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

                                                 GLADE

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

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

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

                                               WORLD

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                              MA­STER

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

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

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

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

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

                                                  BOY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                HERO

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

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

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

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







Copyright 2020 by Ron Sanders.

Contact:  ronsandersartofprose(at)yahoo(dot)com
Sorry about the ghastly copy. This system makes graceful formatting impossible.
Test Ting Won To Tree
By
Charles Fleischer







Rifleman decal water is to Tiny basket liners as Strained yo-yo string is to?
Dark wool glowing is to Oldest lost oddity as First genetic engine is to?
Black quail taint is to Nut curdled paint as Hemp biscuit dominoes are to?
Steam traced paper is to Lemon ash vapor as Digital ****** wig is to?
Eccentric brine mimes are to Electric silk slacks as Spark formed lava is to?
Sunchoked black hornets are to as Rescued orphan doves as Retold cat jokes are to?
Hand traced videos are to Braided rubber spines as Opal rain dancers are to?
Halogen anchor gong is to Annoying bread portraits as Soft bracelet lockers are to?
Old troll bios are to Select cherub echoes as Broken matchstick parasols are to?
Dome nine chariots are to Frayed lunar remnants as Fuming honey flasks are to?
Bluing assault operas is to Beading fluted flowers as Magnetic lawn tweezers are to?
Converted flea sponges are to Floating dog murals as Frozen Archie comics are to?
Molded road pads are to Crusty gumdrop thread as Straw ribbed pelicans are to?
Inflatable diamond vowel is to Single gender raffle as Groovy desert coffee is to?
Temporary solution radiation is to Idiotic witness mumble as Motorized marshmallow kit is to?
Panoramic utopian paranoia is to Aggravated **** silhouettes as Unhinged gun sellers are to?
Homesick ghost pajamas is to Virtuous fly fungus as Royal sandpaper gloves are to?
Gangster hayride tickets are to Deer milk Oreos as Turnip fairy maps are to?
Glue gun **** is to Nocturnal cabin mice as Cab fare corn is to?
Speckled fish nickels are to Under water bric-a-brac as Epic snakeskin paisley is to?
******* bungalow pranks are to Drowsy vapid oafs as Quantized cavern fish are to?
Raunchy snail kimono is to Coiled time dice as Smeared equator malt is to?
Metallic centaur franchise is to Transparent cheese chess as Spotted glacial remnants is to?
Sky fused pong is to Rustic mothers brattle as Granulated canister ointment is to?
Overgrown maze mule is to Mated smugglers hugging as Floating thesaurus exam is to?
Sliding coed sprinkler is to Soapy whitefish rebate as Precious lamb diaper is to?
Mushy acorn luster is to Lilac protein rings as Slapstick wrestler dialect is to?
Freaky plankton bells is to Rolling horse divorce as Morphing morphine lips are to?
Sticky razor sparkle is to Emerald muscle spasm as Glaring cat cipher is to?
Peppy unisex mustache is to Pelican fighter syndrome as Clumping night grumble is to?
Scanning paired pearls are to Ruby rubbed roaches as Satanic sailor flotsam  are to?
Glowing asteroid solder is to Ideal shark data as Failed frail doilies are to?
Numb nuts boredom is to Fantastic icy phantoms as Sporadic silk creations is to?
Crooks crow chow is to Loading spackled bonder as Gargled snowdrop blasters are to?
Outdid myself today is to Outside myself again as Outlived myself controls is to?
Venting shuttlecock upset is to Texting badminton kitten as Settler tested motels are to?
Prepare paired vents is to Prefer paid events as Pretender predicts fiction is to
Crunchy mental fender is to Catching mentor menace as Poorly seasoned lettuce is to?
Outside sidewalk inside is to Seaside outcast input as Sideways landslide victory is to?  
Compile fake password is to Compost world poo as Compose village anthem is to?
Crooked crotch blunder is to Loud crowd thunder as Divine vine finder is to?
Chucks’ wooden truck is to Bucks good luck as Sticky ducks tucked is to?  
Overhaul underway overseas is to Overturned downsized pickup as Underground onramp overloaded is to?
I’ll bite there is to Aisle byte their as Isle bight there is to?
Gnat gnawed wrist is to ***** show beans as See through putty is to?
Flapping floppy guppies are to Buzzing zipped dozers as Muddy ****** strippers are to?
Dark diagonal dialogue is to Diabolical dihedral die as Interesting circadian exposition is to?
Experimental flossing expectations are to Waxed dental traps as Permanent impermanence resolution is to?  
Outran ringside intrigue is to Sidetracked onboard boatload as Loaded firearm topside is to?
Phony ****** phone is to Chewy ego honey as Yogi Mama’s dada is to?
Nimble teardrop squiggle is to Humble cage curtains as Loyal truckstop morals are to?
Torching curled elastic is to Sonic neighbor clamor as Golden droplet integers are to?
Duplex pupil scanners are to Nacreous cloud clocks as Shrouded flute shops are to?
Lawn rocket tendrils are to Finding surreal borders as Sheep monarchs children is to?
Gloating ungloved squires are to Busting double doubters as Pushing woeful doctors are to?
Tricking snowbelt firedogs is to Panmixing blackened haywires as Unclothed shameful leaders are to?
Malicious ranch ritual is to Internal puppet bubble as Ornate underworld masquerade is to?
Rustic debonair Eskimos are to Mindless sassy elves as Gorgeous somber acrobats are to?
Learned earthy pimps are to Fearless sneaky Queens as Somber gentle vagrants are to?
Shocking horse wear is to Glossy sled fluid as Damaged chipmunk tongue is to?
Traditional agony chart is to Damp voodoo motel as Backwoods museum quote is to?
Magical cat cabin is to Dapper porpoise humor as Malicious graveyard foam is to?
Therapeutic gazelle cushion is to Stored alibi equipment as Stunning tempo light is to?
Fantastic rascal art is to Wasted prune dust as Jupiter’s ****** law is to?
Little nut razor is to Gigantic hyena shield as Hourglass pillow fever is to?
Coiled rain clouds are to Dizzy tycoon clowns as Lime eating cowards are to?
Possessive epicurean demonstrators are to Faded eavesdropping giants as Determined swanky drunks are to?
Aquatic preview pocket is to Soggy judicial topiary as Finicky hamster fabric is to?
Enlarged fruit cuff is to Obedient mumbling orchestra as Dark tenant tariff is to?
Recycled flash thermometer is to Botched temptation probe as Pet glider grid is to?
Seriously shy idols are to Costly driving perfumes as Ferryboat chapel wine is to?
Winged jalopy details are to Faithful spectral fathers as Sprinkled mint rainbows are to?
Spelling unneeded words is to Sprouting donut ***** as Blaming mellow mallrats are to?
Eroding loom keepsake is to Magnificent accordion canoe as ***** bongo fumes are to?
Souring violet ink is to Juvenile insult park as Periodic ferret envy is to?
Obedient boyfriend aroma is to Sanitized fat lozenges as Dramatic jailer garb is to?
Mysterious patrol group is to Dynamic maiden discharge as Captured hurricane ratio is to?
Lackadaisical bigot bingo is to Oblong care merchant as Expensive swamp shampoo is to?
Petite orifice worship is to Atomic barge pet as Plucked hair exhibit is to?
Elite officer wallop is to Automatic yard rake as Healing ****** glitter is to?
Needless swan costume is to Giant jungle goat as Organic picnic napkin is to?
Leaky jet steam is to Innovative fascist whistle as Enchanting idol evidence is to?
Plastic mascara seduction is to Greasy thermal ointment as Attractive muskrat crease is to?
Lucky camel pills are to White coral Torah as Eternal stage clutter is to?
Roasted oat **** is to Sloppy *** glue as Nylon table debt is to?
Steep nook catastrophe is to Empty dome damage as Pulsing breeze powder is to?
Empty sack power is to Hitched buck stroke as Red claw warning is to?
Ultra brief slogan is to Yummy lab mutant as Pathetic ball armor is to?
Nauseating fish splatter is to Obstinate ****** twitch as Strained ***** coffee is to?
Mezzanine intermission fossil is to Proven **** apathy as Golden duck shroud is to?
Civil tutors torment is to Thor’s posted theory as Yellow melon rain is to?
Immense olive raft is to Exploding kangaroo buffet as Ethereal witness index is to?  
Marching dark speeders are to Searing scribble fighters as **** tripping sinners are to?
Seeping viral angst is to Aged hermit tea as Murky bowl nibble is to?
Condensed blister guzzle is to Pink dorsal pie as Lavish speckled runt is to?
Needy insult poet is to Sedated acorn trader as Dry honey zoo is to?
Veiled trust flicker is to Deranged poser fashion as Flat sizzle tangent is to?
Purified diet spray is to Nebulous wishing target as Thrilling screen dope is to?
Majestic ribbon astronomy is to Bizarre formation sector as Rebel bell gimmick is to?
Sealed dart whisper is to Green silk draft as Cold vacuum varnish is to?
Clumsy raven power is to Insect island circus as Minted mink drapes are to?
Curved map ruler is to Tiny lethal radio as Blue fused metal is to?
Inverted laser invasion is to Damp sheep dump as Puffy gown smoke is to?
Saucy Channel blazer is to Leather goat filament as Starched locomotive hat is to?
Broken jumper leads are to Disgraced mini exorcists as Designer shamrock caulk is to?
Tweaked poachers smokes are to Assorted sulfur pathways as Collected bedlamp trickle is to?
******* bungalow pranks are to Drowsy vapid oafs as Quantized cavern fish are to?
Crawling battle worms are to Vibrating metal pedals as Mentholated matrix wax is to?
Missing meshed rafts are to Liquid rock pipes as Crinkled bean bikinis are to?
Tithing **** joggers are to Perforated buck fronds as Leather zither picks are to?
Fearing truthful cowards is to Rambling preachers mumble as Gazebo ambulance gasoline is to?
Shelving elder’s whiskers is to Poaching goalies pesto as Radical tricycle angst is to?
Mucky gunboat polymer is to Primeval maypole flameout as Cathedral greenhouse intercom is to?
Diaphanous safety prize is to Unleashed saucer lion as Dorky blonde ropewalker is to?
Tapered spring meter is to Silver silo mythology as Misguided judges medallions are to?
Alligator x-ray money is to Cherry unicorn water as Coyote cactus toy is to?
Cowardly dorm scrooge is to Atomized pewter script as Flattened spore smoothies are to?
Trash can yodel is to Flashing wired spam as Exploding chocolate pudding is to?
Sonar blasted bushings are to Threading ruined wheels as Forty shifting boxes are to?
Tiny balloon rebellion is to Softened square cleanser as Iconic soul sucker is to?
Harmony night light is to Spanish nitrogen desire as Squirrel cavern iodine is to?

Lazy winter secret is to Slow airport widget as Silly mustard binder is to?
Elephants raising raisins are to Microscopic lamb planet as Purple hay puppets are to?
Caribou venom vaccine is to Electronic lemonade choir as Demonic princess massage is to?
Beet coated bridge is to Fattened needle point as Mylar monkey spine is to?
Ashy ink dust is to Youngest rabbi planet as Orange cartoon geometry is to?
Cold green chalk is to Cobalt ladder farce as ***** river filters are to?
Sublime sheep master is to Sleeping past rapture as Subliminal bliss jelly is to?
Ocean crust slippers are to Twigged germ radar as Popping sharpie scope is to?
Zen wrapped beep is to Oak foamed code as Wicked flashing sizzle is to?
Dew eyed sleigh is to Say I do as Act as me is to?
Humpback on hammock is to Ham hocking hummer as Hunchback with knapsack is to?
Corned flag jelly is to Draped wing chewers as Tripping swan acid is to?
Futuristic Rembrandt chant is to Almond likened meadows as Asian timber blue is to?
Nap in sack is to Flap on Jack as Ducks dig crack is to?
Flowing flavored lava is to Gleaming optic layers as Enhanced goose gibberish is to?      
Flag tied pajamas are to Saline checker choir as Speed reading quotas is to?
Whipped spam spasms are to Misted shaman scripture as Testing pitched bells is to?
Cave aged eggs are to Crowded tiger cages as ****** wagon pegs are to?
Pigeon towed car is to a Man toad art as Wolf whisker wish is to?
Second hand clothes are to Minute hand gestures as Final hour prayer is to?
Slick wicked shavers are to Tricky watch boxes as Sprouting pine tattoos are to?
Waxed stick ravens are to Match stick foxes as Narrowed thermal towers are to?
Ice cave rice is to Laced face lice as Gourmet pet **** is to?
Diamond lane anniversary is to Space age appropriate as Time travel agency is to?
Lime bark violin is to Lemon twig guitar as Lunar sky waffles are to?
Fake rat **** is to Smart cake batter as Rugged fur tax is to?
Tarred raft fluff is to Flaked rafter dust as Lined liquor flask is to?
Flakes will fall is to Take Bills call as Broken maze compass is to?
First faked voter is to Entombed cartoon honey as Smallest aching smurf is to?
Fancy bared ******* are to Flaky fairy treats as Kings amp filter is to?
Bone window folio is to Whittled fake pillow as Little fitted jackets are to?
Nine nuts brittle is to Ate pear pie as Six packed poppers are to?
Incandescent playground pencil is to Elastic hand worm as Perfumed piano ink is to?
Opal shifting anode is to a Windup lion decoy as Pale paisley trolley is to?
Stacked black boxes are to Old packed tracks as a Throwing micron hammers is to?
Apricot bark furnace is to Merry Orchid Choir as an Ivory rinsing funnel is to?  
Narcotic honey nuts are to Slick flag toffees as Silk fig sugar is to?
Orange coin raisins are to Low note candies as Smelling balled roses is to?
Pocket packed monotints are to Tragic ladder hayracks as Ravishing speed traders are to?
Crayon spider resin is to Coral squirrel forceps as Wolf tumbled loaf is to?  
Silver wheat flies are to Width shifting wheels as Golden blister blankets are to?
Really tiny hippopotamus is to Masked fat podiatrist as a Sad sack psychiatrist is to?
Miniature Mesopotamian monuments are to Apple minted elephants as Raising wise ravens is to?
Lathered nymph nacre is to Sonic ion constellations as Concealed iron craft is to?  
Epic gene toy is to Ladies bubble sled as Jagged data bowl is to?
Bugged dagger bag is to Pop sliced meld as Atom bending moonlight to?  
Rural madam’s deed is to Dyed dew dipper as Eight sprayed dukes are to?
Jiffy grand puffer is to Floating altar myth as Vintage dark mirth is to?
Undercover overnight underwear is to Overpaid undertaker overdosing as Overheard understudy freebasing is to?

Black grape crackle is to Red cactus ruffle as Installing padded pets are to?
Snide snobs sniffing are to Sneaky snails snoring as Snared snipes sneezing are to?
Exploring explosive exits is to Explaining expansive exports as Expecting expert exchange is to?
Shrewd logic ledger is to Puppets dropping cupcakes as Placated topaz octopi are to?
Door roof tools are to Cool wool boots as Wood cooked root is to?
Bright fight light is to Night flight fright as Mites bite site is to?
Floor flood fluid is to Wooden door Druid as Nasty **** broom is to?
Accurate police photography is to Intelligent microbe geography as Condensed aerosol biography is to?
Cowardly cowboy grime is to Corpulent corporate crime as Bosnian dwarf necromancer is to?
Jell-O clearing shaker is to Brillo cleaning shiner as Cheerios bowling shields are to?
Mumbled mindless hokey is to Fumbled found money as Humming kinder bunny is to?
Daisy’s clock setter is to Lilly’s boxer toxin as Poodles rose paddle is to?
Watch Bozo Copernicus is to Hire Clarabelle Newton as Find ***-wee Einstein is to?
Amethyst thistle whistles is to Lapis pistol whip as Diamond bomb scar is to?
Dandelion seahorse rescue is to Crabapple dogwood farm as Faux foxglove lover is to?    
Optical poppy stopper is to Polar halo lens as Day-Glo rainbow sticker is to?
Savanna leopard spotted is to Eskimo lassos kisses as Alligator lemonade standard is to?
Bill of Rights is to Will of left as Thrill of night is to?
Baptize floozies quickly is to Useless outsized nozzles as Puzzled wizard wanders is to?        
Chaps wearing chaps are to Chaps contesting contests as Consoling concealed consoles is to?
Quiet squirming squirrels are to Aeon beauty queens as Queasy greasy luaus is to?
Knew new gnu is to Sense scents cents as We’ll wheal wheel is to?
Blazing zingers ringing are to Wheezing singers flinging as Freezing finger number are to?
Lamb tomb jogger is to Dumb numb **** as Thumbed crumb bug is to?

