowed to him by growing old, he was starting to appreciate what he saw, feel it a little more often, then when he had no time at all when he was young and busy. He wasn't sure which he enjoyed better: being old and feeling more or being young and always with something to do.
The man had let his eyes wander from Carrie, to the small statue of a boy. His mouth was pressed up to the spicket where the apple juice was being pressed from above. He imagined the statue of the man above the boy was his father or at least he wished that it was. The boys skin was very smooth and reflected the sun softly up back into the mans face. He looked closer at the face of the boy and saw that it was a silent kind of contentment. The man took out the apple from his bag, took a bite, and offered it again to Carrie.
"Take a bite," he persisted, "Sitting in front of this statue, looking at this little boy drink up that apple juice has to be getting you thirsty."
"I'm really fine," said Carrie, smiling uneasily.
"Come on. You don't gotta' worry about me."
Carrie paused, really thought what he was so scared about, and then admitted that was only uncomfortable because of this stranger's hospitality. He hadn't obliged a kind gesture in a long time.
"Alright," he said, "I'll have a bite."
"There you go!" The man handed the apple over to Carrie.
He took a bite and let the cool juices jump into his mouth. A small dribble ran down his cheek, where he quickly wiped it away with his sleeve. He didn't want to look like a slob, much like the man had looked when he first began eating it. Carrie looked down at the apple, nodded, and handed it back to the man.
"It's," he started, still chewing, "Very good. Thank you...I'm sorry, I don't know your name."
"Symon," he said, taking a bite of the apple, which was almost gone, "Symon with a Y."
"Thank you Symon."
"You're welcome..." he paused, "I never did get yours."
"Oh," he laughed, "I'm sorry. I'm Carrie."
They both reached forward and shook hands. Carrie hadn't sat with another man and talked with them since he'd buried Patty. After that, it had grown hard to shake hands with anybody he knew. Maybe it's easier with him because he's a stranger? Carrie thought, Maybe I should meet more strangers? Probably go and get yourself killed. That's a funny thought. I never thought I'd go by getting murdered. I always figured I'd let time take me, rather than the hands of another. He doesn't look like a killer anyway. He's got to be older than me. He's definitely slower. Look at his hand shaking. Your hand doesn't shake. Does it? Carrie looked down at his right hand which was resting on the handle of his cane. Solid as a rock, Carrie mumbled to himself, As a rock.
"What was that?" Symon blurted, eyeing Carrie, "Where'd you go?"
"Just thinking."
"Bout' what?"
"Whether my hand was shaking or not."
"My hands shakes all the ****** time. It's like one of those kitchen timers or chattering teeth you twist, it goes for a while, and then eventually goes off, but me, never. No, never this hand never stops shaking. Got a ******* mind of its own."
Symon raised his right hand so Carrie could see. Sure enough, it was shaking like a leaf in a tree ready to fall off. The shake wasn't violent, but definitely noticeable next to a hand that was still. It was more a buzz than anything else. Carrie couldn't imagine Symon writing his name down and coming out eligible.
"How do you write your name? Does it get all messed up?" Symon looked at him, then looked away. Carrie froze, realizing he may have just asked a very touchy subject.
"Huh?" Symon asked, looking back. "I got something in my eye real quick. I didn't even hear what you said."
"Oh," Carrie stammered, "What I said was..." Symon cut him off.
"I'm just joshing yah!" Symon shouted, "Course I can write my name! Whenever I put pen or pencil to paper, the shake usually calms down. Don't know why, but it does. I never ask que
The evil witch is after the 11 year olds


