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kate crash Apr 2010
with my head behind a cloud
thoughts ping pong around  
drown
drown
loserdom in a stip mall parking lot
kicks against the curb
three quarters and a fist
life a near miss
sweat steaming the distortions of the face
cops handy mans hookers and housewives
l.a., l.a. l.a. paved my brain
a candy bar and a bar and a heat wave
and a drawn on face
l.a., l.a. l.a. paved my brain
and a tic tac toe hopscotch foot tied race
l.a., l.a. l.a. paved my brain
to an anvil off the top of the capitol building beauty night line daytime sky sky orange high
touch me
somebody
reach out and ***** out my stutter heart time cvrime buy buy buy
not buy me anything
feel me something
feel
what?
who am i
satturday or Tuesday or Noday
cement
pavement
horse drawn nowhere
freeways
freeways
thunder

4/5/10
219pm
Phil B Dec 2014
I walked among a garden green,
well paved and split by beams
of fence posts new and densely lacquered,
This garden that man has gently shattered.

Far in I found small office blocks,
amid the green were charging docks,
and soon did I sit down and sigh
at tender faces -- eager for wi-fi.

The fauna made for a lovely sight
as joggers came and passed it by,
their music playing on phones strapped tight,
the moment was waste and so I cry,
For what life did lose to technology.
Composed in a city park.
Mitch Nihilist Aug 2015
awakened by the
offsprings cry,
baby powdered
morning dew
showers the room,
coffee stained smiles
shine about
cheerio blanketed
kitchens,
so worrisome
for office tardiness,
the carseat won't lock
into place,
tire marks on
fresh paved driveways,
to daycare tears dry not
she's on time,
fatigued she plants
her seed to the office seat
to grow even less
awaiting to see the smile
of her child and say
her prayers before
falling asleep

                     -

awaked by the
offsprings cry,
gun powered
morning dew
showeres the village,
rotted teeth smile
amongst the
body-blanketed township,
so worrisome of finding
a slain mother
sister
brother
just like father,
the gun won't lock
into place,
they never will,
tattered couches
paved with the
***** of
slaughtered buildings,
mother's dead
tears dry not,
fatigued,
hands of
grungy drainpipes
plant beside,
holding stagnant
a somber sibling,
tremors ripple
crimson tides,
planted to
grow even less
awaiting to see
the smile of
his mother
his father
his sister
and say his prayers
with brother
before laying down
persp ective
Terry O'Leary Sep 2013
NOTE TO THE READER – Once Apun a Time

This yarn is a flossy fabric woven of several earlier warped works, lightly laced together, adorned with fur-ther braided tails of human frailty. The looms were loosed, purling frantically this febrile fable...

Some pearls may be found wanting – unwanted or unwonted – piled or hanging loose, dangling free within a fuzzy flight of fancy...

The threads of this untethered tissue may be fastened, or be forgotten, or else be stranded by the readers and left unravelling in the knotted corners of their minds...

'twill be perchance that some may  laugh or loll in loopy stitches, else be torn or ripped apart, while others might just simply say “ ’tis made of hole cloth”, “sew what” or “cant seam to get the needle point”...,

yes, a proper disentanglement may take you for a spin on twisted twines of any strings you feel might need attaching or detaching…

picking knits, some may think that
    such strange things ‘have Never happened in our Land’,
    such quaint things ‘could Never happen in our Land’’,
    such murky things ‘will Never happen in our Land’’…

and this may all be true, if credence be dis-carded…

such is that gooey gossamer which vails the human mind...

and thus was born the teasing title of this fabricated Fantasy...

                                NEVER LAND

An ancient man named Peter Pan, disguised but from the past,
with feathered cap and tunic wrap and sabre’s sailed his last.
Though fully grown, on dust he’s flown and perched upon a mast
atop the Walls around the sprawls, unvisited and vast -
and all the while with bitter smile he’s watching us aghast.

As day begins, a spindle spins, it weaves a wanton web;
like puckered prunes, like midday moons, like yesterday’s celebs,
we scrape and *****, we seldom hope - he watches while we ebb:

    The ***** grinder preaches fine on Sunday afternoons -
    he quotes from books but overlooks the Secrets Carved in Runes:
    “You’ve tried and toyed, but can’t avoid or shun the pale monsoons,
    it’s sink or swim as echoed dim in swinging door saloons”.
    The laughingstocks are flinging rocks at ball-and-chained baboons.

    While ghetto boys are looting toys preparing for their doom
    and Mademoiselles are weaving shells on tapestries with looms,
    Cathedral cats and rafter rats are peering in the room,
    where ragged strangers stoop for change, for coppers in the gloom,
    whose thoughts are more upon the doors of crypts in Christmas bloom,
    and gold doubloons and silver spoons that tempt beyond the tomb.

    Mid *** shots from vacant lots, that strike and ricochet
    a painted girl with flaxen curl (named Wendy)’s on her way
    to tantalise with half-clad thighs, to trick again today;
    and indiscreet upon the street she gives her pride away
    to any guy who’s passing by with time and cash to pay.
    (In concert halls beyond the Walls, unjaded girls ballet,
    with flowered thoughts of Camelot and dreams of cabarets.)

    Though rip-off shops and crooked cops are paid not once but thrice,
    the painted girl with flaxen curl is paring down her price
    and loosely tempts cold hands unkempt to touch the merchandise.
    A crazy guy cries “where am I”, a ****** titters twice,
    and double quick a lunatic affects a fight with lice.

    The alleyways within the maze are paved with rats and mice.
    Evangelists with moneyed fists collect the sacrifice
    from losers scorned and rubes reborn, and promise paradise,
    while in the back they cook some crack, inhale, and roll the dice.

    A *** called Boe has stubbed his toe, he’s stumbled in the gutter;
    with broken neck, he looks a wreck, the sparrows all aflutter,
    the passers-by, they close an eye, and turn their heads and mutter:
    “Let’s pray for rains to wash the lanes, to clear away the clutter.”
    A river slows neath mountain snows, and leaves begin to shudder.

    The jungle teems, a siren screams, the air is filled with ****.
    The Reverent Priest and nuns unleash the Holy Shibboleth.
    And Righteous Jane who is insane, as well as Sister Beth,
    while telling tales to no avail of everlasting death,
    at least imbrue Hagg Avenue with whisky on their breath.

    The Reverent Priest combats the Beast, they’re kneeling down to prey,
    to fight the truth with fang and tooth, to toil for yesterday,
    to etch their mark within the dark, to paint their résumé
    on shrouds and sheets which then completes the devil’s dossier.

    Old Dan, he’s drunk and in a funk, all mired in the mud.
    A Monk begins to wash Dan’s sins, and asks “How are you, Bud?”
    “I’m feeling pain and crying rain and flailing in the flood
    and no god’s there inclined to care I’m always coughing blood.”
    The Monk, he turns, Dan’s words he spurns and lets the bible thud.

    Well, Banjo Boy, he will annoy with jangled rhymes that fray:
    “The clanging bells of carousels lead blind men’s minds astray
    to rings of gold they’ll never hold in fingers made of clay.
    But crest and crown will crumble down, when withered roots decay.”

    A pregnant lass with eyes of glass has never learned to cope.
    Once set adrift her fall was swift, she slid a slipp’ry ***** -
    she casts the Curse, the Holy Verse, and shoots a shot of dope,
    then stalks discreet Asylum Street her daily horoscope -
    the stray was struck by random truck which was her only hope.

    So Banjo Boy, with little joy, he strums her life entire:
    “The wayward waif was never safe; her stars were dark and dire.
    Born midst the rues and avenues where lack and want aspire
    where no one heeds the childish needs that little ones require;
    where faith survives in tempest lives, a swirl within the briar,
    Infinity grinds as time unwinds, until the winds expire.
    Her last caprice? The final peace that no one could deny her -
    whipped by the flood, stray beads of blood cling, splattered on the spire;
    though beads of sweat are cool and wet, cold clotted blood is dryer.”

    Though broken there, she’s fled the snare with dying thoughts serene.
    And now she’s dead, the rumours spread: her age? a sweet 16,
    with child, *****, her soul dyed red, her body so unclean.
    A place is sought where she can rot, avoiding churchyard scenes,
    in limey pits, as well befits, behind forbidding screens;
    and all the while a dirge is styled on tattered tambourines
    which echo through the human zoo in valleys of the Queens.

    Without rejoice, in hissing voice, near soil that’s seldom trod
    “In pious role, God bless my soul”, was mouthed with mitred nod,
    neath scarlet trim with black, and grim, behind a robed facade -
    “She’ll burn in hell and sulphur smell”, spat Priest and man of god.

    Well, angels sweet with cloven feet, they sing in girl’s attire,
    but Banjo Boy, he’s playing coy while chanting in the choir:
    “The clueless search within the church to find what they desire,
    but near the nave or gravelled grave, there is no Rectifier.”
    And when he’s through, without ado, he stacks some stones nearby her.

The eyes behind the head inclined reflect a universe
of shanty towns and kings in crowns and parties in a hearse,
of heaping mounds of coffee grounds and pennies in a purse,
of heart attacks in shoddy shacks, of motion in reverse,
of reasons why pale kids must die, quite trite and curtly terse,
of puppet people at the steeple, kneeling down averse,
of ****** tones and megaphones with empty words and worse,
of life’s begin’ in utter sin and other things perverse,
of lewd taboos and residues contained within the Curse,
while poets blind, in gallows’ rind, carve epitaphs in verse.

    A sodden dreg with wooden leg is dancing for a dime
    to sacred psalms and other balms, all ticking with the time.
    He’s 22, he’s almost through, he’s melted in his prime,
    his bane is firm, the canker worm dissolves his brain to slime.
    With slanted scales and twisted jails, his life’s his only crime.

    A beggar clump beside a dump has pencil box in hand.
    With sightless eyes upon the skies he’s lying there unmanned,
    with no relief and bitter grief too dark to understand.
    The backyard blight is hid from sight, it’s covered up and bland,
    and Robin Hood and Brother Hood lie buried in the sand.

    While all night queens carve figurines in gelatine and jade,
    behind a door and on the floor a deal is finally made;
    the painted girl with flaxen curl has plied again her trade
    and now the care within her stare has turned a darker shade.
    Her lack of guile and parting smile are cutting like a blade.

    Some boys with cheek play hide and seek within a house condemned,
    their faces gaunt reflecting want that’s hard to comprehend.
    With no excuse an old recluse is waiting to descend.
    His eyes despair behind the stare, he’s never had a friend
    to talk about his hidden doubt of how the world will end -
    to die alone on empty throne and other Fates impend.

    And soon the boys chase phantom joys and, presto when they’re gone,
    the old recluse, with nimble noose and ****** features drawn,
    no longer waits upon the Fates but yawns his final yawn
    - like Tinker Bell, he spins a spell, in fairy dust chiffon -
    with twisted brow, he’s tranquil now, he’s floating like a swan
    and as he fades from life’s charades, the night awaits the dawn.

    A boomerang with ebon fang is soaring through the air
    to pierce and breach the heart of each and then is called despair.
    And as it grows it will oppose and fester everywhere.
    And yet the crop that’s at the top will still be unaware.

    A lad is stopped by roving cops, who shoot in disregard.
    His face is black, he’s on his back, a breeze is breathing hard,
    he bleeds and dies, his mama cries, the screaming sky is scarred,
    the sheriff and his squad at hand are laughing in the yard.

    Now Railroad Bob’s done lost his job, he’s got no place for working,
    His wife, she cries with desperate eyes, their baby’s head’s a’ jerking.
    The union man don’t give a ****, Big Brother lies a’ lurking,
    the boss’ in cabs are picking scabs, they count their money, smirking.

    Bob walks the streets and begs for eats or little jobs for trying
    “the answer’s no, you ought to know, no use for you applying,
    and don’t be sad, it aint that bad, it’s soon your time for dying.”
    The air is thick, his baby’s sick, the cries are multiplying.

    Bob’s wife’s in town, she’s broken down, she’s ranting with a fury,
    their baby coughs, the doctor scoffs, the snow flies all a’ flurry.
    Hard work’s the sin that’s done them in, they skirmish, scrimp and scurry,
    and midnight dreams abound with screams. Bob knows he needs to hurry.
    It’s getting late, Bob’s tempting fate, his choices cruel and blurry;
    he chooses gas, they breathe their last, there’s no more cause to worry.

    Per protocols near ivied walls arrayed in sage festoons,
    the Countess quips, while giving tips, to crimson caped buffoons:
    “To rise from mass to upper class, like twirly bird tycoons,
    you stretch the treat you always eat, with tiny tablespoons”

    A learned leach begins to teach (with songs upon a liar):
    “Within the thrall of Satan’s call to yield to dim desire
    lie wicked lies that tantalize the flesh and blood Vampire;
    abiding souls with self-control in everyday Hellfire
    will rest assured, when once interred, in afterlife’s Empire”.
    These words reweave the make believe, while slugs in salt expire,
    baptised in tears and rampant fears, all mirrored in the mire.

    It’s getting hot on private yachts, though far from desert plains -
    “Well, come to think, we’ll have a drink”, Sir Captain Hook ordains.
    Beyond the blame and pit of shame, outside the Walled domains,
    they pet their pups and raise their cups, take sips of pale champagnes
    to touch the tips of languid lips with pearls of purple rains.