Blue accordion casket is to Jaded scholar ***** as German mushroom circus is to?
President George Flintstone is to Funny Fred Washington as Abraham Jetson’s dog is to?
Google Desmond Tutu is to Kalamazoo Zoo Park as Zodiac actors Guru is to?
Swamp cradled whisperer is to Cherished drawbridge cello as Bludgeoned prankster outlaws are to?
Dukes pink mittens are to Smeared nest carava
Tommy Johnson Dec 2013
You can hear the voices of our peers being silenced, ignored, shunned and distorted.
Staggering out of their bedroom doorways to the street corner to score a dime bag.
Bright, insightful millennials freezing in search of warmth from something to believe in that will encourage them to look forward to see another day.
Where our economy has made financial prudence clear when talking about education, yet price tags of university tuition's skyrocket.
The refused, the ones with hope but no money or scholarships; tread the streets with the echoes of electro house pulsing in their skulls.
Those who strip themselves down and shred their own morals to scraps just to find themselves and to see their own limitations.
Searching for answers to the unknown, to ascertain what they are, who they are and why.
Timid in high school, pushed along with nothing and no one to put their creative vigor into.
The squeakiest wheels that were never even considered to be given a good greasing.
Faculties giving them lethargic hellos on the first day of school, bestowing celebrated goodbyes to them on graduation day, diplomas in hand.
Now are the ones slumped over in a lackadaisical position contemplating how they can afford an education.
They work eight to ten at seven twenty five an hour Monday to Friday; and weekends staying in as not to blow their earnings.
Those who commute to university and balance a job with it, I applaud you.
The bewilderment of adulthood, the overabundance of pressure and responsibility.
Awakened from nightmares of lost opportunities, missed trains and lost contacts.
To step out of bed and splash water onto a severely distressed face and staring into a mirror with a despairing look.
Then hoping a bus to Garfield to bring back weight for all the embryonic smokers not yet at the point of make or break, just save up enough to pave my own way.
Gazing at the town on a roof top, chugging down the tenth…no…twelfth beer of the night wondering how this all happened.
Wild sensations of kissing an attractive stranger, the rush of touching on things never felt, tasting pleasures only the lucky have known.
The passionate, yet dissolute yearning for that ever eluding ******* adrenaline. Pounding, Pounding, Pounding until the culmination of energy has come.
Flip sided to those dizzying, tear jerking thoughts of suicide, annihilation of ones being, the contradictions of their faith in themselves and the people around them.
Unexplainable waves of anxiety crashing onto the shore of a diminutive island of optimism
Striving to look past the panic, the gloominess and fury that may or may not be present. But to remain composed and press forward to what awaits them.
Coffee keeps them going. Cup after cup, late night cramming every bit they can; into their caffeine driven psyches until the indisputable crash and failure.
Packs and packs of menthol cigarettes to calm their rattling nerves but at the same time killing them slowly. Their lives will seem shorter than the time it took to finish one bogey when death is near.
Marijuana induced ventures to run down burger shacks, laughing hysterical in the car ride, eyes heavy with a most ridiculous elastic grin extending from ear to ear. While inside millions of thoughts and realizations of consciously simple speculations and troubles become clear and unproblematic. So the joy is mirrored outside in.
LSD trips in Petruska dancing and singing in the rain! Making music, making love; playing pretend and creating art. Becoming a family while kicking back under the warmth of an illuminated tree on a cool fall night.
MDMA streaming through the body, everything is as it should be
Beautiful, lovely to touch, wondrous to stroke, marvelous to move.
To contact and connect, converse and converge with the dwelling desire to share what you feel with everyone for it would be selfish and unpleasant to keep it in.
Mushrooms oh the emotional overflow I need not say more but ****.
Then there are over the counter candies, Oxycontin, ******, Adderall and Xanax, painkillers and antidepressants. Ups, downs, side ways and backwards.
Selling addiction and dependency legally to kids. Making heroine, ******* and speed easily obtainable to them. Changing the names and giving out prescriptions so the parents can feel like they're actually helping their children but are subconsciously making it easier on themselves because they cannot handle the way their offsprings actually are. Some parents a feel it is the only way, I wish it wasn't so. Becoming zombies, mindless addicts before they even start to mature into puberty. I've seen it, firsthand front row.
Oh, the monotonous, mundane rituals and agendas of our lives. School, work, sleep eat, the sluggish schedules and repetitions of yesterday's conversations and redundancy of itineraries we had plotted months prior.
Same people, the constant faces of boredom that groan in apathy and hold the fear of complacency.
We talk about how hum drum out lives have become and what we could to put some color in our world but don’t.
We speak of how unfair the system is but ultimately confuse ourselves and everyone else due to lack or organization and dedication so nothing is changed.
We speak of breath taking women we want to share ****** fantasies with but can’t even muster enough courage to send a trivial friend request.
Texting away for hours trying to court those who now occupy our minds and possess our hearts hoping they may allow us to acquire their attention and affection. Calling them only to receive futile dial tones and know we are being evaded.
Weeping on and on for seemingly endless time frames of a dilapidated relationship that was so strained that a miniscule breeze could cause it to collapse but still clinging to every memory as if they were vital hieroglyphics depicting your very essence.
Brilliant theories blurted out in a drunken stupor.
Ingenious hypothesis shrouded in marijuana smoked out room.
Remembrance of friends long gone.
The marines, the navy.
The casualties of drug addiction.
The conquerors or their afflictions.
The scholars.
The insane locked away on the flight deck never to be seen again.
Teenage mothers unsure of themselves, abandoned by their families for they believe that they brought fictional shame upon the family’s name. The fate of the child is unclear but the mother’s everlasting love shines through any obscurities in its way.
Dear mother of the new born winter’s moon may the aura of life protect you and your baby.
The father gone without a trace.
He will never know his daughter.
And it will haunt him forever.
Parents bringing up their kids with values and morals, The Holy Bible, mantras and meditation, the Holy Quran, The Bhagavad Gita, and Upanishads. Islamic anecdotes and Jewish parables.
The names all different
The message the same
The stories unlike
Goals equivalent
Faith
Kabala, Scientology and Wicca
Amish and Mormons
All separate paths that intertwine and runoff each other then pool into the plateau of eternal life.
But do we have faith in our country, our government?
They do not have faith in us. Cameras on every street corner, FBI agents stalking social media, recordings of our personal lives and police brutality. 4th amendment where have you gone?
We say farewell to Oresko the last veteran of the last great war. And revisit the Arab spring, Al-Assad’s soldiers opening fire on innocent protesters, one hundred fifteen thousand lay dead. Bin laden dead, Hussein hanged, Gaddafi receiving every ounce of his comeuppance. War, terrorism, the fear of being attacked or is it an excuse to secure our nation's investments across the sea? Throwing trillions of dollars to keep the ****** machine cranking away, taxes, pensions, credit scores, insurance and annuities all cogs in the convoluted contraptions plight.
My dear friend contemplates this every night laying in bed, fetal position; the anxiety if having to be a part of this.
Falling apart on the inside but on the outside, an Adonis, *******, Casanova wanna be. Who worshiped the almighty dollar, gripping it so tightly until it made change, drank until he had his fill falling face first into the snow. The guy who lead on legions of clueless girls wearing their hearts on their sleeves not knowing he had a girlfriend the entire time. Arranging secret meetings in hidden gardens, streaking into the early morning. Driving to Ewing in his yellow Mustang to woo a sado masochistic girl. The chains and whips do nothing to him he is already numbed by the thrill. Then he comes home, lays in bed until one, with no job and having people pay for his meals.
He knows what he does and who he is wrong. He recites and regurgitates excuses endlessly. He cries because he knows he is weak, he knows he must fix himself. I sit on the edge of myself with my fingers crossed hoping maybe, maybe he will set himself straight.
My chum who can talk his way out of any confrontation and into a woman’s *******. Multitudes of amorous affairs in backrooms, backseats, front rows of movies theaters. Selfish, boastful and ignorant, yet woman fling themselves at him like catapulted boulders over a medieval battle field just to say hello. These girls blind to see what going on, for their eyes were taken by low self esteem. A need to be accepted, to feel wanted even only for fifteen minutes. Poor self image, daddy issues, anorexic razor blade slicing sirens screaming on about counted calories and social status. Their uncontrollable mental breakdowns and emotional collapse. Their uncles who ***** them, their parents who split up and confusing their definition of love and loyalty for the rest of their lives. Broken homes, domestic abuse and raised voices, sending jolts of fright into the young girl’s fragile minds. I send my sorrows to you ladies, to see such beautiful creatures suffer then be used and thrown away with the ****** that was just ****** deep into their *****.
Then I see women and men of marvelous stature, romantic in the streets holding everyone and everything in high regards. Finding beauty in anything and anyone. Enjoying every second as if the rapture was over head eating exotic foods from unheard of countries and cultures. Bouncing to the sound of whimsical , reverb ricochets and sense stimulating music. Huffing inspiration to create something out of thin air. Dancing to retired jazz and swing albums as if no time had past since their conception. Wearing bold colors and patterns, thrifty leather shoes or suede.
Dawning pre-owned blazers because why spend hundreds of dollars on new clothes just to look good but feel uncomfortable with a hole in your pocket. Dressing up but dressing down, so class yet urban I love it, chinos, pea coats and flannels so simple but chic.
At night they go to underground dens, sweaty bodies, loud music and freedom. Expressive manifestations glowing fueled with MDMA and other substances to further their enjoyment of the dark glorious occasion. Kandi kids sporting colorful bracelets, not watches for time is of no concern to them, they have all eternity they know that.
Going to book stores, coffee shops just to have some peace of mind and a moment of silence to themselves so that can weave the tapestry of imaginative innovation. Writing their own versions of the same story, endless doors of perception, reading news papers and taking it with a grain of salt. Watching the news on TV with a hand full of salt. Searching for the real story so they can know if the world they all live in is actually safe.
She who made her own way breaking hearts, rolling blunts and making deals. The flower child of the modern age, left the rainy days in search of radiant sunshine, idealistic. Reality was subjective, purple dyed hair, multicolored sweater with sandals on her feet. A ten inch bowl with bud from California packed in tightly. Coming from Dumont to Bergenfeild then on to Philly to Mount Vernon. Off to Astoria and the Heights. Now to Sweden laying in the grassy plains below the mountains. Good for you my friend whom I have loved, may fortunes of unsullied joy come to you and all you meet.
Since you’ve left I have encountered drunken burly firemen just trying to have a good time. Pounding down Pabst Blue Ribbon as if it were water; as if it were good tasting beer. But heroes none the less.
EMT's, young eighteen years old high school graduates, saving lives reviving people who are a mere inch close to death.
Sport stars getting scholarships thanks to their superior skills and strength.
Striking beauty school students who are into making the people of this world a little bit more beautiful on the outside.
All these people, successful, doing things. Departing to their desired destinations. I see inside them, they carry baggage, loneliness and insecurities. I can feel their guilt slowing them down. All have their loads but it’s the way they carry them that shows who they really are. And to me their all gems.
Not far in Paterson I watch the junkies limping across busy winding street, perusing a severely needed fix. “Diesel!” they shout beneath flickering streetlights, asking for spare change and if bold enough a ride to some shady sketchy place. I give them a dollar and politely decline. They’ll die without it. Vomiting up bile and blood, twitches and shivers are all you feel when it’s not in you. They cannot stop, they need help. Why not help them instead of “assisting” those who are homosexual? Cleansing so they can be granted entry to the kingdom of God. Looking down on people who have found love and understanding and a deep attraction to others who just so happen to share alike genitals.
Narrow minded uproars about the spread of AIDS, nonsense! The puritanical onslaught of those who want nothing more than the rest of us, love. "Gay", "****", "******", "queer", how about "kind", "funny", "genuine human being"? The right to be married and divorced should be an option for everyone to enjoy. The strains and hardships of matrimony are yours if you want them. If you don’t agree don’t hate or harm just allow them to be peacefully. Same goes for anything for that matter, Jehovah's going door to door, Mormons from Burbank. New ideas are never a bad thing, they’re not a waste of time. On average you have about eighty years to mull over your options.
Some people don’t live long enough to do so, cancer is rampant, blood diseases, ****** diseases, natural disasters coming right out of left field and blindsiding the innocent bystanders of both hemispheres. Some go through life handicapped, autism is apparent these days. Schizophrenia, Asperburgers, ADD and ADHD. Some lose their golden memories of their many valuable years walking down Alzheimer's Lane, not being able to remember whatever transpired only a few moments ago but revisiting gold nuggets from from fifty-some-odd years ago with ease. Some go through life delusional or bipolar. Some can't even sleep at night but they still carry on. And if assistance is needed it is our job as a race to help our brothers and sisters, no one deserves to be excluded from the gala of life. Or be denied by society and pumped with brightly colored pills from doctors promising a cure but prescribing a crutch.
Finding solace in sincerity.
The serendipity of it all hasn’t been uncovered and that keeps me going.
“Radiate boundless love towards the entire world above, below and across. Unhindered without ill will without enmity.” Oh Buddha the truth as it ever was.
Who is he who keeps these thoughts from the conscious minds of the population?
Who is it that distracts us from the humbling beauty and overwhelming devastation of this place of existence we’re in?
It’s they who do under the table parlor trick behind our backs.
Those who broadcast mind numbing so called reality TV shows without an underlying value or meaning.
Those who produce music, proclaiming extravagance to be the end all be all gluttonous goal we all should aim to achieve.
And those who turn noble causes into money making scams and defile pure ideas.
And of course those who give false promises of easily obtained  bright futures, those who don’t care, those who steal, ****, curse, bad mouth and lie. But still manage to get elected into positions that more or less decide out fates. Monsters, demons, banshees howling inconsequential worries and leaving us deaf to hear the real issues.
The
Thepillar Sep 2018
Just a single thought of you shakes my very being.
Sending tremors straight down to my core.
This feeling pulsing and echoing throughout my veins.
Straight to my lungs, making it so hard to breathe.
Your laugh, has me trembling, reminiscent of a choir.
Your personality, kindhearted, sweet, and comical.
Your accent, melting me like ice cream on a hot summer day.

Just a single thought of you shakes my very being.
Sending tremors straight down to my core.
This feeling pulsing and echoing throughout my veins.
Straight to my heart, pumping fast as if on caffeine.
Your presence, calming, laid-back, relatable.
Your demanour, silly, upbeat, adorable.
Your beauty, an unparalleled charm in this world of billions.

Just a single thought of you shakes my very being.
Sending tremors straight down to my core.
This feeling pulsing and echoing throughout my veins.
Straight to my stomach, excited and terrified, unresting as it disharmonizes with the rest of my organs.
Your willpower, to endure through hardships life scathes you with.
Your passion, able to pursue what you wish, and with no regrets.
Your talent, unique and detailed, parallel to your drawings.

Just a single thought of you shakes my very being.
Sending tremors straight down to my core.
This feeling pulsing and echoing throughout my veins.
Straight to my legs, fluttering and weak just imagining you speak.
I know you don't like compliments, but it's hard to hide the truth.
I could banter, and talk for decades as long as it's with you
I could wait forever, as long as it's for you.

Just a single thought of you.
Makes me feel the way I do.
LDuler Mar 2013
The leeching color from my eyes
My parched mouth puckered
My joints are stiff, stubborn and brittle
Creaking like exhausted floorboards
Wringing my fists, white ands shriveled
Twisting my hands, skinned and raw
I'm ill with desperate thriving
Too weak to carry on, don't have the choice
Veins laden with liqueur, thinning hopes and regret
Pulsing pulsing pulsing
Bones fluttering with birds of bad omen
Scalp rid of hair to make place for the thorny crown of vanquishment
Blood diluted with bitter disappointment,
Sloshing, smearing through my mucked-up system
Aching from the deadly drone of existence
From small victories, large defeats
I'm the mortar, they're the pestle
Clobbering into my hollowed life.

The hammer of that thing
Routine so dull and tedious
Pounding and pounding and pounding
When you can't even scream or weep
Thud thud thud
My temples scream with dank submission
My brain is reeling, hurling from the vertigo of it all.

Morning, noon & night
The dead avenues, the empty buzzing
Beats hammers in my brain
Throb throb throb
I'm quivering with numbness.

I'm mature now, I'm ripe
So ripened and rotten
Adult things, adult preoccupations pulsing around me
It seems like person really only has two choices
Get in on the aimless hustle or be forsaken
I've taken it all up
Rent, coffee, wine, cigarettes and newspaper
Forgotten pills
Unpaid bills
Thump thump thump
Anguish, pain, woe and misery
Turbulence and stress, the banging hammer.

I'm a drunkard, a wanderer
With a beaten, battered suitcase
Days like these, weeks like these, when all the weapons are pointed at me
I'm a ***, an outcast
A pigeon in the pummeling rain
Dribble dribble splash
The ache is a relentless thing.

My job, my rent, my house
My walls limp with memories stuck with rotting glue
Wallpaper torn, curling at the edges
The cold hard floor radiates and screams
The couch, cold & hollow
Incrusted with bits of filthy grime
The dead radiator hisses like an angry snake
The shades down, no sunlight
No life seeping through the venetian blinds
And my clothing sits in the chairs
Like the dead emptied out
The blankets are thin, frayed and tattered
As hope is
The moths, on the other hand, are alive and well
They weave webs of moribund rot
Interlacing me into their strands of decay.

Surrounded by the coldhearted, they snarl
And their laughs abash, dishearten the pure
Bruising me relentlessly
They are so tired, mutilated
either by love or no love
All their bleak and sunken eyes
All their weak and drunken souls
All their meek and shrunken hearts
Vultures with neckties
Weasels in frocks
Collared beasts, that's all they are.

The mournful poet with the shrapnel wound
Was so wrong
I guess he wanted to be lyrical, but his words led astray
Time is not water
It does not flow easy, smooth and transparent
It drags you into dark alleys and batters the hell out of you
Punches you in the ribs, rips your skin,
Jerks you by your hair, stabs you, disfigures you
Leaves you crippled and broken, gasping for air.

Sweating in a rocker
Lanky skeleton hands clasped, praying- for what?
I'm not living, or dying
I'm simply crawling backward
Or no, I'm not crawling, I'm being dragged,
Through nights of lonely perfidy, breathing the beaten dusty air
The dark wind wailing, ebbing through the frail curtains
Laying in bed, too wretched to move
When memories, of heaven and hell,
Droop like broken shades
Across the window of my mind
And ****, I can feel my soul slowly dropping down through the mattress
My stomach is heaving, my teeth clenched and gritted
But not with fear, no, it's too late for dread
And it *****, because we realize we were all so caught up in a life in which we can find no meaning...we end up wrong and graceless and sick
We're born shriveled and alone, we die shriveled and alone
No matter what.
The Hammer by Geneviève Pardoe Macchiarella is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Samuel Sprague Aug 2013
Pulsing
Pulsing
All I'm doing is pulsing
A tight grip on loose air
A fickle taste of lips in the midst of a tragic interwoven memory despite their tastelessness and despite their grievance. Destroy them upon where they stand, and not because you want to but because they have to go. The shimmers of electric signals sending to your brain, seeing stars from a fall or dizziness from the spiral staircase which sends you to where you now seem to be. Desolate and a holiday and a slap and a curfew and a nap in the lake of humanity in the woods of lunacy in the dark of what we fail to see.
Ashley Chapman Aug 2018
These days have ebbed
as Love's swell was checked:
the waters in some places
- all but dammed!