Once upon a time there was an evil witch,, and this witch was like no witch i n any fairy tales, no this witch was pure evil, you see she took pride in grabbing 11 year old kids avid locking themselves in the basement to eventually chop them up and put them in an oven, to give herself a feast, the first kid was young a 11 year old boy named Tommy Kinarfis and he was on his way to school and he was just minding his own business when this black car pulled up and before Tommy could run away, the witch grabbed him and shoved him in the boot of his car and being as scared as he was, Tommy really didn't want to die, and tried to bang the the walls of the boot to show that he has been kidnapped but nobody heard him and before he knew it, he found himself locked up in a cage being fattened up, so the witch can eat him up, and after about 12 hours Tommy was dead, and the witch was happy, the next kid was 11 year old daughter of president Frederick Leonardo, you see this president was so conservative and everyone was too scared to do anything bad to his kid, but one day when the presidents daughter, who was named Terri was waiting for her body guard after school when this car turned up and this man got out pretending to be her bodyguard one day, and after 2 hours of driving Terri realised that she has been kidnapped, and then the bodyguard took off his nice disguise and when Terri noticed it was the witch, she tried to escape but soon enough she was locked in her cage being fattened up, so the witch can enjoy her feast, and the presidents daughter Terri was dead and the president had a little burial for her.
The next kid was 11 year old Peter Vernin and he was a kid who loves sport, especially the AFL, because that was a boys sport, and Peter had it in his mind that because he played AFL, he will he invincible but as he was going to footy training, he had to walk because his parents had to work, a ******* car pulled up and this man pulled up and asked Peter if he would like a ride, and Peter, being only 11 said yes thinking he was being treated like a kid that everyone liked, but then he found himself chained up in the witch's basement ready to be slaughtered at any given time, you see because Tommy had muscles, that was enough to make him be nice and tender to eat and when the witch finds out that he had suffered enough, then the witch will cook Tommy up and before he knew it, Tommy was just a corpse and the witch was feeling very happy and this made her feel she can slowly get rid of each child as soon as they reached 11, and she was feeling like nobody will ever stop her from accomplishing this feat.
The FBI are having a hard time trying to find there missing kids because they just vanished without a trace, but they had every officer and forensic investigator in to try to catch the witch and make her pay, mind you the FBI were unaware that the persons responsible is a wicked evil witch.
The next kid was Raymond Terrestal, an 11 year old who was in a broken home and every day he went to the local shops to buy milk for the family but also he would occasionally steal a chocolate bar and also a few flavoured milks, and the witch said to herself that this boy needs to chopped him up and watch his shiny white legs slowly turn to very tasty meat. Even though Raymond put up a fight, saying you can't chop me up, fella, I am a sports boy and I have heaps of muscles, but the witch told him that the muscles make him even more tastier, and she wants to have Raymond to really taste nice so he can really get away from any way of being a sports boy, and as Raymond was cooking, he is yelling and yelling, saying, let me go, I am a big tough sports boy, I like playing footy, I don't wanna die, let me go and leave me alone old witch, but the witch said heh heh heh hen heh, no buddy you ain't a cool kid, all the other kids are tough, but you Raymond, no you are all mine, and Raymond was screaming, please save me from the wicked witch, And he also said why me, why me, why me, and the witch said, no mate your not like us,mate
You are still a little shy boy, and I am just doing what The Lord wants, you see Raymond, The Lord wants me to cook boys up when they turn 11, because then they are even more tender because they are mature enough so I get a good tasty bit of human flesh, and eventually Raymond died and the witch continued on her journey to rid the world of kids right till they turn 11 years of age.
The next kid was 11 years old Naomi Roberts who was a really family and friends type of girl and she very rarely strayed away., but one day she and her friends played outside the witch's house, because it was a pretty good place for kids to play in but unknown to Naomi that her friends were playing a trick on her and had planned to get her stuck in the bushes near the mail box and when the witch went outside to see what the noise was, she saw Naomi stuck in the garden trying to break free, and the witch used her powers to make her look like a nice old lady and brought Naomu inside to keep her safe, then the witch showed her true colours and told Naomi that she will never escape from her, and she also said she is hosting a dinner party and Naomi is the main course and from the moment she said that Naomi started to get scared and screamed and screamed for the witch to let her go, she also said it's not she that the witch wants, it's her friends, who stabbed Naomi in the back and the witch said, no they are young women and I don't want to **** young women, it's you, who I want, little girlie, and you are never going to ever escape from me, and Naomi said no Mrs Witch, you will be with me till my dinner party and then Naomi you will be no more. You will leave this world never to return little baby little girlie, Naomi is very scared and starts to feel like her perfect world is about to end because the wicked witch has her right where she wants her.
Naomi was trying to scream so loud that the witch's neighbour would hear and come and rescue her but nobody can hear her and Naomi starts to get very scared, so scared in fact, she tried to fight her way out of the cage but it is closed so tightly and Naomi is starting to get scared because still the FBI have no leads on the whereabouts of these kids, and despite being bullied by the parents of the missing kids, they feel tempted to give up the search till they get a lead, simply because there is no point in trying to find a needle in a haystack, but the parents wanted them to find their missing kids, even if it means they have to become vigilantes and defy the law and find those kids themselves, meanwhile the next day in the witch's house, the witch was starting to cook Naomi up so they can have their dinner party, a nice tasty little girl for dinner, heh heh heh heh heh heh heh, and when Naomi was slowly dying the witch kept of stirring and stirring to make Naomi really suffer, you see for the witch, well, she took pride in torturing kids as soon as they turn 11, and then Naomi died and the witch was happy and said that is another 11 year old under our belt, heh heh heh heh heh
The next kid was 11 year old Pat Roberts, who was a cool boy who loved to tease so much that he would take people away from their families to do so, unless they do as they do and one day he gave up playing football with the tough boys to tease a boy who he hates very much, and stop him from being a family person and also brainwashing everyone into thinking a family person is supposed to do as they are told, and one day the wicked witch who really wanted to keep taking these boys decided to go after Pat Roberts and cook him up and then she will get rid if this boy from the would once and for all, but getting rid of Pat Roberts will be a hard thing because this boy is so hard to catch, because he is ever so smart, and it will be a battle to get rid of this Pat Roberts because of that, Pat Roberts would say, no mr witch, you can't catch me fella, you can never catch me for as long as you'll alive, and you are going to die soon if you keep catching kids anyway, the next day on the witch's quest to catch Pat Roberts, she decided to use her ***** magic to try and lure him to his house but Pat Roberts is too smart for that as he kept himself inside saying no witch is going to get me, if you are going to catch me, you'll have to get past my father and I can guarantee old witch that my dad has the power to put you right in her place, you are mrs witch, you haven't got the power to overcome me, so come on wicked witch, just you try and catch me, but you won't get me, I can make you suffer of you try and get me ya wicked witch and the wicked witch straight away thought maybe one day I will catch Pat Roberts, I will try and take some other 11 year olds and the next 11 year old was Gordon Gullet and he was a boy who was a bit of a black sheep who went on a mission to **** the wicked witch but when the wicked witch captured him, but she had no plan to cook him  up, actually she planned to try to get him on side to catch Pat Roberts and when Gordon said, I won't tell you where Gordon is, I will never tell you where he is. Just let me go ya old cranky wicked witch, and because Gordon was talking too much the witch put her hand on her mouth, she eventually had to put sticky tape on it and then the wicked witch said, if you don't tell me where Pat Roberts is, you'll suffer, and I mean you'll suffer, mate, suffer forever mate.
The next day when the witch got up and saw Gordon trying up escape and the witch said, mate, you'll never escape from me, no you'll never escape, until you tell me where is your friend Pat Roberts, and Gordon said no, I won't ever tell ya, you will have to **** me first, Pat Roberts is a friend, no, I will never ever tell you, ya wicked witch, and the witch said no I ain't going to **** you, I just want you to tell you where Pat Roberts is, why won't you tell me, I will be your friend forever, and Gordon said, no, I won't tell you anything you old fucken witch, and you can do to me anything you want, I will never ever tell you, you mean nasty old witch.
The witch then said, ok, you will stay there in that cage till you tell me and when you are ready to tell me where your friend Pat Roberts is, I will make you suffer, even if I don't **** you, you will be suffering without anything to make you keep your mojo in tact, you will suffer Gordon, I will make sure of that, so unless you tell me where your mate is, you will suffer, and be kept there until you tell us of the whereabouts of Pat Roberts because I want you and him to cooked together and eaten, and if you don't tell me, I will keep you here for the rest of your life, so Gordon are you going to tell me and Gordon yells out with a loud voice, which went,  NEVER, my mate Pat Roberts wants to tease people who are trying to work to hard and push themselves into breaking point, and I want you to let me go, because I am tougher that you, cause you are a mean nasty witch, who should burn on the planet Mercury and the witch said no, mate, say hell, you see you are still a little Christian boy, and while you have your beliefs that you will die one day, you are like us, but if I find out that you are keeping the whereabouts of Pat Roberts from me, I will hold you at knife point and force you to tell you and Gordon said no, I will never tell you, never, I will prefer to do die myself, rather than tell you where he is mate.
The next day the witch went out to try and catch Pat Roberts and then Pat's dad said to Pat Roberts that he will protect him and when they heard a strange noise outside their house and it was the wicked witch, who was lurking about outside and when Pat Roberts went outside, the witch put a hand over his mouth and said I have you mate and then the FBI came and despite a desperate fight to get herself free, the FBI took off to Salem to get burnt at the stake and Pat Roberts and Gordon was safely going home with his family and the witch was reincarnated as a pig and then a tiger and after that a deer, she suffered, especially when she will be constantly bullied by hunters.
Kiernan Norman Oct 2012
I
There is a 3% chance I'll find you here. But if in each pair of eyes I dip, I find 1/8 of you; I'll be there soon.

II
I didn't crawl here; I took a plane. I spent six hours tracing the Atlantic from my window and you rose from the sea, dry and unsalted, twice each nautical mile. I would say it was my imagination, or the California wine, but I wear glasses now and never lie about what I see. It was you. And you and you and you.


III
Stealing is easier here. Maybe it's the crowds or the way the men smile at me like I'm harmless, but my hands move without question. They don't fumble or miss pockets, my heartbeat doesn't even protest. In prayer beads, silkworm cocoons, oils and sea rings, I am in debt to a city who doesn't know it.


IV
I have no ethnicity. Deep in bone coils the apathy and flight of someone's non-heritage. But I am forgiven; in a world of paranoia, brown eyes are always trusted and the way my hair falls reminds them that I'm on their side. Even my name curls within itself, folded flat and dead before it's over. It's better this way; no allegiance, no responsibility.

V
From a curb in district nine, I see your star. It's hanging where you said it would be but I can't see god in it the way you promised.

VI
On the other side of the world you told me about a quad of green. You waxed flowers of every color, the sky I've only ever painted and the people, beautiful and dark, who will save me. I found it. In broken French and broken sandals I found it and the sun was setting and you had just left. So now we both know you won't be the one to save me.

VII
With one foot in the slanting gutter I walk until the city circles and I'm back where I started. In a daydream I found you. I smiled and quoted your book, the part that said 'When we heard the guidance, we believed in it' and you looked at me in a way that scared me. A way that translated your face into thousands of alphabets, ancient and invented. And I knew none of them. Suddenly I'm illiterate to you. Suddenly I'm gone.