    Well, Gypsy Guy would rather die than hunker down in chains,
    be ridden south with bit in mouth, or heed the hold of reins.
    The ruling lot are in a spot, the boss man he complains:
    “The gypsies’ soul, I can’t control, my patience wears and wanes;
    they will not cede to common greed, which conquers far domains
    and furtive spies and news that lies have barely baked their brains.
    But in the court of last resort the final fix remains:
    in boxcar bins with violins we’ll freight them out in trains
    and in the bogs, they’ll die like dogs, and everybody gains
    (should one ask why, a quick reply: ‘It’s that which God ordains!’)”

    Arrayed in shawls with crystal *****, and gazing at the moons,
    wiled women tease with melodies and spooky loony tunes
    while making toasts to holey ghosts on rainy day lagoons:
    “Well, here’s to you and others too, embedded in the dunes,
Such small things: a farm in the north, a plantation in the south.
A small urban home rather than
A mansion on the edge of an enormous field.
Paved roads and rail road tracks inside cities instead of
Gravel paths through paths of trees and cotton fields.
Business men walking by or a rich plantation owner
With two African slaves at his side.

They can cause conflict, major differences.
Political views and moral issues.
How the country should be run?
How the people are to live?
The laws and abilities surrounding slaves?
Is it right to own another human?
walking down a road
a road paved with good intentions
i stare only ahead
at the things that can never be
because it has already been

i sit and wonder
listening to all of your thoughts
and i listen to the lies
the lies that you told me
i remember one very disinctly
and so it went 'i love you'

see there goes another lie
i now sit and stare
on a road paved with good intentions
Alana S Sep 2015
my tears aren’t forced
they flow in that
dark tunnel that she
dreamed so long ago
she wasn’t ready
to take her first steps
I wasn’t ready to
take mine without her.
Little things bring her back
like empty bowls or the tower
of books she’s never going to read.
People have been calling this a
trauma, but they’ve forgotten the
loneliness of life’s journey. She dreamed
a tunnel and added bright lights
and dusted the floor with powdery snow
she traveled far yet I can
only see the trails of
milk puddling around the lost key that she
dropped under blankets
of memory and phrases of
I-promise and tomorrow. I’m growing up as
she falls down. She wasn’t
perfect but that’s why it
was so easy to love her.
My journey’s ongoing, and the
deep undercurrents of pain and
grief are pulling me through
that tunnel.
I’m rowing softly by,
quietly, quietly,
as she is laid to rest.
her memories swallow the emptiness
she is kneeling at the throne.
I follow slowly and leave my
tears for her to know that life’s
path isn’t paved in water but
with sorrow, with endings, and with lost
boats on turbid seas.
and I like you like a paved street
an empty hallway
and a hall pass

and I want you like a refresher from Starbucks
a new scarf
and used books

and I like you like a full battery
a new musical in theaters
a book that we share

and I want you like thick mascara
a new haircut
and change

so stick around
J Allan Jewell Nov 2012
There was a dirt road that is now paved
There sits a house where the tree line fades
Through its doors I do not know
Who walks the halls beside my ghost?

On a tree right down the road
A cross is nailed and the oak tree bows
On a cross tattered and dim
Reads my name-- never forgotten

Beneath my feet once powdered brown
Green grass grows all around
Except one spot where dead grass lay
Evidence of other days
Through the glass- between the blinds
Bottom the sound of whistling chimes
Into my room I glanced to check
If my room was clean and not left a mess
But where clothes once lay-- a different boy plays
And on his mind it does not weigh
Who walks these halls beside my ghost?
~

I am
Unpoetic, for
Isolation built from self-paved
Solitude has wilted my writing's
Possibility for sweetness
And sugar-faked beauty,
But poetry is crazed
For a taste of
Vast feelings,
So here
I am-


~
All feedback is welcome
luna Mar 2015
My way to hell was paved from his heaven,
Life is now a crossroads of shores.
Destiny has changed its destination,
Blown away by the gust of fabrications.
My million sorrows, all rebelling for civility,
Are lost in my mistake.
I can mull now or forever,
Instead I wait for you, unwearyingly.
I walk on sand of memories, patiently;
My patience amazingly placating me,
Source anonymous, I breathe in my patience.
Jenny Jul 2018
the electricity runs through our veins
and past the street signs we rumble by
in the car you stole, we go fifty above the speed limit,
the roof of the car is the noir sky above
and the midnight rain pelts our upturned faces
the dancing drops of water drip onto our smiling lips
the sound of the sky collapsing
echoes the flashes that streak the sky,
the flickering light casts paved roads with a brief brightness
(as if god were wearing light up sketchers)
the lacy brallette that wears me
gives me the bravery to stand up in the speeding car
the velvet pants that ripple with the wind
drink up the nighttime rain
and the rare headlights race past us,
heading into homes and hearts
the mellow playlist that connects the aux cord to our ears blasts
so loud, we can no longer hear our insecurity
the mascara that once clung to my eyelashes
now streams down my face.
on a two way street,
we drive down the middle
unafraid in the face of direct dangers
so unaware of the towering empty skyscrapers
and instead highly exhilarated
from the street signs we drive by
too fast to read the blocky lettering
the road signs glint, smiling as we wave and reach towards them
the cigarettes you smoked are thrown through the open window,
still smothering slightly.
i can still taste the smoke on your lips
and your hand tucks my hair behind my ear
and as the wind objects and inhales
unreal in the hazy a.m. car trip
the tunnel rushes towards us,
and we both hold our breaths,
as if breathing would contaminate us.
the lights that glint, cast a yellow-white glow
and for once, i see you for who you are
a boy too buzzed to feel
a kid who only felt "sort of"
a person who couldn't heal
and a lover who could never give love
about a boy who was my living teenage dream // nothing scarier than finding a broken loveless boy who makes you the same
Megan Feb 2018
Together they were the perfect team.

She was tired of perfection long before she met him. Constantly having to put up a successful front was exhausting, but her barrier of bravado was faltering.

It's hard to find imperfections in an idyllic world.

He didn't want to live in the life of his reputation anymore. The tornado that his life had become was beginning to ruin him and he wanted nothing more to find some quiet.

It's hard to find solace in the storm.

No longer did she want to create masterpieces; she wanted to wreak havoc. She had a taste of the life she wanted, but once you take the first few steps on the path of self-destruction, you cannot turn back. The whisper in the wind becomes seductive. Like a drug, she needed it. She made a U-turn, a complete diversion from the road that had been paved for her. She felt a rush from the change of direction, and fell in love with it. He was her change of direction.

It's hard to find fault in someone that provides the mess you've been searching for.

He wanted nothing more than some peace in his whirlwind of a life; maybe that's why he gravitated towards her. She gave him the comfort that he had desired for years. She made him feel as if the rollercoaster, designed as a downwards spiral, that he has been riding since birth was starting to calm down. She became the sense of calm in his brutal life.

It's impossible to reject something you have been seeking for years.

Together they were unstoppable. She lost herself in his chaos and she took it on herself. She was an angel who lost her way, blinded by desire for imperfection and love for a boy that finally made her feel again. He was a hurricane that found the solace in her that he has wanted for what felt like an eternity. He revelled in the peace she brought to his life and he loved her more than he could articulate.

She found her demon; she became a fallen angel, the devil reincarnate that took the chaos out of his life and put it into hers.

He found his angel; he became a quiet rainfall that gave his tornado to the girl that craved the destruction it created.

Together they were the perfect team.
I'm living in my mind,
walking a road I have paved.
Listening to the pounding,
of my heart that can't be saved;
an empty hole I had caved,
long before my journey started,
long before my hope strained.
Waiting for a fleeting step,
wishing for a second thought,
but still emptiness lurks,
where the love had fought,
from how the voices talked.
I'm waiting for a different place,
of what my mind is not.
A saddened memoir,
that spoke forgotten loss.
I'm falling deeper down,
where all the pain was washed,
and the guilt caught.
In a hidden valley of emotion,
of punishing thoughts.
Still I'm walking onward;
following the road.
People told me to hold caution,
for it should not be condoned.
I can't call it my own,
because this road that I am taking,
can never be my home--
An older poem fixed.
All feedback is welcome!
Amitav Radiance Apr 2014
We usually take the paved path,
It is crowded all along,
As we are all jostling for space and recognition.
It always leads to the mundane and the necessary,
Binding us to a routine we enact,
Our mind’s being concrete in our thinking and decision.
We dwell not beyond what we can see and feel,
We are numbed by the wrath of fast paced life,
Do we not want to veer away from the usual and experience life?
The paved path can offer us just that,
And restrict our feelings and thinking,
Envision what lies beyond the horizon...
MonkeyZazu May 2014
The path lies right in front of me
clear of obstacles and paved quite nicely
Yet
I hesitate to walk on it, until I absolutely have to
Why?
I avoid the path that if traveled
Leads me, gets me closer to my goals
But still
I stray away from it
Preffering to stay where I am
Where mostly
I just find
exactly what was here yesterday
Dear,
Donald Trump,
you will never make
America great again.
the American Dream is dead.
and people like you,
are the ones who killed it.
Money hungry,
Capitalist.
millionaire.
you do not care about the people’s well being,
because you are not a person.
you are the rare 1 percent
who we view as a god.
because you have
wealth we can never attain,
success that is viewed out of reach,
and your streets are paved with gold.
we believe you,
are the american dream.
but we seem to forget
the american dream consists of
hard work,
love
and persistance.
things you have never held in your heart.
you had success handed to you
And you will never know how hard it is to live in America
And have a dream.
and i have realized
America has never been great.
just blindfolded by powerful leaders.
we can’t see anything wrong
because we can’t see anything at all
you will build your walls
And guide us past them
Keep the color out,
It has never been just black and white,
to them
it's just been white.
KEEP YOUR WALLS OUT AND KEEP MY FRIENDS IN.
I am raised in a nation constantly telling me
to hate things i see as different
that i don’t understand
that i am not a part of,
but i do not need to be a part of these things
to understand
racism
transphobia
sexism
homophobia
islamaphobia
hate
is wrong.
we are a nation under god
turned godless
Liberty and justice for all
does not apply,
If you are not
White
Straight
Wealthy
Male
And cis.
How can you ever try
To make America into
The great nation
You are promising it to be
If you take away the aspects
that are supposed to make it great.
The diversity
The freedom
The acceptance
the dreams
The love.
People like you
Try to strip away
so you could make
More money
More walls
Less diversity
Less freedom
less acceptance
less dreams.
no more love.
my aunt makes a wreath
with your name
and hangs it on her door
to me it is an unwelcome sign
to everybody
that doesn’t fit in your box
almost as a way to say,
"welcome to america
the home of the wealthy, sick
and depraved.
if you aren't like us
then get out."
ryn Oct 2014
3
I hug the first,
Enamoured by her beauty.
Such kind eyes...
Peering carelessly back at me.

She reaches out,
To meet my embrace.
"You'll always be the first,
Who had my heart set in place."


I say to the second,
"You are my life.
One day you'd build,
The right castle for a wife."


"Remember me always,
For you this path I have paved.
I'd shower upon you,
All the love that I have saved."


Then finally to the third,
The last of all gifts.
Most adorable of sprites,
Source of my infinite lifts.

*"For you I haven't done much,
Only all that I could afford.
But insert me in your forever...
As the only you ever would've adored..."
For my troopers...
Rob Rutledge Apr 2017
We were poets,
Once,
Hearts etched upon our sleeve
The lords of our intent,
Words bloomed for all to see.
Each branch of thought considered,
Chiseled,
Whittled to express.
Carving the forest in our likeness
We paved the landscape with our breath.
Woods would sway in idle days
Sunkissed glades lay bathed in gold.
Nights waylaid by dancing maids
Cheap ale and tales of old.
Fires burn, flames unfold.
Though
Embers remember
Tender clutch of the cold.
We tend to forget the bargained,
The sold.
Up rivers and creeks
Paddles, disowned by the meek,
Cast away to distant shores.  
Glades decay,  
Fade to grey.