But now at last
I sense the rising tide
and thank Temese
for the current's turn;
now following that great writhing snake
to where its pulsing head will rake;
over the mucky soiled watery beds
of Woolwich
Greenwich
Limehouse
- and under -
Tower Bridge

     To that great gloating sight
                A crown of a billion lights
     Blazing day and night:
                And somewhere within
     In the slick oily warmth
                Our flood tides mesh,
     As over each other we wash.

Hard thrusts
wicked deep cuts
given and received
are recorded in that great mirror smoked!
where with a tug and a shove
on the banks
in the streets
through the loopy twists
everything prospers in the glow
as the decades decaying flow;
each ***** bud
red with new blood
one after t'other
flowers
before their purple petals scatter.

Let's on the luck o' the dice
(you 'n' me!)
ride out
on the flotsam and jetsom
that has carried us this far
and as pleases
merge.
London, a city with a rhythm, the Thames, which I sailed upon one Saturday morning - not a soul at this end of this magestic river, this city, in which I have lived for forty years...And love - a wonderful woman - and how I desire us to pull at each other as tides do, tugging at each other, two flows running over reeds and muddy shelves searching for each other in the cool green depth.
Alexander Klein Oct 2013
I

In eras weird with old mythology,
As if asleep the fabled country lay:
Her wave-like hills and faerie forests dense,
Her thorny brambles budding curling claws,
And ivy circling all the woodsey way --
The far swan's cry came soft and woke them not.
Forlorn, that selfsame call upon the gates
Did break; those gates of Britain's long-lost keep.
She too slept fast, the weary weathered stones
Of fairest Caerleon. O pulsing stream,
Thou vein of life in woods a-slumber, Usk!
Alone are you in knowing castle's face,
From years of timeless burbling at her feet.
What tales are told by water over stone?
What lark or wren can sing of sadness come?
Aye, answers are the beach-wet sand, yet hark!
Rejoicings spilled, proud hails, from Caerleon:
They cheered the ****-frost's melting with the Spring;
The holy Gwyl Fair y Canhwyllau
Had come at last, in foliage of dawn.

Within, their goblets sailed, wassailed, and crashed
Like growling Jove, their boasts and toasts like wine --
They drank it spiced and over-strong. Indeed,
Some stretched exaggerations: 'twas Sir Bors,
That spotless sheet, who tried to contradict.
He quoted purifying texts and spurned
The wine that nature raised and crafted sweet.
Yet "Loosen up!" uproared the host to him.
"The time has come to celebrate," said Kay,
Beloved knight, step-brother to the King,
"Aloft thy wine, below thy gills! Drink! Laugh!
Your stomach is a falsehood-spewing fool,
It must be drowned for you to feel a lord.
I speak a sooth, you need wine's fleeting bliss!
Know thee that man's tomorrows bleed him dry:
A wade through death and depths as sure as pain
That shall tomorrow light your brow. Laugh! Drink!"
Bold cheering spread with Kay's advice, though yet
To no surprise Bors turned aside the drink,
Unblemished bore, so celebrates alone.
Weep not for him, for soon he'll find a cup
More suited to his strange of chaste and grace.
And none to waste: his share was drunk by all.

Engaged in feast Owain ap Urien,
Engaged in tale now Bedwyr and Kay,
And Lancelot made eyes at Gwenevere.
It was a feast of great success and joy
As fitting of the season's robust gleam,
Yet two there were with shallow-rooted smiles.
Prince Mordred one, though ever-somber he:
Accursed spawn with bone in place of heart
And dreaded incantations for his blood;
His brooding perched like crow on him. Alas:
The other joy-bled man had beard aflame,
A bear-skin drape, and crystal eyes, the Lord
He was of Caerleon and Mordred both.
'Twas not the gleam in lover's gaze that vexed
Though it was seen; he had no heart in him
To chain his Queen as if in dungeon steel,
For Arthur lived believing to be fair
Was paramount, to even paramour.
It wreaked its toll, yet caused small grief this day.
Not even serpent son gave cause to mourn
That greater was than missing nephew's spot
Among the feast. His chair was naked bare
Returned though he should be from faerie quest.
At Calan Gaeaf they expected him
When winter storms had racked their shoddy hall,
Yet since, the months had rolled to Gwyl Fair
The milder season come, but not his kin.
The image of his maiméd corpse did taunt
And haunt the agéd mind of Arthur, King,
His phantom nephew slain anon by knight
That of no flesh was made. In year that died
This green-mailed knight arrived a guest and called
Infernal challenge. Trick it seemed to them
And trick it was, for subsequent the blow,
This seaweed knight did lift his severed head
And from dead lips he cried "Well struck! Now come,
Fulfill me of my game. The year to come
Shall see thee in my home, and as agreed
My turn 'twil be to answer with my axe."

So rapt in recollecting, Arthur missed
The growing clamor that beset his hall.
His ******* cleared the grief from him with taunt,
To bring him into grief. "What say thee, Dad,"
Dripped venom from his mouth, "No love for us?
Your hail we called, but disapprove your eyes.
Methinks that far away thou seest a dream
That visits oft the elderly: a place
Thou knewst when in thy prime, with love
Now filled to burst. Yet fear us not, away!
To land of youth far more beloved than we
Whose happiness with thine own heart is twined."
"My fellow, soft!" the King began, distressed,
Yet Lancelot rose to his feet and spake
"Blackguard is he who mocks our Lord to face!
Thou palest hide, thou Mordred, sit thee down!
This sniveling craven knight should be replaced."
A sounding of the table met his speech,
Again was hailed his toast, and Arthur glad,
Though burdened to his breaking point, and sad.

"Blackguard is he who mocks our Lord to face,"
Had spake his bravest champion and friend
With no regard to Blackguard wrapped in stealth.
See how his roughspun fingers coil in hers
And how some sweetened whisper 'scapes her lips?
The beams of color-stainéd light slip down
To play upon their blissful sin almost
As if King Arthur's King approved on high.
Sovereignty is ruthless, Arthur thought,
Well-wishings of my God grow ever-faint.
I must believe in good though I am ill,
Just as I find my countrymen displeased
Though I did calculate my every breath
To see that it did stand with God's own will
To help my common people from their murk.
I fear I am not what I wished to be,
And now my only solace peaceful death.
If up to me, I'd wish it in my bed.

What horn's blare? Hark! King Arthur roused from thought.
Court gatekeeper Glewlwyd Gafaelfawr,
Dressed plain in brown, took down the horn from lips
And loud as elk called to the hall "Have cheer!
Sirs, drink another beer and wreath your brow
With springtime blooms, for lost knight fair is found!"
Old Arthur trusted not his feeble ears,
But came a hush and Lancelot confirmed:
"What **," he boomed, "our brother has returned!
'Tis grey Gawaine, aye, Gwalchmai! Drink his hail!"
The uproar was enourmous: "Gwalchmai! Cheers!"
Was like to wake the sleeping wilderness
That hung suspended in the myth and mist.

II

Astonishment had come like breaking wave
Upon the thirsty sands of monarch's face
So long consigned to reap the low-tide's grief.
When Arthur's ursine hand clenched round his cup
And hailed his nephew's presence with a roar
Long lost to hibernation's hoary spell,
The hearts that beat in armor under him
Did swell to find their lord with cheer at last;
The toast they drank so hearty as to give
Sweet Dionysus pause against excess.
Though only two there were who did not drink,
And one of these were Bors, a sadness fell
Once more as tangible as any wrong
That chose to haunt a hall. 'Twas Gwalchmai grey,
The conqueror now home from quest to rest
Who would not lift his eyes to meet the King's.

"Has cheer so fled from you? Your life remains!
What black has inked you in?" the King did ask,
And silence overtook the hall to hear.
How strongly then did Gwalchmai wish to leave,
To blend once more his form to root or branch
Or soaring river. Wind, the songbird's muse,
Had been his fast companion on the road,
For known to him were many things. He was,
They say, some god that stalked the minds of man
In young enchanted places of the world
Though all his magic helped him not at court:
His shyness was a leaf obscured by rain.
Yet even gods of silence know to speak
When words of pain encircle heavy hearts.
He let them fly, birds in the sky, he said
"I failed. My quest was long and arduous,
The seasons changed while I in heather lost,
The moon its phases shed as fen-frogs called,
I floated through the endless cloying mist
That flows, a ghostly sea wrapped round our isle.
The path had nearly drowned me when I found
The chapel green enough to spell my doom.
When entered I, methought "It cannot be!"
So kind and courteous a host met me
That would have been disgrace to call him green.
He feasted me, and warmed my wounded bones,
Yet I betrayed him in the end; I failed.
I stayed his guest, and friend, and swore to him
That for his hospitality I'd share
Each thing I won while underneath his roof.
And all was well -- I'd rest, he'd hunt -- until
His wife played hearts with me. I did refuse,
But by her final trick was tempted and --
So lost all knightly honor and renoun.
Her lusts I spurned three times, but on the third
She offered me that which my heart desired,
Instead of love she begged me take her boon:
A silken girdle sewn with charms, and green,
Deceit I should have seen. She said the spells
Would keep me safe from harm and spare my life...
When on my rugged journey all I'd feared
Was twisting face of death that loomed so near.
I could not help myself, it seemed so tame,
Yet when the time had come I could not share
That gift, or else expose the husband's wife.
Beneath my armor tied when left that place,
My secret wore me down upon the bog.
It seemed the mist grew thicker, wind grew swift,
I now know under spell was I, but then
It seemed some vengence coming to a head.
My tale grows long, and past the point am I.
The Green Knight and my host were one in fraud:
An airy insect's dream. His "wife," a witch,
Had formed him out of acrid moorland soil:
Homunculus to carry out her scheme.
The blow he owed me carried little force,
Though still this scratch is plain upon my nape.
And so you see my folly plain as oak:
For though I kept the life I feared to lose
My lie grows in me like a cancer bloom
That in the span of time shall **** me sure.
I failed; I'm gone; to revelry return."
The silence, vast again, gripped all the knights
And king too dry to cry, who drowned his heart.

III

"Is there some madness come to roost herein?
Thy folly is ridiculous," said Kay.
"I valued mine own life past honor's flame,
A sin of selfishness, and blame, and wrong.
What of the world, if all would act as such?"
A weeping noise he made, but choked it back
And turned to leave in shame, and might have done
Had not the stout Sir Kay gripped Gwalchmai's arm.
He raised it in the air and shouted thus:
"Percieve our stunning champion stands nigh!
Though of a frail ennobled heart, we know
Thou art absolved. This trinket given free
To aid in quest I wager was for thee.
And as for sacred broken vows, this man --
You said yourself -- was conjured from a bug.
You owe him no alleigance Gwalchmai, sit!
This serious you need to be for wine:
Come sit with brothers now! We drink to thee!"
"Dispel the failure all you can, it stays
As weighty on my brain. It was a sign
To signify the kind of soul I am,
To me it showed my grimy ills and plain
Did tell my shaping, shape, and shape-to-be."
King Arthur to this nephew spake: "My child,
Is there no antidote to questing's woes?
What has become of jousts and silver swords?"
The anguish in the old man's eyes so keen
To those who knew him. Gwalchmai did reply
"Your majesty, there's not a grief can ****
My bird-like love of questing through the trees,
For only questing can redeem my shape."
"Then let us have this quest!" cried Kay beside
Him at the table, deep in drink he swore.
"Come with me, brother-knight, to clear thy mood!
You do you wrong blaspheming at yourself."
The wine was quaffed by Gwalchmai, yet he said
"I first shall stay, I need to rest my ills."
"Your ills are that which keep you ill, good knight.
I bid you come and we shall quest as birds
Who savor springtime berries in the mist."
"I shall not go, I seek my quietude."
"In sunlight you and I must bask. Comply,
Or else I challenge you by burnished blade."
All eyes on Gwalchmai, under pressure cracked
Into a grin and downed his kykeon.
"In stubborness persisting, Kay, you've won,
A river such as I could not keep stead
Against a boulder. When shall we away?
When come the summer blossoms, fair and red?
Or else not til the saps have lost their leaves?
Departure yours to choose, my brother-knight."
Kay beat upon the table and their ears
When called triumphantly "This very day,
This very hour! To help those who need aid
On holy days shall surely fix your heart.
No time to wallow in the swamp that's gone,
We now away, to break our swords with day!"
"You mock me or you heard me not, Sir Kay,
I wish not to away, I wish to rest!"
The fairest Guenevere, like silver bells,
Chimed in "You must forgive your heart's despair,
Or emanations of its guilt will plague
Your mind. I have a lunar garden if
You wish to sit in soothing calm and think."
"My queen is holy," Gwalchmai spoke in grace,
But Kay had cut him off with "Hear her not!
She will ensorce your mind to not explore,
To sit and think and mold with lunacy;
Beneath the sun we'll tred. It's known on quests
I favor Bedwyr, 'tis true, yet you
My fairest Gwalchmai, keep your wits -- and arms --
Two things in need of we shall be.
I mean you no offense, dear Bedwyr,
But I and Gwalchmai share a severed soul
And shall succeed; two sides of selfsame coin.
So come my cousin grey, to right our wrongs
We must away, to break our swords and say
'My heart is glad I did not stay at home!'
Consume your drink! We go," he trumpet-called.
Thus Gwalchmai was convinced, and so was forced
To nod politely to his Queen and stand,
Declaring to the court "I shall away,
This gloomy mood is dried beneath the sun
Though dearly do I wish some lunar grace
To lose myself in mysteries anew.
To bear this flesh is weighty, yet I've found
The strain to be rewarding in its way.
Think nothing of my former woes, they've passed
Like summer storm or wisp of misty cloud."
The hall at large did drink his hail, and then
Did thrice more drink for quest to which they went.
And Mordred scowled and drank the foulest wine
For his monsoon and fog would last his life.

So summoned then Glewlwyd Gafaelfawr
To hearken unto birds, as was his gift.
He said to all, "I shall now call my friends
And see what worthy tales of quests they bring!"
"There may be naught on Gwyl Fair," said Bors,
"A holy day, all wove with peace. Nor Gods
Nor men would stir their strife this day of days."
"We all shall see," the gatekeeper replied.
Beside his King upon the dais came
And played a serenade upon his horn
That rang throughout the keep and lands beyond.
A time did pass with no response recieved --
Slain silent was the raptness of the court --
But then through open pain in stainéd glass
A thrush did bob and weave in melody,
On finger of the Queen he briefly perched
Before he flit away upon the air.
His song so sweet, but then - what fright! No more!
A hawk had entered, just the same, and swooped,
And now the thrush was silent in his claws.
The cabinet of augers all took note
And sketched their calculations into books,
Though none, in this, more wise than Gafaelfawr
To whom the hawk said "Hail, you man of rank
Who speaks the tongue of wing-in-air. Now hark!
'Twas not in hunger slew this thrush, but fear
That what I have to tell might go unheard.
My family, we roost near Cornwall's sea
And late, the noises off the coast grew strange
As if some evil kraken raged at love.
My chicks; my wife and I; we're simple hawks.
We eat and some of us are eaten, yet
Beware the thing that slouched from out the waves.
His shape is something like a boar, but huge,
He dwarfs his kin, and hill, and oak,
This hall is large, yet he'd be stuck inside.
He does not eat what he has killed, instead
He smears the bloodied flesh on stones and trees,
What man could face a fear that bears this face?
If you could hear the rutting squeals he makes!
I swear this sooth by wind and waving plumes:
You men who craft with metal, hark!
Destroy the beast!" And then he flew away
Still calling after him "Destroy the beast!"

The court at large had heard the warbling hawk
But did not know the tongue, so only watched
Glewlwyd's unease upon his face
Until with stiff and rasping voice relayed
The content of the predatory news.
Unease began to show among the knights,
For many there recalled a beast so shaped
And all the blood and guile he took to drown
The first time. Arthur, grim, forbade Sir Kay
And Gwalchmai face these perils by themselves,
But recommended regiment of steel
To bolster ranks against the fearsome boar.
"I know this foe from days of old," he said,
His years of rule etched rough across his face,
"And so do most of you, though many gone
And this monstrosity not even slain."
But Gwalchmai said "'Twas hard indeed to win
Those relics that he bore. Remember I
That Trwyth was the name he chose, and we
Shall best him fair. Though not for trinkets now,
But with the zeal of mother guarding young:
This foe, Twrch Trwyth shall not raze the land
Nor wage a war against some peaceful ilk
While rounded table can beco
What if,
Pause, consider
(Can you see the glittering of my eyes?)
Deadly seductive
Because I can feel it
Fire pulsing through my mind
(Cycling though, trapped in my spine)
Deadly Seductive
The temptation
Ever more irresistible
'Stop clinging to life'
Not just letting go
Not just relinquishing
But jumping
Madly flying
Through the empty space out there
Tantalizing
How close can you get
Playing chicken with fate
Deadly Seductive
Flirting with the darkest kind of bogeyman
(I will not lie and say
That it does not lurk in all of us)
K Mae Jun 2013
greet
life
pulsing  
deep in wounds
when scars reopen raw
resist reflexive closure
with unflinching presence
as portal beacons timely truth
Stephen E Yocum Aug 2018
A steady cadence  
pulsing in a heart beat
like rhythm, voices
and strummed instruments
all in harmonized concert,
An orchestral multitude,
of frogs and crickets,
never tiring or ceasing,

How many must there be,
to render such a cacophony?
Sustained and loud enough
to keep city folk wide awake.

Nature's Music of the night,
should you but choose to listen.
How do they do that, all night
with absolutely no intermission?

A crescendo finale triggered
only by the coming dawn's
first light, and the boastful
crowing calls of our cocky
persistent red rooster chicken.