VIII
I'm with a man who's made of smoke and each strawberry ring that escapes my lips is dedicated to someone that I’ve laughed with.

IX
With the intensity of archives on fire, I withdraw. You are still a body; a few hundred bones calcified and aging, a mind of words streaming like spider webs, blood you never shed, and  muscles that cross in blinding precision, but you are not who you used to be. You bound to me in a way that's irreversible and now we're both stitching. Awkward and broken we pull at flesh to remove each other. We have scars now, like stickers ripped from wallpaper. The outline of a palm stains my shoulder, a thumb the size of yours in the crook of my elbow. Small, white fingerprints tattoo your neck.


X
I might be free. Over cobble stones with broken sandals I don't trip until I realize that a city where I loved is now part of me. I can get as far away from her as the modern map allows but the red and gold bangles that crowd my wrists are not to be taken off. They're a part of me too. Like blood spilled on a cobble stone, you will walk over us every day of your life.
written January 2008. Seventeen.
This story is called death of a superhero.

We see the superhero flying at full speed after a getaway vehicle.  A group of armed men just robbed over one million dollars in cash from the bank and are now speeding through the city.  He darts back and forth to dodge the shower of bullets flying at him from the car, which was preventing him from getting any closer.

"I can't let these crooks get away," he grunted to himself as he curved back and forth through the air.

Suddenly he was blind sighted by a large black object coming from the car.  It was a high powered electric tazer.  It hit him in the side and his muscles locked up, he stopped mid air and went crashing down and smacked and bounced on the ground.  This bought the thieves time to escape from his view.  By the time he got out of it and regained control of his muscles enough to fly, the crooks had maneuvered the city like a maze, and he didn't know where to look, they had gotten away.  He looked over several city blocks and couldn't find him, and was forced to give up.

"****" he said to himself.

He flew off to the nearby park and found a secluded spot to meditate and heal.

That was the forth unsuccessful attempt to catch bank robbers this week!



On the news that night

"The Tomerarenai purotto corporation just received over $5 million dollars in donations from an anonymous donor this evening for their new project on Zenchō hill outside city limits.

The project to build a new factory there has been underway for three months now and they've really been moving along thanks to the help of all these private donors that must really believe in their cause, which of coarse is to develop new "greener" technology to help the environment and cut down on pollution.

We have a spokesperson for the organization here with us now how are you?"

"Good and thank you, I'm really honored to be part of this amazing organization and to see such a great turn out of donors for such a good cause.  It's been amazing with over 37 million dollars donated by private, anonymous donors over the last three months, it's amazing..."

About half the city watched that news broadcast stream into their homes on their television sets.



It was about 2am when the superhero came out of his meditative state in the park.  

He got up energized and flew around.

He saw some guy trying to steal some lady's purse, he zipped down and stood right behind the guy without him even noticing.

The guy got the purse turned around and ran right into him and knocked himself down.

"What do you think you're doing?" the superhero said authoritarily.  Then he lunged in grabbed the guy by the shirt at the scruff of the chest.  With his other hand he picked up the lady's purse, handed it to her, and told her to go home and get out of the dangerous night city streets.  Then he flew the criminal to the police station, told them what he had witnessed, and took off.

Suddenly he heard police sirens all over the city they seemed to be closing in on a specific area, the superhero flew to that area to see what was going on.

He found a police sergeant standing next to a cop car, and stopped to ask him what's going on.

"A masked lunatic just killed 19 people and is now trying to escape in a small silver car, we've got every available unit trying to hunt him down."

He wasted no time, taking up in the air leaving a wind in his wake, the superhero started quickly combing the city for a small silver car driving conspicuously.  He found one, and when he flew over it to check it out, all of a sudden he had gunshots being fired at him from inside the car.

"This must be it," he charged the car with full speed but the driver sped up to keep ahead of him.

This isn't going to work, he thought, I should make them think they lost me and follow them secretly and see where they go.

The next time a gunshot was fired the superhero grabbed his chest and purposefully fell down, to make them think he had been shot.  Once their guard was down he followed them in secret.

They drove outside of the city thinking they had lost all tails, down a couple winding roads, then climbed Zenchō hill toward the Tomerarenai purotto corporation's construction spot, then went inside.  

The superhero landed outside the building and contemplated his next plan.  He noticed an open window to an office on the second floor, he carefully peered through the window and saw no one in the office, he flew in and landed on the floor careful not to make a sound above a mouse squeak.  He quietly crept through the empty hallways until he reached the staircase, when he heard voices whispering downstairs, "He's gonna be here any minute/ get everything ready."  

The hero thought he had no time to lose, he took to the air, bolted down stairs and with a loud dramatic voice yelled "Halt!"

"He's here!" they yelled as one of them ran toward a giant device that looked like a satellite dish, and the other one ran and pulled a rope, dropping piles and piles of smoldering coal around the superhero that immediately made him so sick he could barely move.  industrial type smoke was his weakness.  

"We've been planning for you to come here," the guy in the mask said firing up the satellite dish looking weapon and pointing it at him.  

"W-What do you want?" the superhero asked weakened, frail, and short of breath on his hands and knees on the floor.

"To **** you so you won't stand in our way"

The superhero was growing weaker, and weaker, as the giant atomic laser pointed at him started glowing red, I told you this story was called "death of a superhero".

"Death, of a superhero?"  the superhero grunted, "DEATH, of a SUPERHERO!?!" he shouted again, "YOU'VE BEEN ORCHESTRATING MY DEATH!" The superhero yelled at the narrator.  

Yes I have, the narrator said all the people in the room could hear me, I've been planning your death since before you went after that getaway vehicle, I have such omnipotent like power over your world, I'm the reason the taser gave the one's working for these two time to escape, I'm the reason you never checked this place out until everything was ready, and now I get to watch these two **** you, and laugh, knowing that you'll never find me and there's nothing you can do to change events.

Now, the beam was fully charged

"No!" the superhero thought, "up till this point, I thought I had to go along with everything the narrator said, but no!"  He started to slowly manage to get up.

The masked killer hit the button, fired the laser, and killed the superhero instantly.

Wait what?

"You think you can just **** me by saying so," the superhero grunted out louder slowly rising to his feet.  Mentally forcing his body to work even in the presence of his weakness, in reality, contrary to what the narrator said, the beam was still charging.  

"No!" the superhero continued, getting stronger and healthier, "THERE WILL BE NO DEATH OF A SUPER HERO!!!" suddenly the superhero's personal energy was strong enough to clear a bubble around him of fresh air pushing the smoke around it.  He flew through the air at bullet speed and punched the masked killer across the room and out of consciousness.  Then he went for the assistant who was running to the door, in the heat of the moment, the superhero, hitting him up from behind, punched a hole straight through his skull and he fell to the ground head-gored-dead.  The superhero deactivated the laser. and stood and looked around to try and find that supervillian mastermind, the narrator.  

"You will never find me," the narrator said, "I exist in an inexcusable part of your reality."

Then another voice broke through, "I will open up a portal to the narrator for you" the author said, "be wary though, even in his own part of this dimension, he is very frippery and slick, you must not let him break free into you're general reality, lest he end your world."

Suddenly a glowing golden sword appeared in a light before the superhero, he took it and bowed, understanding what he was to do.

A shimmering white and grey portal swirled out of thin air.  He looked at it for a second as it grew outwards until it was big enough for him to walk through.  He slowly marched into it, guard heightened as he did not know what to expect, carrying the glowing golden sword behind his back.

