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Aa Harvey Oct 2018
Natural Rhythm.


Hey Mr. Guitar, keep on strumming them strings.
Then play me a song that will keep us all moving.
Keep all of the ladies, just a shaking their thing;
That will keep everybody in the room dancing,
To the natural rhythm.


I’ve got a natural rhythm in my heart and soul;
I’ve got a natural rhythm in my head.
I’ve got a natural rhythm in my heart and soul;
I’ve got a natural rhythm as I lay here in your bed.


Bounce to the rhythm of all of the drums.
The drumbeat booms against your chorus of twiddling thumbs;
Demanding your attention at the top of their voice.
The low beat shriek, as we bang on the drums.


Come on everybody and dance to the beat;
The natural rhythm, that flows through you and me.
The invisible hand, that guides our every step,
Makes you bounce to the beat of every word that I have said.


I’ve got a natural rhythm in my heart and soul;
I’ve got a natural rhythm in my head.
I’ve got a natural rhythm in my heart and soul;
I’ve got a natural rhythm as I lay here in your bed.


Keep on banging the drum to the sound of my rhythm;
Keep on dancing and keep on giggling.
Keep on keeping it real, for the people in the street;
Keep on keeping it banging, to the funkiest beat.


You see I got this natural rhythm, that’s in all God’s men
And you also got the rhythm in your head, in your head.
‘Cause the rhythm of my rhyme, will drop right on time,
As long as the sun is shining and I'm feeling irie eyed;
As long as the bongo’s keep on banging in the smoky background,
As long as to be rich, means more than acting the clown.


You see the rich get the women, because to be rich is to be a ****
And this is the best way to get the women.
Flash a *** of cash at the latest one you think is pretty;
Tell her you are loaded and pay her the money.
Buy the woman you like; moneys all that you've got.
I'm happy being poor; it's freedom at no cost.


I’ve got a natural rhythm in my heart and soul;
I’ve got a natural rhythm in my head.
I’ve got a natural rhythm in my heart and soul;
I’ve got a natural rhythm as I lay here in your bed.


(C)2011 Aa Harvey. All Rights Reserved.
Brittany Hesse Mar 2015
With the wind under my wings I soar
I see the west Canadian shore
The drum it echoes, echoes, echoes, the drum it echoes through my core
Whispering a haunting rhythm of time, change, and war
Nuu-chan-nulth – A caring and nurturing people are thee
Small families among the mountains, rivers, and sea
Vancouver Island’s west coast is where you reside
Awaiting your canoes on evenings incoming tide

Your men are fishing in the ocean’s secret places
Worry and hope etched in their weathered faces
Each man knowing the days hunting success must provide
For many wives, children, and elders the spoils they must divide

Your rhythm and harmony with the ocean is strong
Whale hunts and oceans spirits intertwined through your song
The drum it echoes, echoes, echoes, the drum it echoes through my core
Whispering a haunting rhythm of time, change, and war
I hear the east call, and open my wings to take flight
The distant drum’s heartbeat calls from the suns rising light
The drum it echoes, echoes, echoes, the drum it echoes through my core
Whispering a haunting rhythm of time, change, and war
Coast Salish – You know how the sea dances and quivers
As you watch the expanse from your inlets, and rivers
Vigilance is needed in case a Storm approaches
To mount a defence if an enemy encroaches.

Your wise headmen lead with such divine humility
Your family life embodies true equality
Your features are defined by a broad face and flat brow
Your girls with plucked brows, braided hair prepare for their vow

You seasonally harvest your rivers resources
Spawning Eulachon and sturgeon complete their courses
The drum it echoes, echoes, echoes, the drum it echoes through my core
Whispering a haunting rhythm of time, change, and war
As I leave your forests of tall cedars and aged fir
The drumming beckons me up the wild Fraser River
The drum it echoes, echoes, echoes, the drum it echoes through my core
Whispering a haunting rhythm of time, change, and war


Okanagan – You survive in the Valley and slopes
In a legend of a coyote you set your hopes
He educated you how to live off the hard land
Your very own lives you bestowed in his paw like hand

Your offspring, your joy, your future you know must be taught
So at an early age, to the elders they were brought
Your youths are handpicked and taught the roll they shall assume
If a warrior shall fall another shall resume

Your seasonal harvest of forest meadows and marsh
Will insure you survival when the winters are harsh
The drum it echoes, echoes, echoes, the drum it echoes through my core
Whispering a haunting rhythm of time, change, and war
With the updrafts I glide over the dry desert plains
I hear the drum call from a land where it hardly rains
The drum it echoes, echoes, echoes, the drum it echoes through my core
Whispering a haunting rhythm of time, change, and war
Secwépemc – your men come out through the eastern sunrise’s door
Your women’s entrance faces the stream to ease her chore
In seasonal cozy houses built into the ground
In a secret place your spoils and possessions are found

Your request for spawning salmon grows louder each day
The messenger crickets announce salmons on their way
You hunt with arrows and spears you crafted from strong stone
Needles and jewelry you made from animal bone

You patiently, wait in the winter’s silent brisk eve  
For the deer’s stealthy approach from the snow covered trees  
The drum it echoes, echoes, echoes, the drum it echoes through my core
Whispering a haunting rhythm of time, change, and war
The drum it beckons from the land of river crossroads
The land where men come to bring and trade their canoes loads
The drum it echoes, echoes, echoes, the drum it echoes through my core
Whispering a haunting rhythm of time, change, and war


Dakelh – You are the people who learned how to barter
You are known as the people who travel on water
With gathered roots you weave fish weirs in the evening air
And you set your high hopes in the chanted salmon prayer

Your children learn from the oral traditions you tell
Chinlac massacres, caves where dwarves shooting arrows dwell
Your widows carry ashes of the husband they held dear
Their Mourning and sadness that will last over a year

The respect for the land for everything you have gain
Though much, and bountiful your harvest some shall remain
The drum it echoes, echoes, echoess, the drum it echoes through my core
Whispering a haunting rhythm of time, change, and war
A plume of smoke and drum beat come from the distant Northwest
Echoing from the place where the Skeena River rests
The drum it echoes, echoes, echoes, the drum it echoes through my core
Whispering a haunting rhythm of time, change, and war

Gitxsan –Your Home is surrounded by snow tipped glaciers
Forests of spruce, hemlock, cedars, and subalpine firs
Your chieftain name and duties you hold for a short time
Other Wilp members are only ‘children’ in their prime

Like the rivers your families closely intertwine
Each account told is a lesson that is sublime
Each Wilp has your story told by a tall totem pole
Your History affects and moves you deep in your soul

Deer, Moose, and small mammal in the wild woodlands you stalk
You pursue the Mountain goat through rugged peaks of rock
The drum it echoes, echoes, echoes, the drum it echoes through my core
Whispering a haunting rhythm of time, change, and war
The drums incessantly pounds as I take to the sky
Urgently calling from remote islands of Haida Gwaii
The drum it echoes, echoes, echoes, the drum it echoes through my core
Whispering a haunting rhythm of time, change, and war

Haida - You live in the pacific northern islands
Your fam’lies Belong to the eagle or raven clans
You watch the tide rise and fall over the rocks and sand
Great mighty sculptures you have created with your hand

With strong healthy cedar trees you made your long dwellings
The entrance way totem your history is telling
Your warrior canoes glide through the rolling waves
Through victories and battles you have prisoner slaves


The sound of the drum beat is mixed in saltwater spray
To Vancouver Island’s west shore I must fine my way
The drum it echo, echo, echo’s, the drum it echoes through my core
Whispering a haunting rhythm of time, change, and war
As I leave your vast, and memorable territory
In the soft twilight air I watch the sunset’s glory
The drum it echoes, echoes, echoes, the drum it echoes through my core
Whispering a haunting rhythm of time, change, and war

Kwakwakawakw- So proud you are of your mother tongue
Born in this beautiful land your ancestors came from
Noblemen, Aristocrats, commoners and your slaves
Your narrative exists among your forefathers graves

Your canoes bow is carved into animal features
The whale, otter, salmon and other sea creatures
You hunt with such heroic assurance all year round
In the shapes of well carved masks their likeness will abound

Your long homes are protected by the oceans embrace
First nations, my people, you are a amazing race
The drum it echoes, echoes, echoes, the drum it echoes through my core
Whispering a haunting rhythm of time, change, and war
I leave your land of legends in a misty gray veil
And on the horizons comes change’s white sail
The drum it echoes, echoes, echoes, the drum it echoes through my core
Whispering a haunting rhythm of time, change, and war
The Europeans came into your isolated lands
Dividing your people into tribes, reserves, and bands
Before their arrival you lived mighty, strong, and free
Now your children fight to reclaim their identity

The drum will echo, echo, echo through time’s core
It will whisper a rhythm of time, change, and war
The drum will echo, echo, echo through your core
It will whisper a rhythm of time, change, and war
Jeni Feb 2016
I love you,
Goodnight
Every night, since forever ago
Rhythm
Routine
Family, friends
Taken for granted, yet
True.

Fourteen years old
I love you,
Called out,
A promise of returned affection
Timid, unsure
A response to
Insecurities.
Not true.

I love you,
Goodnight
Every night, since forever ago
Rhythm
Routine
Family, friends
Taken for granted, yet
True.

Fifteen years old
Distrustful
Cynical
Confused
Emotions flapping about like lost geese
Nothing like all the before’s
So this is what must be
True.

I love you,
Goodnight
Every night, since forever ago
Rhythm
Routine
Family, friends
Taken for granted, yet
True.

Sixteen years old,
That feeling
Tumultuous but calming
Broken yet whole
Lost but found
Your deep, beautiful eyes
Painful beyond belief, yet the best thing I’ve ever felt
Simply, it's true
I love you.

I love you,
Goodnight
Every night, since forever ago
Rhythm
Routine
Family, friends
Taken for granted, yet
True.