Where these musicians go in
daylight is anybody's guess.
To sleep I suspect, deserved
resting up for yet another
night of endless music.
Another value added feature
of living out in the country. Night
voices lulling me to sleep outside
my open window/screen.
You take your throne as winter comes,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
Secrets rest as the Dead rise up,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
We the Lost who few can see,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
We hear your call of winter winds,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
A fire lit that once was cold,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
On winter winds you find your own,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
The year grows nigh as time does stop,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
The time has come for cold Misrule,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
The Gates of Life and Gates of Death,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
Flutter open to part the Veil,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
Speak to me, oh cold Cold One,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
Whom once rode forth all teeth and eyes,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
Your time has come, the dice are cast,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
Coils of ice and coils of snow,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
The Serpent form among the trees,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
The moving sway of Serpent hips,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
The Ice Queen sits as Hallow's Eve,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
Finds its way to All Hallow's,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
The Regent sits high in the North,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
And know her time has come again,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
Hail to you Keeper of the Lost,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
Hail to you who brings the tears,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
The pale Blue Flame of Winter's Night,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
We know your face and Serpent's Tongue,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
The cold Black Altar in the Hall of Stone,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
The Cutter there before the Black Gates,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
Her Black Knife raised to cut the threads,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
And Death's wings spread beside the Gates,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
To guide the Living and the Dead,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
For now the Veil is open wide,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
The Gates are open and swing both ways,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
The Mighty Dead we praise tonight,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
The Blessed Dead we call your names,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
The pulsing call of Bloodline blood,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
The pulsing call of Loreline blood,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
The pulsing call of Fateline blood,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
Blood does call, it calls to Blood,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
Bones do wake and speak once more,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
Memory sleeps in sleeping Bones,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
And Blood awakens the sleeping Bones,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
And quickens now what once was dead,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
On altar top and in the Halls,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
We call you now to come to us,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
To breathe again the breath we breathe,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
And speak this night and speak again,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
And as the Darkness now recedes,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
The Darkling Twin awaits the Bright,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
Misrule reigns and all is Öð,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
Öð and odd, and Wyrd and weird,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
And may the Hunt now pass us by,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
Or may we ride the frightful ride,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
By Winter's Night and crossroad light,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
And ghost roads stretch into the night,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
And troll roads strange and faerie roads,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
That lead out there between the worlds,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
Guide our way with lantern bright,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
We are the Lost, you children tonight,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
Toss your dice for us just right,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
And may the year we now head to,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
Find the dreams the Dreamer dreamed,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
This year manifest this next.

~Hail, oh, Builder of Storms, a Hallow poem by Bethany "Lorekeeper" Davis, November 1, 2015
Dreamer Apr 2015
The crowd fades away
As chords in every melody
Rings in our ears,
And shivers downs in our body
It vibrates in every muscle
A musical fusion
Almost everything didn’t matter
It’s you, me and the beating rhythm
The graceful posture
The sway of every gesture
It’s a motion adventure.

Feeling the adrenaline pulsing through
Pervading the entity
Beating rhythm pounding, it electrifies the body
into graceful art, emancipating the sound of the music
Captivating the mind, liberating the young, reckless soul
covertly hidden inside an indifferent exterior

A freeing beauty
of movement to the rhythm
A therapy to the mind and body.
Dancing to the music,
feeling every tune
every beat
every breath of every movement,
with Explosions of Euphoria
how about that! :) I'm so proud of us, we did it! I'm having that totally awesome post-poem feeling you know? So incredibly honored to be working with you, dear Pax :) We did a fantastic job, woot woot! (((hug))))
death wants more death, and its webs are full:
I remember my father's garage, how child-like
I would brush the corpses of flies
from the windows they thought were escape-
their sticky, ugly, vibrant bodies
shouting like dumb crazy dogs against the glass
only to spin and flit
in that second larger than hell or heaven
onto the edge of the ledge,
and then the spider from his dank hole
nervous and exposed
the puff of body swelling
hanging there
not really quite knowing,
and then knowing-
something sending it down its string,
the wet web,
toward the weak shield of buzzing,
the pulsing;
a last desperate moving hair-leg
there against the glass
there alive in the sun,
spun in white;
and almost like love:
the closing over,
the first hushed spider-*******:
filling its sack
upon this thing that lived;
crouching there upon its back
drawing its certain blood
as the world goes by outside
and my temples scream
and I hurl the broom against them:
the spider dull with spider-anger
still thinking of its prey
and waving an amazed broken leg;
the fly very still,
a ***** speck stranded to straw;
I shake the killer loose
and he walks lame and peeved
towards some dark corner
but I intercept his dawdling
his crawling like some broken hero,
and the straws smash his legs
now waving
above his head
and looking
looking for the enemy
and somewhat valiant,
dying without apparent pain
simply crawling backward
piece by piece
leaving nothing there
until at last the red gut sack
splashes
its secrets,
and I run child-like
with God's anger a step behind,
back to simple sunlight,
wondering
as the world goes by
with curled smile
if anyone else
saw or sensed my crime
the air was filled with scented candles,
giving the room a red glare
featuring the sweet aroma of her perfume and my shower gel;
we were surrounded by nothing but white walls and blood-like roses that were aesthetically spread on black satin sheets

a once silent atmosphere
quickly transitioned
into a room full of light moans and groans;

we stood in the midst of it all,
lip-locked and engulfed in each other's arms.
she slipped my shirt above my head
and i unzipped her fitted red dress,
watching it drop from her body, onto the ground
discovering nothing but  an alluring bare body underneath.
her upper frame was prepossessing
and it took me a while to regain my sense of awareness.
"this is mine, all mine."
i felt like her thoughts mimicked mine
since we both gave the same smirk at the exact time.

we ended up on the bed sheets,
scattering the roses in our wild venture.

light pecks
quickly turned into deep french kissing
featuring hip caressing
and as my ******* grew
her wetness seemed to become more immense.

light bites
turned into a twilight ****** season
and a trail of purple blooms
trickled from her neck
to between her *******
straight down to her navel.

foreplay was always essential
so i tantalizingly used my tongue
following the flowery trail.
somehow, i got sidetracked
and ended up caressing her left breast,
then the right
and my mouth and tongue seemed to
be enticed by the stiffness of her *******
as they pleasurably tortured them with flicks and twirls.

her moans became louder
but i was unsure if she was ready.
as my mouth and tongue continued their torture,
my hand took a trip to somewhere warm and wet;
i stared her deep in the eyes as my hand slowly explored her walls.
i watched every little moan,
but mid-moan
my lips found their way against hers
and my tongue found itself once again
dancing its sensual dance with hers.

i pitched a bit at the sound of my belt buckle dropping to the floor.
i was left vulnerable and my ******* sprung to life,
pulsing as her soft hands caressed it,
forcing me to succumb and lean back,
giving her the power to do as she pleased.

as i lied there with
my back on the sheet,
my head on the pillow,
and my eyes closed,
i felt her warmth hovering over me
and again, her hand tightly
but comfortably gripped around my *******.

she leaned over me,
whispering sweet serenades in my ear;
the warmth of her breath and the slight touch of her tongue
gave me goosebumps.
it was obvious she realized the effect she had on me
because she repeated it over and over,
ear to ear.
suddenly i felt her teeth sinking into my skin,
sending a mixture of painful
yet euphoric sensations
throughout my body.
she tantalized me with the same purple blooms
but she traveled past my navel
onto the head of my *******.

the twirling of her moist tongue
gave me the impression that i had died for a split second.
i was far from a submissive but i allowed her some play-time
as she continued her pleasurable torture of tongue swirls.

her time was up.

i parted her thick but soft hair and slipped between her soft lips
which she already had wet for my arrival.
with slow twirling hip movements,
i repeatedly made an entrance and exit between her lips,
sometimes greeted by the tantalizing feel of her tongue
sending me off the edge.

things got heated and she pushed herself back,
parting her thighs,
looking me in the eyes and biting her lips.
the view was one to make any grown man succumb.
i crawled over,
playfully nibbling at her toes
up to her inner thighs,
leaving yet more purple blooms;
with each one,
i witnessed an exorcism
as her eyes rolled back and her eyes became more lustful
and her body seemed to crave me more and more.

sweet sweet pink matter.

my tongue found itself trailing along the inner parts of her *****
then circling and flicking her **** tortuously.
i felt her feet and hands
wrapped around my neck
suffocating me in the sweetest taste and aroma
and as i struck my final flick,
i ****** up her ****,
sending her to her ******,
as she clung onto my head as her body
repeatedly ****** and became tense.

it was time.

i found myself against her ear,
"are you ready princess?"
she nodded and my lips locked with hers
while my hands made their way down to her *******.
my *******, now pulsing vigorously,
found itself between her legs,
with tip at her entrance;
she began to let out slight moans and screams but
my kisses served as a suppressor for that.
my tip and shaft both made it's full entrance and
not even my lips could deter her screams now.
"should i stop my love?"*
she nodded no and
i felt her hip movements starting to matching mine.
with each *******,
her grip became tighter and tighter.
i felt her grasping onto my ***,
bringing me in deeper and deeper.
i felt my ******* soon succumbing  to the
wetness and tightness of her grip
then she whispered she's ******
and i found myself lost between her legs
and lost in a world of euphoria and relief.

(d.b.d.)
I guess this is one of my many fantasies..at least one of my 'vanilla' fantasies ;)
1

I am a house, says Senlin, locked and darkened,
Sealed from the sun with wall and door and blind.
Summon me loudly, and you'll hear slow footsteps
Ring far and faint in the galleries of my mind.
You'll hear soft steps on an old and dusty stairway;
Peer darkly through some corner of a pane,
You'll see me with a faint light coming slowly,
Pausing above some gallery of the brain . . .

I am a city . . . In the blue light of evening
Wind wanders among my streets and makes them fair;
I am a room of rock . . . a maiden dances
Lifting her hands, tossing her golden hair.
She combs her hair, the room of rock is darkened,
She extends herself in me, and I am sleep.
It is my pride that starlight is above me;
I dream amid waves of air, my walls are deep.

I am a door . . . before me roils the darkness,
Behind me ring clear waves of sound and light.
Stand in the shadowy street outside, and listen-
The crying of violins assails the night . . .
My walls are deep, but the cries of music pierce them;
They shake with the sound of drums . . . yet it is strange
That I should know so little what means this music,
Hearing it always within me change and change.

Knock on the door,-and you shall have an answer.
Open the heavy walls to set me free,
And blow a horn to call me into the sunlight,-
And startled, then, what a strange thing you will see!
Nuns, murderers, and drunkards, saints and sinners,
Lover and dancing girl and sage and clown
Will laugh upon you, and you will find me nowhere.
I am a room, a house, a street, a town.

2

It is morning, Senlin says, and in the morning
When the light drips through the shutters like the dew,
I arise, I face the sunrise,
And do the things my fathers learned to do.
Stars in the purple dusk above the rooftops
Pale in a saffron mist and seem to die,
And I myself on a swiftly tilting planet
Stand before a glass and tie my tie.

Vine leaves tap my window,
Dew-drops sing to the garden stones,
The robin chips in the chinaberry tree
Repeating three clear tones.

It is morning. I stand by the mirror
And tie my tie once more.
While waves far off in a pale rose twilight
Crash on a white sand shore.
I stand by a mirror and comb my hair:
How small and white my face!-
The green earth tilts through a sphere of air
And bathes in a flame of space.
There are houses hanging above the stars
And stars hung under a sea . . .
And a sun far off in a shell of silence
Dapples my walls for me . . .

It is morning, Senlin says, and in the morning
Should I not pause in the light to remember God?
Upright and firm I stand on a star unstable,
He is immense and lonely as a cloud.
I will dedicate this moment before my mirror
To him alone, and for him I will comb my hair.
Accept these humble offerings, cloud of silence!
I will think of you as I descend the stair.

Vine leaves tap my window,
The snail-track shines on the stones,
Dew-drops flash from the chinaberry tree
Repeating two clear tones.

It is morning, I awake from a bed of silence,
Shining I rise from the starless waters of sleep.
The walls are about me still as in the evening,
I am the same, and the same name still I keep.
The earth revolves with me, yet makes no motion,
The stars pale silently in a coral sky.
In a whistling void I stand before my mirror,
Unconcerned, I tie my tie.

There are horses neighing on far-off hills
Tossing their long white manes,
And mountains flash in the rose-white dusk,
Their shoulders black with rains . . .

It is morning. I stand by the mirror
And surprise my soul once more;
The blue air rushes above my ceiling,
There are suns beneath my floor . . .

. . . It is morning, Senlin says, I ascend from darkness
And depart on the winds of space for I know not where,
My watch is wound, a key is in my pocket,
And the sky is darkened as I descend the stair.
There are shadows across the windows, clouds in heaven,
And a god among the stars; and I will go
Thinking of him as I might think of daybreak
And humming a tune I know . . .

Vine-leaves tap at the window,
Dew-drops sing to the garden stones,
The robin chirps in the chinaberry tree
Repeating three clear tones.

3

I walk to my work, says Senlin, along a street
Superbly hung in space.
I lift these mortal stones, and with my trowel
I tap them into place.
But is god, perhaps, a giant who ties his tie
Grimacing before a colossal glass of sky?

These stones are heavy, these stones decay,
These stones are wet with rain,
I build them into a wall today,
Tomorrow they fall again.

Does god arise from a chaos of starless sleep,
Rise from the dark and stretch his arms and yawn;
And drowsily look from the window at his garden;
And rejoice at the dewdrop sparkeling on his lawn?

Does he remember, suddenly, with amazement,
The yesterday he left in sleep,-his name,-
Or the glittering street superbly hung in wind
Along which, in the dusk, he slowly came?

I devise new patterns for laying stones
And build a stronger wall.
One drop of rain astonishes me
And I let my trowel fall.

The flashing of leaves delights my eyes,
Blue air delights my face;
I will dedicate this stone to god
And tap it into its place.

4

That woman-did she try to attract my attention?
Is it true I saw her smile and nod?
She turned her head and smiled . . . was it for me?
It is better to think of work or god.
The clouds pile coldly above the houses
Slow wind revolves the leaves:
It begins to rain, and the first long drops
Are slantingly blown from eaves.

But it is true she tried to attract my attention!
She pressed a rose to her chin and smiled.
Her hand was white by the richness of her hair,
Her eyes were those of a child.
It is true she looked at me as if she liked me.
And turned away, afraid to look too long!
She watched me out of the corners of her eyes;
And, tapping time with fingers, hummed a song.

. . . Nevertheless, I will think of work,
With a trowel in my hands;
Or the vague god who blows like clouds
Above these dripping lands . . .

But . . . is it sure she tried to attract my attention?
She leaned her elbow in a peculiar way
There in the crowded room . . . she touched my hand . . .
She must have known, and yet,-she let it stay.
Music of flesh! Music of root and sod!
Leaf touching leaf in the rain!
Impalpable clouds of red ascend,
Red clouds blow over my brain.

Did she await from me some sign of acceptance?
I smoothed my hair with a faltering hand.
I started a feeble smile, but the smile was frozen:
Perhaps, I thought, I misunderstood.
Is it to be conceived that I could attract her-
This dull and futile flesh attract such fire?
I,-with a trowel's dullness in hand and brain!-
Take on some godlike aspect, rouse desire?
Incredible! . . . delicious! . . . I will wear
A brighter color of tie, arranged with care,
I will delight in god as I comb my hair.

And the conquests of my bolder past return
Like strains of music, some lost tune
Recalled from youth and a happier time.
I take my sweetheart's arm in the dusk once more;
One more we climb

Up the forbidden stairway,
Under the flickering light, along the railing:
I catch her hand in the dark, we laugh once more,
I hear the rustle of silk, and follow swiftly,
And softly at last we close the door.

Yes, it is true that woman tried to attract me:
It is true she came out of time for me,
Came from the swirling and savage forest of earth,
The cruel eternity of the sea.
She parted the leaves of waves and rose from silence
Shining with secrets she did not know.
Music of dust! Music of web and web!
And I, bewildered, let her go.

I light my pipe. The flame is yellow,
Edged underneath with blue.
These thoughts are truer of god, perhaps,
Than thoughts of god are true.

5

It is noontime, Senlin says, and a street piano
Strikes sharply against the sunshine a harsh chord,
And the universe is suddenly agitated,
And pain to my heart goes glittering like a sword.
Do I imagine it? The dust is shaken,
The sunlight quivers, the brittle oak-leaves tremble.
The world, disturbed, conceals its agitation;
And I, too, will dissemble.

Yet it is sorrow has found my heart,
Sorrow for beauty, sorrow for death;
And pain twirls slowly among the trees.

The street-piano revolves its glittering music,
The sharp notes flash and dazzle and turn,
Memory's knives are in this sunlit silence,
They ripple and lazily burn.
The star on which my shadow falls is frightened,-
It does not move; my trowel taps a stone,
The sweet note wavers amid derisive music;
And I, in horror of sunlight, stand alone.

Do not recall my weakness, savage music!
Let the knives rest!
Impersonal, harsh, the music revolves and glitters,
And the notes like poniards pierce my breast.
And I remember the shadows of webs on stones,
And the sound or rain on withered grass,
And a sorrowful face that looked without illusions
At its image in the glass.

Do not recall my childhood, pitiless music!
The green blades flicker and gleam,
The red bee bends the clover, deeply humming;
In the blue sea above me lazily stream
Cloud upon thin-brown cloud, revolving, scattering;
The mulberry tree rakes heaven and drops its fruit;
Amazing sunlight sings in the opened vault
On dust and bones, and I am mute.

It is noon; the bells let fall soft flowers of sound.
They turn on the air, they shrink in the flare of noon.
It is night; and I lie alone, and watch through the window
The terrible ice-white emptiness of the moon.
Small bells, far off, spill jewels of sound like rain,
A long wind hurries them whirled and far,
A cloud creeps over the moon, my bed is darkened,
I hold my breath and watch a star.