Inside the portal was a large white room where the narrator lived.  there was a large white shelf, four walls and a ceiling, the portal remained open.  

He looked around but didn't see the narrator at first, when he realized the narrator had filled half the room with a thick white fog to mask himself.

"Show yourself you coward!" the hero yelled.  Sudddenly a large fist came out of the fog and punched the superhero right in the face, he stumbled back a few steps, but didn't let it knock him over.  Suddenly a humanoid figure stepped out of the fog, it had a body like a man but a head like a king cobra.

"S--sssss--o" it said, "you found a way to find me," "Hisssssssssssss..."

"I found you and I will destroy you to free my world from your evil," the superhero said.

"Is-s that sssssssssso" the beast said.  "And how do you plan to do that? Hisssssssss".

Then the narrator's eyes widened when he say the glowing gold sword behind his back.

"I will cover myself in armor that that sword can't pierce." He said.

"And an armor appeared around the narrator, except it only appeared to cover his head, and his face was still bare." The narrator said and it happened.

The superhero lunged at the narrator with the sword but the narrator slipped to the right and shot ***** of fire at the superhero, but the superhero dodged.

"And his hand got shaky and it greatly effected his aim," the narrator hissed out.

The superhero swung at the narrator, but missed everytime.

"I've got to steady my aim" the superhero thought to himself, putting most of his energy into his arm to hold it steady.  The narrator backed away from him, hissing and darting back and forth as if antagonizing him, perhaps trying to distract him and his focus.

Suddenly he felt a surge of energy push back from the sword, flow up his arm and flood his body, the sword glowed brighter and he was in control of himself again.

He went after the narrator full force, swinging and jabbing the sword, but the narrator dodged every attack.

"You'll never defeat me!" the narrator hissed.

But while he said that he lost focus, and the superhero swung the sword right into the side of the human part of the body, so deep it hit something metal and stopped.  

"Then he dropped the sword," the narrator said quickly and it happened.  The superhero's hand snapped wide open before his willpower could stop it, and the sword dropped to the ground with a "shink".

Acting super fast, the narrator dropped to the ground and picked up the sword with his teeth, and slithered out of his fake, damaged human body into his true form, a giant king cobra looking snake, covered in a heavy metal armor that was scaly and didn't restrict his movements.  Quickly, he slithered  over to the portal, but the superhero grabbed his lower armor before he got a chance to escape into the hero's world, and used his body to anchor the snake to that spot.

The narrator swung and slithered his body to try to free himself from the hero's hold but he was holding on to well, and the serpent could not escape.  

The hero did not know what to do, he needed to get the sword back and slay the serpent, but he had to keep both hands on him to keep him from getting free.

He had an idea, he used his legs to help anchor the serpent, and climbed him to get to his head to retrieve the sword.  Slowly he worked his way up the snake as he slithered and struggled to get free.  When it seemed inevitable that the hero was gonna get the sword back, the serpent spit it out and it landed next to the door.  Then he shot fireballs out of his mouth at point blank range at the superhero which distracted him enough for him to loose his grasp, and let the serpent break free.  The serpent quickly slithered over to the portal, hissed "goodbye sucker", mouthed the sword once again, and slithered out the portal.

The superhero jumped up and flew after the serpent, and crash landed onto of him on the other side of the now closing portal.  

"The masked murderer woke up and came over to help the narrator," the serpent hissed out.

Suddenly the masked murderer came over and the hero was trying to get him on his side to break the stalemate.

As the snake and the superhero wrestled, the superhero called out to the masked murderer, "Don't help him, if he escapes me now, he'll destroy the world!"

"Don't listen to your enemy," the narrator hissed out, "**** him!"

"Don't listen to him," the superhero tried to reason with him, "he's just manipulating you, everybody, he's the reason you wanted to **** me and do this whole project in the first place, YOU ultimately have free will! and we need to **** him."

The narrator strikes and bit the superhero's arm for telling the masked killer he had free will.  

"What do you need!" the masked ****** shouted when he got over there.  

"**** him" the serpent hissed out!

"The sword!" the hero shouted.

The masked murderer, not knowing what to do, picked up the sword and handed it to the hero.

The superhero used it to pry off a piece of the serpent's armor, poised it into position and struck down.  The narrator shifted his body however so the sword narrowly missed, and curved his tail so the open spot in the armor was underneath him, "Grab him!" the superhero said, hold him steady so I can get a good shot."

The Masked murderer did just that, and the hero drove the sword through the opening and impaled the narrator right there, and actually cut him in two.

"But then the narrator's body sealed at the womb and he slithered free" the serpent said and it happened, and he slithered at full speed toward the same door the masked murderer's assistant tried to escape through, and he was making distance.

"And then a layer of cement formed around the superhero's ankle so he couldn't chase the narrator." and a piece of cement attached to the floor formed around his ankle.

But the superhero made quick work of that, a **** of the leg and it reduced to crumbles and he got up and chased the serpent.

The serpent got outside the door and mumbled something, suddenly the door was a pure steel wall.  Three punches by the superhero weakened the steel and severely dented it, the forth punch and it went flying off and the superhero ran outside and saw the narrator escaping into the brush.  He knew what he had to do, he lunged at him and grabbed him just by the head, and ****** the sword through a hail of fireballs straight into it's mouth, the narrator couldn't speak to reverse that action and he died shortly after.
This is not a poem
Mike Hauser Nov 2013
Today is going to be the day
I turn my life around
As I pull my truck over
To load up what I just found

I see it as my destiny
Someone tossed out their set of weights
With me at the moment in the mood
To join the fitness craze

So I open up, run around my truck
As my regiment begins
Wish I could find some neighbor kid
To give this old man a hand
And why they make these weights so heavy,
I'll never understand

I drive straight home excited
Back my truck down the drive
I'll haul the stuff in later
As soon as my arms come back to life

3 hours later...

Carrying what's soon to be the new me
From the truck into the house
To late to clinch the **** cheeks
As my entire spine just fell out

3 months later...

Still in intensive care
And mounting chiropractic bills
I'm thinking of just going the new American way
And get my muscles from taking pills
zebra Sep 2017
she was queen for a day
brought to you
by
the Red Cross
and
Freezone
to lift off
those painful foot corns
and lets not forget the good folks at
HEET
for those  aching back muscles
strong
yet doesn't burn
and comes with a handy dandy applicator

she could have anything she wanted
all she had to do
was ask for it on
TV
after becoming the winning contestant
for a life more tragic then all the others

the competition was stiff
who would break hearts the most
and get the biggest ovation
for all who came to see the suffering
and move the needle
on the
life ****-o-meter

which lady of endless sorrows
would be the gleeful queen
of white knuckle terrors
the winner
of the race to the bottom
circa 1958

and i was eleven years old

the winner was wrapped
by her very own glittery subjects
in a  plush royal queens cape
and placed upon her crown
a twinkling tiara
then enthroned
and bestowed a bouquet of flowers
from the magnificent
Carl's of Hollywood

she a mottled exhausted woman
withered by life's harrowing cruelties
hollowed by fear and heaping despair
flickered like staccato lighting
on black and white TV
for all of America to see

cause every
dinner cookin
vacuum cleanin
dish washin
bathroom scrubin
dirt sweepin
house wife goddess
of the vacuum cleaner and handy scrub
would flop herself on the couch
with a jin and tonic
put her feet up
hair in curlers
before dinner
and dishes
for the squabbling  brood
and her very own tyrannical
Ralph Cramden
huba huba hubby
king of her cracked castle
and
grab a pack of
Marlboro's.
Pall mall reds
Kent's
or
Chesterfield cigarettes
blow smoke
and watch
QUEEN FOR A DAY