We become poets once more.
Daniel Kenneth Mar 2013
The path to hell
They say it is paved with good intentions
I was never quite sure what it meant
Or who they were
But it felt right
So I did not question it
And walked on

Words are a funny thing
Things so similar in composition
So different in reality
Like ******
And heroine
One a dark hole threatening to destroy a life
The other a strong woman waiting to save you

They said the path to hell is paved with good intentions
So I let her try to help
I thought she meant well
It certainly seemed that way at first
But her presence was a poison, weakening me subtly
Destroying all of my independent strength
Making me reliant on her

******, heroine
Only one letter different
But by definition, they are worlds apart
Or so I thought
In my naivete
Life has taught me otherwise
I know things now

At least with ******, you know what you are getting into
It doesn't have a pretty facade
An alluring smile
It is a type of hell
But an honest one
One that if you commit to, you do in full knowledge
Unlike the heroine that killed me

Because **** me she did
Someone I saw as a hero at first
Turned into a villain
By the fault of nobody
Simple circumstance destroying all
The path to hell is paved with good intentions
And you can get there via ******, or heroine
marïama Sep 2016
In this battle for the freedom of our souls some may think
Maybe I should've let go long ago
From being kings and queens, Chiefs and Pharaohs
To ******* in the cotton fields
To slaves being whipped and forgotten
We were stolen.
Stripped from our homes and looted of our gold.
Fast forward
Now we are doctors, lawyers, professors
But Don't tell me the cotton fields have recovered from our tears
Our sweat seeps deep into the souls of America
So Don't tell me the cotton fields have recovered from our blood.
Fast forward
"All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law."
They tell us equality is coming.
That it is here.
Then let you wait holding your breath
Suffocating.
Black boy shot and killed for walking down the street
Black boy whipped and beaten for looking master in the eye
Tell me are you still holding your breath?
Still suffocating
Still waiting for the keys to our chains
Fast forward
Black lives matter
All roads torn down, we've paved new paths  
Stripped from our houses so we built homes
Lotted for our gold but we are golden
Black is hard to get rid of, that annoying stain that stays to long
Black is rough and tough
Black is solid in luring ways
But
Black lives won't matter until we love our own people
Black lives won't. matter. to. them. because you've called that girl a "*** or Thot"
Black lives won't matter until we stop the black on black blood splatter
For black lives to matter...
We must empower each other
Standing together the ground will break recognizing he whose tears, sweat and blood upon which it was built
So take one look at our past
Because this will be the last
John Jan 2013
Back when I was about ten or eleven, the only friend I had was the most beautiful girl I knew. Her name was Jessica and her and I did everything together. In school we were inseparable, always chit-chatting before, during and after classes. So much so that teachers bestowed upon us the annoying, yet endearing, encompassing nickname of "Jackica" - a combination of our names; Jack and Jessica.
     I was so thankful for her companionship, and thinking back it might have been a pretty uneven relationship, emotionally. I was an overweight and awkward Harry Potter fanboy and she was a cute little auburn-haired thing who could've won any Miss America Junior competition in the world, as far as I was concerned. She had the most piercing powder blue eyes. The kind that made my skin tingle and mouth curl up into a stupid smile at any given moment. I felt like she saw me, like she really saw ME. Not the blubbery flesh that coated my muscle and bones but what I was made of, the real me. And I loved her for that.
     Along with Jessica's physical blessings, she was also given an insatiable appetite for adventure. She loved to go to the park at night,  after the gates were locked and when everything was drenched in darkness. We'd hop the five foot chain-link fence and roam around the grounds. We'd go the water at the edge of the park and sit on the rocks, look up at the stars and take turns telling stories to each other with intent to scare the **** out of the other one.
     One humid night in mid-June, Jessica told a story that succeeded in making my skin-crawl. She always told decent scary stories, she was gifted in the art of fabricating tales of fright right on the spot, but this story really got to my core for some reason. I just felt uneasy as the words spilled from her mouth to my ears and with each sentence my muscles tightened and strained just from the mere tone of her voice as she told the story. She sounded serious, and she rarely did, even when telling these stories, but with this particular one it sounded like she really believed what she was saying was cold, hard truth.
     What she said was that she heard a story that her older brother's girlfriend had told her. It was about a house on the outskirts of town, placed just a few hundred yards from the mouth of the woods that lined our little suburban utopia. She went on to say that in the house was nothing all that scary. She said it was an old house, a very old house, as it was a log cabin that was built in the 1700s, when the town was first being settled. Supposedly, everything in the house was just as it was back then, little kerosene lamps sitting on home-mad oak tables. The maple-wood floors would moan and creak at the slightest hint of any weight being put on them. And then she said that no one had lived in the house since the man who built it died, around 1785.
     Needless to say, Jessica wrapped up the story by proclaiming that we had to find the house. And we had to go inside and see for ourselves what was so creepy about it. Being the scared, chubby little wimp that I was, I immediately rejected the idea. There was no way I was going to try to find a place that would only succeed in making me **** my pants in front of a girl, especially the one whom I'd placed the delusional label of "future girlfriend" on.  But, as I subconsciously expected, Jessica talked me into it with just a few graceful words: "I'll kiss you if you come with me."
    
     The very next Saturday night, Jessica and I put on some dark jeans and t-shirts and took the bus all the way to the last stop, the edge of town. We hopped off and right in front of the stop the woods were already waiting, I took a deep breath as Jessica's eyes lit up. She took my hand and pulled me as she ran, me clumsily waddling along behind her all the way to a little dirt pathway that paved the only marked entrance we could see. She asked me if I was ready and I shrugged, saying something like "I'm as ready as I'm ever going to be." And so we started down the path. As the tall trees swayed in the wind, I dragged my feet with  Jessica always about five feet ahead of me, as eager as ever. We walked for probably ten or twenty minutes before the foot of the cabin was before us.
     At first sight, it was a very old structure. I'd never seen anything like it outside of paintings in my history textbook and this Abe Lincoln documentary I saw on PBS. I never knew houses like that stood the test of time. But there it was before me, two stories high with wooden shutters clad in severely chipped paint and a big oak door that looked stronger than any door I'd ever seen. Jessica took my hand again, smiled enchantingly and rushed me forward.
     Once at the door, I was speechless. It didn't look as old as the rest of the house and whoever made it obviously meant for it to last a very long time, taking extreme care in carving it out impeccably and sanding it until it shined with a professional touch. Without a word, Jessica rapped on the door. Three hard times, and when no one answered after thirty seconds, she rapped again, and again. She shrugged and turned to me, asked if we should just go in. I said no and she frowned.
     "There's no way we came this far just to go back home with nothing," and then she wrapped her hand around the rusted doorknob and turned.
     The door opened with no hesitation as she pushed it all the way in. She stepped inside, and I followed. The first thing I noticed inside the cabin was the creaking floors. They creaked louder and longer with each step, affirming that part of the story, making my blood run cold. We looked around, going from room to room with wide eyes. We were amazed that we made it, that we got inside and now we were actually investigating a place that no one else supposedly had gone before. Truth be told, though, it was nothing special. There wasn't much at all to see, save for a few tables, the creaking floors and some very old paintings on the wall. We were just leaving when we noticed something on a table nearest the big oak door. It was a metal box with a small lock fastened to the front of it.
     "We have to open it," Jessica proclaimed after a second of curious inspection.
     "There's no way were going to find the key," I told her.
     "So we'll break the lock, Jack. Duh," she replied in her sassiest tone.
     I just shook my head as she grabbed the box and began to furiously slam it in the wooden table. The sound echoed through the house, exacerbating it and making me shiver from head to toe.
     "I don't know if you should keep-" but my sentence was cut off my the lock flying off the box and clinking onto the floor below.
Jessica smiled again, very pleased with herself and looked to me.
     "Wonder what's inside...," She said, lifting the top half of the box open.
     After an initial and cough-inducing puff of thick dust subsided, the contents of the box were revealed. It was a letter, written on old-school parchment in heavy ink. In neatly laid Victorian script, the likes of which I had never seen so simultaneously neat and scattered, like it was written in a hurry or during a time of distress, was a love letter. Well, a kind of love letter. It was addressed to a woman named Tania and it was signed by a William. It told the story of how William had loved Tania since they were children, and Tania was now to be married to a Pastor named Hensley. William told Tania how he couldn't bear the thought of her ever being with anyone else and that the fact that she could never truly be his was killing him. Literally. He ended the note by confessing his plan to **** himself.
     I took a step back, but Jessica just stood at the table with her eyes glued to the crumbling parchment in her hands.
     "I'm leaving," I said after a few moments, mulling over the sorrow that this poor man must've felt. I headed out the door, Jessica following. The walk back through the woods to the bus stop I couldn't get this feeling of dread from subsiding. It seemed like I felt what William felt, but not in a sympathetic sort of way. It felt like I was William and the pain he felt was actually my pain. And then I noticed that, rolled up tightly in her fist, Jessica had taken the letter with her.
     "Why'd you take that," I said, sounding thoroughly upset. "That's not yours to take, go bring it back!"
     "No way. There was no way I was going there and coming back with nothing to show for it," she said, gripping the letter tightly, her knuckles almost whitening.
     I knew how stubborn Jessica could be and I knew whatever I said probably wouldn't even phase her in the slightest so I did what I did best and just shrugged it off. I found myself wishing I could shrug off the terrible feeling the letter put deep inside me just as easily as I could Jessica's stubbornness.

     Over time, Jessica and I lost touch, as kids of that age often do. I grew up, lost weight and opened up, making more friends and acquaintances, no longer hanging onto the thought of Jessica being my only love. I didn't talk to Jessica all that much. Just once in a while we'd meet up and have a chat over some coffee or pizza. We had both changed and morphed into young adults with different agendas and dreams and I had no problem with that. But on one such meeting, Jessica began to worry me. She said that every now and then she'd open her desk drawer and take the piece of parchment out and read it. Over and over again. And lately, she had been opening the drawer more and more, she said that she felt drawn to it. Like something about it made her feel this deep-seated dread that no horror movie or scary story had ever made her feel. She said that she felt like the letter was beginning to take a toll on her. And, by the look of her, it didn't seem like she was lying or kidding around like she always used to love to do. She had dark circles underneath her once striking eyes, which were now darker and had taken on an odd and ominous color. I was scared for her. And I told her so but she hugged me and assured me she was alright. I wanted to believe her, and I tried to, hugging her back and telling her I'd talk to her soon. But when she turned her back I knew something was very wrong.

     I'm writing this now because a few weeks ago Jessica's mom gave me a call. When her number came up on my cell phone, I think I knew, deep down, e actor why I was getting this call but I pushed the thought away and said hello. Jessica's mother called to tell me that a few days before Jessica had gone missing. The only indication to her whereabouts was a note she left with the words "cabin at the edge of town", and below that, instructions on how to get there. Her mother said she took the note and hopped in her car immediately, and made it to the cabin. She said she was breathless by the time she got to the cabin but forged on and barged inside and looked around. She said she found nothing and was about to leave when she noticed a small door behind the big oak door she had swung open to get inside. She opened the little door to find a stairwell. She climbed it, calling Jessica's name all the way, sobbing and wiping tears from her eyes. At the top of the stairs was the attic. And she said she almost died herself when she saw Jessica. She was hanging from a wooden rafter on the ceiling. And next to her was a severely decayed skeleton, dangling from a rope only a few inches away.
It's definitely more of a short story but I felt obligated to post it here for some reason.
valencia May 2019
September

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

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


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

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

thursday



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

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

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


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




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

saturday

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


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

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

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


sunday

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

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

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

monday

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

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

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

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








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


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


wednesday

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

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

wednesday

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

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

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

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

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

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

then she said what a waste

november

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

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





sunday

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

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


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



monday

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

the clocks tick slower and slower everyday.


tuesday

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

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

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


wednesday

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

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


thursday

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

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

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

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

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

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


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







saturday

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

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

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

i think alistair is going to die.













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


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

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




sunday

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

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


tuesday

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

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

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


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

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





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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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



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


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


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


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






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

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


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

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

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

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








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





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





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

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


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

my lips are sewn shut with green thread.


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

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


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

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



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


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

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

friday

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






love alistair
fire element
exposing government secrets
cult
enyo gets more real as he is dying.
preacher dies.
alistair goes crazy, then dies.
something in basement.
Very low IQ but the only one smart enough to see
enyo is a ghost
canary goes crazy and sews our mouth shut.
fall in love with enyo.
not told radially
told in sgememgs like cross cross
deep symboling
Raphael Uzor May 2014
The intermittent, distant rumbling in the skies was suggestive of chronic flatulence. The sun struggled in futility to shine – like a crying child who had been forced to smile. Lightning flashed in quick successions, momentarily throwing brilliant streaks of white light across the room. The angry growl of thunder that followed was enough to send a troop of Howler monkeys scampering for safety.

The lights flickered as though unable to make up their minds to stay or not to. But apparently, the wind had zero tolerance for such petty indecisiveness. And like an enraged, stimulated, demented animal, it gusted through the windows and doors, hauling loose papers, light bulbs in every direction, shattering the bulbs to smithereens, as if to punish them for being so fickle. The lights died.

Thick black blankets eerily stretched across the skies with gusto, menacingly extinguishing whatever was left of the sun’s brilliance. More rumbles and flashes followed in royal herald of the impending storm. And in no time, slick sheets of rain torrentially came pouring down, cascading the roofs to form puddles almost as soon as they hit the ground.

​I looked in horror, fervently praying that whoever God had appointed to build the ark in our time had not diverted the funds. I was trapped in the office, and I knew exactly what this meant…flood, scarcity of buses, hiked transport fares, heavy taffic and very likely, at least one month of blackout.
It would be another three hours of steady downpour before the rain eventually stopped, as gracefully as it had been ushered in.
I picked up my bag, rolled up my trousers in earnest anticipation of the inevitable flood, and made my way home.

​To my utter bewilderment, there were no floods! The lights from the street lamps cast a soft golden glow on the slick roads, seemingly creating mirages of pools of water from afar off. But they were mere illusions. The gurgling sound coming from the underground drainage was proof of where all the water had gone. It was a strange sight. Like some alien cyborg from space had been fiddling with a time machine that had accidentally propelled us twenty years into the future.

My new world was a three-fold utopian dream. So surreal!
I could see beautiful, high-rise, state of the art edifices with mind-blowing architectural designs that blatantly seemed to defy the laws of gravity. I could see world-class hospitals that admitted ailing dignitaries from around the world and top-notch schools that offered scholarships to deserving indigenous and international students.
Sure enough, this was Nigeria! The Nigeria we all dreamed of.

And there was light…electricity! - In myriad of colours that seemed to have been dispersed from several colossal disco ***** via *“wireless fidelity”
technology. I strained to hear the noise from generators, but I was disappointed. I couldn’t even hear the all too familiar cacophony of horns blaring, conductors shouting, loud discordant music, rattling vehicle engines etc. It was like everyone and everything had taken a crash course on orderliness.

I saw a vibrant transportation system that included high speed railway lines, paved road networks that looked like a child’s doodles, first-class air strips and efficient sea transportation.
I saw a working government - one that had provided the critical infrastructure for her people.