Seventeen years old,
It’s true
What is?
That
You’re my truth
And
I love you.

I love you,
Goodnight
Every night, since forever ago
Rhythm
Routine
Family, friends
Taken for granted yet
True.

Seventeen years old,
I love you
But…
I ****** up
I love you
But…
I kissed someone else
We never set boundaries
But….
I know I did wrong
I love you
But…
I truly can’t be with you right now.

I love you,
Goodnight
Every night, since forever ago
Rhythm
Routine
Family, friends
Taken for granted, yet
True.  

Seventeen years old,
You’re awesome
We’re so similar
So,
I love you?
No,
I realize that belongs to someone else,
But you think it's yours.
And that isn't true.
****.

I love you,
Goodnight
Every night, since forever ago
Rhythm
Routine
Family, friends
Taken for granted, yet
True.

Seventeen years old,
I hate myself
Because I’ve hurt you
Your pain is killing me
Though really, it’s me
Killing you
I love you,
It's true.
But,
How can you ever forgive me?

I love you,
Goodnight
Every night, since forever ago
Rhythm
Routine
Family, friends
Taken for granted, yet
True.

Eighteen years old,
I love you
It’s true
But you’re broken still
And I wish I could heal the horror
I caused
For you.

I love you,
Goodnight
Every night, since forever ago
Rhythm
Routine
Family, friends
Taken for granted, yet
True.  

Eighteen years old,
I love you
Whispered gently
Deeply
Truly
I want to kiss you
I want to hold you
I want to be with you
Can we, please?

I love you,
Goodnight
Every night, since forever ago
Rhythm
Routine
Family, friends
Taken for granted, yet
True.

Eighteen years old,
Yes. We can.
I love you too.
I still truly do.

I love you,
Goodnight
Every night, since forever ago
Rhythm
Routine
Family, friends
Taken for granted, yet
True.

Eighteen years old,
I love you
But…
Why are you doing this to me?
Why can’t you talk to me instead of hiding behind the texts?
What’s happening?
Please.
Don’t do it this way.

I love you,
Goodnight
Every night, since forever ago
Rhythm
Routine
Family, friends
Taken for granted, yet
True.  

Eighteen years old,
Tears
Broken
Mind exploding with assumptions
Intuition telling the worst of tales
Distrustful
Hurt
Why this pain?

I love you,
Goodnight
Every night, since forever ago
Rhythm
Routine
Family, friends
Taken for granted, yet
True.  

Eighteen years old,
Bitter
Am I jealous?
This isn’t good…
What’s happened to me?
Helpless and
Still true
I love you
But...
Who knows why?

I love you,
Goodnight
Every night, since forever ago
Rhythm
Routine
Family, friends
Taken for granted, yet
True.

Eighteen years old,
And here come apologies
A letter…. I love letters
And
I love you too
Still,
Somehow.
It's true.

I love you,
Goodnight
Every night, since forever ago
Rhythm
Routine
Family, friends
Taken for granted, yet
True.

Eighteen years old
I don’t know what’s wrong with me
Sad
Hurt
Insecure
Doubtful
Distrustful
Broken
Beyond belief
Empty.

I love you,
Goodnight
Every night, since forever ago
Rhythm
Routine
Family, friends
Taken for granted, yet
True.

Eighteen years old
And
I keep crying
I cried because you were so caring towards to me the other day
And it was so sweet.
I cried because you hugged me and let me cry on you
I cried because I love staring into your deep soulful eyes
I cried because I feel so much, all the time, for you
I cried because sometimes I truly hate how much
I love you.

I love you,
Goodnight
Every night, since forever ago
Rhythm
Routine
Family, friends
Taken for granted, yet
True.

Eighteen years old,
And goodnight dear one,
I still really do love you. 
And, I promise you 
All of this is true.
I was about to go to bed an hour ago. I had the light off and everything... But then I got this idea and I knew that if I went to sleep, it'd fade. Oh well, poetry is better than sleep anyways. Sometimes.

In the poem, I describe two kinds of love. That which I feel for family and friends, and that of romantic love, I guess, for lack of another description. I have only truly loved one person in the second manner, I think. I have said I love you, thinking I meant it at the time, only to realize later how far off I was.
Mateuš Conrad Apr 2019
.i don't know any other music genre, where the bass is left alone, left exfoliating married to the drums, and the guitar? there's no such a thing as a rhythm guitar section in blues... the guitar is consrtantly married to solo... to a sense of orthography... best represented by ´ (the acute accent) without an o: to cream out a "hidden" u, i.e.: ó... or a cedilla (¸) bound to a c: ç to form the greek sigma (ς) - e.g. garçon... waiter, waiter: i'll just wait... that's how i see the blues guitar... the rhythm guitar isn't there, the bass is married to the drums... but the blues guitar keeps the rhythm in a "funny" way... pair up john lee ****** with lightnin' hopkins (on the piano)... and you... keep rhythm, by working solo accents into the rhythm set by the bass and drums... you rhythm by a continous sparring with the solo - you solo by ensuring your remain in the confines of chord, or something much -esque to a chord... milk, cream & alcohol... again and again: the blues... oh my dear the blues... where the rhythm of the guitar is kept with constant soloing... sometimes engaging with the bass and the drums for a reference check of rhythm... but mostly: solo the whole **** through... but it's not the sort of soloing associated with hair metal of the 1980s jerking-off for performance art piquance... sometimes the solos come in the form of chords... it's like i said already... layers:

         waiter -   garçon
                                 and garcon
                                               (¸)

blues guitar? the latter...
                                             solo accents...
rhythm of syllables: gar-çon
                              but mostly gar-con
                                                         ­  (¸)
since the bass and drums rhythm section
is so perfected in the blues,
the guitar is allowed to do what the hands
want owned by the devil...
        a thorough solo to keep the rhythm...
the one genre of music
where the solo works like a rhythm...
     instead of that in between section
of showing off
between verse chorus verse chorus solo chorus
standard of rock...

     another freedom given to the blues guitar?
the rhythm set by the vocals,
of repeating lyrics...
hell... if someone is going to sing
and play at the same time...
                  why explore lyrics as some sort
of narrative... ping-pong along
with the freedom of the itchy fingers...
by having no real verse,
and no real chorus...
                just a steadied momentum...
        and you really need to drink to appreciate
the blues...
                   just like all the hippies
will tell you that dropping acid enchances your
chances of enjoying the 13th floor elevators
or jefferson airplane...
              i don't know which is better these days:
jazz or blues?
sure as **** not rap...
                       and they say the slave trade
was all bad... sorry...
      without these west africans budding
in h'america... i'd still have a clarinet shoved
up my ***... or folk songs...
                  or mozart's woodwind imitating...
or vivaldi's *******' worth of spring...
yes, and we all know that Idi Amin was white...
wasn't he? who died peacefully while
under asylum in saudi arabia...
           Idi Amin was white! oh come on!
he was the last king of sctoland!
              on a side:
   they were picking cotton...
             well... at least they weren't working
the ******* coalmines... where they now?

ever watch that video
of milo
  yiannopolous:
       congresswoman
ilhan omar
           (d-mn)
       addresses
david horowitz's west
coast retreat?

where is the old milo
gone to?
anyone pick
up on the heavy breathing?

there's the stag ***
of only 2 years prior?
he's not here...

         i was never into making
videos,
only because i just liked
those japanese godzilla
movies from the late 80s...

and i'm still a sucker
for modern pop,
currently?
           mabel - don't call me up...
huge, huge sucker
for the expected reaction
to pop music...
synch. vocals and
a very limited circumstance
of lyrical poverty...

sucker... might as well
don a dunce hat...
elsewhere,
on the ibernian peninsula
it's also called
a *capirote
...
and **** gets freaky...

i agree...
the northern crusades,
the polacks became christened
in 962...
   the teutonic knights
were ready
to explore lithuania...
we were about to allign
ourselves with them,
ergo: defend them...

            the concept
of reconquista came after
the crusades...
         i'm pretty sure it came
after...
           jihad is reconquista...
worded differently...
   is it? the crusades were one
thing...
     jihad = reconquista...
         the current form of jihad?
it's like crusading...
     to claim a jihad is to claim
reclaiming lost lands,
there must be some muslim genius
who could come up with
a counter term to jihad:
the jihad on the offensive...
rather than on the defensive...
we need some muslim genius
to come up with a conquering
ideology of islam...
   umayyad script...

i'm reading into the video
and i'm like:
is he angry...
       or is he simply scared?
all that heavy breathing...
maybe it's both?
   do i "think" about
throwing him from
a roof... are you sane?
as they say:
in a mad mad world,
the only sane people
                    are the madmen...

talk about memes finally
coming across "genetic"
mutation...
                why are all the "liberals"
and "progressives"
so surprised by mutation
creeping into memes?
doesn't that usually happen
with genes?
so... what's with all the outrage...
if memes exist outside
of the biological reality
of genes,
then... surely,
any counter-thought
from the est. order is equivalent
to a mutation, isn't it?

               so... what's the outrage
about?
    well if genes are going
to by hijacked by a mutation,
why would memes be immune
to a mutation,
akin to the o.k. hand sign?
you want a script?
i learned this at primary school,
but you need two hands
in tow:

   (right hand RH,
left hand LH,
   thumb TH
         index I
      ******* MF
        ring finger RF
pinky P)...

and now the motion

   RH (I + MF hand down) slap on the
the LH palm of the open hand...
   RH (I + MF hand up) slap
on the LH palm of the open hand...
RH (I + MF
               V shaped insertion
of the V shape into the LH's
side)
      clenched fist of RH slammed
on the open palm of the LH...
clenched RH with an extended TH
poiting toward caesar's favour
in the coliseum (thumb's up)
moving away from the LH open
palm...

   translation?
   why, don't, you, ****, off...
primary school,
some of the kid's parents
must have taught them this sequence
when their children told them
that some foreigner ******
was attending primary school
with them...

                   poor milo though...
notably in that video...
           he's either really angry...
or he's ******* himself...

i'm still left with this sign language...
i don't even know if it's correct...
a kevin spacey "conundrum"...
i'm not exactly going to, *******,
am i?
                knitting and picking
points of criticism...
   made easy:
   no niqab, no turban,
   no copper skin,
             no black skin...
no wonder my fellow countrymen
are leaving
with a massive F          and a U
from this island...
                    good for them...
if i was sane enough,
i'd also leave...
      but given that i'm also a dual-citizen...
well...
         milk the ***** for
her last worth...
    this language...
                    the people are another story,
but my lover affair with
this language is exactly
this.
Denis Barter Mar 2018
Shakespeare wrote: that in Life,
we pass through seven,stages,
and for each stage, we fill many pages.
Recording details, joyful and sad:
of deeds done, be they good or bad.
Lifestyles led - be they short or long:
a mournful dirge or joyful song?
they’ll mark times of joy and strife
each book recording a stage in life.
But of all events therein, there’s no doubt,
The Rhythm of Life, runs throughout!