today's
QUEEN FOR A DAY
Miss Clarice Williams
trembling almost to the point of tears
implored humbly for a gurney
so that her fifteen year old son
who was mentally slow and shot in the stomach
could be rolled outside on the porch
and feel the sunlight on his face
for the first time in years

they lavished her
with the Bomgardner Hydro-level cot
for the paralyzed
sure that it would do just the trick
plus
a miniature transistor ham radio
so you could even
hear what there sayin
all the way in Japan
plus
a Teltape tape recorder
and a brand new
automatic laundry machine and dryer
from the nice folks at Westinghouse

but thats not all

a star studded vacation
where the stars stay
at the deluxe knickerbocker hotel
where you can lounge at the pool
or your own royal suite
and have dinner
at the exotic
Polynesia Beach Combers
Wicki Wicki Room
all the way in the land
of the
hoochi coochi
judy smith Mar 2015
Did you know that if you don't stretch in the correct way, you might end up thwarting the entire purpose of your workout and suffer unwanted injuries?

Doing pre-workout stretches thoroughly will determine whether you are benefiting from your workout or whether it's worsening your muscle tear. Here are the major stretching crimes that you should never commit.

Not doing a proper warm-up

According to gym instructors worldwide, this is the most commonly committed crimes in any gym. A warm-up is a must before any kind of workout — cardio or weights — and must ideally last at least 12-15 minutes.

Assuming that stretching is a warm-up

Stretching and warming up is not the same. You need to warm up first, before you are ready to stretch. A slow jog or brisk walking on the treadmill is a good warm-up.

Rushing through your stretching exercises

Stretching should be for the entire body. You cannot skip any parts. Involve stretches that work your lower back, shoulders, calves, stomach, quads etc. You should not move from one stretch to the other in very quick succession because that may cause untoward injuries. Try to hold each stretch for 20 seconds. When you breathe deeply and hold the stretch, your muscles get trained to tolerate the maximum that your limbs can go to.

Giving stretching a skip after a workout

You have done an hour of strenuous exercise and now you just want to rush out of the gym; that is a huge mistake. Spend some time bending and stretching after your sweat session. Then, do a cool down before you leave the gym.

Not stretching every day

You need to be your flexible best always and that can only happen if you stretch daily, even on the days that you aren't gymming. This ensures that your gym days are more fruitful and that you make the most of them.

Not breathing properly

Breathing right is a very important aspect of stretching. Breathe naturally while you inhale through your nose, expand your rib cage and upper abdomen as you fill in your lungs. When exhaling, breathe out through your mouth, preferably making an audible sound. This relaxes you. While stretching, you need to breathe out when you are exerting, that is, when you are actually contracting your muscles.

Doing static stretches

Never stand still and do stretches that work only one muscle. You should rather do stretches that work a group of muscles — like a lunge that stretches your upper hamstring muscle, your ankles and also your glutes.

Ignoring pain while stretching

When you are in the middle of a stretch and you feel pain, stop immediately and consult an expert. Your stretch should make you feel a gentle pull only, not immense pain. If you are hurting, you are doing it wrong. Rest a few days and then go back to working out under a qualified trainer.Read more here:www.marieaustralia.com/formal-dresses
m Jul 2014
it's funny how
your muscles have a certain memory of things.

like how you can automatically tie
your shoelaces without even thinking
because you've done it so many times,

and how you can play this one song
on piano without even looking
because you've played it so many times,

and you kind of just lived with it
for a short while.

so when you spend a long enough time with someone
your muscles start to memorize
every action they make like how
they breathe into your chest as if you were the only oxygen left
on earth,
or how they fit perfectly
curled up inside you, like it was what your body
was made for in the first place,
and your bodies remember each other,
every slightest touch
can easily be replayed.

and what's funny is that
i can still remember you
even after all this time,
my muscles still imagine you
next to me
and it's funny that
you're not here anymore
yet my body still knows
where your leg would wrap
over mine (just above the knee)
and it's funny that
i'll never stop loving you
because that's what my muscles
will never forget.
uhm so this is trending?
I was thinking of a son.
The womb is not a clock
nor a bell tolling,
but in the eleventh month of its life
I feel the November
of the body as well as of the calendar.
In two days it will be my birthday
and as always the earth is done with its harvest.
This time I hunt for death,
the night I lean toward,
the night I want.
Well then--
It was in the womb all along.

I was thinking of a son ...
You! The never acquired,
the never seeded or unfastened,
you of the genitals I feared,
the stalk and the puppy's breath.
Will I give you my eyes or his?
Will you be the David or the Susan?
(Those two names I picked and listened for.)
Can you be the man your fathers are--
the leg muscles from Michelangelo,
hands from Yugoslavia
somewhere the peasant, Slavic and determined,
somewhere the survivor bulging with life--
and could it still be possible,
all this with Susan's eyes?

All this without you--
two days gone in blood.
I myself will die without baptism,
a third daughter they didn't bother.
My death will come on my name day.
What's wrong with the name day?
It's only an angel of the sun.
Woman,
weaving a web over your own,
a thin and tangled poison.
Scorpio,
bad spider--
die!

My death from the wrists,
two name tags,
blood worn like a corsage
to bloom
one on the left and one on the right--
It's a warm room,
the place of the blood.
Leave the door open on its hinges!

Two days for your death
and two days until mine.

Love! That red disease--
year after year, David, you would make me wild!
David! Susan! David! David!
full and disheveled, hissing into the night,
never growing old,
waiting always for you on the porch ...
year after year,
my carrot, my cabbage,
I would have possessed you before all women,
calling your name,
calling you mine.
Ambita Krkic Jan 2011
“You’re turning eighteen, you know. Have you thought of the things you’ve done with your life? Don’t you think it’s time we get you a life?” Recently, I had coffee with a friend. He looked at me from head to foot in mid-conversation, and made this comment. As always, he managed to drive me into deep thought. After much contemplation, I now realize how much I have truly gone through. I also realize the reason for this paper: I want to tell you about my life. I want to prove to you that people like me, who are afflicted with cerebral palsy should not be demeaned, but rather looked up to for how they face the challenges life brings forth.

    I remember that day. I was a baby and my eyes didn’t move. They refused to follow the finger my aunt moved back and forth. I just lay there, unmoving. My family didn’t really give much thought to it until a few months later when I began to be extremely dependent on others when it came to simple things like getting up from a fall. Right then, they knew something was wrong. I was taken to the hospital a few weeks after, and true enough I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a condition that caused me to walk on tip-toe and my legs to look like sticks due to weak muscles.

   The hospital became my second home. By the time I was three, I had grown immune to the stale smell of disease and death that greeted patients at hospital entrances. I sat in wheelchairs and was a patient to three different doctors and physical therapists. Physical therapy was, and still is to this day a gruesome routine that I didn’t look forward to. Those sessions lasted for three hours, starting off with cold ultrasound gel being smeared slowly on my thigh muscles, slowly progressing into the limb-twisting that drove me into screams of excruciating pain, and then finally ending with attempts at “walking normally” with steel bars for support. Soon after, the doctors discovered that physical therapy alone was not enough, and recommended orthopedic surgery.