I saw a nation with a large industrialized economy, where the dividends of democracy had been delivered to the people by their government. One consciously founded on equity and honesty of purpose, and courageously sustained by unfaltering faithfulness and unwavering patriotism.      
A nation whose economic boost did not come solely from crude oil exploration and production, but also from crude oil refining, agriculture, manufacturing, infrastructure, food, services, tourism, automobiles, transportation, education etc.
A nation that thronged with international investors from all walks of life, who were not in the least afraid to invest in her.

And then, I saw her people. A people proud of their citizenship.
A people proud to be called NIGERIANS.
A people who were not given to religious, political, or tribal bigotry.
A people who individually and collectively, gallantly bore the torch of the vision of their heroes past.
A people who earnestly and persistently worked to see only goods “Made in Nigeria” sold in their markets.

Where there was once despair, I saw hope. Where there was once fear, i saw security. Where there was once disgruntlement, I saw satisfaction. Where there was once poverty, I saw wealth opportunities and where there was unemployment, I saw jobs. Death had given way to life and life to hope.

I started, as I felt something cold and wet trickle down my forehead. It was droplets of rain from a leak in the roof just above my head. I was still in my office, I never left. The rain had lulled me to sleep. Even more sadly, I realized it had all been a dream.
Slowly and regretfully, I packed my things and left for home. It was pitch black outside as I carefully waded through the polluted waters, jauntily holding my bag, more because I was afraid to lose it in the flood than in a hopeless bid to dignify the situation.

Two hours later, I crawled into bed. I did not have to turn the lights off…the electric poles had gone for a swim. A very long one.



© ONUGHA EBELE VICTORIA
This is NOT my work, but I found it amazingly share worthy.
The Calm Dec 2016
400 years America ,
For 400 years America, we've been playing this game of cat and mouse, and for 400 years America, you refuse to give us the keys to the house.
For 400 years America , we've been asking to be free, and for 400 years America , you sat there and you promised me, all the freedom I could ask for , for just a small fee

For 400 years America , we've been paying that small fee in sweat, tears and blood
For over 400 years America, we have witnessed the flood, from the storm clouds that burst in a black mother's eyes. The Storm that rages in her heart as she cries. The Lightening that strikes her heart as she watches her son bleed as he dies.
For over  400 years America , we've had to watch our people bleed , for over 400 years America , you've literally scorched and scathered and destroyed our seed.

For over 400 years America our sons, daughters, fathers , mothers have bled and for over 400 years tear after tear was shed
The flags that represent you, makes you free . But the same flags that represent you, doesn't represent me. The flag that represents words that say"all men are created equal" considered me an animal and there seemed to never be a sequel.

400 years later and still "no refuge can save, the hireling and slave from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave" I am not blind, don't need a stick or a stave, I am not foolish, I see the road that you have paved America!

For over 400 years, America, My brothers and sisters have fought for your pride
We carried your rifles, we lifted your flag and still you were snide
For over 400 years America, for you battles we've won
400 year later you still point your gun

It's been 400 years America, Gotdammit I am not a slave
I want my rights and you will not tell me how to behave!
You've always had freedom white man, and you don't know how bad I crave! that my kids grow up in freedom and for that I'll be brave to the grave. Even if it kills me, I will not let the color of my skin decide whether or not I win. I will not you let, America, and your adulterous, heinous sin control me and the condition I am in

400 years later America, and you act like you still don't know their names
400 years later America and you still plea ignorance, you don't feel their pains
Emmit Till, Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray
These are some of the lives from us you took away
400 years later and you still make us pay
and that's not okay....
To you slavery was yesterday and we should shout free at last?
To you the last police shooting was last week, we shouldn't riot,  it's in the past, You want us white washed but we can't shake the scars from centuries in a caste

Freedom isn't free, but I still believe, I still believe that someday my eyes will see, all nations, all skin colors under one tree, connected to one vine, to the divine
Zoe Sue May 2014
Paved thoughts
They lay
In naivity
Youth
Born into homogeny
Told
"Different is beautiful"
But taught
To fall in line
With the swaying ways
Society's norms form
Pin-up billboard smiles
Flash magazine swagger
On surgeon made bodies
Guide retinas of wide eyed
Youth
To mirrors
With disgust
"Different is beautiful"
We'll say
Yielding our whitened smiles
"Different is beautiful"
Lilyy Apr 2013
We live in golden cities
Paved with golden roads
We bathe in these riches
We don't do what we're told
We don't think to turn around
To look back for danger
We don't think to turn around
Or we're just afraid to
We imagine the only monsters
That we could need fear
Can be taken down with gun
Or are only in the mirror

Our golden cities
And our golden roads
Have begun to bruise and bleed
Our footprints have left marks
That will never recede
Beaten down and torn apart
Morphed from gold
To another shade of wealth
A city of black and grey,
With artificial glimmer
Topped with some patriotic colors
Left in the sun to simmer

We color the blue sky
To match our dreary street
We paint it with the products
Of our unhealthy treats
Tinted with black
Our sky has nothing left to say
Only toxic strings of saliva
To come pouring out its cheeks
The rain can't do us any harm
No more than the food we eat
And the chemicals we drink
So long as you ignore
The patches in your umbrella sink

Someday, our oil city
Will turn into black dust.
Our golden city will be forgotten,
No such thing as golden rust.
Pass it off as legend,
And have people pay a buck,
Just to visit the ruins
Of a turn of "bad luck"
It'll be a "Garden of Eden"
A "Diamond in the rough"
I'll call it dust
And people will say that I'm the bluff

Power is wealth
And wealth is gold
Gold is oil
Or so, it's told.

We live in golden cities
Paved with golden roads.
We bathe in these riches
We don't do what we are told.

Once upon a time,
Golden apples fell from trees.
We'd pick up the apples,
And wipe off the dirt.
We'd pick up the apples,
And eat it like our dessert.
Now, we pick up apples
With big machines
And let them pour out gasoline.
We coat them in chemicals,
A lovely glossy sheen,
And hand them to the kids
While they watch TV.

We walk streets,
Stare up towards skies,
Skies covered with advert lies.
Chemicals in hand,
Antidote in bag,
On a diet,
Of poison and pills.

Look in the mirror,
No one is satisfied.
My, oh my, just what a surprise.
Take a look,
At the world beyond.
Take a look,
Towards everything.
The sky is fading,
And faces too.
We're all dying,
full of modified taboo.

Look, again,
look back towards
The world you missed
The days that you wished
Would come back,
Could be here.
Go on, shed a tear.
It's right to know,
Whatever was left,
Whatever glow,
Can be gone in an instant,
In a blink.
It could disappear
Now.
Or just sink
Into the dead, "Earth" below,
Sink into whatever is left of the known.


We live in golden cities
Paved with golden roads.
We bathe in these riches
We don't do what we are told.
Jesse stillwater Sep 2018
Not many people know
where the old road goes
I’m older now and it seems
there are more and more
       paved roads
that lead to nowhere —
   most of the time

As a kid, living miles up
  a rough potholed,
country road — a hike away
from the edge a small town
  out in the sticks,..
you come to know onliness,
blind to a journey alone

   I never stepped on
cracks in a town sidewalk —
  never learned what
  "superstitious" was,
    like the other kids
        from town

It wasn't the cracks
  in the sidewalk
I feared to tread;
steppin' on 'em breaks nothing
  already broken —

It was just all so different
than the long walk home
where that old road goes —
grandma always said:
"follow the creek upstream;
it'll always lead you back
  where you belong"


   The washboards
in the steep narrow road
up the hill, were like
  muddy stair steps
in the rainy season

Sometimes I followed
on up the creek below
to the upper log bridge
     swimmin' hole,..
where I learned to listen
to the sweet melody
of unclouded days;
and for a moment
I thought I belonged

     I still haven't
found my way out
  of this memory
I’m holding onto —
because life is just
an unstoppable
season, passing by
    on its own;
   like the way
     rainwater
  in the swollen
creek bed flows:

   And I'm just
another passing September
no one will remember —

   most of the time


Jesse Stillwater ... September 2018
This road in my sorrowful life
It was paved with good intentions
Built upon the ground of strife
It holds secrets I never mention

Can't we just forget this world?
Tell it to lose us for the night
Becoming close with souls unfurled
Lye inseparable in moonlight

This can't happen anymore
For this road leads me astray
It still tears and rips to the core
I lost you in most every way
Lara Lewis Dec 2013
We haven’t spoken like we did,
Words feel like discarded currency;
Useless now, and inconsequential in hindsight.
Query into the why,
I respond with what,
Like a dam of unspokeness has burst,
And words flow past;
Powerful, but inevitably more destructive than I hoped,
Pushing away the life preserver I am offered,
I can do it alone, because that’s what it will come down to,
Dismissive of pessimism, you make claims of happy endings, so I refute:

“Babe, we’re fighting a cold war,
No one can win when there’s everything to lose.
Lines are drawn, allegiance implicit.
Unspoken resentment.
Vocal frustration.
A couple’s quarrel that never was,
Like Frankenstein’s monster,
The rearranged parts of our whole,
Pieces of fiction,
Light folly with cruel consequences,
Denial sets in,
My road to hell will always be paved with your best intentions.”

I will not hear, I will not see.
Willful disability,
Crippled with envy.
I am a monster with emeralds in her eyes,
Seeing the universe through glass tinted green instead of rose,
I am the monster who is thin and jagged,
Unable to produce my own warmth,
Cutting everyone near.

I am the monster who plays house,
The monster who wants it to be home,
The vicious beast with a place to rest its head,
It’s easy to be alone, but somehow less satisfying.

"My road to hell will always be paved with your best intentions.”

Our destruction is mutually assured,
No move is left unanalysed,
Hyperawareness.
Things we side aside before are the objects of argument;
Proxy wars.

I am a giraffe racing a gazelle,
Long strides mean nothing;
Beauty is the crowd favourite,
Tripping over my own limbs,
Tendons severed by chasing wildcats,
Falling, devoured, as beauty reaches the finish line.

Détente.
glaze Jun 2013
Grey paved road stretches out beneath me,
I know that I've been walking, but have I even moved?
I walk past street signs, only they are blank.
Still I keep moving, thats what I should do right?
I hear my parents voices, hissing like snakes in my head
Spinning and swirling voices
Cursing the stupid girl, a fool for temptations.
I walk here and feel nothing
walk back and feel nothing
nothing is the same.

Enough!
I scream
I tear at my flesh
watching it rip from my bones, satisfaction.
I rip up the scars
I rip out my eyes
I rip at my throat.
Now I will sit, a bag of ****** gaping wounds, in the middle of the road
and wait for someone else to decide
It was never my life anyways.
Paul Hansford Aug 2016
(Pompeii/Florence, 1997)

Vulcan was real, alive as you were,
you and your language, long dead now.
Your town was prosperous, with its paved streets,
bars, bath-houses, brothels,
mosaics, painted walls, graffiti.
Your domestic gods too were real to you;
they had saved you before,
and when the superhuman hammer blows shook
your houses, you repaired them,
decorated in greater splendour,
erected a temple to your protectors.
But Vulcan was not appeased - years are not long
to the lord of earth and fire.
This time he struck swiftly, sending you death
from his mountain, overwhelming you
as you ran. Your garden
gave you no protection,
hot fumes choked you,
hot ash surrounded you,
sealed in your tomb as you died.

The ones who excavated your town
marvelled at its completeness,
and in the ash that filled your garden
they found hollows.
Filling the hollows with plaster,
they found . . .  not you,
but echoes of yourselves,
like statues in a museum.

We came to see you, and after that
to the Academy, standing in awe
at David's perfect marble humanity.
But we were troubled by the others,
the uncompleted ones, the Prisoners,
their twisted limbs, hidden faces,
frozen in the act of emerging
from the stone, recalling too painfully
in their unfinished creation
your own agonised poses
as you died.
"I had seen birth and death,
  but had thought they were different."

.
The quotation at the end is from Eliot's Journey of the Magi - see my collection "My Favourite Poetry".
For photos see - www.amusingplanet.com/2011/04/garden-of-fugitives-fossilized-victims.html
and - www.accademia.org/explore-museum/artworks/michelangelos-prisoners-slaves/
A rose in the high garden that you desire.
A wheel in the pure syntax of steel.
The mountain stripped of impressionist mist.
Greys looking out from the last balustrades.

Modern painters in their black studios,
Sever the square root's sterilized flower.
In the Seine's flood an iceberg of marble
freezes the windows and scatters the ivy.

Man treads the paved streets firmly.
Crystals hide from reflections' magic.
Government has closed the perfume shops.
The machine beats out its binary rhythm.

An absence of forests, screens and brows
Wanders the roof-tiles of ancient houses.
The air polishes its prism on the sea
and the horizon looms like a vast aqueduct.

Marines ignorant of wine and half-light,
decapitate sirens on seas of lead.
Night, black statue of prudence, holds
the moon's round mirror in her hand.

A desire for form and limit conquers us.
Here comes the man who sees with a yellow ruler.
Venus is a white still life
and the butterfly collectors flee.

Cadaqués, the fulcrum of water and hill,
lifts flights of steps and hides seashells.
Wooden flutes pacify the air.
An old god of the woods gives children fruit.

Her fishermen slumber, dreamless, on sand.
On the deep, a rose serves as their compass.
The ****** horizon of wounded hankerchiefs,
unties the vast crystals of fish and moon.

A hard diadem of white brigantines
wreathes bitter brows and hair of sand.
The sirens convince, but fail to beguile,
and appear if we show a glass of fresh water.

Oh Salvador Dalí, of the olive voice!
I don't praise your imperfect adolescent brush
or your pigments that circle those of your age,
I salute your yearning for bounded eternity.