A Challenge was issued to write a poem,
based on the theme "The Rhythm of Life."
Herewith my attempt to describe poetically,
the Seven Phases, of life in metred rhyme:

A baby’s first cry, a Mother’s sigh,
a Father’s joy, be it girl or boy!
The Rhythm of Life - renewing.

Tho not adept, a toddler’s first step:
an excited giggle, a hesitant wiggle!
The Rhythm of Life - exploring.

A chilling dream: a piercing scream:
a splashing bath, a show of wrath!
The Rhythm of Life - revealing.

It’s off to school, playing it cool,
friendships made, twixt lad and maid,
The Rhythm of Life - inviting.

In the Class, shy looks pass:
Girl dates boy, flirting coy:
The Rhythm of Life - delighting.

Embarrassed flush: a girlish blush.
With proposal made, plans are laid,
The Rhythm of Life - maturing.

Lovers matched, a wedding hatched,
with banns said, the twosome wed.
The Rhythm of Life - inviting.

Twixt a couple paired, love is shared.
Next it’s three, maybe more to be?
The Rhythm of Life, expanding.

Heaven be praised, the family’s raised,
then comes the desire, to retire.
The rhythm of Life, now slowing.

After happy years, and some tears,
walk grows slow, soon time to go.
The Rhythm of Life, is waning.

When The Reaper calls, the curtain falls:
being time to leave, some will grieve.
For The Rhythm of Life, has ended!

Rhymer.  March 16th, 2018.
Denis Barter May 2018
The Many Stages of Life.
Shakespeare wrote: that in Life,
we pass through seven,stages,
and for each stage, we fill many pages.
Recording details, joyful and sad:
of deeds done, be they good or bad.
Lifestyles led - be they short or long:
a mournful dirge or joyful song?
they’ll mark times of joy and strife
each book recording a stage in life.
But of all events therein, there’s no doubt,
The Rhythm of Life, runs throughout!

Herewith my attempt to describe poetically,
the Seven Phases, of life in metred rhyme:

A baby’s first cry, a Mother’s sigh,
a Father’s joy, be it girl or boy!
The Rhythm of Life - renewing.

Tho not adept, a toddler’s first step:
an excited giggle, a hesitant wiggle!
The Rhythm of Life - exploring.

A chilling dream: a piercing scream:
a splashing bath, a show of wrath!
The Rhythm of Life - revealing.

It’s off to school, playing it cool,
friendships made, twixt lad and maid,
The Rhythm of Life - inviting.

In the Class, shy looks pass:
Girl dates boy, flirting coy:
The Rhythm of Life - delighting.

Embarrassed flush: a girlish blush.
With proposal made, plans are laid,
The Rhythm of Life - maturing.

Lovers matched, a wedding hatched,
with banns said, the twosome wed.
The Rhythm of Life - inviting.
Twixt a couple paired, love is shared.
Next it’s three, maybe more to be?
The Rhythm of Life, expanding.

Heaven be praisedACA, the family’s raised,
then comes the desire, to retire.
The rhythm of Life, now slowing.

After happy years, and some tears,
walk grows slow, soon time to go.
The Rhythm of Life, is waning.

When The Reaper calls, the curtain falls:
being time to leave, some will grieve.
For The Rhythm of Life, has ended!

Rhymer.  May 23rd, 2018.
Mateuš Conrad Jan 2017
thankfully my nostalgia concerning the late
20the century, coincides with my youth,
i mean youth, and that i also mean
****** idealism, when women were phantoms
and could never be girlfriends or
widows, or tears shed at the grave,
or nothing needy, nothing clinging,
nothing resembling mussels...
         i have to admit, i got ***** the moment
i detached myself from thinking about god...
the third partisan of the a priori
implant dictated by time & space...
            i didn't only shove my genitals into
her genitals, i shoved my ego into her
concept of god... and i subsequently became
a dimmed version of st. augustine...
              because that part of me didn't exactly
make confetti from her reasoning....
shoom!
          scalped me and dragged about 1000
tumbleweeds in its travels...
             the grand point? i didn't see
   a hairdresser, for the next never ever...
unless they do trim ***** to coincide with
      funny tattoos...
                     i don't know... maybe i was really
ultra-idealistic about women before i lost
my virginity, that after i lost it, after i lost
the foremost grace, i didn't learn the gorilla
impetus to keep one... let alone a harem...
   women really were fun and beautiful and
mysterious when i had them in my head...
      after the fact that i learned too late that they
also took a ****, i couldn't believe it!
        me, adapting to this? this fog-smeared
creature? yes, i can see my nihilism,
                    i''ve been burning that amber light
of a litre of whiskey per night for quiet some time,
drop by Collier Row's Tesco and look at the c.c.t.v.,
but then i put on some creedance clearwater revival
(not cool, aha, used the whole name, right?
cooler me saying c.c.r.? bukowski, lebowski...
same ****, different cover) -
   but i really did experience love... i know... huh ha...
did i recover from it? i'd probably have
recovered from 20 ****** over-doses...
        she got married, obviously...
  because women, don't idealise men...
  unless they meet the criteria of what men are supposed
to own... man idealising woman is a woman per se...
woman idealising man is a man contra per se...
                     after all, a man idealises
thinking about a temp. storage space for his
*******...
              which later turns into offspring...
   any woman could agree to being part of that phlegm
and being content at housing those "lucky" offshoots
in her kangaroo rucksack...
           it's as ugly as European thinking is going
to get, it can't get more scientific than this...
   i really do need a square on a rectangular canvas
to prompt a generous conversation about redifing
the point: we're not going back to the Milan school of
oil on canvas... or Rembrandt...
      it's not happening.
so creedance clearwater revival and graveyard train...
how we have bass guitar, and it's nibbling,
just nibbling... just grooving...
                  more like stalking but keep in mind
nibbling... and the there's no rhythm guitar,
because the guitar is just making accents,
the guitar is just twitching... i can't believe how
un-jazz comprehensive modern music is...
                   rhythm doesn't belong to the guitar,
there shouldn't be a rhythm guitar...
rhythm is all bass and drums...
          and i say that: because i hate metallica and how
i can never hear the bass guitar when i listen to them...
no wonder the original bassist got scribbled off...
   i love bass, don't you love bass?
something has to overpower the strength of drums
in modern music, something has to restrain
drums... needs to set the soothing rhythm,
rhythm guitar can't do that, you need the bass
guitar... bass guitar is, quiet frankly,
the most underrated instrument in modern composition...
techno techno! bongo bongo parties of
               berlusconi... bongo bongo... hatchet plus!
yes... silvio... we have the guillotine around here
too... choppy waters... plenty of sharks...
   enough to take a bite, though.
   and i thought naked lunch was bad...
well, i didn't, i didn't even want to plagiarise the Tristian
Tzara bound to it, reminiscent of cabaret voltaire.
huh?   ah yes... creedence clearwater revival,
and the bass on graveyard train, like water coming
down from a leaking tap...
  tum dum doom ta dollop... and it sounds nothing
like that... but something to allow the guitar what
it does best, sure, it joins in the rhythm section at
the beginning of the track... but then the guitar
sets up a momentum of creating accents,
  no rhythm = no solo... accents...
   little licks of being there... very ******* jazzy...
my my, so jazzy... and that's the safe ground to have
in music, retaining the jazz...
             otherwise you get into territory akin to
classical music's anithesis... the opposite of classical
music is... earthquakes... techno techno... drum drum...
drum drum... drum, drum... drum drum drum...
classical music was all about breathing...
  césar franck's les éolides (the breezes) -
and the antithesis? techno techno... muffed up techno:
ambient music... refrigerator sounds...
muffer up drums...
               don't get me wrong, i do listen to
e.g. man with no name...
         but it's rare to hear the jazzy side of things...
  it's just such a waste to see the bass guitar
not used as it should be, i.e. being over-powered
by drums... and using so much rhythm with
a guitar... having the rhythm and the solo...
  like squeezing a pair of testicles of a celibate monk...
god, that hush hush: tone down, tone, tone down,
tone, down... down... down...
             pst... kaput....
                                      i really did start talking
about something else, didn't i?
                this is new... digression as a column of
rhetorical perfection... fair enough having the rhetorical
skills, talking persuasively (well, just lying)
    about the same topic... but find me the rhetorician
than utilises digression, and forgets his talking
because he's changing subjects without really
    categorising them as being different....
    it's a trance state akin to eastern meditative practices...
digression as the most pleasing form of rhetoric,
teachers' oratory technique... not politicians' oratory...
   i never understood why digression was
not the foremost element of rhetoric...
                    political rhetoric is always about
ensuring people remember something,
they never do...
                        politicians drill in the points...
   and for some reason, they never talk to rhetorical
perfection, i.e. being able to digress...
                the most persuasive rhetoric is the rhetoric
with digression at its core...
                       or at least that's how i learned
english from a scotsman...
                                just blah blah blah blah
and at some point, there always will come an aha!
which is the next best thing to an eureka.
Once upon a choice
I danced with the rhythm of my soul

Rhythm

Once upon a choice
I chose to love you

Rhythm

Once upon a choice
I believed

Rhythm

Once upon a choice
I started anew

Once upon a choice
I danced with the moon

Rhythm

Once upon a choice
I held your hand

Rhythm

Once upon a choice
I lived a miracle

Rhythm

Once upon a choice
I danced with my soul

Rhythm

Once upon a choice
I found you

Rhythm
jorn christopher Mar 2018
She sings

We feel all sorts of things

Don't feel

Just to hear it's so surreal

     And I know it's not the rhythm

     Just to hear it's so sublime

     And I know it's not the rhythm

     No, not this time.