   I underwent seven surgeries in three different countries: the Philippines, Thailand, and Greece. Although these surgeries gave me the opportunity to see the world, they were not at all full of pleasantries. To this day, I remember how each surgery went: being laid on the cold operating table, feeling as though my body was a pincushion as needles were forced into me. I shrieked at the sight of blood and nurses tried to calm me down, talking to me in languages I didn’t understand. Soon, my vision blurred, my eyes shut and I couldn’t open them. A tube made its way down my throat, and soon I was going, going, gone. Hours later, I woke up groggy, and the sleepless nights in the children’s ward started. Tears clouded my eyes as I stared at the ceiling or the walls covered with Disney characters grinning annoyingly at me as I was under the mercy of painkillers that didn’t even seem to work.

    As I got older, I began to question why things were the way they were for me. I began to raise questions why a certain child in my class could do things that I couldn’t. My early years of schooling were the most challenging ones to face. Like me, the other children didn’t realize how it was like to be in the situation I was in. Bullying and name-calling was common in the schools I attended. “Slowpoke” and “snail” are only some of the few names I was called by. Sometimes, children would even go as far as “crazy” and “*******”. They mimicked the way I walked and called my attention, asking me who it was they were pretending to be. Often times, I did what I was told to do at home and stood up for myself, firing back with a witty, sharp remark. Other times, I chose to ignore them instead.

    On the first days of all my Physical Education courses, I’d try to blend in with my classmates hoping that the teacher wouldn’t notice that I was incapable of doing the routines. I tried to get away with it, to no avail. As soon as I got found out, I was tasked to watch everyone else’s belongings, clear up scattered basketballs, or score a game I really had no knowledge of each meeting. I remember how it felt like to be a benchwarmer, while all the others were doing warm-ups or playing sports. I didn’t look at their faces much, instead I closed my eyes and listened as their laughs echoed their enjoyment into the air. That, or I looked down at their feet, watching them jump, listening to the thumps as their shoes hit the ground again. They made it look so easy.

   During dance rehearsals, I’d stare down at my own shoes, dirtied and scratched from constant dragging. I’d feel a sharp, imagined pain in my stick-thin legs, and imagine them moving to the music they’d be dancing to. Gently. Tap. Tap. Tap.

   While I admit that I felt a lot of resentment towards this disability in the past, I now find that there isn’t really much to resent about it. I have grown so much as a person through this disability. It has become part of who I am and how others define me. It is true that I have missed out on a lot of the things teenagers my age have gone through, but how this disability has enabled me to see life actually happen, to discover life’s true essence, and most of all, touch the lives of people I have encountered in the past and those I continue to encounter, makes me feel as though I have not missed out on anything at all.

   As I end this essay, I’d like to leave two challenges. If you happen to afflicted with cerebral palsy or any other disability, I challenge you to be proud and fight. Do not let others look down on you. People will demean you, if you choose to demean yourself. Do not wallow in self-pity. Instead, strive to turn your misfortune around. Touch lives of the people you meet. Inspire.

   On the other hand, if you do not have to struggle with any disability at all, I challenge you even more. Do not take your “normalcy” for granted. Do not look down on people with disabilities; instead aim to broaden your understanding of how it’s like to live life in their shoes. Everyday, realize how lucky you are to have what you have. I ask you the same question my friend asked me in the coffee shop that afternoon: Have you thought of the things you’ve done with your life?
(an essay I wrote in English class, Sophomore Year College, one of my more personal writings)

11.09.09
R Apr 2013
I can't seem to wait
It's sick I know
I'm so excited
To have the body that my mind
Wants to know.

I want to see bones
Not my rib cage
But more!
Oh joy,
The hip bones,
Collarbones,
And muscles galore!

I want to be strong
So nobody can tell me wrong
I want to be the best
To have a body that I seem to long.

This tale may sound weird
But at least I know what I want.
One day I'll have a body
That won't jiggle, but one that I can flaunt.
Fields stretch, of paper white
And grey as day is losing light
Alone I rally muscles fight
So I be home before the night
Wind will chill me gill to gill
As ice will render muscles still
Sheltered not from cruel chill
So I will make my journey still
Long I jog, through howling clatter
Jaw wont move, unless to chatter
Hearing sweat drops frozen, shatter
Movement warms my sleepy matter
Locomotive losing speed
Juggernaut has lost the need
Lifeless muscles need to feed
Yet still i beg them, "forward heed!"
In the distance- lights are lit!
I call, but silenced in a fit
My throat is scratched by icy spit
As I collapse in snow,
that's it.
Kendall Mallon Jul 2013
Book One


Prelude:

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


Home:

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

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

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

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

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

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




Book Two

Oracle:**

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

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

Contemplating back
at his rage—knowing the barbarian it makes of him,
Abraham peered into the band inscribed into his
ring-finger and saw the knot tying him to Zara—shame
at his arrogant-uncontrolled-fury sent Abraham (110)
into a meditative exile inside of his mind
(within the exile of the island…) in his mental
exile Abraham spun into deeper despair at his
two failures—even more at the prospect of failing the
vow he professed onto Zara: return home—home from this
final voyage, grow old with her on solid ground, never
to die apart and cause the pain of losing a loved one
without the closure of truly knowing the death is real,
to die by her side white, white with the purity of age…
Abraham’s destitution turned inward—his fury, the (120)
lack of control, the demon he becomes when rage surges
through his muscles; equiping him with untamed strength without
direction or self-possession—so much potential, yet
no productive way to use it… Abraham’s half-full-heart
burned, ached with passion and anguish—all desire
focused on home, his return, but the mind’s despondency
and insistent ‘what-ifs’ kept poor Abraham prostrate in
his mental cave—all his wishing for anger and vi’lence
to force his will, it did more to retain him upon the
cursèd island than bring his heart closer to fulfillment: (130)
his long awaited home…
Out of his mental exile did
Abraham’s irises dilate and contract with blinding
illumination—self-pity is not what make things happen—
it would only serve to anger Zara—nothing other
than I can be to blame for my continued absence; I
am stronger than that!—looking at the tattoo in his hand,
he remembered the reasons for the perennial brand—
the eight-spoke ship’s helm: the eight-fold-path—I must cut off my
desire for anger to be the solution and focus (140)
on the one path to Zara—the mind can push the body
further than the body believes is possible—the star:
the compass to guide me via celestial bodies
to where my heart can see the guiding beam of my lighthouse!
This is the Final Voyage epic thus far. I am converting Home into blank verse and it is taking longer than I thought to do; which is why that part is incomplete here. I also added line numbers. I changed The names as well.
Vanessa Gatley Oct 2014
His muscles
Just wanna  touch them
Squeeze
Them
Attractive besides his hands
Not too  big just right
<3
All I focus on
Lain Ender Feb 2012
In the chair he played,
His muscles burned with his pain.
It was always constant,
The needless burning of his nerves.

Fingers curled he played,
There was enjoyment in the music.
It erased the pain and the sadness ,
The that the many scars of his nerves gave him.

Then he was gone

17 and gone in the last beat of the hearts
we cried happy birthday
But he wasn't the only one
What of the one teacher?

You helped him play through the pain,
While you yourself suffered,
How soon were you torn from us too?
Its all to soon.

You know their will be a final symphony,
they wont let you go without the notes.
draped on your shoulders like wings,
Angels of the band.

You both were pillars of strength,
And we all remember and sing and play.
For the good don't just die young,
They are set free of their suffering.