Healthy soul, you live on fresh marble.
You flee the dark wood of improbable forms.
Your fantasy reaches as far as your hands,
and you savor the sea's sonnet at your window.

The world holds dull half-light and disorder,
in the foreground humanity frequents.
But now the stars, concealing landscapes,
mark out the perfect scheme of their courses.

The flow of time forms pools, gains order,
in the measured forms of age upon age.
And conquered Death, trembling, takes refuge
in the straightended circle of the present moment.

Taking your palette, its wing holds a bullet-hole,
you summon the light that revives the olive-tree.
Broad light of Minverva, builder of scaffolding,
with no room for dream and its inexact flower.

You summon the light that rests on the brow,
not reaching the mouth or the heart of man.
Light feared by the trailing vines of Bacchus,
and the blind force driving the falling water.

You do well to place warning flags
on the dark frontier that shines with night.
As a painter you don't wish your forms softened
by the shifting cotton of unforeseen  clouds.

The fish in its bowl and the bird in its cage.
You refuse to invent them in sea or in air.
You stylize or copy once you have seen,
with your honest eyes, their smal agile bodies.

You love a matter defined and exact,
where the lichen cannot set up its camp.
You love architecture built on the absent,
admitting the banner merely in jest.

The steel compass speaks its short flexible verse.
Now unknown islands deny the sphere.
The straight line speaks of its upward fight
and learned crystals sing their geometry.

Yet the rose too in the garden where you live.
Ever the rose, ever, our north and south!
Calm, intense like an eyeless staute,
blind to the underground struggle it causes.

Pure rose that frees from artifice, sketches,
and opens for us the slight wings of a smile
(Pinned butterfly that muses in flight.)
Rose of pure balance not seeking pain.
Ever the rose!

Oh Salvador Dalí of the olive voice!
I speak of what you and your paintings tell me.
I don't praise your imperfect adolescent brush,
but I sing the firm aim of your arrows.

I sing your sweet battle of Catalan lights,
you love of what might be explained.
I sing your heart astronomical, tender,
a deck of French cards, and never wounded.

I sing longing for statues, sought without rest,
your fear of emotions that wait in the street.
I sing the tiny sea-siren who sings to you
riding a bicycle of corals and conches.

But above all I sing a shared thought
that joins us in the dark and the golden hours.
It is not Art, this light that blinds our eyes.
Rather it is love, friendship, the clashing of swords.

Rather than the picture you patiently trace,
it's the breast of Theresa, she of insomniac skin,
the tight curls of Mathilde the ungrateful,
our friendship a board-game brightly painted.

May the tracks of fingers in blood on gld
stripe the heart of eternal Catalonia.
May stars like fists without falcons shine on you,
while your art and your life burst into flower.

Don't watch the water-clock with membranous wings,
nor the harsh scythe of the allegories.
Forever clothe and bare your brush in the air
before the sea peopled with boats and sailors.
n v m Feb 2014
Being a leader
is not about
guiding people
through a paved path.

It’s about making
new paths together—
on dirt otherwise
plain and untouched.
5444, 5554.
A thought on something my teacher said last week.
Stephen E Yocum Sep 2013
Returned flush with excitement,
From a ten mile bike ride,
On a day near perfect,
Out along the river,

Temp in mid seventy's
not a cloud in the sky.

Beside the river I ride,
the water summer calm flat,
Scents of wet mossy rocks,
and dogwood trees non relenting.
The perfume of the Valley,
the River damp, sweet and pure.

Ride as I did the trails,
some on paved surface.
most on wood chips and dirt.

Shifting gears to suit the,
changing terrain and the
resources within my aged knees.  

The wind from my speed,
blows refreshingly in my face,
Dark glasses slipping down my nose,
yet keeping sun glare from blinding.

I pass some people,
I smile and wave,
they reply in kind,
Maybe we even
exchange brief
verbal greetings,
Some lost in a blur
of movement.

Easy for us all to smile,
we are happy in our work.

Half way there,
I stop for a drink,
Ease my burning legs.
The spot I pick is under  
cover of a huge old walnut tree.
It's massive umbrella shade,
an embracing sanctuary.

Across the way, a little lake,
On the far bank there stands a
metal skeleton outline of three
buildings that once stood there.
This recreated site of the first
European settlement in Oregon,
Clear back in the year of 1837.

Methodist Missionaries they
were, came overland West,
from North East by wagon.
Bringing so they thought,
Needed "Civilization" to the
poor "heathens" here about.
Almost as always a very,
mistaken, arrogant notion.

There effort lasted only
four years, the locals
responding not so well to
their well intending invitation.

In historical retrospect,
one can not but applaud
their self scarifies, hardship
and strife, some of them even
died still trying.

However they did open
the door, to a new beginning,
Be it for good or ill.
Soon other settlers
made the long journey.
Becoming "Oregon Or Bust"
for many.  

As I reflect sitting beneath
this tree those early people
no doubt planted,
from seed or sapling,
brought so far to this
new land of beginning.
It stands here still,
176 years later,
a wonderful living,
still growing testament
to human efforts of trying.

The breeze livens,
stirs sweet pungent
scents of brackish water,
forest, and Valley,
hints of crocus,
ripe black berries and
summer flowers blooming,
All these scents mingle,
and grow ever stronger.

Off in the near distance,
a strengthening breeze whispers,
Approaching through forest trees
coming ever closer and nearer.
Reaching me in a refreshing
gust that lasts for only a minute.
The sweat upon my face
cooling at it's touch. As I smile,
in grateful acknowledgement.

I have seen this day,
two kinds of squirrels
one red, one grey colored.
Coveys' of doves taking flight,
from my approaching bike,
And birds of many description,
A Red Tailed Hawk on wing,
Harassed by two small pursuit birds
protecting their nests from him.
A huge Bald Eagle diving for fish.
And one of my very favorites,
a spindly legged Blue Heron.
Standing in mud, fishing.
Even a smart fox,
scurrying back to hide
in the foliage, too shy
and too fast to be viewed
for too long by a human.

Thankful as I am,
for this one more
glorious day of living,
In the ***** of nature
so inspiring, so splendid.
I embrace Life and in return,
it grants me, continuation.

I plan on returning soon,
maybe tomorrow if my legs
let me.
To those new agers, young hip and maybe even a little
judgmental friends out there. I'm a plain simple old guy,
not word fancy, I write pretty much like I speak, a little
old fashion but straight from the hip and heart. No pandering,
no pretense, no ******* and surely no apologies intended.
It's not pure, maybe not even poetry, but what I guess I'm
saying is consider the source and take it or leave it.
It was written and intended all for me, from the beginning.
Which is what all writer's and poets should always do,
write for themselves not a Jury. There is a real freedom in that.
NUMB, half asleep, and dazed with whirl of wheels,
And gasp of steam, and measured clank of chains,
I heard a blithe voice break a sudden pause,
Ringing familiarly through the lamp-lit night,
“Wife, here's your Venice!”
I was lifted down,
And gazed about in stupid wonderment,
Holding my little Katie by the hand—
My yellow-haired step-daughter. And again
Two strong arms led me to the water-brink,
And laid me on soft cushions in a boat,—
A queer boat, by a queerer boatman manned—
Swarthy-faced, ragged, with a scarlet cap—
Whose wild, weird note smote shrilly through the dark.
Oh yes, it was my Venice! Beautiful,
With melancholy, ghostly beauty—old,
And sorrowful, and weary—yet so fair,
So like a queen still, with her royal robes,
Full of harmonious colour, rent and worn!
I only saw her shadow in the stream,
By flickering lamplight,—only saw, as yet,
White, misty palace-portals here and there,
Pillars, and marble steps, and balconies,
Along the broad line of the Grand Canal;
And, in the smaller water-ways, a patch
Of wall, or dim bridge arching overhead.
But I could feel the rest. 'Twas Venice!—ay,
The veritable Venice of my dreams.

I saw the grey dawn shimmer down the stream,
And all the city rise, new bathed in light,
With rose-red blooms on her decaying walls,
And gold tints quivering up her domes and spires—
Sharp-drawn, with delicate pencillings, on a sky
Blue as forget-me-nots in June. I saw
The broad day staring in her palace-fronts,
Pointing to yawning gap and crumbling boss,
And colonnades, time-stained and broken, flecked
With soft, sad, dying colours—sculpture-wreathed,
And gloriously proportioned; saw the glow
Light up her bright, harmonious, fountain'd squares,
And spread out on her marble steps, and pass
Down silent courts and secret passages,
Gathering up motley treasures on its way;—

Groups of rich fruit from the Rialto mart,
Scarlet and brown and purple, with green leaves—
Fragments of exquisite carving, lichen-grown,
Found, 'mid pathetic squalor, in some niche
Where wild, half-naked urchins lived and played—
A bright robe, crowned with a pale, dark-eyed face—
A red-striped awning 'gainst an old grey wall—
A delicate opal gleam upon the tide.

I looked out from my window, and I saw
Venice, my Venice, naked in the sun—
Sad, faded, and unutterably forlorn!—
But still unutterably beautiful.

For days and days I wandered up and down—
Holding my breath in awe and ecstasy,—
Following my husband to familiar haunts,
Making acquaintance with his well-loved friends,
Whose faces I had only seen in dreams
And books and photographs and his careless talk.
For days and days—with sunny hours of rest
And musing chat, in that cool room of ours,
Paved with white marble, on the Grand Canal;
For days and days—with happy nights between,
Half-spent, while little Katie lay asleep
Out on the balcony, with the moon and stars.

O Venice, Venice!—with thy water-streets—
Thy gardens bathed in sunset, flushing red
Behind San Giorgio Maggiore's dome—
Thy glimmering lines of haughty palaces
Shadowing fair arch and column in the stream—
Thy most divine cathedral, and its square,
With vagabonds and loungers daily thronged,
Taking their ice, their coffee, and their ease—
Thy sunny campo's, with their clamorous din,
Their shrieking vendors of fresh fish and fruit—
Thy churches and thy pictures—thy sweet bits
Of colour—thy grand relics of the dead—
Thy gondoliers and water-bearers—girls
With dark, soft eyes, and creamy faces, crowned
With braided locks as bright and black as jet—
Wild ragamuffins, picturesque in rags,
And swarming beggars and old witch-like crones,
And brown-cloaked contadini, hot and tired,
Sleeping, face-downward, on the sunny steps—
Thy fairy islands floating in the sun—
Thy poppy-sprinkled, grave-strewn Lido shore—

Thy poetry and thy pathos—all so strange!—
Thou didst bring many a lump into my throat,
And many a passionate thrill into my heart,
And once a tangled dream into my head.

'Twixt afternoon and evening. I was tired;
The air was hot and golden—not a breath
Of wind until the sunset—hot and still.
Our floor was water-sprinkled; our thick walls
And open doors and windows, shadowed deep
With jalousies and awnings, made a cool
And grateful shadow for my little couch.
A subtle perfume stole about the room
From a small table, piled with purple grapes,
And water-melon slices, pink and wet,
And ripe, sweet figs, and golden apricots,
New-laid on green leaves from our garden—leaves
Wherewith an antique torso had been clothed.
My husband read his novel on the floor,
Propped up on cushions and an Indian shawl;
And little Katie slumbered at his feet,
Her yellow curls alight, and delicate tints
Of colour in the white folds of her frock.
I lay, and mused, in comfort and at ease,
Watching them both and playing with my thoughts;
And then I fell into a long, deep sleep,
And dreamed.
I saw a water-wilderness—
Islands entangled in a net of streams—
Cross-threads of rippling channels, woven through
Bare sands, and shallows glimmering blue and broad—
A line of white sea-breakers far away.
There came a smoke and crying from the land—
Ruin was there, and ashes, and the blood
Of conquered cities, trampled down to death.
But here, methought, amid these lonely gulfs,
There rose up towers and bulwarks, fair and strong,
Lapped in the silver sea-mists;—waxing aye
Fairer and stronger—till they seemed to mock
The broad-based kingdoms on the mainland shore.
I saw a great fleet sailing in the sun,
Sailing anear the sand-slip, whereon broke
The long white wave-crests of the outer sea,—
Pepin of Lombardy, with his warrior hosts—
Following the ****** steps of Attila!
I saw the smoke rise when he touched the towns
That lay, outposted, in his ravenous reach;

Then, in their island of deep waters,* saw
A gallant band defy him to his face,
And drive him out, with his fair vessels wrecked
And charred with flames, into the sea again.
“Ah, this is Venice!” I said proudly—“queen
Whose haughty spirit none shall subjugate.”

It was the night. The great stars hung, like globes
Of gold, in purple skies, and cast their light
In palpitating ripples down the flood
That washed and gurgled through the silent streets—
White-bordered now with marble palaces.
It was the night. I saw a grey-haired man,
Sitting alone in a dark convent-porch—
In beggar's garments, with a kingly face,
And eyes that watched for dawnlight anxiously—
A weary man, who could not rest nor sleep.
I heard him muttering prayers beneath his breath,
And once a malediction—while the air
Hummed with the soft, low psalm-chants from within.
And then, as grey gleams yellowed in the east,
I saw him bend his venerable head,
Creep to the door, and knock.
Again I saw
The long-drawn billows breaking on the land,
And galleys rocking in the summer noon.
The old man, richly retinued, and clad
In princely robes, stood there, and spread his arms,
And cried, to one low-kneeling at his feet,
“Take thou my blessing with thee, O my son!
And let this sword, wherewith I gird thee, smite
The impious tyrant-king, who hath defied,
Dethroned, and exiled him who is as Christ.
The Lord be good to thee, my son, my son,
For thy most righteous dealing!”
And again
'Twas that long slip of land betwixt the sea
And still lagoons of Venice—curling waves
Flinging light, foamy spray upon the sand.
The noon was past, and rose-red shadows fell
Across the waters. Lo! the galleys came
To anchorage again—and lo! the Duke
Yet once more bent his noble head to earth,
And laid a victory at the old man's feet,
Praying a blessing with exulting heart.
“This day, my well-belovèd, thou art blessed,
And Venice with thee, for St. Peter's sake.