Say what you mean

Don't become the in-between

With or without

You know it's nothing to think about

     And I know it's not the rhythm

     Just to hear it's so sublime

     And I know it's not the rhythm

     No, not this time.

Stop to breathe

Don't wake up from chasing dreams

Seek the truth

In what will always be there in you

     You know it's not the rhythm

     Just to hear it's so sublime

     But you know it's not the rhythm

     No, not this time

And I know it's not the rhythm

But, to hear it's so sublime

Even though it's not the rhythm

One last time.
Listen to your heartbeat, pulsing like the countdown to oblivion.
Nigel Morgan Aug 2013
Today we shall have the naming of parts. How the opening of that poem by Henry Reed caught his present thoughts; that banal naming of parts of a soldier’s rifle set against the delicate colours and textures of the gardens outside the lecture room. *Japonica glistening like coral  . . . branches holding their silent eloquent gestures . . . bees fumbling the flowers. It was the wrong season for this so affecting poem – the spring was not being eased as here, in quite a different garden, summer was easing itself out towards autumn, but it caught him, as a poem sometimes would.

He had taken a detour through the gardens to the studio where in half an hour his students would gather. He intended to name the very parts of rhythm and help them become aware of their personal knowledge and relationship with this most fundamental of musical elements, the most connected with the body.

He had arranged to have a percussionist in on the class, a player he admired (he had to admit) for the way this musician had dealt with a once-witnessed on-stage accident that he’d brought it into his poem sequence Lemon on Pewter. They had been in Cambridge to celebrate her birthday and just off the train had hurried their way through the bicycled streets to the college where he had once taught, and to a lunchtime concert in a theatre where he had so often performed himself.

Smash! the percussionist wipes his hands and grabs another bottle before the music escapes checking his fingers for cuts and kicking the broken glass from his feet It was a brilliant though unplanned moment we all agreed and will remember this concert always for that particular accidental smile-inducing sharp intake of breath moment when with a Fanta bottle in each hand there was a joyful hit and scrape guiro-like on the serrated edges a no-holes barred full-on sounding out of glass on glass and you just loved it when he drank the juice and fluting blew across the bottle’s mouth

And having thought himself back to those twenty-four hours in Cambridge the delights of the morning garden aflame with colour and texture were as nothing beside his vivid memory of that so precious time with her. The images and the very physical moments of that interval away and together flooded over him, and he had to stop to close his eyes because the images and moments were so very real and he was trembling . . . what was it about their love that kept doing this to him? Just this morning he had sat on the edge of his bed, and in the still darkness his imagination seemed to bring her to him, the warmth and scent of her as she slept face down into a pillow, the touch of her hair in his face as he would bend over her to kiss her ear and move his hand across the contours of her body, but without touching, a kind of air-lovers movement, a kiss of no-touch. But today, he reminded himself, we have the naming of parts . . .

He was going to tackle not just rhythm but the role of percussion. There was a week’s work here. He had just one day. And the students had one day to create a short ‘poem for percussion’ to be performed and recorded at the end of the afternoon class. In his own music he considered the element of percussion as an ever-present challenge. He had only met it by adopting a very particular strategy. He regarded its presence in a score as a kind of continuo element and thus giving the player some freedom in the choice of instruments and execution. He wanted percussion to be ‘a part’ of equal stature with the rest of the musical texture and not a series of disparate accents, emphases and colours. In other words rhythm itself was his first consideration, and all the rest followed. He thought with amusement of his son playing Vaughan-Williams The Lark Ascending and the single stroke of a triangle that constituted his percussion part. For him, so few composers could ‘do it’ with percussion. He had assembled for today a booklet of extracts of those who could: Stravinsky’s Soldier’s Tale (inevitably), Berio’s Cummings songs, George Perle’s Sextet, Living Toys by Tom Ades, his own Flights for violin and percussionist. He felt diffident about the latter, but he had the video of those gliders and he’d play the second movement What is the Colour of the Wind?

In the studio the percussionist and a group of student helpers were assembling the ‘kits’ they’d agreed on. The loose-limbed movements of such players always fascinated him. It was as though whatever they might be doing they were still playing – driving a car? He suddenly thought he might not take a lift from a percussionist.

On the grand piano there was, thankfully, a large pile of the special manuscript paper he favoured when writing for percussion, an A3 sheet with wider stave lines. Standing at the piano he pulled a sheet from the pile and he got out his pen. He wrote on the shiny black lid with a fluency that surprised him: a toccata-like passage based on the binary rhythms he intended to introduce to his class. He’d thought about making this piece whilst lying in bed the previous night, before sleep had taken him into a series of comforting dreams. He knew he must be careful to avoid any awkward crossings of sticks.

The music was devoid of any accents or dynamics, indeed any performance instructions. It was solely rhythm. He then composed a passage that had no rhythm, only performance instructions, dynamics, articulations such as tremolo and trills and a play of accents, but no rhythmic symbols. He then went to the photocopier in the corridor and made a batch of copies of both scores. As the machine whirred away he thought he might call her before his class began, just to hear her soft voice say ‘hello’ in that dear way she so often said it, the way that seem to melt him, and had been his undoing . . .

When his class had assembled (and the percussionist and his students had disappeared pro tem) he began immediately, and without any formal introduction, to write the first four 4-bit binary rhythms on the chalkboard, and asked them to complete it. This mystified a few but most got the idea (and by now there was a generous sharing between members of the class), so soon each student had the sixteen rhythms in front of them.

‘Label these rhythms with symbols a to p’, he said, ‘and then write out the letters of your full name. If there’s a letter there that goes beyond p create another list from q to z. You can now generate a rhythmic sequence using what mathematicians call a function-machine. Nigel would be:

x x = x     x = = =      = x x =      = x x x      x = x x

Write your rhythm out and then score it for 4 drums – two congas, two bongos.’

His notion was always to keep his class relentlessly occupied. If a student finished a task ahead of others he or she would find further instructions had appeared on the flip chart board.  Audition –in your head - these rhythms at high speed, at a really quick tempo. Now slow them right down. Experiment with shifting tempos, download a metronome app on your smart phone, score the rhythms for three clapping performers, and so on.

And soon it was performance time and the difficulties and awkwardness of the following day were forgotten as nearly everyone made it out front to perform their binary rhythmic pieces, and perform them with much laughter, but with flair and élan also. The room rang with the clapping of hands.

The percussionist appeared and after a brief introduction – in which the Fanta bottle incident was mentioned - composer and performer played together *****’s Clapping Music before a welcome break was taken.
Ahmad Cox Jun 2012
The rhythm of life
Is playing all around us
You just have to learn
How to listen to the tune
Listen to the beat
The rhythm of life
That is playing in everything
The rhythm is inside our hearts
We just have to learn how to listen
Be quite
Pay attention
Find the rhythm
In everyday life
In every single moment
Listening to the rhythm
As it plays in the street
Listening to the rhythm
When you feel alone
When you start losing sleep
When you start to feel lost
Getting stuck in the grind
Stop
Look
Listen
Be still
The rhythm
Is all around you
You just have to know
When to listen
g clair Mar 2014
Minding our own
barely making it rhyme,
it's all coming out
there's dust in the drought
but the rain comes in time.

Nothing held back
I've got nothing to say,
let it roll off my shoulders
puts less your mind
and it's better that way.

(hum or sing chorus)
All I wanted
      porch
             swing
                 rhythm~
                           back
              and
     forth
            with you, babe
                         All I needed
                          porch
                 swing
        rhythm
back
       and
                  forth
                with you.

And isn't this nice?
you like hot tea on ice
thank you, yes, I can follow directions
so please don't think twice.
And isn't this great?
we can stay out real late
watching millions of sparkling stars
while you're lickin' that plate?

Bridge---( can you hear it?)

I said nothing at all
it's that horse in the stall
my foot fell asleep but I'm not gonna weep
I can drag it or crawl.

Now the wind's in the trees
and your hand's on my knees
and the warmth of your breath on my neck
puts my tired mind at ease.

All I wanted
      porch...
                    swing...
            rh­ythm..
    back...
              and...
        forth...
        ­with you babe
                         All I needed
                          porch
                 swing
        rhythm
back
       and
                  forth
                with you.

Minding our own
making it rhyme,
it's all coming out
and there's dust in the drought
but you rain comes in time...

Distracted, it's true
idle chatter won't do
Better nothing to say
put the music on play
and be quiet
with you.