Do not disturb my memories, heartless music!
I stand once more by a vine-dark moonlit wall,
The sound of my footsteps dies in a void of moonlight,
And I watch white jasmine fall.
Is it my heart that falls? Does earth itself
Drift, a white petal, down the sky?
One bell-note goes to the stars in the blue-white silence,
Solitary and mournful, a somnolent cry.

6

Death himself in the rain . . . death himself . . .
Death in the savage sunlight . . . skeletal death . . .
I hear the clack of his feet,
Clearly on stones, softly in dust;
He hurries among the trees
Whirling the leaves, tossing he hands from waves.
Listen! the immortal footsteps beat.

Death himself in the grass, death himself,
Gyrating invisibly in the sun,
Scatters the grass-blades, whips the wind,
Tears at boughs with malignant laughter:
On the long echoing air I hear him run.

Death himself in the dusk, gathering lilacs,
Breaking a white-fleshed bough,
Strewing purple on a cobwebbed lawn,
Dancing, dancing,
The long red sun-rays glancing
On flailing arms, skipping with hideous knees
Cavorting grotesque ecstasies:
I do not see him, but I see the lilacs fall,
I hear the scrape of knuckles against the wall,
The leaves are tossed and tremble where he plunges among them,
And I hear the sound of his breath,
Sharp and whistling, the rythm of death.

It is evening: the lights on a long street balance and sway.
In the purple ether they swing and silently sing,
The street is a gossamer swung in space,
And death himself in the wind comes dancing along it,
And the lights, like raindrops, tremble and swing.
Hurry, spider, and spread your glistening web,
For death approaches!
Hurry, rose, and open your heart to the bee,
For death approaches!
Maiden, let down your hair for the hands of your lover,
Comb it with moonlight and wreathe it with leaves,
For death approaches!

Death, huge in the star; small in the sand-grain;
Death himself in the rain,
Drawing the rain about him like a garment of jewels:
I hear the sound of his feet
On the stairs of the wind, in the sun,
In the forests of the sea . . .
Listen! the immortal footsteps beat!

7

It is noontime, Senlin says. The sky is brilliant
Above a green and dreaming hill.
I lay my trowel down. The pool is cloudless,
The grass, the wall, the peach-tree, all are still.

It appears to me that I am one with these:
A hill, upon whose back are a wall and trees.
It is noontime: all seems still
Upon this green and flowering hill.

Yet suddenly out of nowhere in the sky,
A cloud comes whirling, and flings
A lazily coiled vortex of shade on the hill.
It crosses the hill, and a bird in the peach-tree sings.
Amazing! Is there a change?
The hill seems somehow strange.
It is noontime. And in the tree
The leaves are delicately disturbed
Where the bird descends invisibly.
It is noontime. And in the pool
The sky is blue and cool.

Yet suddenly out of nowhere,
Something flings itself at the hill,
Tears with claws at the earth,
Lunges and hisses and softly recoils,
Crashing against the green.
The peach-tree braces itself, the pool is frightened,
The grass-blades quiver, the bird is still;
The wall silently struggles against the sunlight;
A terror stiffens the hill.
The trees turn rigidly, to face
Something that circles with slow pace:
The blue pool seems to shrink
From something that slides above its brink.
What struggle is this, ferocious and still-
What war in sunlight on this hill?
What is it creeping to dart
Like a knife-blade at my heart?

It is noontime, Senlin says, and all is tranquil:
The brilliant sky burns over a greenbright earth.
The peach-tree dreams in the sun, the wall is contented.
A bird in the peach-leaves, moving from sun to shadow,
Phrases again his unremembering mirth,
His lazily beautiful, foolish, mechanical mirth.

8

The pale blue gloom of evening comes
Among the phantom forests and walls
With a mournful and rythmic sound of drums.
My heart is disturbed with a sound of myriad throbbing,
Persuasive and sinister, near and far:
In the blue evening of my heart
I hear the thrum of the evening star.

My work is uncompleted; and yet I hurry,-
Hearing the whispered pulsing of those drums,-
To enter the luminous walls and woods of night.
It is the eternal mistress of the world
Who shakes these drums for my delight.
Listen! the drums of the leaves, the drums of the dust,
The delicious quivering of this air!

I will leave my work unfinished, and I will go
With ringing and certain step through the laughter of chaos
To the one small room in the void I know.
Yesterday it was there,-
Will I find it tonight once more when I climb the stair?
The drums of the street beat swift and soft:
In the blue evening of my heart
I hear the throb of the bridal star.
It weaves deliciously in my brain
A tyrannous melody of her:
Hands in sunlight, threads of rain
Against a weeping face that fades,
Snow on a blackened window-pane;
Fire, in a dusk of hair entangled;
Flesh, more delicate than fruit;
And a voice that searches quivering nerves
For a string to mute.

My life is uncompleted: and yet I hurry
Among the tinkling forests and walls of evening
To a certain fragrant room.
Who is it that dances there, to a beating of drums,
While stars on a grey sea bud and bloom?
She stands at the top of the stair,
With the lamplight on her hair.
I will walk through the snarling of streams of space
And climb the long steps carved from wind
And rise once more towards her face.
Listen! the drums of the drowsy trees
Beating our nuptial ecstasies!

Music spins from the heart of silence
And twirls me softly upon the air:
It takes my hand and whispers to me:
It draws the web of the moonlight down.
There are hands, it says, as cool as snow,
The hands of the Venus of the sea;
There are waves of sound in a mermaid-cave;-
Come-then-come with me!
The flesh of the sea-rose new and cool,
The wavering image of her who comes
At dusk by a blue sea-pool.

Whispers upon the haunted air-
Whisper of foam-white arm and thigh;
And a shower of delicate lights blown down
Fro the laughing sky! . . .
Music spins from a far-off room.
Do you remember,-it seems to say,-
The mouth that smiled, beneath your mouth,
And kissed you . . . yesterday?
It is your own flesh waits for you.
Come! you are incomplete! . . .
The drums of the universe once more
Morosely beat.
It is the harlot of the world
Who clashes the leaves like ghostly drums
And disturbs the solitude of my heart
As evening comes!

I leave my work once more and walk
Along a street that sways in the wind.
I leave these st
Shofi Ahmed Jan 2020
Fly perfectly straight high and shew the fly
out of the fly-bottle on your way.
Rise to victory far above the blue sky
ripping the reward is the opening of paradise!

The road ahead is all clear eye wide open space
up this way, the end is all vast open to reach
things small and big can grow and disappear in it.
You will see sunrises and sunsets on the way
waxing and waning moon flickering stars in the dark
be mindful though as you sway it got to be laser-sharp.
There is no hard shoulder on this highway
miss it by an inch and risk loosing forever!

There is hope there is light up in the high
pick your paintbrush as does the sun.
Goodness knows how it sneaks in right on the black
canvas of the night painting the first light
lo, it shows up in heaven the candle of the daylight.
So long there are a man and a woman
never give up our canary bird can fly  
rosy or not the nest in every morn nets a sunrise!

(1)
A woman indeed plucks up the courage
she never had to look up to the stars
be it for the guide or the light in the night.
Fathima herself was the full Moon every night
is thanks to her Godsent innate light.

With it, she can bask in the full spread of the pi
on top of its short decimals mounting high
constantly as if countless stars in the sky.

The time and space down the sun
and that under Fathima's light
is a far cry from each other
but can live side by side.

Like she points out:
'A circle is masculine
while the pi is feminine'.

Pi forms the circle while it's fine prints
decimal dots continue to spring.
Sprawling trillions of new digits
the bandwagon is still increasing.
Connecting the dots is an untouched dream.
The full moon pi picture is in veil
unseen at large, yet in short 3.145 it can live!  

(2)
Fathima can fly her lock of hair
in the lurking air of the transcended pi.
Because she is the primitive feminine
God's secret feminine opus!
An immeasurable black hole in between
the short and transcended pi runs like a river
and dances new on every riverbank
in the many curls of Fathima's jet black hair!

She lent out a hair to the planet earth
and crossed over here like a silhouette
without spilling out the colour
of the transcended end of the pi.
The earth takes it in the core of her heart
as if it would keepsake it forever.
Weaving the pi in Fathima instils the hair
tied it as a perfect circle the first and the front one
of the only ideal circle duo in the universe.

The motion inside the hair is the earth's finest fluid core
none is as deep as high as proportionate a perfect flow.
No time is as revealing no music is as sweet in this orb
no force is as mighty nor as a prevailing giant to explore
it's the cause of gravity and the heat at the earth's core.
the play of spirit and matter in the mix first and foremost
thanks to the pure resonance of 'Qun' be the word of God!

(3)
The way to the earth's core is exposed to none other
save the Angel of Death the lucky one.

See both sides of the one lofty sky swathed in countless stars  
but the day and night render through still remains an unseen one  
Terra is shalet zeroed in Fathima is heaven on earth!  
Up in the sky-high bank turning the starry bowl upside down
Fathima took no star nor a pearl diving deep down the Arab water,
the brightest luminary came after Muhammad (PBUH),
in veil from the Night of Measures and into the flipside in the night
she's gone without lifting the veil but left her penetrating mark.

Few could find the shortcut contemplating on this blank canvas
till to date, the Moon looks down into the abyss down the sea
looking for a mirror in the bottom in the as above so below matter
since God Sent Fathima touched on the all-inclusive primitive water.

She just raised a drop up, and the sun got caught up in the sky
the ancient fold of time still unfurls with the sun-kissed flowers
for the new hands yet the fingerprint on the sun remains only her!

Azrael heads to Fathima around the year 632 after death
touches down in Medina on his usual thin earth he steps.  
But this time a little mundane dust couldn't be thicker
he keeps descending deep down to the earth's centre
following from Medina there the angel locates her
inside the perfect circle a closed geometric figure.

(4)
Fathima is the female headline her secret is not all known
when she used to visit the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
he would stand up for her hold her hand and kiss it
and seat her on his seat, she would do the same to the prophet
when he would visit her like they did know each other
in and outside the spheres of heaven and earth!

She is the embodiment of the infinite feminine variations
the first spiritual woman created following God's word Qun.
Her is the mother tongue of the ever diversified feminine lingua
no one woman on her own can rhyme with her alone
she has no peer her rhetoric is unique like none other.
The galactic run from planet to planet up on the starry ladder
climbing high up the mountain heaven yet streams out like oval
off their rock bottom stone until that unleashes the final run
in perfect circle delving into the rhythm of the loop at the centre
made of Fathima's hair charged by 'Qun' God's uncreated word.  

Prophet David can sing on the bank of the river
and can see the fish are jumping to him out of the water.
The masculine is open form, eye on everywhere,
but not her the woman is in juxtaposition her
all-inclusive schema supplanting the details rest only on her.
She is the unseen world within the world at best imagine her!
Guess through this inwardly open door who might disappear?
It's nature before the scientist on ultimate discovery of the matter!  

Aligning with her down the rainbow up high the land absorbs
the grooming sky looking on the running rivers within her.
Her words spread through like the smart cloud that flies far
over the lands and valleys but not even the wind none other
gets a sniff of the potion and melody it caries until that rain down
without a hurdle without a visual she moves on at the target
such a soul needs no after death lift from the angel of death.

Before Azrael Fathima loses the arc of the circle then and there
so not the earth but giant Azrael can take the pressure!
Marked by a fluid discharge since then she is cooling this fire
In Shaa Allah God willing when she ajars it will be elixir!  

(5)
Draw a straight line, but it won't be perfect
it keeps bending, fly straight touching the sky
the flight path won't look like a straight line
it would be like the crest of a crescent moon
like curve touched the sky, like climbing up
atop the pyramid is not going high straight on
it goes up from the widespread seked slopes.

Like the stock market chart moves never
in straight lines but in a zigzag pattern.
Move big but start small, the golden ratio
is always 1.618 something is never the full 2
but gives the formula to design flawlessly on the go
from micro to macro level all the way to the true north!    

Fathima being the original feminine eyeing at her
she can tap in the knowhow of naturally feminine nature.
And discovers the immanent pattern - the world
is pre-designed and measured is never a coincidence.
The creatures' creativity, scientist's science
is to follow, discover working formulas like phi and pi.

Play along it works until an unknown hour strikes
comes with accurate knowledge dead on time
numerically correct never miss taking life away
as if it was calculated beforehand before the birth.
A newborn is born for a limited time
already set but no one knows when it goes up  
is a deadlock clock but it isn't so shrouded
in the blueprint of the creatures' grand design
there the clock ticks safe and sounds it never dies!  

(6)
Fathima hailing from the other side of the pool
eyes on the ever live pre-design side of the creation!
Then its corporeal face was only a water drop,
the primitive one looks see-through but dead zero
knowledge of its lively other side of the pool.
She comes closer and perfectly mirrors both sides
that shines through on her reflected face on the water.
An absolute new image that livens up the dead part
Bang - Big Bang! It gets the spark for the corporeal world
to explode out from the very first drop of the water!

The appearance of Fathima was miraculously instrumental
by the grace of God, it showed up the finite and infinite, 0 and 1,
future in the present and the death and life on the play!
Nature tends to follow suit it just saw the perfect role model
it moved big bang, but banged out only to its corporeal set!
A far cry from being at par symmetrical with its infinite reality
like the precursor image of it's Big Bang that it aspires to be!

Fathima leaves the door open elevating a perfect circle,
not a straight line, follows the pattern to take the variations
into account in the very first matter, the water drop.
She zooms in more into the abyss irrational portion
and aces the circle with her hair leaving a muslin fine
empty open zero at the starting point at the bottom.
The ocean of the pi digits, the DNA of all things material
banged out of it, still, the zero is numberless irrational!

(7)
All things, within oneself and in a set constantly vibrate,
strive to align with the enduring reality of itself.
The atom vibrates to reach out to its immortal portion
that doesn't die and is in the know of its lower base.
The planets are in a defined circular orbit, accurately measured
just the apex on top of their dynamic pyramid the pyramidon
is tucked away; they too have an irrational portion in the circle.

With the finest spin, they zoom in the spacious universe,
in part and like the sun outside the constellations round they go
never miss a target line yet to re-discover Fathima's perfect circle
the origin of their digital essences' breakthrough
the door to their transcended destination de jour.
Lo the matter turns the last stone pulsing across the cosmos
the mortal horizontal spread, the spirit returns home.

The earth has a line in its swansong it has a place in paradise
it's not here to stay for good neither to perish forever!

Matters form and break without losing the rope,
it's not to paint the shades of the eternal blue.
There is just an irrational portion in the circle
at the heart of the earth, as above, so below.  
The deep the high the perfect circle
up and down the centre of gravitation for all!

At even and at odd the vibration within the matter is fluid
somewhere is parched there the arch matter must make a splash.
Far away on that dark beach, the full-fledged sea of the matters
outpours its billowy potion with the Moon on the frontline
the physical world's most glowed up firefly!

(8)
The seven seas swell up smoothly into the moonlight-dip
oh, the waterless Moon at the core is still fasting.
Led by the time the sweet swan punting along the waves
streams down the watery inner circle of the planets.
In the Moon, it's stuck no water in the last waterfront
where paradise is on the other side of the pool!  

The sun dips away into the night
bathing the horizon in shades of pink and gold,
the dazzling hues soon turn to taupe.
Drawing down painting the picture in full colour
only to find the time is up on the halfway,
yet to print a colour copy of the night!
The other unseen half is passed down to the Moon
tiptoeing in slow motion in the depths of the night
barely keeping the head afloat in a fathomless ocean
of shades of black hails from where knows none.  

The sun enkindles the moon half-lit keeping itself away
in the shadow as if comparing the shades now it knows
a mehrem a veiled female is ahead not to look on or
compared to that the sun has no light or true are both.

Wrapt in the eternal night beneath its black mole
once the moon on the front approaching most close
directly down to the centre of the earth eyes on
over that inlaid string hairy black perfect circle
never did it turn back the same gaze is still on
orbiting around the earth in synchronous rotation.

(9)
The never-ending night, becoming a night indeed
it's coming to an end so soon in our time.
In Shaa Allah I will see it with my eyes before I die
in the Night of Measures in an odd night in Ramadan
Fathima from the transcendental end of irrational heart
will turn on top of the curve opening for the first time
a 9-degree angle in the circle at the centre of the earth.

Instantly the leading force, time will get the first sniff
of the other world, so peaceful heart-melting serene.
Rapturous time feeling an ounce of the enduring peace
for the first time cutting all the corners with ease
will be propelled into its yet uncharted golden mean.
Scurrying to the peaceful abode time will be on its wings
across the globe, people will be stunned seeing
how first the times pass from then on incredibly quick!

Fathima, the first spiritual woman on duty, will start
pulling her hair back off the circle at the centre
Juxtaposed in between the worlds of here and hereafter.
She will take back every inch of it, the heavenly bodies
will feel the pinch of her every little subtle pull
that too will be a boon helping them perfect their circle.

(10)
Soon she opens it just 9-degree wide at first
the Moon will see a glimpse of the first drop of water.
Without it, it's living perched without the water of life
that's destined to rain down soon and the Moon
back into its original pond shall revive!
Mapping the pi's whole infinitesimals playground
finally, Fathima will turn the circle upside down
before the stunning sun rising in the western sky!

By now under Fathima's hair's shaded closed circle
it must have sailed far over the blue sky in the other world.
Billowing with the breeze over the sea of uncharted water
and stacking to the brim with all that it could discover
humbly stood like a cloud in that corner of the sky.

The time is finally ticking fast to rain down with love
paradise's welcoming schema rendering in waterpaint drops
on the Moon over the sea of matters, that's most glowed up firefly
ah, finally can break the fast sipping in a drop of elixir!
It's their heavenly adopted, Miʿrāj performed, primitive water.
The Moon with the seven seas will leave off the corporeal shell
gliding gracefully with this stately water nymph as if it never dies
and will make a splash plopping into the pond of paradise!  

For the matter ultimately is water and its extent is sound
Fathima will fetch it the water of life and take it to the next life!
Oh, the matter shall do both die and revive with Israfil's sound
the cloud will fly out of the dead water on the ground,
like the earth with chorus songs of the rain revives.
When that a melodious nymph in the water makes waves
see paradise is here the Moon over the sea can't take off its eyes.