And I will give thee, for thy bride and queen,
The sea which thou hast conquered. Take this ring,
As sign of her subjection, and thy right
To be her lord for ever.”
Once again
I saw that old man,—in the vestibule
Of St. Mark's fair cathedral,—circled round
With cardinals and priests, ambassadors
And the noblesse of Venice—richly robed
In papal vestments, with the triple crown
Gleaming upon his brows. There was a hush:—
I saw a glittering train come sweeping on,
From the blue water and across the square,
Thronged with an eager multitude,—the Duke,
And with him Barbarossa, humbled now,
And fain to pray for pardon. With bare heads,
They reached the church, and paused. The Emperor knelt,
Casting away his purple mantle—knelt,
And crept along the pavement, as to kiss
Those feet, which had been weary twenty years
With his own persecutions. And the Pope
Lifted his white haired, crowned, majestic head,
And trod upon his neck,—crying out to Christ,
“Upon the lion and adder shalt thou go—
The dragon shalt thou tread beneath thy feet!”
The vision changed. Sweet incense-clouds rose up
From the cathedral altar, mix'd with hymns
And solemn chantings, o'er ten thousand heads;
And ebbed and died away along the aisles.
I saw a train of nobles—knights of France—
Pass 'neath the glorious arches through the crowd,
And stand, with halo of soft, coloured light
On their fair brows—the while their leader's voice
Rang through the throbbing silence like a bell.
“Signiors, we come to Venice, by the will
Of the most high and puissant lords of France,
To pray you look with your compassionate eyes
Upon the Holy City of our Christ—
Wherein He lived, and suffered, and was lain
Asleep, to wake in glory, for our sakes—
By Paynim dogs dishonoured and defiled!
Signiors, we come to you, for you are strong.
The seas which lie betwixt that land and this
Obey you. O have pity! See, we kneel—
Our Masters bid us kneel—and bid us stay
Here at your feet until you grant our prayers!”
Wherewith the knights fell down upon their knees,

And lifted up their supplicating hands.
Lo! the ten thousand people rose as one,
And shouted with a shout that shook the domes
And gleaming roofs above them—echoing down,
Through marble pavements, to the shrine below,
Where lay the miraculous body of their Saint
(Shed he not heavenly radiance as he heard?—
Perfuming the damp air of his secret crypt),
And cried, with an exceeding mighty cry,
“We do consent! We will be pitiful!”
The thunder of their voices reached the sea,
And thrilled through all the netted water-veins
Of their rich city. Silence fell anon,
Slowly, with fluttering wings, upon the crowd;
And then a veil of darkness.
And again
The filtered sunlight streamed upon those walls,
Marbled and sculptured with divinest grace;
Again I saw a multitude of heads,
Soft-wreathed with cloudy incense, bent in prayer—
The heads of haughty barons, armed knights,
And pilgrims girded with their staff and scrip,
The warriors of the Holy Sepulchre.
The music died away along the roof;
The hush was broken—not by him of France—
By Enrico Dandolo, whose grey head
Venice had circled with the ducal crown.
The old man looked down, with his dim, wise eyes,
Stretching his hands abroad, and spake. “Seigneurs,
My children, see—your vessels lie in port
Freighted for battle. And you, standing here,
Wait but the first fair wind. The bravest hosts
Are with you, and the noblest enterprise
Conceived of man. Behold, I am grey-haired,
And old and feeble. Yet am I your lord.
And, if it be your pleasure, I will trust
My ducal seat in Venice to my son,
And be your guide and leader.”
When they heard,
They cried aloud, “In God's name, go with us!”
And the old man, with holy weeping, passed
Adown the tribune to the altar-steps;
And, kneeling, fixed the cross upon his cap.
A ray of sudden sunshine lit his face—
The grand, grey, furrowed face—and lit the cross,
Until it twinkled like a cross of fire.
“We shall be safe with him,” the people said,

Straining their wet, bright eyes; “and we shall reap
Harvests of glory from our battle-fields!”

Anon there rose a vapour from the sea—
A dim white mist, that thickened into fog.
The campanile and columns were blurred out,
Cathedral domes and spires, and colonnades
Of marble palaces on the Grand Canal.
Joy-bells rang sadly and softly—far away;
Banners of welcome waved like wind-blown clouds;
Glad shouts were muffled into mournful wails.
A Doge was come to be enthroned and crowned,—
Not in the great Bucentaur—not in pomp;
The water-ways had wandered in the mist,
And he had tracked them, slowly, painfully,
From San Clemente to Venice, in a frail
And humble gondola. A Doge was come;
But he, alas! had missed his landing-place,
And set his foot upon the blood-stained stones
Betwixt the blood-red columns. Ah, the sea—
The bride, the queen—she was the first to turn
Against her passionate, proud, ill-fated lord!

Slowly the sea-fog melted, and I saw
Long, limp dead bodies dangling in the sun.
Two granite pillars towered on either side,
And broad blue waters glittered at their feet.
“These are the traitors,” said the people; “they
Who, with our Lord the Duke, would overthrow
The government of Venice.”
And anon,
The doors about the palace were made fast.
A great crowd gathered round them, with hushed breath
And throbbing pulses. And I knew their lord,
The Duke Faliero, knelt upon his knees,
On the broad landing of the marble stairs
Where he had sworn the oath he could not keep—
Vexed with the tyrannous oligarchic rule
That held his haughty spirit netted in,
And cut so keenly that he writhed and chafed
Until he burst the meshes—could not keep!
I watched and waited, feeling sick at heart;
And then I saw a figure, robed in black—
One of their dark, ubiquitous, supreme
And fearful tribunal of Ten—come forth,
And hold a dripping sword-blade in the air.
“Justice has fallen on the traitor! See,
His blood has paid the forfeit of his crime!”

And all the people, hearing, murmured deep,
Cursing their dead lord, and the council, too,
Whose swift, sure, heavy hand had dealt his death.

Then came the night, all grey and still and sad.
I saw a few red torches flare and flame
Over a little gondola, where lay
The headless body of the traitor Duke,
Stripped of his ducal vestments. Floating down
The quiet waters, it passed out of sight,
Bearing him to unhonoured burial.
And then came mist and darkness.
Lo! I heard
The shrill clang of alarm-bells, and the wails
Of men and women in the wakened streets.
A thousand torches flickered up and down,
Lighting their ghastly faces and bare heads;
The while they crowded to the open doors
Of all the churches—to confess their sins,
To pray for absolution, and a last
Lord's Supper—their viaticum, whose death
Seemed near at hand—ay, nearer than the dawn.
“Chioggia is fall'n!” they cried, “and we are lost!”

Anon I saw them hurrying to and fro,
With eager eyes and hearts and blither feet—
Grave priests, with warlike weapons in their hands,
And delicate women, with their ornaments
Of gold and jewels for the public fund—
Mix'd with the bearded crowd, whose lives were given,
With all they had, to Venice in her need.
No more I heard the wailing of despair,—
But great Pisani's blithe word of command,
The dip of oars, and creak of beams and chains,
And ring of hammers in the arsenal.
“Venice shall ne'er be lost!” her people cried—
Whose names were worthy of the Golden Book—
“Venice shall ne'er be conquered!”
And anon
I saw a scene of triumph—saw the Doge,
In his Bucentaur, sailing to the land—
Chioggia behind him blackened in the smoke,
Venice before, all banners, bells, and shouts
Of passionate rejoicing! Ten long months
Had Genoa waged that war of life and death;
And now—behold the remnant of her host,
Shrunken and hollow-eyed and bound with chains—
Trailing their galleys in the conqueror's wake!

Once more the tremulous waters, flaked with light;
A covered vessel, with an armèd guard—
A yelling mob on fair San Giorgio's isle,
And ominous whisperings in the city squares.
Carrara's noble head bowed down at last,
Beaten by many storms,—his golden spurs
Caught in the meshes of a hidden snare!
“O Venice!” I cried, “where is thy great heart
And honourable soul?”
And yet once more
I saw her—the gay Sybaris of the world—
The rich voluptuous city—sunk in sloth.
I heard Napoleon's cannon at her gates,
And her degenerate nobles cry for fear.
I saw at last the great Republic fall—
Conquered by her own sickness, and with scarce
A noticeable wound—I saw her fall!
And she had stood above a thousand years!
O Carlo Zeno! O Pisani! Sure
Ye turned and groaned for pity in your graves.
I saw the flames devour her Golden Book
Beneath the rootless “Tree of Liberty;”
I saw the Lion's le
I weep for Adonais—he is dead!
O, weep for Adonais! though our tears
Thaw not the frost which binds so dear a head!
And thou, sad Hour, selected from all years
To mourn our loss, rouse thy obscure compeers,
And teach them thine own sorrow, say: “With me
Died Adonais; till the Future dares
Forget the Past, his fate and fame shall be
An echo and a light unto eternity!”

Where wert thou, mighty Mother, when he lay,
When thy Son lay, pierced by the shaft which flies
In darkness? where was lorn Urania
When Adonais died? With veiled eyes,
Mid listening Echoes, in her Paradise
She sate, while one, with soft enamoured breath,
Rekindled all the fading melodies
With which, like flowers that mock the corse beneath,
He had adorned and hid the coming bulk of death.

O, weep for Adonais—he is dead!
Wake, melancholy Mother, wake and weep!
Yet wherefore? Quench within their burning bed
Thy fiery tears, and let thy loud heart keep
Like his, a mute and uncomplaining sleep;
For he is gone, where all things wise and fair
Descend;—oh, dream not that the amorous Deep
Will yet restore him to the vital air;
Death feeds on his mute voice, and laughs at our despair.

Most musical of mourners, weep again!
Lament anew, Urania!—He died,
Who was the Sire of an immortal strain,
Blind, old, and lonely, when his country’s pride,
The priest, the slave, and the liberticide
Trampled and mocked with many a loathed rite
Of lust and blood; he went, unterrified,
Into the gulf of death; but his clear Sprite
Yet reigns o’er earth; the third among the sons of light.

Most musical of mourners, weep anew!
Not all to that bright station dared to climb;
And happier they their happiness who knew,
Whose tapers yet burn through that night of time
In which suns perished; others more sublime,
Struck by the envious wrath of man or god,
Have sunk, extinct in their refulgent prime;
And some yet live, treading the thorny road
Which leads, through toil and hate, to Fame’s serene abode.

But now, thy youngest, dearest one, has perished—
The nursling of thy widowhood, who grew,
Like a pale flower by some sad maiden cherished,
And fed with true-love tears, instead of dew;
Most musical of mourners, weep anew!
Thy extreme hope, the loveliest and the last,
The bloom, whose petals nipped before they blew
Died on the promise of the fruit, is waste;
The broken lily lies—the storm is overpast.

To that high Capital, where kingly Death
Keeps his pale court in beauty and decay,
He came; and bought, with price of purest breath,
A grave among the eternal.—Come away!
Haste, while the vault of blue Italian day
Is yet his fitting charnel-roof! while still
He lies, as if in dewy sleep he lay;
Awake him not! surely he takes his fill
Of deep and liquid rest, forgetful of all ill.

He will awake no more, oh, never more!—
Within the twilight chamber spreads apace
The shadow of white Death, and at the door
Invisible Corruption waits to trace
His extreme way to her dim dwelling-place;
The eternal Hunger sits, but pity and awe
Soothe her pale rage, nor dares she to deface
So fair a prey, till darkness, and the law
Of change, shall o’er his sleep the mortal curtain draw.

O, weep for Adonais!—The quick Dreams,
The passion-winged Ministers of thought,
Who were his flocks, whom near the living streams
Of his young spirit he fed, and whom he taught
The love which was its music, wander not,—
Wander no more, from kindling brain to brain,
But droop there, whence they sprung; and mourn their lot
Round the cold heart, where, after their sweet pain,
They ne’er will gather strength, or find a home again.

And one with trembling hands clasps his cold head,
And fans him with her moonlight wings, and cries,
“Our love, our hope, our sorrow, is not dead;
See, on the silken fringe of his faint eyes,
Like dew upon a sleeping flower, there lies
A tear some Dream has loosened from his brain.”
Lost Angel of a ruined Paradise!
She knew not ’twas her own; as with no stain
She faded, like a cloud which had outwept its rain.

One from a lucid urn of starry dew
Washed his light limbs as if embalming them;
Another clipped her profuse locks, and threw
The wreath upon him, like an anadem,
Which frozen tears instead of pearls begem;
Another in her wilful grief would break
Her bow and winged reeds, as if to stem
A greater loss with one which was more weak;
And dull the barbed fire against his frozen cheek.

Another Splendour on his mouth alit,
That mouth, whence it was wont to draw the breath
Which gave it strength to pierce the guarded wit,
And pass into the panting heart beneath
With lightning and with music: the damp death
Quenched its caress upon his icy lips;
And, as a dying meteor stains a wreath
Of moonlight vapour, which the cold night clips,
It flushed through his pale limbs, and passed to its eclipse.