All I wanted
      porch...
                    swing...
            rh­ythm..
    back...
              and...
        forth...
        ­with you babe
                         All I needed
                          porch
                 swing
        rhythm
back
       and
                  forth
                with you.
A daydream, then a poem, then a song....someday a reality.
Kwanele Jul 2015
Rhythm is poetic..
We all know how catharsis emotes, she purges, taps.
She taps away at the keys and if the silence was not too loud you'd hear how the keys on this device create a beautiful kind of rhythm because she says rhythm is poetic and I am thinking of her, thoughts of how if I was ever granted the pleasure of seeing her ..holding her, these thoughts lead to how I imagine her smile would look like and how that would make my heart skip beats, how my heart would race and how beautiful the sound would be..  how I'd ask her to stand close enough to hear it say... rhythm is poetic, rhythm is poetic, rhythm is poetic, this beat, swaying her emotions, letting then run wild because, my heart beats at the tune she hummed, beat..boxed, Sophia Thakur did that.. not a single beat but three beautiful sounds connecting two beings.. two kindred spirits. 
Rhythm is poetic, catharsis personified it, her smile and my heart danced to a beat under the stars with the stars creating constellations, beautiful constellations, creating seasons and the beat created the illusion of a fifth season. Our maker did with the heavens and the earth, we create our own little heaven in moments brought together by time, the stars, her smile, my hitching breath and my heartbeat.
She said it.
Could be love, let it be beautiful
The music shot into her eardrum like a trance-inducing drug, each bang of the drum, each rhythmic flow, each string of the guitar would slowly take her under. Under hypnosis.
The power of the beat was so intense, that it lifted her chin and shoved her into the floor of dance. There, was where she found herself in a state of uncontrolled and vigorous rhythmic movement. The music had somewhat possessed  her limbs as though they had a mind of their own. Her routine was calculated and her foot movement, unique.
She, all at once, knew and knew not what she was doing. As her surroundings stood marvelled in awe, she was alone. Her hips shaking and bouncing as though a chemical mixture was being synthesised deep within her, a mixture that was yet to explode. Explode with power so great, it would possess others in her 'roundings. Surroundings that would, in time faster than inhalation, be under the same knife. With movements and sways that embodied and humanised the worship of music.
Rhythm is their God, the controller of beings. Almost as if dance is the ritual of prayer, and the club, a mosque or sacred ground.
Like rhythm is the favoured slave-driver. Like rhythm is the unfeared tyrant. Like rhythm is what brings the animalistic spirit within us all back to life after daylight and spiritual rest. Like rhythm is the pair of unspoken arms that push them, its subjects, over the precipise and into the river of flow. And under The Rhythm's spell, they will move, they will love it.
JMG Oct 2010
Take one, take two, take them all.
You'll be so much bigger when you feel so small
Feel the rhythm of the chemicals,
As you're dancing through it all.
Feel the rhythm of the chemicals,
As it slowly makes you fall,
Into oblivion......

Feel the romance. Feel it hold you.
Feel it warm you when you're cold.
Will the romance make you sin again?
It will surely make you cold.

It will open up its eyes to you
Show you the religion in itself
The sinners become your only friend.
And the chemicals your GOD.
So when you're down and feeling guilty,
Call to your chemicals.
You'll be absolved.

Feel the rhythm of the chemicals.
Feel them dance within your veins.
Feel the romance from your chemicals.
Feel them grow into your brain.

Feel the rhythm of your God.
Let him rearrange your faith.
Feel the rhythm of the chemicals
Feel the rhythm 'til you're cold.
JG, 2009
Kelly O'hara May 2014
I'm a slave to the rhythm a slave to the beat.
The heartbeat of the earth demands it.
The rhythm demands I fall to my feet.
The rhythm beats out a tattoo on my heart.
Life beats out a rhythm it demands a lot of those who follow it, We dance to it.
Let the rhythm be my guidance, let me resound on this forsaken sacred ground.
I'm a soul looking to be whole rhythm is the hidden magic i am a slave to it.

Written 29th May 2014.
Ashe L Bennett Feb 2011
I don't remember, any more,
The exact shape of your hands
As I held them in mine,
Caressed them,
Memorized the length of your fingers,
The depth of your calluses.

I don't remember, any more,
Exactly your height, how much
Taller than me
You were, where
My head rested on your chest
When you held me tightly close.

I don't remember, any more,
Your scent, when we lay together
Creating our own
Magic rhythm,
Matching our heartbeats as we
Touched the sky, together.

I don't remember, any more,
The sound of your voice, calling
My name as though
It were a song
Within itself, a precious treasure
You valued with all your being.

And I don't remember, any more,
The color of your eyes, the shape
Of your lips,
Only...
How your eyes crinkled at the corners
And your laugh, as you told me,

"I love you."
Copyright by Ash L. Bennett, 2011
Manny Nov 2019
I felt the rhythm of your heart
Calmly beating in your chest
As my lips slid across your ribs
Searching for a place to rest
I could feel it in the tips
Of my fingers
As they caressed below your lips
Every tremble slowly pulsing
resonating from in-between your hips

I felt the rhythm of your heart
quickly begin to raise its pace
As your legs pinned me to your body
and you held me in your embrace
I could taste it in your sweat
As it lightly glazed your skin
My breath landing on your neck
Bringing a tremble to your chin

I felt the rhythm of your heart
Start to resonate with mine
Felt it in your palms
as our fingers became entwined
They tangled up so perfectly
As if fit together by design
Shivers slowly crawling
Going up and down our spine

I felt the rhythm of my heart
And it finally felt whole
Your warmth mended all the fractures
And filled every single hole
I felt the rhythm of my heart
And I finally felt peace
Your love felt like the glue
Fixing every broken piece
I felt the rhythm of your heart
And knew  this was more than fun
I felt the rhythm of my heart
and I knew that I found one
Monica Abigail Jan 2014
The rhythm of your rhythm
sends shivers down my spine
and the way your lips move
are simply just divine.
And now I'm starting to wonder
why we had to come up for air
when I just want your face
to be back down there.
Oh my body starts to sweat
when our skin comes to meet.
Darling let me taste you,
it'll be my treat.
And I'm not much
for rhythm and rhyming
but the rhythm of your rhythm
has left me writhing.
Andrew Rueter Apr 2018
She may be our metronome mother
But when was rhythm first discovered?
Did ancient nomads hear it in the sounds of walking?
Did they like how it sounded over them talking?
Did they view the melody
As a felony?
And start to sway their hips
To the crack of whips?
Maybe that wasn't good enough
Maybe we needed more stuff
So we started crossing swords
To create more violent chords
That interested us more

Violence has a catchy hook
That can't be found in a book
But started with a ***** look
Until our brain begins to cook
And we learn to love the beat
As the harmony depletes
We take concert seats
At a darkness feast

There's an iambic pentameter
In the middle eastern theater
That sounds all too familiar
The troubling treble
Of mothers screaming
While superpowers meddle
And innocence is leaving
The reaper is reaping
To a situation heating
Empathy fleeting
Fascist seating
Rhythm beating

Our soundproof homes
Create acoustic cones
That our cries can't escape
Taking the container's shape
Filling our mind
Until we're blind
And only see political teams
Instead of childhood dreams

We fall into a rhythm
Based on deadly decisions
With lethal precision
Like surgical incisions
That don't make us healthy
But support the wealthy
Who whistle a different tune
That will **** us all soon
And as the world crumbles
Their bellies still rumble
Creating a disruptive bass
Their music we must face
With an impossible grace
Or else we'll be replaced

I hear instruments of percussion
Causing concussions
Deflecting discussions
Making us harmfully dance
So we'll have a fair chance
Which seems wrong at first glance
But it's actually a pragmatic trance
Provided by Mister Rhythm
Who carries misery with him
Can be found in my self published poetry book “Icy”.
https://www.amazon.com/Icy-Andrew-Rueter-ebook/dp/B07VDLZT9Y/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Icy+Andrew+Rueter&qid=1572980151&sr=8-1
Hi am bimmy jarnes
And I am performing this quarantine concert from my living room with my alcohol pile mr drinkerbocker and my hat rack friend mahatma kote and scarf
And my first song is I am a real bludging man
Not working anymore
Just sitting down alone
In my house near my award and sign
Aussie Aussie Aussie oi oi oi
Relaxing oh yes indeed
Then mr drinkerbocker said to mahatma kote n scarf
That we must drink as many beers we want oh yeah mate yeah
Oh yeah dude, I am real bludging man
Then I go to the kitchen
To get a can of beer
It is like going to the bar, mate
But you don’t have to pay
You just get drink and sit right down
The best way you can
Oh yeah dude I am real bludging man
Ok thanks and now my action song for you
Mr drinkerbocker mighty fine
He will mind these drinks in time
Let’s get the rhythm of the vb
Ready to party with me
Let’s get the rhythm of the mighty fine
Party on days go on always loving life
Mr drinkerbocker mighty fine
He will mind these drinks in time
Let’s get the rhythm of the Carlton draught
Ready to be hungover the next day fast
Let’s get the rhythm of the mighty fine
Party on days go on always loving life
Mr drinkerbocker mighty fine
He will mind his drinks in time
Let’s get the rhythm of the Melbourne bitter
While watching your footy team win no crowds
Let’s get the rhythm of the mighty fine
Party on days go on always loving life
Mr drinkerbocker mighty fine
He will mind his drinks in time
Let’s get the rhythm of blue kamakasi shot
To really be cool a lot
Let’s get the rhythm of the mighty fine
Party on days go on always loving life
Mr drinkerbocker mighty fine
He will mind his drinks in time
Let’s get the rhythm of champagne
And go out and play a drinking game
Let’s get the rhythm of the mighty fine
Party on days go on always loving life
Thank you and now here is my next song
You picked my hat and coat up off the ground and you put a scarf on as the face everybody cheers you on
Oh yeah mate yeah
You bring the sunflowers in from the backyard and put them at the bottom as the feet
He is my best friend I have ever had
Never ever arguing with me
Mahatma kote n scarf
Everything is looking cool
Breaking every golden rule
Yes mate you are a tool
Using coffee to make you feel unreal
Yes yes yes mahatma kote and scarf
And now here is my award called the
National imagination award which I won because I have a cool imagination
I won this award one Sunday night
In a bar a long time ago
Everybody liked me then
I was cool
I was cheering the loudest I have ever cheered yes this felt great
We had roast chicken vegetables and a tasty mud cake
For my award is such a great friend
Never ever let’s me lose
Oh yeah partying in the club is what I enjoyed then
I really set fire to this town
Number 1 is to find my phone
That I lost yesterday
Number 2 is to have a shower
Putting on cologne
Number 3 is the happy hour on your YouTube or Facebook stream
When you party and you enjoy it yeah
I could really set fire to this room
With a cigarette lighter
And ok that was it there ain’t no more
Unless you come when Corona is over yeah
Mateuš Conrad Mar 2019
.how did the political "debate" ever become surmount to include musicians? from what i've seen? of the KEXP radio session...  Ashish Vyas had the most fun from the session... i always admired the bass players more than those ****-offs running out of rhythm guitar sessions... bass, a tier above the drums... masturbator-grand-master-soloist... i guess this is one of those nights where i drink more than i write... elephant's ******* choking me to come... oh well... not even a Decalogue will save me... the political art is no art to begin with, curtains... all i'm seeing if curtains... and households filled with retired personel... and curtains... curtains but not blinds... it's abhorrent to have to listen to music with hushed bass guitar... notably metallica... apart from devil's dance and... where's the bass guitar? the rhythm guitar section overpowers the music... fine fine, have your solo *******, but don't silence the bass guitar with the rhythm guitar, i need to hear the drums translated via the bass guitar into the rhythm guitar... solo guitar and vocals all you want... it's like... the lessons to be learned from jazz, when all the fire prime instruments are allowed to solo... went, "missing"... i need the bass, man... frantic bass & drum genre type of music will not do lollipops for me... what was the alternative? dub-step? well... vex'd & distance... burial... who were the others? i don't remember... don't make me cite skrillex: white privelege man! yeah... at least with rabbit teeth missing, doing that well known party trick! i don't like bands that have a knack at an over-emphasis of the rhythm guitar, who neglect the bass guitar... it's so counter the jazz-inheritance... tool: grand bass, red hot chilli peppers, silverchair... i need that smoothing out layer of sound that manifests itself in a bass... a layer of sound just below the rhythm guitar and a tier above the base (not bass) of the african drum borrow... bāß... base (not bass)... yes, it's not supposed to look pretty: a phonetic antithesis... as most "things" in english...