(11)
Hang on though they all set ready on their horizontal span  
to pull in such a fluid yet colourful descending like a rainbow swan.
First chaste Fathima will evaporate her hair's perfume away
that's yet lingering in the water warming it up to its premium
no crowd then can see where this heady, fragrant cloud will fly!
There are the momentum and delights where that will alight.

Israfil might then blow his trumpet swooning the world away
the secret will remain secret exception is noted in the Qur'an.
A strange sound will silence the chorus of the innate digits
collapsing the floating cosmos bubbling on their music.  
The corporeal circle will collapse as if there is no base no pi
the melody of the first word Qun means Be will still be loud
supercalifragilisticexpialidocious so how can we all expire?

Israfil too will play his reviving trumpet pure mellifluous
and In Shaa Allah numerically perfect Fathima will rise
amidst the resonant Qun as like she did in the beginning
when except prophet Muhammad (PBUH) there was nothing!
Now the earth once zeroed in beneath her hair will follow her
the stunned terra will discover Fathima took her hair away
only to shift the constellation up onto the upper world!

The old songs of the planets the chorus of the digits will revive
from the zero bases in the core the digital panache that dance
planet upon the planet as if they are always at the perfect hertz.

Indeed that is yet to come, the arts of the fine layers
opening from the irrational pi, the finest one is to flower
when Fathima will unloop her circled hair at the centre
piercing the very immanent irrational cut
that no creation can fathom only the loving creator Allah
will turn odd to even in between the here and hereafter
then the ocean stuck in deep salt shall turn to enduring potion!
The As-Sirat shall turn to be the bridge to paradise
the body shall revive with the enduring soul forever
and with ah Fathima couple shall enter paradise In Shaa Allah
with the rhapsody 'all praise is for Allah' Alhamdulillah!
Madisen Kuhn Nov 2014
i think we still exist
somewhere in the universe
behind the sun
where all of earth’s abandoned
soulmates go to rest
i think i can see us
when i look up at the sky
and squint directly into
the rays of light,
your brown eyes burning
into mine

i think we are together
in the time that trails behind
the present, dancing
in circles until the last stars
fizzle out

i think that our promises
seeped into the soil, like
february rain, our souls sown
together, tucked in
beneath the world

i think what we had is
somewhere just out of reach,
pulsing in the dim spaces
between heat lightning

and although, in this lifetime,
we became nothing but shadows,
monsters that linger on bedroom walls

we are there, we are alive,
and we are still in love.
Love surrounds me.
I can feel its pulsing warmth
enveloping me like an electric blanket.
AMcQ Nov 2014
Last-night
there was an eclipse;
But not of blood orange
shadows
draped on a dazed moon.
No.
'twas of my blood red
pulsing heart
accepting its solitude
in the shadow of yours.
Kiernan Norman Jul 2014
We didn’t bloom together the way we should have. We never eyed each other across neat soil; both self-conscious and self-righteous as we sipped the sun and, in quiet bursts, raced to touch the sky.  

We weren't planted by gentle hands in soft plots with room to stretch our limbs and shield our eyes, nor to bud in peace and thrive and find identity in both our own bold blossoms and as a pulsing piece of the whole lavish garden.

We didn't bloom because we erupted.
We running-start-swan-dived into stale dirt and were too close from the very beginning.
We didn’t sprout up straight; we snaked and lurked and left no bit of earth untouched by our vibrant, stencil **** fingers declaring ourselves alive.

By harvest we were tangled beyond repair.
By harvest I didn't know me from you and I liked it.

To be so entwined is lovely but depends on a balance
we could only begin to grasp.
To expand but not uproot requires perfect synchronicity maybe not beyond our years but certainly beyond our maturity. We spread out our emotions like tarot cards on a towel in the grass and reflected in your sunglasses I met the silent pieces of me.
In colorful, grim drawings those quiet, ugly bits floated up veins and settled under ribs.
They stayed silent. Until they began to scream.

And you and I- we didn't have the words;
not our own words that we earned and burned while stumbling across months and plains,
tripping over potholes and finding our feet quicker each time.
We had place-holders words we sang back and forth and splashed around and bathed in.
The words we spoke were profound and cardboard.
We were just reading lines, sharing identical scripts and an ache to be seen
so deep and desperate it was sinful.

We maybe shared the humid cling of regret; which hung heavy in stuck-air auditoriums,
it beaded sweat echoed, rolling down spines and turning blood to sticky wax as we whispered in the corner about the things we could say aloud while our minds never left the things we wouldn't dare.

We were mostly ill-equipped.
We joked about hurricanes
We didn't survive the first storm.

I want you to know you really hurt my feelings.
I want you to know you're the first guy I've given my feelings to hurt.
I want you to know I was terrible towards the end.
And I know that. But you gave up on me

You gave up on me at the exact moment I was giving up on myself.
Even as my tongue stung metallic and veins pulsed so hot and loud
through my eardrum that I felt I would explode- it was clean.
It was all remarkably clean.
and sterile.
There were no explosions.
No shattered plates, ****** knuckles or blown out voices
that scratched and rose in time with the sun.

Just a quick slash of rope-
an anchor cut loose and left to sink;
our secrets were set free to
rust over and collect algae.
We were suddenly off the hook
for any vulnerability we might have spilled
on each other in our fits of laughter
and hours of sleep.
A deep sigh of relief.
A deeper sigh of desolation.


The moment exists in sad yellow lighting that must have been added in restrospect.
I tweaked the floor of my memory too:
at that moment I was not wearing flipflops on linoleum- but sinking, slowly and barefoot, into chilly riverbed mud as it turned to ice.

I opened the door and there you stood.
You knew I had been crying and I didn’t try to hide it
it was too exhausting- running on fumes.

And I did expect something from you,
anything from you, that might dull the singed-dagger plunging
stab to my chest with each breath I gulped and spat .
I wanted anything that might reel me in from the cliffs edge
where my thoughts had carried me on horseback.

But you had nothing.
I watched your eyes glaze over my swollen lips and pinced, glassy eyes.
You threw back the melted, Picasso-esque mask where my face once was,
like a quick, sharp shot of warm whiskey.
Careful to avoid eye contact you slipped ‘**** this,’
under your breath and started to reach for my hand.

You started to, but then after a second suspended
you let your arm fall back to your body.
Head lowered, jaw clenched and you turned and fled with a new heaviness pushing down on your posture.
It looked painful and adult.
It looked like you finally felt the weight of our season.
And watching you go I shrank in lighter and thicker because I felt it too.

We are not going to get a happy ending-
not with each other and not right now.
Maybe not ever.
And that will have to do.
(Though I will miss your hand in mine.
I hope one day you'll remember being tangled with me and it will make you laugh before you cringe because I didn't like to be alone.)

If I wanted to be alone I would just go home.
Robin Carretti Aug 2018
Hearts another beat a second
A+ made the grade rare meat
Why is everything told to
us in a heartbeat
This is getting way too sweet
"Lips took Beeswax" bittersweet

Someone got stung B-
Strong sound muffler
Joyride Owl Hoot clever
Sweet and sourpuss
honey babe

Her mustard lips of custard
Hot temperature rising
The spicy lady opening
up new horizon gate

Too many sad rides
empty plates last joyride
Gas empty blame the county
Why did we call this joyride
without knowing
your fate

The others are more noticed
Fashionably they came late
Dine and the Wine joyride
romanced money upfront
advanced

Lips like jewels left their stale
You were the chosen one taken
for a ride from
a crooked male

Like bushel big loot basket
Rock the Kasbah rocket
Golden joyride ticket the
pickpocket
Getting away with ******
****** lips in the gasket

The joyride so beat looked
disheveled new love
unraveled
So messy but **** neat
looking, Lexus,
She looks mighty fine like
Venus, I beg you to zoom

And the love after all the treats
Sherlocked in his room
The devil made me do it
All flushed and deep red
Hearing his joyride of beats
What was really going
through her head
Hard rock ambient
painter deviant

The holiday like racing hot rod
Harvest Halloween of a joyride
Two peas in dark maze pod
Igniting a hot fire
Her lips need to decide
Who was underneath the
fumes of his fire

The coffee taste accelerating
Do we feel the pulsing beat
What a high anxiety peak
High intense flavor
You waiting for his joyride
Christmas and Hannukah
Tree to decide that's easier
But wait for true love above all
the gifts to deliver
Like bedrock meeting
Monster ride plant-eating Bug
More slugs my chinch
Inchworm of books at Joyride
College Dorm horn alarm
Manifestation enjoying
her joyride
What a conniver
Greece with my niece
vacation
Basil New rival tea
Pomegranate Cherry-bomb
Blonde Bombshell
Culture novelty joyride
Ring my servant bell
Met their sanity tomb

Her hand's dainty they shine
and sparkle
Her lips know how to jingle
Arace for hearts of stories
and memories
Always the death hand takes
a ride to the winding road of
the cemeteries
Just stay for the moment
think about the
Joyride forth of July
Our firecrackers went off at
the same time
Brie cheese favorite time
English tea and crackers
Like two lips sublime read
her diaries in his designer dockers

Going to the end of the earth lips
light up New York City galleries

Needing the fresh corner
Sunset taking lowrider Boulevard
Hollywood Oh! No world
Wildly satanic or the carefree type
Her joy smile he's sold on skype
Benevolent triad remembering
The mad magazine
MLM Maserati longevity Master
Of the joyride gun blaster
"Lips build like a Pyramid"
Becoming irresistible
Not to humble

Lips race Joyride to gamble
Nothing weakens to crumble
Baking a crumb cake its
doable stays together but
things unnamed not like
a marriage

We get blamed joyride
got damaged
We become gullible
What becomes of the broken heart
someone isn't reliable
Lips are not responsible
Leadership has you cornered  
To stumble upon her lips
Rendered steamboat surrender
How he tumbles
Mr. Grey Poupon Mustard seed
He plants her like his
only joyride
In need
We are all Jupiter the moon
joy to the world
All the boys and girls being
taken for joyrides

The Beach boy's video games
Spy lips whose to blame
Phillip screwdriver
But they take a ride
All you could pick a hot buffet
feasting she is still wearing
hot lipstick
Men have their choice of
they're next
Joyride Bride about the money
Wall-Street cars of hobbies
investing
Yeah right?
Lips take a joyride can we all please take a moment lets decide what we will do.
Is it really up to you for the road always him light that fire trim lips glow joyride fires out you tell the world what it is all about?
Ken Pepiton Oct 2018
Drunk, we staggered home.

Aware of having been
some
other where
a while

That woman, she could answer

any question rebbi axt,
Ohhhhmyyy

she laugh and say, Dude, I got the Intent-net,
in my hand

That's more than a list of numbers, this
accounting idle words going on, on going, as fast as

lightning, at the scale, of, say

cat-ions ifiying an-ions
at random,
seen systematical, from a distance
zoom out
at the scale, of, say
Great Deep Field.

Center you, I'm no matter.

synchro
now

zoom out
Use that steam program
Universe Sandbox,
you gotta see that to imagine this, right,

and next is what you keep saying is unbelievable,
but its not.

Good things come to them
to whom
good makes more sense.

Earth from the moon POV

Confusion flux, spurtual,  caused by the solar flare of all solar flares,
one side

Whooshing the Ice left from Patton's flood
into steam, the stuff, not the app,

which swooshhhesssssssssss smack
into the freezing repurcussions
from the daark side…

The Noah event, that was bad,
This one, the last one, this just previous one,

was spiritual. Magnitudes incomparable
(save in parable and example, exemplar gratis,
says the bodiless being, with a roll of  my wrist and a bow)

At that very time on the side away from the flare,
the daark side of the planet, this one…

a Donald Patton nitrogen snow ball
that nearly breached Roche's limit,

too not nearly enough,
dis -integration
The atmosphere freezes
to the quark level, snap,

the cold
explosive
forward momentum
booms a nitrogen bubble now
minusminusminus
solid nitrogen
melting

any heat locked in flare fired steam,
what was once the water
that washed away the gods and locked their cities
of ivory under the ice

on the sunny side,
where now, then,

a solar flare like legends build empires upon
has passed, fires rage

there were survivors who lived to tell

and old stories never die. Old story tellers do,

Only miners survived, gold digger mostly,
few alchemists who knew the mystery in mercury,
Lost was all knowing but to a very few,
who truth be told had been the owner's
well kept servants, ministers of this and that
they perished with all the fires touched

we diggers, we only marvel

How bits of time, exact as ours, can be seen happening
all in bubble of Mercury. Cooked out red rock like these.

"Blood o' the gods of old, swat I'astold."

Messages from the gods, grandma, said, "Mercury calls for gold, gold listens, when fire's hottern fire can be,
unless
the breath of men blow on the coals", we all said that last part and blew out the light. G'night


but a story told a wee bit here a qubit there
here a little, there a little
line upon line,
precept upon precept,

'cept no body knows what I know about cept,

capere, a story starts, a provisioning tale. Wait.

it means grip. like a tool. rock breaks nut.

Paper covers rock, but scissors are so far in the future
that now, my time, my mind wanders after whys

this authoritative telling of the story, in it,
none know the terminal tale.

As in times past, there were survivors who lived to tell

and old stories never die. Old story tellers do,

Tho' here's a clue.
Meek's not bad,
stupid, for no reason, is.

Living long for the sake of a song heard once,
in dream luring me on, promising right now, I'll

know what it's like to see, oh

POV I made this clear some time ago,
time is less predictable than any imagined, before 2018
when, you know…

Even those tales old drunk Hesiod sold
in the Hittite tavern at Delphi,

Chronos thought wrong in those,
he ruled but for the merest gleam o'

Time, then a bubble gen erated by the thought of
opposition to transition,
nothing to something,
pushing /pushing back
stretch/snap/spark
that takes power, pulsing power, throbbing power

push/stretch
glow/snap
you know, imagine, glowing - cheat, think 2018 CG
glow/snap
Planc time,
each time the bubble pushes back
a ripple
imagine a clock, later, if you believe then, you must.

Now, see the bubble of all men have imagined,
since the time when such a bubble was only evil,
continually.

It went viral.
Noah we know for sure, almost, survived, ? Cushites kept records. In Africa.
Akkad kept record, too.
Some Hopi survived somehow and they have a tale.

They say they know the story is ten thousand years old,
I've been to a crossroads
on their journey,
stories
tell of it, still, today.

Holy means marked for good reason.
Marked with clues, not riddles, maps

Sacred means secret means hidden away for use,
not common, every day, quotidian use, right use.

Time, the opposing force, is precious to us all.
In time, we do all we can and die,

in ever, we expand, in no time at all. I imagine.

You fill it. Now, Your expandable mind's time,

time pushes from the outside,
wisdom pushes from the inside,

And so it goes, life goes on and music grows on ya,

Amusing how they do that, teeny muses dancing
shiva on the tip of my tongue,

singings songs in tongues I've never known
if they
are words on tongues
or sounds on tongues,

notes,

Baysian Binary Cross Validation
still ends with some people thinkin'
"it is finished" left them with a ton o'weight,
that's wrong, insist resistance.

Some, heavy duty, leaders of lambs, they claim
power in their mouths, spoken from fixed hearts,

but fixed upon, is truly the song,
said, words are only
little bits of whole sym ulacrum of re-ify-ing

where broken things re-pair, and life goes on…

"fixed, my heart is fixed",
no, your heart is machine of the most magnificent design, perfected,
a time at a time.
Flexing, pacing time itself, faster slower,

try some time
alone
be still, pond still

I know the story broke,
I could not hold it.

In the night, bitter cold
Frozen fragile...

There are pieces scattered every

where, everywhere
there is time, there is at least, a point

a story may stand upon and ask an angel
to dance.
Dance, give it some flare, what do we care?

Nobody's watching, but that fly.
This is read, by me at http://anchor.fm/kenpepiton
Life is good at my house, thankyou. A reader is needed more than words can tell. My posts are a book now, few stand solidly on their own. Thank you if you spend your time perusing them please tell me where I muddy the flow, or break the story.
softcomponent May 2014
Find the lighter, use it as a lighthouse on a walk below the wall you watch along the wave-formations. Who Wants a Cold One? a Coors Light ad corrects.. When it comes to your home, the little things matter.. an insurance ad blares.. my computer is infected with 3rd party applications unremovable to my meagre tech-ability.. there is a hero as Joseph Campbell once theorized.. in myself like a sick bastardly virus waiting for moments to prove to me "I AM THE SAVIOR, I AM THE CHRIST, I AM THE WARLORD, MICE, MAN, AND VICE".. the windows of opportunity close, I am left waiting the door

& the elevator.

Thirty-thousand years ago, there was nothing but a breeze.. a viscous breeze across chill-spined pterodactyls.. warm-under-the-jungle-brush tyrannosaurus rex, and to think one day I will be just a legend in bone..
Charlotte said she thinks of death and so did Jen. They sat next to the all-you-can-eat and discussed the inevitable. I was sour and playful with no-will-to-understand, just reminding my hair of breezy summer days of 10, thinking of strangeness, of place I was in.

When it's quiet sometimes, I think of old dreams.. dreams I sunk below drown-level as a child in bed and belief. Both mommy and daddy were arguing in the kitchen, this was 7 or 8.. they argued so often one could hear mom begin to cry sometimes, and dad I could see in minds-eye with a grimace so closed and so creased he was hurt and yet honest.. I did not understand so I hid under-stood-silhouettes, oh adulthood..

once in dream I was in pulsing green graveyard like crayon realism strobe lights, tombstones all-round and faint-buzz of outside and one of those strange balded henchmen of badguy Jafar from Disney's Aladdin came peaking outta nowhere with curled eyebrow and baggy one-thousand-one Arabian nightlives parachute pants, curled toes brown-beige moccasins to.. he let out conniving 'HEUHEE!' and slapped me right-side cheek and I JOLTED up bedwise in real time to feel actual physical sting for a few lingered seconds then the sobs of poor mother outside.. I never remembered a dream so clearly again.. they all come, Pro-Found, and dizzy away after hour or two for rest of eternity or perhaps to Place I Can Visit at Death to Review Every Vision and I wonder... when your life flashes before your eyes and the light is encroaching, scenes of mother, brother, father, son, daughter, best-friend, party, break-up, heartbreak, slip-fall, first-sip, first-drag, last-leg, first-kiss, first-hit, first-game, fear, love,  HATE, wait.. do the Dreams come to? Are they all flesh-ed before your eyes as you pass into Light? Are they brought to direct remembrance as you cross the border with Passport of Gods and a Goddess (and which Picture appears on the Page)..?