And others came… Desires and Adorations,
Winged Persuasions and veiled Destinies,
Splendours, and Glooms, and glimmering Incarnations
Of hopes and fears, and twilight Phantasies;
And Sorrow, with her family of Sighs,
And Pleasure, blind with tears, led by the gleam
Of her own dying smile instead of eyes,
Came in slow pomp;—the moving pomp might seem
Like pageantry of mist on an autumnal stream.

All he had loved, and moulded into thought,
From shape, and hue, and odour, and sweet sound,
Lamented Adonais. Morning sought
Her eastern watch-tower, and her hair unbound,
Wet with the tears which should adorn the ground,
Dimmed the aereal eyes that kindle day;
Afar the melancholy thunder moaned,
Pale Ocean in unquiet slumber lay,
And the wild Winds flew round, sobbing in their dismay.

Lost Echo sits amid the voiceless mountains,
And feeds her grief with his remembered lay,
And will no more reply to winds or fountains,
Or amorous birds perched on the young green spray,
Or herdsman’s horn, or bell at closing day;
Since she can mimic not his lips, more dear
Than those for whose disdain she pined away
Into a shadow of all sounds:—a drear
Murmur, between their songs, is all the woodmen hear.

Grief made the young Spring wild, and she threw down
Her kindling buds, as if she Autumn were,
Or they dead leaves; since her delight is flown,
For whom should she have waked the sullen year?
To Phoebus was not Hyacinth so dear
Nor to himself Narcissus, as to both
Thou, Adonais: wan they stand and sere
Amid the faint companions of their youth,
With dew all turned to tears; odour, to sighing ruth.

Thy spirit’s sister, the lorn nightingale
Mourns not her mate with such melodious pain;
Not so the eagle, who like thee could scale
Heaven, and could nourish in the sun’s domain
Her mighty youth with morning, doth complain,
Soaring and screaming round her empty nest,
As Albion wails for thee: the curse of Cain
Light on his head who pierced thy innocent breast,
And scared the angel soul that was its earthly guest!

Ah, woe is me! Winter is come and gone,
But grief returns with the revolving year;
The airs and streams renew their joyous tone;
The ants, the bees, the swallows reappear;
Fresh leaves and flowers deck the dead Season’s bier;
The amorous birds now pair in every brake,
And build their mossy homes in field and brere;
And the green lizard, and the golden snake,
Like unimprisoned flames, out of their trance awake.

Through wood and stream and field and hill and Ocean
A quickening life from the Earth’s heart has burst
As it has ever done, with change and motion,
From the great morning of the world when first
God dawned on Chaos; in its stream immersed,
The lamps of Heaven flash with a softer light;
All baser things pant with life’s sacred thirst;
Diffuse themselves; and spend in love’s delight
The beauty and the joy of their renewed might.

The leprous corpse, touched by this spirit tender,
Exhales itself in flowers of gentle breath;
Like incarnations of the stars, when splendour
Is changed to fragrance, they illumine death
And mock the merry worm that wakes beneath;
Nought we know, dies. Shall that alone which knows
Be as a sword consumed before the sheath
By sightless lightning?—the intense atom glows
A moment, then is quenched in a most cold repose.

Alas! that all we loved of him should be,
But for our grief, as if it had not been,
And grief itself be mortal! Woe is me!
Whence are we, and why are we? of what scene
The actors or spectators? Great and mean
Meet massed in death, who lends what life must borrow.
As long as skies are blue, and fields are green,
Evening must usher night, night urge the morrow,
Month follow month with woe, and year wake year to sorrow.

He will awake no more, oh, never more!
“Wake thou,” cried Misery, “childless Mother, rise
Out of thy sleep, and slake, in thy heart’s core,
A wound more fierce than his with tears and sighs.”
And all the Dreams that watched Urania’s eyes,
And all the Echoes whom their sister’s song
Had held in holy silence, cried: “Arise!”
Swift as a Thought by the snake Memory stung,
From her ambrosial rest the fading Splendour sprung.

She rose like an autumnal Night, that springs
Our of the East, and follows wild and drear
The golden Day, which, on eternal wings,
Even as a ghost abandoning a bier,
Had left the Earth a corpse. Sorrow and fear
So struck, so roused, so rapt Urania;
So saddened round her like an atmosphere
Of stormy mist; so swept her on her way
Even to the mournful place where Adonais lay.

Our of her secret Paradise she sped,
Through camps and cities rough with stone, and steel,
And human hearts, which to her aery tread
Yielding not, wounded the invisible
Palms of her tender feet where’er they fell:
And barbed tongues, and thoughts more sharp than they,
Rent the soft Form they never could repel,
Whose sacred blood, like the young tears of May,
Paved with eternal flowers that undeserving way.

In the death-chamber for a moment Death,
Shamed by the presence of that living Might,
Blushed to annihilation, and the breath
Revisited those lips, and Life’s pale light
Flashed through those limbs, so late her dear delight.
“Leave me not wild and drear and comfortless,
As silent lightning leaves the starless night!
Leave me not!” cried Urania: her distress
Roused Death: Death rose and smiled, and met her vain caress.

“‘Stay yet awhile! speak to me once again;
Kiss me, so long but as a kiss may live;
And in my heartless breast and burning brain
That word, that kiss, shall all thoughts else survive,
With food of saddest memory kept alive,
Now thou art dead, as if it were a part
Of thee, my Adonais! I would give
All that I am to be as thou now art!
But I am chained to Time, and cannot thence depart!

“O gentle child, beautiful as thou wert,
Why didst thou leave the trodden paths of men
Too soon, and with weak hands though mighty heart
Dare the unpastured dragon in his den?
Defenceless as thou wert, oh, where was then
Wisdom the mirrored shield, or scorn the spear?
Or hadst thou waited the full cycle, when
Thy spirit should have filled its crescent sphere,
The monsters of life’s waste had fled from thee like deer.

“The herded wolves, bold only to pursue;
The obscene ravens, clamorous o’er the dead;
The vultures to the conqueror’s banner true
Who feed where Desolation first has fed,
And whose wings rain contagion;—how they fled,
When, like Apollo, from his golden bow
The Pythian of the age one arrow sped
And smiled!—The spoilers tempt no second blow,
They fawn on the proud feet that spurn them lying low.

“The sun comes forth, and many reptiles spawn;
He sets, and each ephemeral insect then
Is gathered into death without a dawn,
And the immortal stars awake again;
So is it in the world of living men:
A godlike mind soars forth, in its delight
Making earth bare and veiling heaven, and when
It sinks, the swarms that dimmed or shared its light
Leave to its kindred lamps the spirit’s awful night.”

Thus ceased she: and the mountain shepherds came,
Their garlands sere, their magic mantles rent;
The Pilgrim of Eternity, whose fame
Over his living head like Heaven is bent,
An early but enduring monument,
Came, veiling all the lightnings of his song
In sorrow; from her wilds Irene sent
The sweetest lyrist of her saddest wrong,
And Love taught Grief to fall like music from his tongue.

Midst others of less note, came one frail Form,
A phantom among men; companionless
As the last cloud of an expiring storm
Whose thunder is its knell; he, as I guess,
Had gazed on Nature’s naked loveliness,
Actaeon-like, and now he fled astray
With feeble steps o’er the world’s wilderness,
And his own thoughts, along that rugged way,
Pursued, like raging hounds, their father and their prey.

A pardlike Spirit beautiful and swift—
A Love in desolation masked;—a Power
Girt round with weakness;—it can scarce uplift
The weight of the superincumbent hour;
It is a dying lamp, a falling shower,
A breaking billow;—even whilst we speak
Is it not broken? On the withering flower
The killing sun smiles brightly: on a cheek
The life can burn in blood, even while the heart may break.

His head was bound with pansies overblown,
And faded violets, white, and pied, and blue;
And a light spear topped with a cypress cone,
Round whose rude shaft dark ivy-tresses grew
Yet dripping with the forest’s noonday dew,
Vibrated, as the ever-beating heart
Shook the weak hand that grasped it; of that crew
He came the last, neglected and apart;
A herd-abandoned deer struck by the hunter’s dart.

All stood aloof, and at his partial moan
Smiled through their tears; well knew that gentle band
Who in another’s fate now wept his own,
As in the accents of an unknown land
He sung new sorrow; sad Urania scanned
The Stranger’s mien, and murmured: “Who art thou?”
He answered not, but with a sudden hand
Made bare his branded and ensanguined brow,
Which was like Cain’s or Christ’s—oh! that it should be so!

What softer voice is hushed over the dead?
Athwart what brow is that dark mantle thrown?
What form leans sadly o’er the white death-bed,
In mockery of monumental stone,
The heavy heart heaving without a moan?
If it be He, who, gentlest of the wise,
Taught, soothed, loved, honoured the departed one,
Let me not vex, with inharmonious sighs,
The silence of that heart’s accepted sacrifice.

Our Adonais has drunk poison—oh!
What deaf and viperous murderer could crown
Life’s early cup with such a draught of woe?
The nameless worm would now itself disown:
It felt, yet could escape, the magic tone
Whose prelude held all envy, hate, and wrong,
But what was howling in one breast alone,
Silent with expectation of the song,
Whose master’s hand is cold, whose silver lyre unstrung.

Live thou, whose infamy is not thy fame!
Live! fear no heavier chastisement from me,
Thou noteless blot on a remembered name!
But be thyself, and know thyself to be!
And ever at thy season be thou free
To spill the venom when thy fangs o’erflow:
Remorse and Self-contempt shall cling to thee;
Hot Shame shall burn upon thy secret brow,
And like a beaten hound tremble thou shalt—as now.

Nor let us weep that our delight is fled
Far from these carrion kites that scream below;
He wakes or sleeps with the enduring dead;
Thou canst not soar where he is sitting now—
Dust to the dust! but the pure spirit shall flow
Back to the burning fountain whence it came,
A portion of the Eternal, which must glow
Through time and change, unquenchably the same,
Whilst thy cold embers choke the sordid hearth of shame.

Peace, peace! he is not dead, he doth not sleep—
He hath awakened from the dream of life—
’Tis we, who lost in stormy visions, keep
With phantoms an unprofitable strife,
And in mad trance, strike with our spirit’s knife
Invulnerable nothings.—We decay
Like corpses in a charnel; fear and grief
Convulse us and consume us day by day,
And cold hopes swarm like worms within our living clay.

He has outsoared the shadow of our night;
Envy and calumny and hate and pain,
And that unrest which men miscall delight,
Can touch him not and torture not again;
From the contagion of the world’s slow stain
He is secure, and now can never mourn
A heart grown cold, a head grown grey in vain;
Nor, when the spirit’s self has ceased to burn,
With sparkless ashes load an unlamented urn.

He lives, he wakes—’tis Death is dead, not he;
Mourn not for Adonais.—Thou young Dawn,
Turn all thy dew to splendour, for from thee
The spirit thou lamentest is not gone;
Ye caverns and ye forests, cease to moan!
Cease, ye faint flowers and fountains, and thou Air
Which like a mourning veil
Eldon May 2013
I wear the letters NYU sprawled across my chest as my individuality is asphyxiated.
Lungs choke under the weight of the added pressure. 

The thought of college plus my complexion,
Equals complexed looks that ponder my intellectually-heightened direction. 



Will you think a little bit more of me, with my conformity?



Attempts to better myself meet enough ignorance to even cloud the vision of God.
Segregation and alienation cause mental spasms the strength of lightening rods. 




I guess you're just a product of the environment to which you were exposed. 


But I'm always trying to fight the stereotype that black people are ultimately foes.



I am the ant and the kids of rich parents are magnifying glasses. 

Cremating me with the solar power of son's who were taught that their existence was worth more than mine. 



I lay motionless, in bottomless quick sand pits, itching to alleviate my stomach stitch, engulfed by set standards that could not be met. 


I am tired of trying to be what you'd like to see.
Astute, respectable, young black man-just so you can approve of me and hopefully think that we are not all "up to no good."



Say it loud,
I'm black 

And I'm,
Not going to lie,
The proud part is kinda hard to say. 


Because I walk down the street and see my face in the homeless everyday. 


I fill the prisons and I'm famous when the news reports crime. 

And when I show up early to interviews,
they look confused to see that I,
Don’t run on Colored People's Time.



I don't hate black but I hate the fact that black means that sometimes I have to find alternate routes to success. 



While other people's roads are already paved, I suffer from all the stress. 



I try my best but I'm always categorized as less, then a man. 


And I'm trying to change perceptions but I still feel like a visitor on American land




And the poor are physically trapped so I relate mentally.

We both suffer from the oppression and accept the hatred like it was meant to be.