             mind you... did i mention how heidegger
has a foot in the door?
       oh... i didn't? did i?
     the reflexive and the reflective quadratic...
the reflex of conscience "vs."
the reflectiveness of consciousness...
       heidegger:
                  language - only if speech has acquired
the highest univocity of the word does it become
strong for the hidden play of its essential
   multivocity (as withdrawn from all "logic"),
of which poets and thinkers alone are capable,
in their own respective modes and their own
directions of sovereignty.

  of the few lyrics i've entertained these passing
"days"?
             the black keys: lonely boy -
              i got a love that keeps me waiting...
borrowing from Kafka i guess:
      in that case, i’ll miss the thing by waiting for it.
   no?
   guess there's no "oops" where these words
come from...
              
    with the "passive" circumstance of the faculty
of memory...
                two tiers of memory:
the reflexive memory type,
the scholastic rubric type...
  1 x 4 = 4, a + b + a +c + u + s = instrument =
counting... etc.,
            that's the reflexive memory type...
a scholastic rubric...
      dyktando...
but memory also occupies
the reflective parameters...
          which involve personality...
a sort of memory dissociated from schooling,
and more, associated with:
disinhibiting any chances of succumbing
to dementia's grinding machine
of the mortal circus...

  the reflexive memory storage bank is
the buffer...
the "placebo": nay... the safety mechanism...
but... too much education,
too much pointless education,
and the erosion of the reflective memory
storage bank: this is not a buffer,
this is not a something equipped with
a "safety mechanism"...
        given that a self is perpetuated
within the confines of
a constant conflict with the "self"...
   a and italics / the and "ambiguity commas"...

well, there's always a place to start...
i find of like philosophy as being
a rigour associated with a satisfactory
form of vocab.,
       namely?
i can use the associated words bound
to a sentence with confidance...
unlike a ****** fiction writer,
sometimes dabbling into loan words
from a thesaurus, to, invoke:
an intelligence superiority...
  don't worry...
  when people lend themselves
to use a thesaurus, having exhausted
their adjective knowledge... it shows...

come on... a background in chemistry nouns?
3,5-methylhexane... you think?
that's the remains of a saxon past in english...
in chemistry...
germans spell like dr. faustus to begin with,
they, compound...
        the remains of a germanic past in
the current state of english shrapnel still
lives... in chemistry...
        hydrocarbons...
                  usually met with a hypen:
hydro-carbons...
       siebentausendzweihundertvierundfünfzig
(7,254)...
well, very german: what a waste of not employing
punctuation marks (', -) when it came
to the caterpillar 189, 819:
methionylthreonylthreonylglutaminylarginyl...isoleucine,

Me­thionylthreonylthreonylglutaminylarginyltyrosylglutamylserylleucy­lphenylalanylalanylglutaminylleucyllysylglutamylarginyllysylgluta­mylglycylalanylphenylalanylvalylprolylphenylalanylvalylthreonylle­ucylglycylaspartylprolylglycylisoleucylglutamylglutaminylserylleu­cyllysylisoleucylaspartylthreonylleucylisoleucylglutamylalanylgly­cylalanylaspartylalanylleucylglutamylleucylglycylisoleucylprolylp­henylalanylserylaspartylprolylleucylalanylaspartylglycylprolylthr­eonylisoleucylglutaminylasparaginylalanylthreonylleucyl arginylalanylphenylalanylalanylalanylglycylvalylthreonylprolylala­nylglutaminylcysteinylphenylalanylglutamylmethionylleucylalanylle­ucylisoleucylarginylglutaminyllysylhistidylprolylthreonylisoleucy­lprolylisoleucylglycylleucylleucylmethionyltyrosylalanylasparagin­ylleucylvalylphenylalanylasparaginyllysylglycylisoleucylaspartylg­lutamylphenylalanyltyrosylalanylglutaminylcysteinylglutamyllysylv­alylglycylvalylaspartylserylvalylleucylvalylalanylaspartylvalylpr­olylvalylglutaminylglutamylserylalanylprolylphenylalanylarg inylglutaminylalanylalanylleucylarginylhistidylasparaginylvalylal­anylprolylisoleucylphenylalanylisoleuc…

or just read the end of james joyce's ulysses
or jean-paul sarte's iron in the soul...
you do have to insert shrapenl punctuation
into this word...

but these are the last remains of the english language
being associated with a germanic origin:
compounding words...
             esp. in chemistry...
                

as any drunk would state,
to suffice...

    what was it that the luftwaffe
prescribed for the night raids
on London?

   and what did isis fighters
be prescribed?

    amphetamines?
n'oh!
   (minus the extended omega:
oooooo enough time
for a katy perry song,
an afternoon shower,
a slap in the face,
and then a few punches,
hey, jerking off became
boring)...

   so the british,
and a few polacks doing their
r.a.f. bit beat the germans
because?
   oh... **** no...
they were ingesting
an impediment factor,
durg, ****,
drunk, numb-skulled...

    we're talking counter
measure to the "enchanced"
mensch...
    high on amphetamines...
insomniac, but still going...
i guess the loci of
the amphetamine adventure
had to relocate to the anti-ego
focus of the phallus
in the variation of viagara...

****...
i care more for my giggles
and a friar tuck physiognomy...
seriously...
   it's more important than mere
gymnastics of
a freudian "metaphor"...
  ha ha...
   i guess conversation is
also allowed...
   try keeping that up...
given that most men are
******* into a solipsism...

     date nights... m'ah ah ha ha ha...
i figured that i don't
need french intellectuals to
redefine absurdity,
or german philosophers
to "redefine" existentialism,
i just needed to leech
off an nativistic english
"public"...

                      what the ruling
class spews:
   i reinterpret...
                  simple, 1 + 1 = 2...
crux, numbers,
   bounce back...
echo...
     compliment to the language...
as i stood in the shower thinking...
well isn't modern gaming
slightly "ingenious"...
money piggy...

or... reversed...
    provided the unlimited time
of experience...
no constraints,
just a game within a game,
like sims 3: making a sim
play a video game...
wormhole paradox
      and a brain shattering moment,
a jolt,

         these modern "free" games?
well... at least if you
do not invest in them,
are... games mostly associated with
time...
time is the game...

   whoever gets ****** into
the money laundering schemes
of these games,
forgot to read the cheat walkthroughs
akin to final fantasy VII,
because of homework,
and... Saturday mornings.

   **** air guitar:
here's to air drumming to posit
a point...

          the allies drunk their pint
of whiskey, slightly debilitated,
without the circumstance of feeding
a feeling of superiority,
the germans over-inflated
their superiority complex with
amphetamines...

         ergo?
    i'm either proper drunk, or just plain dumb,
or... it's related to listen, repeat,
listen, repeat: katy perry
  (sucker for POP!)....

      never mind...

games used to be fun,
games used to lead to a completion,
tenchu, that was fun,
final fantasy VII...
but this current,
money-sucker of an experience?
well... sure...
now games have reached
an anti checkmate conundrum
which it is...
because, the games are "free"...

           apparently time,
is perceived as a non-commodity...
tell that to someone stuck
in traffic...
      time: the "elder" flimsy
              construct of relativism...

try not giggling
while exchanging whislting to
either the british grenadier march song,
and the french la marseillaise...

   it's like eating pork liver with onions
fry funny...
    or at least a stew of chicken
hearts... tight tender little *******...

but modern gaming is just that...
ingenious counter measure
to the old school variation
of gaming,
    games... without fiction,
games, without script...
    continued perpetuation
of engagement "syndrome"...

     thank god,
i'm pretty sure that if i went beyond
owning a PS1,
i wouldn't have spotted this,
and have a narrative subsequently,
for the worth any sort
of compromise...

ergo? i drink...
   eh... i need to dumb down...
it wouldn't be fair otherwise...
it's not so easy,
to acquire a culture,
a psychology,
a mentality,
   and then...
     to ****... (grimmace, burp,
         snigger) it all away...