I remember the old eczema taking bits of skin to carpets round-town and round-lower-mainland to disgust of friends old and new-- this was era where confidence ate itself in mirrors, the sober reality of ugly-ness chiseling away at my Goodness Attempts.. All That Pointless Pain was no Exception nor a Rule, it just **** Happens every once-and-again to the sound of life farting. I used to miss school for feet so impossible to walk on, pussing and bleeding and staining the sheets, shoe soles, carpets, and soul.. limp thru the hallways of Brooks Secondary feeling like bad flavor additive to multicultural Planet Earth-- sleeping 'til the bell rang drinking coffee singing songs I said '**** the ******* educational system and **** me I'm so flatlined..' someday I felt things would really get better and lucky young me I was right.

A half-decade later, I am 21 and hoping, floating, free in the breeze as the wings I have grown keep on wishing the subsistence down. The girl, whoever-she-might-as-well-be, sits immediately vertical chatting frantically to boy with a bit of a cowlick slouching on-up over a bundle of colored paperwork. It seems late in the season for homework, and assume they may have some affiliation with a crazy-hep computer design group in the tradition of Nouevau Silicon Valley.... I sit at my laptop, inching a word a million cubic millimeters closer to God or Divinity or Crescendo or A Bunch More ******* You'll End Up Ignoring---

It's a sunny day, the rain having slathered-off into obscurity somewhere with the Monsoons when the Sun gave the Moon a Soft Slap and the poor purity white-kid went off whimpering, bleeding nose-- I sat, the other night, playing another Grand Strategy game as Tom divided his time between a vaulted and damaged lover, his labor, and his life (friends, food, video-games, vice)... Chai, old Chai the Thai Guy mentioned past his nose in previous iterations of Depictions sat and described his pins-and-needles upset at his bosses at one his three many jobs.. desperately firing text-messages into receiving-space-panel and reflect and back unto Tom's smartphone dash asking him to order a six-pack from a local delivery service cuz his adrenal was giving him heartpain with hurt, and Tom being Busy as All-Ways Tom Is wasn't able to decipher the scramble in-time to make contact before closure of the liquor stores.. poor not-so-poor Chai at first felt castrated at realization he would miss the 11 PM dot-time, but didn't mind as he rendezvoused with Tom and I at Willows Beach where Tom reminded him of a whiskey he'd bought sitting counter-wise at his place.. we kissed a few Mary Janes rightsideup, dragging our butts in the sand to discuss what was wrong (each of us had a problem that night, save for perhaps a less-vocal Tom, I describing my annoyance that a lazy consensus had erupted in my sorry-hometown between my sorta-friends and friends-of-friends that my writing and sharing my writing was arrogant and I an arrogant *** for sharing and I just confounded that they would find my passions so trivial-- perhaps jealousy, perhaps complacency and judgement-for-lack-of-anything-better-to-do and ah **** em all if they think like that, I'll write and be the arrogant me they think I am and share 'til I'm blue in the face and dead perhaps for outspoken intellectualism in their autocratic pointless-waste worldviews.. sad that I dislike them only on the basis they disliked me first..)

I had planned to stay late and leave early-morn (5 or 6 AM) to catch a first-off morning bus back home and sleep, hoping for most part to avoid the shattered-***-mess of a home I was living in.
About 2 days ago, give or take, a water-line for the laundry machine had erupted to soak our entirely-carpeted basement suite, forcing the poor new landlord (a sweetheart of a man named Ron having just taken possession of the house from previous owner on May 1st and, it seems, left 'holding the bag' as they'd call it in day-trading-investment-lingo) to tear out the entirely-soaked carpet and replace it with sensible laminate flooring and rendering the entire suite virtually unlivable for indefinite-few-days and so for me work and friends and especially writing become a welcome reprieve to I, a first world Refu-Jeez.. us, so terribly-off I sip a latte near sunny panorama windows-so-clear-they're-not-there overlooking the crosses of Yates and Blanshard with European church of Gothic architectural style poking heedlessly into empty-open blue.. ironically and strangely there is a liquor store quite literally right next door, and's one I shop at often for its decent prices (God is Dead or Just Drinking to Cope with Sartre and Kierkegaard's Ultimate Thesis) (Kierkegaard especially '*** Kierkegaard seems a good and long friend of God the Almighty) (...I talk with such Judaeo-Christian Catholic rhetoric it never ceases to amaze myself as it bleeds to page..) (stranger thing is, tho, there is no beginning, no middle, no end.. you read or you are bored and either/or is just fine..)

There is some hypothesized crescendo-bliss Tech Singularity on the way in the try-dition of Ray Kurzweil and William Burroughs.. Oscar Wilde to.. (see The Soul of Man Under Socialism in essay-collect book De Profundis).. one day we will all be eternal happiness expressed in song and dance and LED erected-projections of Imperfect Universe (Our Imperfect Earth) with lives stuck on infinite repeat.. our idea of Paradise.. and for those with ability to remain rushed to cortisol (stress-the-best hormone) it will be Hell on Earth, so DRAB and THE SAME all the TIME and it's READ and it's WRITE and it's RIGHT.. the world runs faster with every passing day so desperate to discover the Globe is Flat so we can Hop Off the Other Side into what one might assume to be The Better Place.. elusively picking-up speed thinking 'closer now definitely closer now' unaware (or, secretly aware and unwilling to admit for what will one do when one cannot run?) they are Running in Circles Over and Over and Over and Over and Over Again... cannot take the hint in the fact the Pacific (same Pacific) has been crossed a hugeillion times, nor the same McDonald's in the Azores of Atlantic Portugal is the Same ******* McDonald's stopped-thru on the then-trillionth time last year... and all whilst the International Space Station remains muted up-above crossing 'round and 'round 'til the Jehovah'n Day of Judgement (Chris Hadfield now below with advice for how to run a little faster even blinded in one eye..) then there are the dying Prophets Predicting Industrial Collapse who preach upon the Mount of Internet Sinai Eternal and state "the world is now unsalvageable and we are all about to die.. if ever you wished to find Buddhistic Nirvanic Peace, now is the time so start meditating and imagine Death as New Life and Geopolitics as Game".. forever and ever and ever and ever.

It is only natural to find existence to be 'weird..' layered with Who's That's and giant What The ***** everywhichway you turn.. did it start in a Big Bang, will it end in a Big Crunch, Big Freeze, Big Bang.. ? all questions once ignored for certain ignorance and resurrected as questions concerning the Nature of the What The ***** (also known as 'Science').. and if it did start in a Big Bang, did I start in a Big Bang..? and if it does end in a Big Crunch, will I end in a Big Crunch..? am I a sudden flash of REAL in a Universe that isn't me..? or am I an entire Universe.. perhaps even more than that...? the questions pulse in youth like bad words or bullets. I once stayed up all-night thinking of infinity with my head soaring space-wise forever and ever and ever and I stopped in sudden panic thinking: I could lie here up all night and all day 'til the towered age of 37 (I was 14 at the time) and still be no further on the Universal Map than from thumb-tip-middle to thumb-nail so I wrapped up the attempt with a mix of fear and incredulity, went to school next-day exhausted and tried to explain it all to friends.. they got it, I suppose, but we were all 14 and played basketball instead (I imagined infinite-spinning-basketball on thumb of Michael Jordan).

It's always best describing life in form of Disembodied Poetics.. sure some Philistines won't understand '*** their minds are made of Clockwork, Digits, and Blockthought.. but the general psychic underly implied in all with human faculty will ring-a-ding-ding! and remember all such ancient thoughts and feels as forgotten as a child, locked away until the Spirit rose-up from a rosey thorn prickle to flower straight-up into a Rose! or so I hope as a one-of-many writers-- all of which will write so-as to speak on your behalf.. all floaty and marking a purpose.
mûre Jul 2012
I write my identity in gluestick and markers
I am a lamb raised by wolves
swaddled pulsing cosmos girl-child
My limbs are rebuilt like a 7 year old birdhouse
with garish colours and bubbling pride
I am pouring glitter onto my future
the kaleidoscope cannot exist inside

In the end I think there would be
no nobler cause than to
have a life worthy of taping on
the refrigerator that I can
swell with ever-young joy to know I
have created with
trial and forgiveness.
Jimmy King Aug 2013
A pulsing electricity
Fuels your computer
Which takes you to websites
You'd rather not visit
But that you visit
Anyway

It's that same electricity
That fuels the cameras
Which we covered with boxes,
A last ditch attempt
To reconcile ideals
With the world
We really live in

And when you think about
What fuels our hearts
And concequently our minds
You  might
Come the conclusion
That we
Are not products
Of the modern world-
The modern world
Is a product
Of us
Lame Poet Sep 2013
My pieces slip out of the hole in my head

And they float away always just out of grasp

The silence is pulsing; my words are now dead.

The soul leaked outward though my blood was not shed

And seeped through the ground, a melted moaning rasp

My pieces slip out of the hole in my head

Since I had not mine, he was the life I led

Until the spears he spoke brokened the heart’s clasp

The silence is pulsing; my words are now dead.

Crumbling lexicon, babbling gibb’rish instead--

Dizzy fall. His glass eyes were widen and gasp

My pieces slip out of the hole in my head

I run, spilling remnants where, as I (were) tread

Haltingly, I faultingly sputter-stutt-spasp

The silence is pulsing; my words are now dead.

I fall and watch him watch, the glass without dread

Once was the soul-spears-scalp-glass-and-ev’ry-asp--

My pieces slip out of the hole in my head

The silence is pulsing; my words are now dead.



-LP
Kendall Mallon Mar 2013
It’s like a wave
Pulsing in and out
Sometimes fast
Sometimes slow
It becomes bright
But still waving
Not fully inundated
Energy comes in
And adds
Becoming part
Of it
Then it’s separated
But always comes back
To one
Always pulsing
Perpetually moving
As we add energy
Perpetuating the wave
We can’t see it
For our senses are blinded,
By normality,
Caught in the past
In the future
Everywhere but now
Let us find moksha
Nirvana
Be Buddhas
Separate, but in
The moment
Look down
Fondly as the waves
Keep rising and falling
Knowing we are all one
Energy; wave.

Visions of the Universe

IT’s like a wave
Pulsing in and out
Sometimes fast
Sometimes slow
IT becomes bright
But still a wave
Not fully inundated
Energy comes in
And adds
Becoming part
Of IT
Then IT’s separated
But always comes back
To one
Always pulsing
Perpetually moving
As we add Energy
Perpetuating the wave
We cannot see IT
For our senses are blinded,
By normality,
Caught in the past,
In the future,
Everywhere but now
Let us find moksha,
Nirvana,
Be Buddhas
Separate, but
In the moment
Looking down
Fondly as the waves
Keep rising and falling
Knowing we are all one;
Energy; wave.
Madeline Kapinos Feb 2015
“You are worth more than the marigolds”
I am assured by my loving mother as a child
I believe her because the beauty in everything flow’rs and flourishes
when you’re young
The world is yours to take, everyone is yours to meet, everything is yours to do;
and I believe her.

“You are worth more than the marigolds”
My first friend at school proclaims,
and I believe them.
We’ve tackled ***** training and preschool, now onto the playground and phonics!
We run and run together, taking the world like we’ve
whispered once before;
and I believe them.

“You are worth more than the marigolds”
The middle school test scores announce,
and I believe them.
Primary school is in the past and I’m ready for responsibility!
I put on makeup to feel pretty, care about my grades more than the teachers believe and flash my smile to the boys who spit “compliments” at my feet;
and I believe them.

“You are worth more than the marigolds”
but.. I don’t believe them anymore.
I’ve gained just enough confidence to smile at everyone in the halls in case they are having a bad day.
Suddenly my youthful euphoric vision is graffitied with hateful words and violence.
I run and constantly chase the innocence of the world,
being surrounded by darkness.
My self esteem has hit an all time low. Why is the world this way?
My friends and I chase what we used to believe and end up in deep holes;
and I don’t believe them anymore.

“You are worth more than the marigolds”
And it doesn’t matter.
I have lost all hope of finding that beauty.
My heart is an aching mess of “I love you”’s
But all I hear is “you are meaningless”
Slowly these phrases of deep hate sear into my soul
I hear them every day and every night
You are meaningless
You are not worthy
You could not possibly be good enough
Until I wake up one dismal morning to realize that I have been defined by the ones around me.

“You are worth more than the marigolds”
..and enough!
Because even my friends who say I’m worth something turn around and sneer at others like they can’t too be loved.
Because while the world screams “I hate people” I whisper
“but I don’t”.
But that doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things
because we’ll find someone who loves us, right?
No.
Our words between just us mean nothing if we spin around and
spit in others’ faces.

And we know we hurt because we’ve been hurt but we don’t stop, none of us stop.

I dream of a world that screams a vulnerable
“I love you”
out into the world instead of a pulsing
“I hate you”
And a world that remembers that we are all worthy of love and not only the kind that makes you blush.

“You are worth more than the marigolds”
The phrase I’ve heard since I was in my mother’s gentle hold
can only mean so much when you think you’re crumpled.
Stashed away until you’re needed
always feeling so defeated
but the truth
not told enough
to our weakened souls
We are all worth more than the marigolds
We pass the
walled incline
of Barbour Park

during the day
a foreboding
patch…an open
air market for
the slave merchants
hustling crack and
**** drippin ****
that's been stepped
on so many times
its a wonder the cut
can still chide a high
out of a wrangled soul

the park’s
modest elevation
is an advantageous
lookout for
runners dealing
dimes while
petty ante
gangstas
daydream
gun blazing glories
of their next big job

not long ago
the park was
refurbed with
an industrial
strength plastic
Jungle Jim,
soon after
the park was
condemned
as a no go
zone for kids,
the litter of
hypodermic
needles and
mounds of
lead spiked
soil, deemed
a public health
risk for youth...
quickly
repurposed
as a crib
for ballers…

back in the
day, the shady
pocket park
lifted Paterson’s
citizenry off
the heated
pavements of
a bustling
thoroughfare

a respite from
the pulsing
tensions of urbanity,
a secular sanctuary,
balancing the urgent
industry of commerce
with the propriety of
residential life

compacting a
brief escape
from the clanging
metronome with
a viewing stand
offering elevation...
a heightened
perspective on
life’s parade
marching
up and down
Broadway…

this urban
oasis planted
at the center
of Silk City’s
grandiloquent
boulevard,
occupies
the most
democratic
equidistant
transit point
between opulent
Eastside mansions
of livin large tycoons
at one end….
and the
industrial district of
The Great Falls,
rising at Broadway’s
western terminus,
assiduously
manufacturing
dollars for the darlings
of fortune and
subsistence for
workers yearning to taste
the crumbs of
prosperity that may fall
from the tables of
opportunity

the park once a
pleasant face of
the landlocked
4th Ward filled
with homage to
a nation's greatest
citizens, Hamilton,
Rosa Parks,
Lafayette,
Madison, Fulton,
Montgomery and
Franklin has
denounced the
virtuous pursuit of
their aspirational
yearnings

now playas
feast on
the mead
of sustenance
harvested from
emaciated streets

commerce has taken
up full residency...
the wards cottage industry
cannibalizing
homes, hoods and
homeboys

as the
4th Ward
grows ugly,
the healthy
matrix of
bustling
street life
breaks down
the peeps
weakened
lay prostate
offer veins
to blood *******
predators
roaming
distressed
going south
neighborhoods

wise guy
knuckleheads,
get busy
gaming
the system
short changing
themselves and
hustling game
to get by
in the sweet bye
and buy of life

at night
a back lit
Barbour Park
floods with the
yellow haze of
blinking Fair St.
lamp posts
and the pulsing
halations
crowning the
Baptist's
of St. Luke's

sentient figures
shift between
park benches
flitting among the
black torsos
of skeletal trees
blending into
the faded
complexion
of abandoned
swing sets

I swear I see
Hurricane Carter
shadow boxing
dancing
around a gangling
Elm, jabbing
away, lifting
a sweet uppercut
working combos
of left hooks
and right crosses
hoping to drop an
intractable
presence
banging away
at a body politic
forming the walls
of taunting
inequities

Hurricane stays
busy delivering
body blows
to burst
through the
prison bars
surrounding
Barbour Park

Music selection:
Bob Dylan, Hurricane

Paterson
01/30/13
jbm

A fragment from extended poem Silk City PIT.  
Published today to honor the death of Rubin Hurricane Carter.
May he find the freedom in eternal rest that eluded him during his lifetime.
A fragment from extended poem Silk City PIT.  (Part 4: Funky Broadway)
Published today to honor the death of Rubin Hurricane Carter.
May he find the freedom in eternal rest that eluded him during his lifetime.
Something Simple Oct 2014
Her heart pounds, a thunder in he veins
Pulsing bright and red and deep within
Courage took farflung flight long ago
Before the journey was to be made

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


There was silence before this, quiet as a grave
And the streets were filled with happy feet
It slept alone then, on all it found to keep
No overlap or closeness to be feared.