And we love you,
Let the symphony play.
I will cry for the man i barley knew,
For he helped the one I loved.
I'm sorry this is so slap dash and likely terrible. Its hard to write through tears. I know no one on here really knows me so i will explain my hurry and my tears. 2 years ago, on his 17 birthday, I watched the brother I helped care for so much die suddenly from Multiple sclerosis. I sang him happy birthday through tears as his heart came to a stop. He was a great kid and avid member of the band where despite his illness he played the biggest instrument they had ( the Marimba). The Instructor who taught the class was a pivotal influence and was infinitely patient with his shortcomings. He too had a chronic illness, Cancer. After my Brother died he did everything he could, the band played at the funeral, the took donations and had a special  marimba with his engraved on it and even fought to have an award that is given annually to winner of a band tournament held every year in the school district. Mr Jackson (the teacher) suddenly died today, barely over forty. I cry for him because my brother could not, because i know he was a great man. I apologize for this sudden spilling of my true self but in this circumstances i can not hide behind a pen name. I remember  www.facebook.com/groups/167503548802/10150543131228803/?notif_t=like

and

www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1598573011

I cry for the ones who fall too soon, the greatest of us. I would cry for you.
i just remembered when it all began to fall apart i was in mid-thirties weary of taking advantage of women i wanted to change grow become better person more compassionate find loving respectful relationship maybe marriage i knew i needed to step away stop

chicago 1985 Odysseus is a stranger to himself living someone else’s life does he really want what Mom Dad Chris want? is he lying to everyone else or himself? he snorts another line of ******* moves on to next girl in dizzy way he is having time of his life so much occasion to waste doors to open slam rooms to pass through “In the room the women come and go, talking of Michelangelo, and time yet for a hundred indecisions, and for a hundred visions and revisions” thank you t.s. elliott his ****** liaisons carry on from several weeks to several months begin with him adoring some girl or she adoring him little fires that burn themselves out for his part infidelity is rarely in question instead typically he or she feels let down by some personal response or character trait and simply stops calling in actuality no girl ever bothers to stick around they follow his lead and evaporate his mind draws a blank he wonders what do girls want? Deep inside he knows nothing in life is greater than the love of a woman he would have liked all those girls to be just one girl but she is missing where is she? occasionally he will run into one of his ex-lovers on street she wears an expression that hints why didn’t you phone me back? why did you stop calling? he suspects she is playing victim in self-satisfying charade in fact Odysseus crosses into new territory it is difficult to go back he hones his edge no longer is he wonder-stuck child possessed by curiosity for girls he requires **** and kink longer buildups then urgent bursts of effort drawn out climaxes nameless girl wearing tight jeans cowboy boots braids whom he meets in drake hotel elevator pushes stop button she ***** him off he has **** *** with tan-skinned french-canadian female tourist in telephone booth on north avenue gorgeous longhaired creole girl from new orleans ***** him on fire escape stairs **** *** with skinny punk girl in dark alley dutch foreign exchange student gives him ******* between parked cars on clark street weird awkward *** with goth girl in graveyard ****** by older blond woman who positioning herself underneath table in ritzy restaurant he has *** with chatty college sorority girl in jet lavatory he goes down on nerd girl wearing thick glasses in criticism section of depaul’s library he gets ****** ****** by perfect stranger in lake michigan each evening before he goes out prowling he looks in mirror wonders what strange female he will have *** with tonight it always surprises him what a person might not admit to or accept but allow or give in to if the right moment or if the right person is there not that he is particularly the right person rather he stumbles onto an astonishing streak there is the paris/milantokyo fashion model with stylish french haircut who possesses astonishing beauty perfect ***** and haughty temper after night of too many ***** martinis and ******* she announces “you and your friends are going nowhere  you’re all second-rate artist losers! and your cousin and his group are obnoxious *******” she flips him the finger then shoves him he shoves back resulting in dual arrests and domestic violence charges there is the tall blond stripper who totally fulfills his ****** desires once she lets him insert garden hose up her **** laughs uproariously as stream of water shoots out on another occasion she requests he *** in her *** he begins to believe he will marry her she insists she is too low class for his family one night she drunkenly hurls champagne bottle gives him black eye drives away crashes her car there is blue-eyed sweetheart with divine ****** loving touch who after months of sleeping with Odysseus confesses she is ******* some other guy and swears she will be faithful in the future she begs for his forgiveness as he loses it pushes her out door throwing her clothes after her one girl lights candles gives him full body massage ******* another girl holds him tight cries pushes him away one girl writes confessions with permanent markers on walls of closet another girl slaps him yells why? why why why! one girl runs to toilet pukes passes out on floor another girl sits up all night talking teasing never relieving him another girl falls asleep snores while he is in conversation one girl makes fun of small left ******* later gossips to her girlfriends he meets girl who will do anything except allow him to enter her ****** he meets girl who is professional escort she offers to do him for free she has lots of toys videos he declines they mess around she gets him off with ******* he meets girl whose ***** hair grows to mid-thigh she incessantly calls for her dog Bertram! he meets girl who shivers moans furiously cries laughs when he climaxes he meets girl with self-inflicted scars on arms legs who only wants it up her **** he meets girl who likes gagging deep-******* him to skull-**** her harder the better he meets girl whose ******* are so fierce she loses complete control drenching him sheets with her fluids excrement he meets girl who wants ******* squeezed so tightly he fears he will draw blood he meets girl who likes to talk ***** slaps his face as he is reaching ****** he meets girl with gargantuan ***** ******* as large as thumb she gurgles hot breaths later tries to steal string of beads he meets girl who enjoys lactating on his thighs while she gives him head he meets girl who knows how to contract vaginal muscles so tightly all he does is sustain ******* inside her in order to reach ****** he meets girl who pees tiny squirts while he penetrates her **** she laughs wildly he meets girl with furry mound who requests he **** on her as she masturbates he declines she reproaches him accusing you’re not nearly as freethinking as you pretend to be in fact you’re full of ****! he meets girl who wants him to act out **** they struggle he meets girl who desires to be ******* whipped he is not into inflicting pain he meets large strong girl who forces him he never tells anyone about incident he becomes mindful many females are more depraved than him women remain puzzle to Odysseus he is repeatedly astounded shocked can never predict about girl what her ******* ****** will look like whether she has eager *** or what are her secret desires he is explorer women are vast mystery he wonders are females as sexually driven as males? are they as vulnerable? is their **** like tiny *****? he speculates if completely unknown attractive woman walks up to any average man grabs his crotch many possibly most men will willingly allow it are women that weak? more than anything what most excites Odysseus is female lust handjobs are test of adequacy distinguishing character having masturbated thousands of times he thrills in having girl do it he delights in watching her arousal just staring at his ******* is captivated by method of her fingers hands revitalized by degree of her determination throughout he needs to ****** her ******* ****** *** titillated as she licks lips after swallowing ***** he realizes if he were female he would be total nymphomaniac yet he finds it difficult to imagine desiring men are all so like him women are so strange fascinatingly different he craves their otherness Odysseus loves women more than they love themselves smell sight of them sends him into frenzy problem is he fears their power over him

it’s been 25 years since those days i live alone for many years in tucson arizona have not been with a woman for long long time last relationship 2001 with crack ***** i hang my head cry wish for love wonder do i deserve to be loved pray to be forgiven
Mason Hollows Nov 2014
Listen
My skin glistens
The sweat drips ~n~
I feel the motion
The rise of my emotions
The tingle in the spine
Expands in time
Engulfing my muscles
With adrenaline, hustle
**** reason
Incite treason
Don’t back down
Don’t turn aroun’
Introduced, an obstacle
Beat it like a rock, unstoppable
Heart, rhythm, momentum
Breath, flex, go get ‘em
Never rest,
There is no success
As soon as you think you won,
Something hits your chest
So stand up, strong
This fight is gunna last long
In 1 second,
You could be gone

ViKing
By GeoEthE
Wade Redfearn Sep 2018
The first settlers to the area called the Lumber River Drowning Creek. The river got its name for its dark, swift-moving waters. In 1809, the North Carolina state legislature changed the name of Drowning Creek to the Lumber River. The headwaters are still referred to as Drowning Creek.