**** me, the flute always
gets me...
          i mean...
every time i hear that flute...
my feet at rambling,
itching to tap along...

   well of course it wasn't
the ******* jazzy clarinet,
was it?!
  tell that to the broad
who perfect a *******...
see if she comes back
as smart,
as smart to comply with
the intricacies
of playing, the ******* clarinet.

p.s.
aud lang syne: the only song,
of all time...
shakespeare seems
pale by comparison,
"side-note"...

          broad vs. brode,
******* giggles in the afternoon.
allie Mar 2017
a Rhythm is what I dream of.
One that can flow
So I used (parentheses) to make people think that I have a rhythm.
Or italics, or bold words.
Maybe commas, or periods.
Or something among the lines.
What I'm really doing is
Finding a Rhythm.

I play with the fonts, with the size, with the writing.
It doesn't really help.
But, if I cause enough damage to the original text,
I forget what's happening outside of the screen.
I guess I want a Rhythm.

Finally, I found a Rhythm.
Jennifer Wolfe Sep 2018
MOMENTS OF MOMENTS
LONGING FOR HIS TOUCH
CLOSENESS OF OUR BODIES
FEELINGS WE HUNGER FOR SO MUCH

WHISPERS OF A BREEZE
TICKLING SIDE OF MY EAR
SENSATION RISES MY CHEST BUMPS
WITH FEELING OF WANTING HIM MORE

AS WE START TO PLAY
HE GUIDES ME IN A WAY
WHERE HE LAYS HIS LIPS ONTO MINE
AND THE PLEASURE IS  RECITED ALL DAY

FINGERS TRACE THE LINES
OF BLACK SILK ON MY SKIN
SLOWLY HE PULLS THEM DOWN
WITH A RISE OF EXCITEMENT STIRRING DEEP WITHIN

I STAND THERE COMPLETELY BARE
PEAKS AT A RISE
THE WAY THAT HE KISSES ME
AS I STARE INTO HIS EYES

VULNERABLE AND EXPRESSED
THE WAY HE LOOKS AT ME
I START TO FEEL COMPLETE
BECAUSE HE SAYS TO ME

“YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL MY LOVE”
“I COULD STARE AT YOU ALL DAY”
“NEVER COVER UP”
“AND NEVER BE ASHAMED”

WITH YOUR HANDS INTO MINE
RIGHT WHERE THEY BELONG
PRESSED UP BESIDE ME
FEEL OF HIS ARMS SO STRONG

OUR BODYS GLIDE TOGETHER
I CAN’T EVER GET ENOUGH
MOVEMENT FROM HIS CENTER
GIVING IT TO ME NICE AND ROUGH

ACTIONS FROM OUR MOVEMENTS
EXPLANATION NOT IN NEED
MOTIONS FROM OUR FANTASIES
I’M BEGGING TO BE FREED

THE GLIDE OF HIS PASSION
EXPRESSED TO ME EVERYTHING
LEAVES ME FEELING FAINTLY EMPTY
SO SATISFIED AND DRAINED

THE TENDER KISSES HE PLACES
ON THE SKIN BETWEEN MY THIGHS
TRACING OF HIS FINGERS
STROKING IN AND OUT OF MY INSIDES

AMAZING ELECTRIC WAVES
AS I CONTINUE TO BEG FOR MORE
WRAPPED IN HIS ARMS
MY BODY EXHAUSTED, PAINFULLY WORE

THE SHADOWS OF OUR BEINGS
GIVES THE WALLS A LITTLE SHOW
WITH THE PASSIONATE MOTIONS WE DEMONSTRATE
IN A RHYTHM WE ALL KNOW


                                                            -BY JENNIFER WOLFE
REALLY DON'T KNOW WHAT ANYONE THINKS OF MY WRITING.  IS IT ANY GOOD?
R Saba Dec 2013
i looked across and down
and the man's feet tapped
out a rhythm into the dark floor
of the speeding, jostling bus
and the rhythm matched the music
that occupied my ears
and my fingers pressed the tune
into the depths of my pocket
and i looked outside

the trees, aligned along the road
filed past the window
one by one
and the speed at which they passed my vision
matched the even beating of my heart
and the drumming of the cracks
in the cement that hammered
through the wheels and into
the soles of my feet
and i closed my eyes

the words that echoed there
in that dark expanse of thought
were spoken evenly, echoing
into the cavern
in strong, reliant waves
and the beauty of their timing
matched the rhyming of their meaning
and the march of my feet upon the sidewalk
matched the space between the lyrics
marking every single breath
and hanging on each letter
and i opened my eyes

it's funny, because today
the skies were open wide
and the passing of time
was aligned
with every inch of my five senses
one rhythm underlining each word said
one rhythm defining the weight of it all
one rhythm combining the moments together
and as i went to bed
heartbeat thumping in my head
i said
today just felt to me
like a song
and that's a good thing
That ***** Named Desire
I had a succubus try to take my seed
in a dream today   
I broke the connection and said
***** you gotta pay to playyyyyyy

You so used to controlling my desires
well, NOT ANYMORE
Best get on your knees and call me sire
“Sir you have the floor”

I wage war on the empire
of the realm of desire
So if you conspire to be in my line of fire
Don’t say I didn’t tell you,
    You’ve earned my Ire.

The rhythm of my war drum goes:
BOOM BOOM KAT TiS KAT
OHHHHM
Mah heart  BEATS ta da Rhythm of the
BOOM BOOM KAT TiS KAT
Dreeeeeiiim
We illuminate truth, or sooo it seeeeeeeeeeeeim
But still.....
The rhythm of my war drum BEATS:
BOOM BOOM KAT TiS KAT
OHHHHM



So I wage war on the realm of the evil fae
Ima PURIFY da demons until  
dey take me away (screamed)

Bleed out into LIFE;
  reverse the vampire effect
place succubi in a hearse
  and drive them straight ta deaph


cause lately You been drivin me crazy
and making my will, focus, an determination
sooo haeeezzzzy

But NO MORE
cause now Its time to
Settle DA SKORE


Ritually open my wounds
and bleed acid on you
Don’t worry theres enough
cause your hackneyed and few

Ima chase the Daemons off
Smoke my dreads to their lungs
and make dem young cough
so offten I put em in a hot-boxed coffin
Now your outta breath
But im just not stoppin

huh (echo(
whats this? whats this....(echo(  
Claws,
talons,
teeth,
and  uh oh
Blood barrels stacked Its a wierd supply depot,

for that army growin
and growlin behind your eye, see though....
They Perma-
        on your shoulders,
   and now mine, Truth Show





!!!!!!1111RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIP!!!!!!!11
So my wings tear free of my back
For so long they’ve been bound and compact
I look to my lovers and brothers and CRy
Stand!
Pick up your weapons,
Humanity,
Its time to act


A TRUMPET BLOWS,
   BEATING WINGS
THE DRUMS CONTINUE INTO THE DISTANCE


The rhythm of my war drum goes:
BOOM BOOM KAT TiS KAT
OHHHHM
Mah heart  BEATS ta da Rhythm of the
BOOM BOOM KAT TiS KAT
Dreeeeeiiim
We illuminate truth, or sooo it seeeeeeeeeeeeim
But still.....
The rhythm of my war drum BEATS:
BOOM BOOM KAT TiS KAT
OHHHHM
George Krokos Feb 2011
The rhythm of life is like an endless melody
and goes on regardless of where we might be.
Throughout the day and all during the night
it never stops tho’ it’s not obvious to sight.

When the sun rises and again when it sets
that rhythm of life all things never forgets.
With each coming and going to and fro
we’re all part of its main working show.

In birth and death as in growth and decay
all creatures have their moments of play.
In the heavens above and on the earth below
one after another they all must come and go.

With the ebb and flow of each wave in the ocean
it’s apparently like a ceaseless rhythmic motion;
tho’ they’re caused by the moon’s gravitational pull,
and is itself also subjected to being either new or full.

In the four seasons of the year and all the changes they bring,
as the earth revolves around the sun, affect every living thing.
By these regular distinct cycles each lasting its period of time
it’s a universal ongoing phenomenon and never ending rhyme.

Whether we like it or not it embraces us all in its sway
and our affairs in this world enjoy their night and day.
It makes order gradually come forth out of chaos it seems
and helps us all to survive and even realise some dreams.

We all have certain basic needs and so many wants or desires
and flowing with the rhythm of life all in harmony transpires.
If we have unnatural obsessions by which our mind is caught
then it’s freedom with a high price that is actually most sought.

This rhythm of life has an existence and power of its own
and all that does ever happen by it unmistakably is known.
When we become in tune with its reality and stay in touch
all that goes on in the world will be to our benefit as such.
Private Collection - written in 2002
Ron Sanders Feb 15
(Glade, World, Master, Boy, Hero)

                                                 GLADE

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

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

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

                                               WORLD

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                              MA­STER

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

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

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

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

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

                                                  BOY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                HERO

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

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

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

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







Copyright 2020 by Ron Sanders.