Society has led you to believe that blacks are not worthy of equality



But take a long, hard look into my eyes and tell me that you don’t see my humanity.
Tom McCone Mar 2014
dunedin. friday, three, afternoon.
set from home under a blue sky
with full& prepared pack,
a somewhat empty stomach,
and a necessity to get away from the city.
hiking boots tread asphalt down to the depot,
where, in thirty-seven minutes punctuated
by plastic seats grafted to a wall
and a mildly disjunct group of small or
big-time travellers, the naked bus
pulled in, a hematite centipede
crawling into the lot. it was a bus,
no complaints. all others' bags
stowed, twenty seven bucks outta pocket
and swung into the front-right-window seat,
bid a farewell to the beat-down
pub across the road and onto the one-way
merging into a highway and outta
town the dark bug skittered, on
schedule or something resembling it.
behind the driver, the sun came through
around the beam in the window. warm patterns
laid on skin, the countryside's broad expanse:

cylindrical bales of hay scattered about
paddocks, dark late-autumn florets of flax
on roadsides, plumes of white smoke from
bonfires in townships as small as a thumbnail,
hedgelines of eucalyptus, pine; russet streaks
through bark of single gum trees stood
off-centre in fields. sticky-wooded hillsides
punctured by fire breaks roll almost forever
and back. the rushing sound of passing cars
through the 3/4-golden ratio of the driver's
ajar window; twenty-first century mansions
verging on out-of-place. saplings emerging,
bracketed, through verdant grass patches.
museum abbatoirs. toitoi like hen's plumage
lining drainage ditches. another Elizabeth st-
(how many could be counted out by now?) tidy
front yards and milton liquorland through this
small town. an everpresent tilting sun. fields
of flowered nettle. s-bends through pancake layers
of hills. a delapidated gravel quarry at stony
creek. deer farms, sheep farms, bovine farms, alpaca
farms (favourite); another bonfire seen down a
long gulley; a power substation, all organized
tangles. a two-four 300m before the bridge into


balclutha. 4.40pm.
across the road into the i-site
two friendly ladies circle locations
to make (got a car) or try to make (on foot),
offering a ride in half an hour,
leave it to chance.
across another road, drifter's emporium
(that's the name, no joke) got a knife
to open up cans- bought no cans, brought
no cans, still nice to have one anyway.
down the road, 200ml from unichem, waste
no time, turn ninety degrees, cross a
railway, then outta town in a sec. first
photo: half highway, half clutha river. fine
shot. sit down, watch the water couple mins,
head down the road. red-black ferns radiate
under willows down the riverbank. metal
bumper-bars keep legs on, the road rolls
gentle turns, diverges from the river. stick
to the former, faster that way. no intentions
of hitching. just wanna walk. and walk. and
walk. guy yells out a car window. envy,
likely. who cares. apple tree hangs over
a dry ditch. pick a small one, gone in
a minute. probably ain't sprayed. been
eating ice-cream dinners more often'n
not the last coupla weeks- isn't much
the stomach won't or can't handle anymore,
anyway.

odours of decay from the freezing works.
seagulls sound out nearby.
typical.

down the road, the reek of death fades
out. back to grass. sit in some of the
tall stuff, under a spindly tree. put down
some ink, a handful of asst. nuts. 'bout
thirteen fingers of daylight left. no idea
if the coast is further than that. little
care. down the road the land flattens out,
decent sign. the junction was a fair bit
past reckoned, though. flipped a chunk
of bark (too lazy to get a coin out) to
figure whether the coast was worth it. bark
said no, went out anyway. gotta see the sea,
keeps you sane. past a lush native
acre or two- some lucky ******'s front lawn-
changed mentality, slung out a thumb (first
time). beginner's luck, kid straight outta
seventh form pulls over in a mustard-yellow
*******' kinda beach-van. was headin' out
to the coast, funnily enough. had been up
in raglan (surf central, nz), back down with
the 'rents now, though. out kaka point, only
one of his age, he reckoned, no schoolhouse
there, just olds. was going to surf academy,
pretty apt. little envious.

the plains spread out and out, ocean just
rose up out of a field. there's nothing
more perfect. gentle waves stroke the sands,
houses stare intently out at the mingling of
blues. one cloud hovers so far away it doesn't
even exist. down the other end of kaka point,
back on solid ground, walking into a gorge, laments
about not choosing the coastal route. but owaka
is the new destination, bout 11ks, give or take
(5ks later, sign says another 15.. some give). nothing
coulda beat that sight anyway, stepping outta
a van onto that pristine beach.

entry: gorge route to owaka. seven.
late light painted the tops of hills absolute
gold. thought maybe this way ain't so bad. beside a
converging valley, phone got enough reception
for dad to get through. said in balclutha coulda
got a room with a colleague. too far out now. lost
him in the middle of a sentence about camera film.
surprised to have even got that far. road wound
troughlike through the bottom of the gorge, became
parallel to a cute little stream. climbed down chickenwire
holding the road in place, ****** in it (had to).
clambered back up, continued walking as the occasional
campervan rolled on by. took a photo of the sun perched
on a hilltop, sent it to mel. dunno why. anxieties
over the perfect sunrise picture came frequently,
a goal become turmoil. the gorge flattened out,
and soon in countryside my fears allayed. round
a corner in picturesque nowhere, found my shot.
sat in long grass. stole it. sighed. ate a handful
of nuts. moved on. {about eight}

dark consumed the surrounding gentle-rolling hills,
nowhere near owaka, which was probably the tiny bundle
of lights nestling a little below the foot of a
mountain in the distance (not too far off, in
reality). near the turnoff to surat bay (was heading
there, plans change) a ute honks. taken as friendly.
a right turn instead of a left, farmsteads lit
up in fireplace tones, the sound cows make at
dusk. it got colder. would one jersey be sufficient?
hoepfully. stars began pinpricking the royal blues of the
night sky in its opening hues. eight-fourty-ish slugged
back about 3/4 of the syrup, along with half of a box
of fruit medley (so **** delicious), in light of dull
calf aches becoming increasingly apparent. needed
to walk a helluva lot more. ain't one for lettin'
nothing get in the way of that. lights in the distance
became the entry sign for a camp-site. no interest,
head on. past another farmhouse, stars came out in
packs. three cows upon a slight hilltop. next junction
pulled left a good eighty degrees and was on the
straight to owaka. less than two minutes later,
a dog-ute pulled to a halt and offers up a ride down
most of the stretch. didn't say no.

still stable, as two pig-hunters tell
of their drive back from picking up a couple
pig-dogs somewhere north. they were heading
out bush to shoot, thought they'd seen
another guy they'd picked up a couple weeks
ago, who'd taken 'em out somewhere they
couldn't remember. paranoia grips, but
the lads are fairly innocuous. they say it's
dangerous out here, gotta be ballsy walking
middle of the night, no gun, no dog,
all by yourself. wasn't worried, got nothing
to lose anyway (still, this sets helluva
mood). by a turnoff a k outta owaka, dropped
off. said probably all that'll be open there
is a pub, if that. bid luck and set their way.
above, the whole sky is covered with shining
glitter. down a dip and turn, **** in the
middle of the road. an ominous sign indicating
the outskirts of

owaka. approximately 9.40pm

my head loosens as i approach. the lights
form across a small valley i can't verify
exists or not between dog barks i mistake
for the yells of drunkards and lights
pirouetting from cars behind me. i slow
down i don't want to do this.

owaka is terrifying. plastic.

the street corners thud like cardboard. i
walk past a garden of teapots, a computer
screen inside the house glares through the
window pane bending breathing outward. there
is nobody here, still there is a feeling
like there's people everywhere, flocking
in shadows. a silhouette moving in a
distant cafe doorway. the sound of teeth,
of darkness fallen. thick russian tones
sound from a shelf of a motel. eyes
everywhere, mostly mine. i stop only round
a bend and down near a police station, yet
feeling no more safe, sitting in a gutter to
send mel my plans, to tell myself my plans.
i want to be nowhere again. i am soon nowhere.


out of breath, out the other end of owaka,
the sick streetlights fade into comforting
dark nestled between bunches of indistinct
treelines. the feeling of safety lasts but
twenty minutes, where another dip in the
road leads through a patch of bush, in which
gunshots ring periodically and laughter and
barking rings through. breaking down, it takes
five minutes to resolve and keep going. ain't
got nothing to lose, anyway. boots squeak like
diseased hinges all down the road. hadn't
noticed beforehand, the only thing noticed
now. an impending doom hangs thick like fog,
the thought of being strung up like an
underweight hog. walking faster and
not much quieter, the other side of the
bush couldn't have come sooner. the fear
lasts until the gunshots are distant nothing.
still alive, still out of breath, still
fairly ****** up, there's no comfort like the
sound of nothing but the occasional insect's
chirp. vestiges of still water came around
a corner and just kept coming as the golden
moon sung serenity all over. finally, a peace
came to rest over the landscape. sitting by
the road with a clear view of the moon's light
sheathed in the waters, the stars above wreath
a cirrus eye to watch over the marshland
plants leading into the placid waters of

catlins lake, west. ten fifty-one.
crossing a one-way bridge over a river winding
its way into the lake, another turning point
decision arose: continue down the highway
along the river, or head straight out and
toward the coast again. having resolved to
make it to a waterfall by dawn, and the latter
offering a possibility of this, the decision
made itself. turning back around the other side
of the lake, the road wound a couple times
up a gentle ***** out and up from the valley
at the tail of the lake, and into a slightly
more elevated valley. the country roads ran
easily and smooth, paved roughly but solid.
not a car came by for kilometers at a time.
lay on the road past a turnoff for quarter
of an hour letting serenity wash over, the
hills miniscule in comparison to home, the
sky motionless, massive thin halo about the
moon. walking on, night-birds called from
time to time (no moreporks, though. not until
dawn), figuring out how to whistle them back.
a turnoff to purakaunui bay strongly
considered and ultimately ignored; retrospectively
a great call, considering the size of the detour.
hedgerows of macrocarpa, limbs clearly cut
haphazard where once they'd hung over the
road. occasional 4wd passing, always a 4wd,
be it flash new or trusty old. you'd need
one out here. have no fun, otherwise.
monolithic pine-ish hedge bushes, squatting
giants. once, a glimmering in the sky, a
plane from queenstown (assumedly) almost
way too far to make out. the colossus of
the one human-shaped shadow cast down
from the moon to my boots. how small
a thing in this place. swamped out by
the beauty of this neverending valley.
breathless.

the road turned, not quite a hairpin,
but not entirely bluntly, a welcome
break from the straight or gentle
sway, and five minutes turned to dirt.
had to lay down again- legs screaming
by this point for rest. still, they
had nothing against pressing on. dad
taught me to just keep going. that's
the thing about walking. stop for a
little bit and you're good to go
again. pushing for the fall was probably
overkill, but no worry now. dirt road
felt so right after a good 20+ks of
asphalt, only infrequently punctuated
by roadside moss or thin grass. it
was as if beginning again (well,
kinda, if only with as much energy).
having downed only a litre of water
(leaving only half a litre more), a
litre of fruit juice and about 100
grams of assorted nuts since more
than twelve hours ago by this point,
it should have been a shock to
still be going by this point. don't
really need that much anyway, though.
gone on less for longer. hydration,
anyway, was the least of all worries,
the air being thick with water, ground
fog having been laid down hours ago.

up the dirt track, more cows. they make strange
sounds at night. didn't know anything yet,
though. that's still to come. a ute swang past
going the other way, indiscriminate hollers
from the passenger-side window. waved back
cheerily. so far from anything to be anything
but upbeat now. not even the heavy shroud of
tiredness could touch that, yet. the track wound
on forever. was stopping every half-kilometer
to stand and stretch, warding off the oncoming
aches. the onset was unwieldy, though. didn't
have long. past a B&B;, wondered whether anyone
actually ever stayed there (surely would, who'd
not revisit this place over and over once they'd
discovered it?)- certainly would've, having the
cash (apparently parts of "lion, witch and the
wardrobe" were filmed here. huh). further on, the
road turned back to seal, unfortunately, but
with small promise- surely, at least fairly
close by this point. turning a corner, a small
and infinitely beautiful indent against the bush,
a small paddock bunched up against it, stream
wound against the bases of trees, all lit by
the clear tones of a now unswathed moon, sat
aside the road. it was distilled perfection.
it was too much, just had to keep goin' or
risk shattering that image. next turn was
a set of DOC toilets, an excellent sign. must be
basically sitting on the path entry now. searched
all 'round the back for it, up the road, nothing.
not entirely despondent but bewildered, moved
forward and found a signpost. the falls were now
behind? turned around and searched even more
thoroughly, quiet hope turning to desperation
by the silent light of the moon. finally,
straight across the road from the toilets,
was the green and gold sign, cloaked in
darkness under clustering trees, professing
a ten-minute bushwalk to the

purakaunui falls. saturday. 1.32 am.**
venturing into the bush by the dull light
of a screen of a dying phone, the breeze
made small movements through the canopy. it
couldn't have been any more tranquil. edging
way through the winding cliffish track through
dense brush, the sound of a trickling stream
engorged into a lush symphony of water. crossing
a single-sided bridge across an unseeable chasm,
twinkling from the ferns behind became apparent.
turning off the dull light, the tiny neon bulbs of
glow-worms littered the dirt wall risen up about
half a metre, where the track had been cut out.
my heart soared. all heights of beauty come
together. continuing down the path, glow-worms
litter the surroundings and the rushing of
water comes to a roar. at a look-out platform
above the falls, nothing can be seen save a
slight glisten. down perilous steps (wouldn't
be too bad if you could actually see 'em) the
final viewing platform lay at level with the
bottom of the falls. they stood like a statue
in the dark, winding trails of thin white wash
through the shadows hung under trees. left
speechless from something hardly made out, turned
around and back up the stairs to where the
glowing dots seemed their most concentrated.
into the ferns above, clambered through and
around moss-painted tree trunks and came to rest
a couple hundred metres from the trail, under
a fern, under a rata. packed everything but
a blanket from nan into the bag, laid it out
on curled leaf litter and folded up into it,
feet too sore to remove 'em from boots, curling
knees up into the blanket and tucking a hand
between 'em to keep it warm. only face and
ankles exposed, watched the moon's light trickle
through canopy layers for a few hours, readjusting
tendons in legs as they came to ache. sleep (or
something resembling it) set in, somewhere
around four.

some time slightly before six, the realisation
that my legs had extended and become so cold that
they'd started cramping all the way through hit,
coupled with the sounds coming through the bush.
thank you, if you made it all the way through :>

— The End —