Three p.m. on a Sunday.
Anxiously hungry, I stay dry, out of the pool’s cold water,
taking the light, dripping into my pages.
A city with a white face blank as a bust
peers over my shoulder.
Wildflowers on the roads. Planes circle from west,
come down steeply and out of sight.
A pinkness rises in my breast and arms:
wet as the drowned, my eyes sting with sweat.
Over the useless chimneys a bank of cloud piles up.
There is something terrible in the sky, but it keeps breaking.
Another is dead. Fentanyl. Sister of a friend, rarely seen.
A hand reaches everywhere to pass over eyes and mouths.
A glowing wound opens in heaven.
A mirror out of doors draws a gyre of oak seeds no one watches,
in the clear pool now sunless and black.

Bitter water freezes the muscles and I am far from shore.
I paddle in the shallows, near the wooden jail.
The water reflects a taut rope,
feet hanging in the breeze singing mercy
at the site of the last public hanging in the state.
A part-white fugitive with an extorted confession,
loved by the poor, dumb enough to get himself captured,
lonely on this side of authority: a world he has never lived in
foisting itself on the world he has -
only now, to steal his drunken life, then gone again.

1871 - Henderson Oxendine, one of the notorious gang of outlaws who for some time have infested Robeson County, N. C., committing ****** and robbery, and otherwise setting defiance to the laws, was hung at Lumberton, on Friday last in the presence of a large assemblage. His execution took place a very few days after his conviction, and his death occurred almost without a struggle.

Today, the town square collapses as if scorched
by the whiskey he drank that morning to still himself,
folds itself up like Amazing Grace is finished.
A plinth is laid
in the shadow of his feet, sticky with pine,
here where the water sickens with roots.
Where the canoe overturned. Where the broken oar floated and fell.
Where the snake lives, and teethes on bark,
waiting for another uncle.

Where the tobacco waves near drying barns rusted like horseshoes
and cotton studs the ground like the cropped hair of the buried.
Where schoolchildren take the afternoon
to trim the kudzu growing between the bodies of slaves.
Where appetite is met with flood and fat
and a clinic for the heart.
Where barges took chips of tar to port,
for money that no one ever saw.

Tar sticks the heel but isn’t courage.
Tar seals the hulls -
binds the planks -
builds the road.
Tar, fiery on the tongue, heavy as bad blood in the family -
dead to glue the dead together to secure the living.
Tar on the roofs, pouring heat.
Tar is a dark brown or black viscous liquid of hydrocarbons and free carbon,
obtained from a wide variety of organic materials
through destructive distillation.
Tar in the lungs will one day go as hard as a five-cent candy.

Liberty Food Mart
Cheapest Prices on Cigarettes
Parliament $22.50/carton
Marlboro $27.50/carton

The white-bibbed slaughterhouse Hmong hunch down the steps
of an old school bus with no air conditioner,
rush into the cool of the supermarket.
They pick clean the vegetables, flee with woven bags bulging.
What were they promised?
Air conditioning.
And what did they receive?
Chickenshit on the wind; a dead river they can't understand
with a name it gained from killing.

Truth:
A man was flung onto a fencepost and died in a front yard down the street.
A girl with a grudge in her eyes slipped a razorblade from her teeth and ended recess.
I once saw an Indian murdered for stealing a twelve-foot ladder.
The red line indicating heart disease grows higher and higher.
The red line indicating cardiovascular mortality grows higher and higher.
The red line indicating motor vehicle deaths grows higher and higher.
I burn with the desire to leave.

The stories make us full baskets of dark. No death troubles me.
Not the girl's blood, inert, tickled by opiates,
not the masked arson of the law;
not the smell of drywall as it rots,
or the door of the safe falling from its hinges,
or the chassis of cars, airborne over the rise by the planetarium,
three classmates plunging wide-eyed in the river’s icy arc –
absent from prom, still struggling to free themselves from their seatbelts -
the gunsmoke at the home invasion,
the tenement bisected by flood,
the cattle lowing, gelded
by agriculture students on a field trip.

The air contains skin and mud.
The galvanized barns, long empty, cough up
their dust of rotten feed, dry tobacco.
Men kneel in the tilled rows,
to pick up nails off the ground
still splashed with the blood of their makers.

You Never Sausage a Place
(You’re Always a ****** at Pedro’s!)
South of the Border – Fireworks, Motel & Rides
Exit 9: 10mi.

Drunkards in Dickies will tell you the roads are straight enough
that the drive home will not bend away from them.
Look in the woods to see by lamplight
two girls filling each other's mouths with smoke.
Hear a friendly command:
boys loosening a tire, stuck in the gut of a dog.
Turn on the radio between towns of two thousand
and hear the tiny voice of an AM preacher,
sharing the airwaves of country dark
with some chords plucked from a guitar.
Taste this water thick with tannin
and tell me that trees do not feel pain.
I would be a mausoleum for these thousands
if I only had the room.

I sealed myself against the flood.
Bodies knock against my eaves:
a clutch of cats drowned in a crawlspace,
an old woman bereft with a vase of pennies,
her dead son in her living room costumed as the black Jesus,
the ***** oil of a Chinese restaurant
dancing on top of black water.
A flow gauge spins its tin wheel
endlessly above the bloated dead,
and I will pretend not to be sick at dinner.

Misery now, a struggle ahead for Robeson County after flooding from Hurricane Matthew
LUMBERTON
After years of things leaving Robeson County – manufacturing plants, jobs, payrolls, people – something finally came in, and what was it but more misery?

I said a prayer to the city:
make me a figure in a figure,
solvent, owed and owing.
Take my jute sacks of wristbones,
my sheaves and sheaves of fealty,
the smell of the forest from my feet.
Weigh me only by my purse.
A slim woman with a college degree,
a rented room without the black wings
of palmetto roaches fleeing the damp:
I saw the calm white towers and subscribed.
No ingrate, I saved a space for the lost.
They filled it once, twice, and kept on,
eating greasy flesh straight from the bone,
craning their heads to ask a prayer for them instead.

Downtown later in the easy dark,
three college boys in foam cowboy hats shout in poor Spanish.
They press into the night and the night presses into them.
They will go home when they have to.
Under the bridge lit in violet,
a folding chair is draped in a ***** blanket.
A grubby pair of tennis shoes lay beneath, no feet inside.
Iced tea seeps from a chewed cup.
I pass a bar lit like Christmas.
A mute and pretty face full of indoor light
makes a promise I see through a window.
I pay obscene rents to find out if it is true,
in this nation tied together with gallows-rope,
thumbing its codex of virtues.
Considering this just recently got rejected and I'm free to publish it, and also considering that the town this poem describes is subject once again to a deluge whose damage promises to be worse than before, it seemed like a suitable time to post it. If you've enjoyed it, please think about making a small donation to the North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund at the URL below:
https://governor.nc.gov/donate-florence-recovery

— The End —