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


And then life wasn't what she'd been promised
He threated a hell on earth should she think even of what she knew
Blows came when the words stopped coming
Maybe there wasn't anything in the big white clouds up there

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


So she left alone, running away from it all
Nowhere to go and none to care what happened out there
Feet chased a path along a clif's side
Found another path hidden inside

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


Came upon the sleeping one
Belly deep in shining rings, golden plates, precious stones
All of the leavings of those that had gone before
It earned them all fairly

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


Surely they wouldn't notice just one cup?
One cup for freedom, one cup for a new life
One for the time she spent running from no escape
So she took it and fled

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


A stirring spread thourgh that scaly pile
Orange orbs snapping open, knowing something was gone
That cup the mother'd drank from at the king's court
When magic was still thick and the world thought less of monsters

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


Wings unfirled and death came that night on quiet wings
Fire broke the night, people died, fleeing anyway they could
Those earth riches where all that's left
Before men came and took what they thought they owned

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


Day rose to a ruined place
Choacked grey black, shifting with winds
Villages left that day for the reasons where not known
But she knew and it did as well

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


Journey came with baited breath
She knew it would come again with hot breath and burning eyes
Maybe there would be nothing left again
Death would come again

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


Head raises, hissing scales of ash, long strong neck
Those eyes shine brighter now
Tips of wings touch staggered points of topside
Ready to reclaim a life

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


Quick and slow she bends, quicker hands holding out
Uncurling fingers flex apart and the cup is placed
Once more in its rightful place
Them or her, chosen to make right

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


Thin wings settle again to the strong sides
Ribs show their ridges against the jeweled belly
What's this human who would give back what it took?
Dangerous points part in black stone gums

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


You'd give thisss for them and what you ssstole?
Hissing air breath, a volcano's hiss
Wide eyes and hesitant hands reply
"Many more here that you don't deserve but they don't either."

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


Slow shifting seething motion
Tail like rope unwinding from the center
Weak legs bend and don't break
Eggshells lay safe in the last grey curl

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


Small bones, little skull and empty eyes
Young mother happy once then
Men broke the home with sharp points
Young mother no longer

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


She sees broken bones, human heads burned
Nothing could bring the hatchling back, piece the pierced back
It had stayed to die in silence no reason left
No food to be found, no water to drink

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


The girl leaves and goes
A secret to keep for the old mother
Until the body lies forgotten and the earth takes back
No one to touch the shining seas
My heart is burning with love

All can see this flame

My heart is pulsing with passion

like waves on an ocean



my friends have become strangers

and I’m surrounded by enemies

But I’m free as the wind
no longer hurt by those who reproach me



I’m at home wherever I am

And in the room of lovers

I can see with closed eyes
the beauty that dances



Behind the veils
intoxicated with love
I too dance the rhythm
of this moving world



I have lost my senses
in my world of lovers
Ashley Chapman Oct 2017
Feel empty in your post apocalyptic City of Angels,
Where not even your pets are real!
An electric android, a sheep or a frog,
The whir-flutter of micro-electrical wings of a butterfly.

Good, and so you ought.

Now grab the handles of your empathy box,
And in a shared virtual hallucination –
Feel: empathy, depression, pain, delusion and despair,
The outré myriad gifts of consciousness.

Millions of discombobulated and disconnected wrecks:
Adam's sons; Eve's daughters,
And among them simulations too,
Fakes! androids!
A phony circuit of semi-conscious memories,
A hive of neural malaise!
Welcome to our world; know how dead, inside, I feel.

You, yes, you:

Need a pet to make you more complete?
Maybe you can afford
A Fake Fakir Flake like me who looks like Jude Law,
Sounds like Richard Burton,
And silently romances you like Rudolph Valentino.
Come and stick what’s left of your mind in here,
In hair, hear her: har, har, har…

A box of lies...

A voice, Mercer's,
With texture from an age you neither lived in nor dared in:
Al Jerry's, a TV actor,
Droning on in pre-selected tones.

The real thing, the men, the women, their animals,
Made in the wild, wild desert, in the green pulsing savannah,
On the open crusted sea; now too, washed, choked, and drained,
Too many spliced and diced mutations,
Iterating your image:
The thing that was my heart,
My Child, now its imitation.
This comes from my fascination with Philip K. **** and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. In this, his future dystopian vision, androids are retired, a euphemism for terminated, when they have passed their legal age limit after four years. Humans, us, have by now ruined our environment and become enthralled to a false religion, Mercerism , a fabricated make belief, spun by an actor, Al Jerry. The empathy boxes plunge the followers of Mercerism into a shared virtual hallucination. I was also enthralled by Jude Law in AI by Steven Spielberg who gave what I thought was a mesmerising portrait of a *** robot, the ultimate Lothario and so tragically programmed to flaw.

Earlier this year Mercerism was the theme of The Tunnel, an art collective to which I am a participator, through poetry.

Blade Runner, the film, now Blade Runner 49, is based on this dark interpretation of where we could all be headed.
Terry O'Leary Jan 2014
I’m on my way, I’ve got to go
(the reasons why you’ll never know),
whisked away in winter’s winds, your sleeping sighs remind me.
And I’ll ramble where I please,
sometimes slipping to my knees,
phantom memories a’ chasing close behind me.

Well, I’ve often made my way
within the dark before the day,
but it’s never that I’ve ever felt this lonely.
So I leave this parting note,
the first farewell I ever wrote,
though these lines embody more than farewell only.

I’m on my way, I’ve got to go,
’n what I’ll find you’ll never know,
concealed in clouds of untamed clover, tussled hair reminds me.
And I’ll ramble where I please,
sometimes slipping to my knees,
phantom memories a’ chasing close behind me.

Alas, my love has grown too strong
for I’ve lain with you so long
with your every need perceived, though never spoken.
’n as I try to disengage,
I’m like a tiger in a cage,
hesitating ’fore a padlock hanging broken.

I’m on my way, I’ve got to go
(across a bridge you’ll never know),
to quench abandoned burning hills, your yearning lips remind me.
And I’ll ramble where I please,
sometimes slipping to my knees,
phantom memories a’ chasing close behind me.

Should you wake and shed a tear
finding me no longer here,
save your weeping for another, not so ghostly.
’n if you scan the spangled sky,
as you ache when asking why,
realize ’twas really you I wanted mostly.

I’m on my way, I’ve got to go
(reshuffling cards you’ll never know),
defying fate beneath the stars, your diamond eyes remind me.
And I’ll ramble where I please,
sometimes slipping to my knees,
phantom memories a’ chasing close behind me.

Shun the shadows in the late
disappearing through your gate,
aghast and groping through their early morning sorrows,
like the echoes of my thought,
flitting, fleeting, overwrought,
as reflected in the realms of vague tomorrows.

I’m on my way, I’ve got to go
(’n what I’ll see you’ll never know),
pursuing pebbles on a beach, your freckled nose reminds me.
And I’ll ramble where I please,
sometimes slipping to my knees,
phantom memories a’ chasing close behind me.

Should you glimpse a troubled form
within a restless ruby storm,
turn your collar 'gainst the wind and never follow.
For by then it’s much too late
(yes the distance far too great)
and you’d only find the feathers of a swallow.

I’m on my way, I’ve got to go
(along a road you’ll never know),
adrift on half-forbidden paths, your slender back reminds me.
And I’ll ramble where I please,
sometimes slipping to my knees,
phantom memories a’ chasing close behind me.

Should you yearn once more to tease,
unleash your breath upon a breeze
’n let the whispered winds of yesterday caress me,
and perchance recall the time
(when our love was in its prime),
I relied upon your laughter to possess me.

I’m on my way, I’ve got to go
(’n it’s so hard you’ll never know),
entwined in twirls of fortune’s wheel, embracing arms remind me.
And I’ll ramble where I please,
sometimes slipping to my knees,
phantom memories a’ chasing close behind me.

Once I was yours and you were mine
sipping pearls of purple wine –
except these haunting hints, there’ll be no spectres chasing.
’n if the flashbacks grow acute,
I’ll strum the strings upon my lute
subduing bygone ancient ghosts, still standing, facing.

I’m on my way, I’ve got to go,
’n what I’ll hear you’ll never know,
though echoed in a thousand drums, your throbbing ******* remind me.
And I’ll ramble where I please,
sometimes slipping to my knees,
phantom memories a’ chasing close behind me.

Well, the candle by my side
has now melted down and died,
though its fire blazes on within the mirror.
And the clock behind the door
is throbbing, pounding with a roar,
as my moment to depart approaches nearer.

I’m on my way, I’ve got to go
(along a shore you’ll never know),
engulfed in deep and distant tides, your restless thighs remind me.
And I’ll ramble where I please,
sometimes slipping to my knees,
phantom memories a’ chasing close behind me.

But I’ll take along the ring,
the one you carved for me in spring,
though it journeyed as an orphan on my finger.
And I’ll hang it from my neck
while I ***** a lonesome trek,
as a keepsake of your ardor, while it lingers.

I’m on my way, I’ve got to go
(’n what I’ll see you’ll never know),
immersed in fields of flowers wild, your amber eyes remind me.
And I’ll ramble where I please,
sometimes slipping to my knees,
phantom memories a’ chasing close behind me.

Now I’ll kiss your sleeping eyes
ere I mount the blushing skies
as I bid farewell, adieu, in morning’s splendour.
Then I’ll fade within the haze,
immured in miles of my own maze
as I wander, breaking chains of love’s surrender.

I’m on my way, I’ve got to go,
’n when I rue you’ll never know
the pulsing passions of the past and shadows that remind me.
And I’ll ramble where I please,
sometimes slipping to my knees,
till the phantoms start a’ fading far behind me.
Melody Oct 2011
I sit and I scribble,

With black ink pens,

Black ink pens and scribbles,

I scribble and I ribble my single given life away.

And when I shower,

I wash the ink off my hands,

and clean the deepest paper cuts down to the ends.

It stings and it rings,

But so do my pulsing fingers

And beating heart.


She sits at a desk

with black ink pens and scribbles.

Black ink pens and scribbles.

She scribbles and ribbles her single given life away.

And when she showers,

She washes the ink off her hands,

And cleans the deepest paper cuts down to the ends.

She stings and she rings,

But so do my pulsing fingers


And beating heart.


I sit and I scribble,

With black ink pens,

Black ink pens and scribbles,

I scribble and I ribble my single given life away.

And when I shower,

I was the ink off my hands,

And clean the deepest paper cuts down to the ends.

It stings and it rings,

But so do my pulsing fingers

And beating heart.


I die with this pen in my hand,

And my book of scribbles below my head.

She dies with her pen in her hand,

And her book of scribbles below her head.


I die with this pen in my hand,

And my book of scribbles below my head.
Lora Lee Feb 2018
If I could
pinpoint the
exact moment
your breath
touched mine
washed me over
in ocean waves
sea creatures glowing
in delightful recognition
as the seedlings
of connection
shimmied into our being
and, dancing within me
in its own lifeforce
your mind a living,
breathing animal
your heart, purring
and whirring its sacred forces
into my molecular structures
your soul throbbing
in mitochondric pulsing
(oh what
a delicious vibration
of ribosomes
)
Between us, we hold
the true treasures
close, in frothy
                       tenderness
a purity of the expanse
of our universe,
swathed in prismatic color
colors that shift,
these fresh hues
for which there are no name
they are lucid and fine-woven
as silk histories
yet deep as earthcore
your eyes, voice
are forever burned
into my own
every day scriptures
that rock my shattered parts
into wholeness
and,
like ancient magic,
I conjure forth
the holy gospel
rising from our bones
every second of
every minute
as our deepest fires
our most secret filth
our murky corners
our darkest hours
we weave into light
brilliant and lustrous
multi-layered in the richest
folds of the earth
and as you place me
upon the shores
of your garland-graced
                              throne
Now I'm alive in a new
kind of light
and
all I can do
is love
        and love
and love
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrOcxD3IWW0
a princess sits in her royal lounge
troubled at mind, restless of heart
trembling limbs and parched tongue
the rivers in her eyes betray
the sorrow that drowns her soul
with shaking fingers she struggles
for a firm grip on her quill
her heart pours out in fluid words
to express a love nursed for years

“My Lord, from childhood I have heard
of your courageous acts and kind character
of your handsomeness and perfectness
and I am unable to draw my mind away
from thoughts of you and yours
I am shamelessly besotted by you
Like a sunflower that is drawn to the sun
I am drawn to you
It is against the common notion
for a woman to ask a man
to take her hand in marriage
I break every tradition,
but Mukunda, answer my question-
which woman, high-born
and well-versed in all the arts,
will not wish to be your consort-
and besides I have already considered myself
wedded to you, in thought and spirit
is it not immoral then
when I consider myself a married woman
and when I am already yours
body, mind and soul,
to allow me another marriage?
My brother Rukmi has arranged
a marriage for me, and it is in the morrow
my heart sinks in sorrow
you are my saviour-
it behooves you to come
and claim what is yours
and how to accomplish it without needless bloodshed
need not cause you worry, for I have a plan
tomorrow morning I shall go for my pre-nuptial prayer
at the temple in the outskirts
away from curious eyes
and it is from there
that you can take me
please do come Krishna and save me
from this mockery of a marriage
I have already said that I am yours
and if you do not come, I shall
with no second thought ensure
that I am no longer alive
to be the object of another man’s desire
and if not in this birth, we shall
in another birth be man and wife”


she seals the letter with  burning tears
and entrusts in a priest’s willing hands to deliver
this receptacle of her hopes and fears
a sliver of hope begins to glimmer
as exhaustion finally takes over
and sleep beckons with gentle hands
to distant happier lands

In the morning she awakes
mind no more clouded or deluded
a faith unshaken that strengthens
as her messenger arrives
bearing happy news
her heart gladdens

Krishna will come – of that she is sure
a love denied will now be hers
the blush of excitement gives way
to shyness - kept so far at bay
the letter was written boldly enough
but now her maiden coyness asserts its sway
with eager pulsing heart she awaits
the moment of freedom and fastening
with her love – it seems too long a day!

In her best finery she is bedecked
a bride blossoming like a flower
eyes shining like diamonds
in their excitement
nocturnal hair that falls to her waist
in a tidy plait
lips tinged with a secret smile
an accompaniment to her glowing face
her blush spreads
like a rose amongst jasmines

with slow sure steps
and comely gait
eyes glistening with hope
and conviction strengthened with faith
she proceeds towards the temple
with sincere emotion she prays

“Devi Parvati, with your motherly grace
look upon me with your kind gaze
as once through penance you gained
your true love as a husband
I too embark today
on a quest to find my way
to him who is my very soul- I pray
let Krishna me my husband”


As every minute passes hope grows
and then she hears his majestic roar
like  a dark thunder-cloud he appears
his turmeric vestment blowing in the wind
and like lighting in the night sky
suddenly and nimbly he hoists her
onto his chariot and they are away

and then the powerful anticipation of this moment gave way
to its pure enjoyment, the company of the loved one

and thus it was that the unflinching Rukmini
wedded Krishna one day.

- Vijayalakshmi Harish
        10.9.2012

Copyright © Vijayalakshmi Harish
Marge Redelicia Jul 2014
We could scale
snow capped mountains
or tiled rooftops
We could stroll
the halls of grand art galleries
or the city's graffiti stained alleys
We could sip
wine from elegant glass goblets
or instant coffee from chipped cups
We could watch
gala operas and musicals at the amphitheater
or puffy clouds as they float by in the sky
We could look
up to the vast galaxy and its starlight
or down to the metro's sleepless city lights
We could listen
to loud pulsing rhythms at a concert
or to the steady beats of each others hearts
We could go
and roam the world all day
or just stay in each others arms all night.

I can't care less
on what we could do.
Every moment would be
Fun,
Adventurous,
Exciting,
Marvelous
Grand, and
Breathtaking
As long as you are with me
and I am with you.
I came up with the concept of this poem last year but I only found the right words to compose it now. I forgot what inspired this poem in the first place though.....
Lucky Queue Oct 2012
Blip. Blip. Blip
In the black of my room a red light pulses langorously on my phone
Steady green and blue lights and a rapid orange define the router across the room
Red digital numbers stand in the place of the clock
At precisely 6:00 am my alarm goes off(a deranged rooster entrapped in my phone)
A flick of a finger dismisses the crowing and the day has begun
After dressing and any other trivial task, I  am headed downstairs
A chik of the toaster
One beepbeepbeep of the microwave
More digital numbers, this time green, indicate that my bus comes shortly and I dash off
The headlights of the bus announce its presence half a block before it halts and the doors jerkily slide open
I text Graham from five feet away, because I don't yet know enough sign language
On the bus the driver may make an announcement, various lights and a few wires around her seat
School starts with a bell and the mindless herd shuffles in
The hallways bustle with the noise of teenagers chatting noisily, ipods playing, cells buzzing, beeping, texting
Homeroom and every period after is marked by a bell before and after until the last bell, freeing us from our institution of education
Now everyone is really alive and the clammer of sounds is three times as loud as the morning.
On the bus all but the most obnoxious are silent, closed off in their little world of a cellphone, ipod, or mp3
The kids file on and off the bus, only waking from their technology induced zombification to rapidly vocalize with their friends
Once I get home microwave humms as food is reheated or quickly cooked
The rice cooker is prepped and light flips on when plugged into the wall
Coffee maker may be set, and if my dad is home, his workspace is humming and light-pulsing as well
Brother and sisters argue over which tv show to watch or first computer turn while I'm wrapped up in my world of texting homework and poetry
Mom arrives from school and dinner is made
Stove humming loud and food stirfryed
Dinner no blips beeps or pulses matter, just the clinking of silverware and conversation
Afterwards, faucet runs dishes clattering while I wash
Imersion resumes and videos, games, and homework take over until bed
Teeth are brushed, pajamas donned, and members of this family mess around in bedroom before slowly transitioning to bed, and then sleep
So ends another day for me in the 21st century
LJ Chaplin Apr 2015
He waits for the wind to carry him home,
Across waves that rise and fall with
The pulsing of his aching heart,
She waits on rocks by the shipwreck,
Wondering how he got away,
He counts his blessings and clutches his chest,
The lurching feeling fading with the haunting
Visions of the flames in her eyes,
She cries and buries her face into her hands,
Tears forming shallow bodies of water
Like the rock pools where she dreamed of
Capturing  his heart.
© LJ Chaplin

— The End —