Contact:  ronsandersartofprose(at)yahoo(dot)com
Sorry about the ghastly copy. This system makes graceful formatting impossible.
Please master can I touch your cheeck
please master can I kneel at  your feet
please master can I loosen your blue pants
please master can I gaze at your golden haired belly
please master can I have your thighs bare to my eyes
please master can I take off my clothes below your chair
please master can I can I kiss your ankles and soul
please master can I touch lips to your hard muscle hairless thigh
please master can I lay my ear pressed to your stomach
please master can I wrap my arms around your white ***
please master can I lick your groin gurled with blond soft fur
please master can I touch my tongue to your rosy *******
please master may I pass my face to your *****,
please master order me down on the floor,
please master tell me to lick your thick shaft
please master put your rough hands on my bald hairy skull
please master press my mouth to your *****-heart
please master press my face into your belly, pull me slowly strong thumbed
till your dumb hardness fills my throat to the base
till I swallow and taste your delicate flesh-hot ***** barrel veined Please
Mater push my shoulders away and stare in my eyes, & make me bend over
        the table
please master grab my thighs and lift my *** to your waist
please master your hand's rough stroke on my neck your palm down to my
        backside
please master push me, my feet on chairs, till my hole feels the breath of
        your spit and your thumb stroke
please master make my say Please Master **** me now Please
Master grease my ***** and hairmouth with sweet vaselines
please master stroke your shaft with white creams
please master touch your **** head to my wrinkled self-hole
please master push it in gently, your elbows enwrapped round my breast
your arms passing down to my belly, my ***** you touch w/ your fingers
please master shove it in me a little, a little, a little,
please master sink your droor thing down my behind
& please master make me wiggle my rear to eat up the ***** trunk
till my asshalfs cuddle your thighs, my back bent over,
till I'm alone sticking out, your sword stuck throbbing in me
please master pull out and slowly roll onto the bottom
please master lunge it again, and withdraw the tip
please please master **** me again with your self, please **** me Please
Master drive down till it hurts me the softness the
Softness please master make love to my ***, give body to center, & **** me
        for good like a girl,
tenderly clasp me please master I take me to thee,
& drive in my belly your selfsame sweet heat-rood
you fingered in solitude Denver or Brooklyn or ****** in a maiden in Paris
        carlots
please master drive me thy vehicle, body of love drops, sweat ****
body of tenderness, Give me your dogh **** faster
please master make me go moan on the table
Go moan O please master do **** me like that
in your rhythm thrill-plunge & pull-back-bounce & push down
till I loosen my ******* a dog on the table yelping with terror delight to be
        loved
Please master call me a dog, an *** beast, a wet *******,
& **** me more violent, my eyes hid with your palms round my skull
& plunge down in a brutal hard lash thru soft drip-fish
& throb thru five seconds to spurt out your ***** heat
over & over, bamming it in while I cry out your name I do love you
please Master.

                                        May 1968
g clair Nov 2014
Minding our own
making it rhyme,
it's all coming out
and there's dust in the drought
but the rain comes in time.

Nothing held back
I've got nothing to say,
let it roll off my shoulders
puts less your mind
and it's better that way.

All I wanted
      porch
             swing
                 rhythm~
                           back
              and
     forth
            with you, babe
                         All I needed
                          porch
                 swing
        rhythm
back
       and
                  forth
                with you.

And isn't this nice?
you like hot tea on ice
thank you, yes, I can follow directions
so please don't think twice.
And isn't this great?
we can stay out real late
watching millions of sparkling stars
while you're lickin' that plate?

I said nothing at all
it's that horse in the stall
my foot fell asleep but I'm not gonna weep
I can drag it or crawl.

Now the wind's in the trees
and your hand's on my knees
and the warmth of your breath on my neck
puts my tired mind at ease.

All I wanted
      porch...
                    swing...
            rh­­ythm..
    back...
              and...
        forth...
       ­ ­with you babe
                         All I needed
                          porch
                 swing
        rhythm
back
       and
                  forth
                with you.

Minding our own
making it rhyme,
it's all coming out
and there's dust in the drought
but you rain comes in time...

Distracted, it's true
idle chatter won't do
Better nothing to say
put the music on play
and be quiet
with you.

All I wanted
      porch...
                    swing...
            rh­­ythm..
    back...
              and...
        forth...
       ­ ­with you babe
                         All I needed
                          porch
                 swing
        rhythm
back
       and
                  forth
                with you.
Andre Baez Dec 2013
There was a knock at the door

A knock that bounces off in rhythm

Similar yet different
from the disjointed sounds
of her head hitting the door,
the bathroom sink,
and then the floor

Her beats were her beatings
which often dragged from street to bed

They began with her mothers boyfriend,
an alcoholic enforcer of  peace, law, and trust
But, he wished to take a piece of her and eat it,
telling her that no laws were broken,
as he asked her to trust him

With a bit of apprehension
she sequestered, she went to his level,
as mother looked on from her blind eye
She asked her mother to stop the man
because it was a new pain unlike any other
Mother cooked on, stirring her beef stew,
just cooking along as she bawled
Those tears provided little relief
to the daughter with her first STD at 13

She provided little reaction
after multiple interactions with her attacker
It was easier to spread her legs and allow easy access to the temple residing there in shambles

She became intoxicated by the same poison that
awakened the inner beast within her mothers man
An exciting blood rush from bruised legs healed
by liquors lecherous lectures

Until one day the man died
in the street due to his debts
A man in blue left black and blue,
thus freeing her, or so she thought

Now at seventeen she had never had a man of her
own, or a boy after ***** in her case
She doesn't know what a good boy looks like, or
feels like, only what a bad man taste like

Consequently she repeats the cycle
because it is comfort as she's conformed
Her contorted body and twisted smile with
tattooed black and blues is normal

Another knock at the door

A sound that bounces off in rhythm

Rhythm and blues
One, two
One, two
Rhythm and blues
One, two
One, two

Similar but different
from the dangling
of her bracelets
as her man chokes her
with her necklace
she gasps for breath,
but is helpless

Completely given into
the physically stronger
person above her
Keeping her down:
1 foot,
2 foot,
3 foot,
4 foot,
5 foot,
till she begs to be 6 feet underground

Where he stops just short
And digs her up from the Earth

He puts out cigarettes
on her tongue
He rapes her repeatedly:
cooing for her to call him daddy
He makes her shoot up heroine
He beats her and her temple
into smithereens

She is a shell of who she used to be,
but accepts what fate has afforded her
As if she had no say in the matter
because no one told her
that there is always a choice

She doesn't know that she can run
She doesn't know that she can fight back
She doesn't know that she can call the police
(never police)
She doesn't know her own power

Because she is nothing,
nothing without him,
and him and him and him,
Nothing all at without dripping
blood on the floor from her bottom lip
busted open after denying his kiss

She has his baby in her stomach
but it doesn't stop him
from kicking her *** up and down the block
He doesn't want her to have the baby
so he throws her down stairs daily,
"Are you ******* crazy?"

Her neighbors yell
as her man tells them
to mind their business
and go to hell
"She's my *****," he yells
as he always excels
at repelling everyone else

One day an unknown savior
came to offer her aid
One thing led to another
and her saviors fist met her mans face
She screamed and the savior
thought it was out of relief
However she was afraid
that her man was deceased
Her savior would end up
leaving the building in hand cuffs
As she embraced her man,
he swore he woke up and would change
She smiled brightly as he kissed her scars
and dried tears from her face
Her beatings ended for two nights:
then started up again when
she forgot to defrost some chicken for dinner

Once more a knock at her door

A bang that bounces off in rhythm

A baby boy was produced and given love
in the highest quantities known to man,
smothering in quality, and genuine as can be
His mother sacrificed every day of her life for his,
took every loss in stride, cooked every single night,
and was beaten in plain sight of her baby boy

Baby boy learns from daddy,
Daddy turns to stranger,
Stranger is never a danger,
Stranger daps young boy,
After assaulting his mother,
Stranger gives young boy a gun,
Stranger tells young boy to join a gang,
Stranger tells young boy to run the streets,
Stranger tells young boy to hit his woman,
Stranger says she's a *** and a *****,
Just like the young boys mama,
Stranger gives props to young boy,
Stranger loves young boy,
And young boy loves stranger back,
Young boy hates:
his mother,
his neighborhood,
his friends,
his teachers,
his sisters,
and the sun,
But stranger understands him,
Stranger raised him

Mother died in memorial hospital
from internal bleeding
She had taken one beating
a thousand times too many
Young boys grandmother looked
upon her body in regret and shame
Grief given much too late
for the child ****** into hate

The young boy turns man

And knocks on his ladies door

Rhythm reminiscent of hers...

***** and blood
***** and blood
Things come together
Things fall apart

***** and blood
***** and blood
Things come together
Things fall apart

***** and blood
***** and blood
Things come together
Things fall apart
Rowan Carrick Dec 2010
it rains, and the gutters pound,
and the streets lie down
under that steady rhythm
that finger tapping belly patting rhythm

and we close our eyes
and the window sills get wet because we
left the windows open and that rain
that rhythm only wants to come in
and be our rhythm and sing its song

as our hands keep those same beats
on our bodies like the rain on streets
FIRST DAY

1.
Who wanted me
to go to Chicago
on January 6th?
I did!

The night before,
20 below zero
Fahrenheit
with the wind chill;
as the blizzard of 99
lay in mountains
of blackening snow.

I packed two coats,
two suits,
three sweaters,
multiple sets of long johns
and heavy white socks
for a two-day stay.

I left from Newark.
**** the denseness,
it confounds!

The 2nd City to whom?
2nd ain’t bad.
It’s pretty good.
If you consider
Peking and Prague,
Tokyo and Togo,
Manchester and Moscow,
Port Au Prince and Paris,
Athens and Amsterdam,
Buenos Aries and Johannesburg;
that’s pretty good.

What’s going on here today?
It’s friggin frozen.
To the bone!

But Chi Town is still cool.
Buddy Guy’s is open.
Bartenders mixing drinks,
cabbies jamming on their breaks,
honey dew waitresses serving sugar,
buildings swerving,
fire tongued preachers are preaching
and the farmers are measuring the moon.

The lake,
unlike Ontario
is in the midst of freezing.
Bones of ice
threaten to gel
into a solid mass
over the expanse
of the Michigan Lake.
If this keeps up,
you can walk
clear to Toronto
on a silver carpet.

Along the shore
the ice is permanent.
It’s the first big frost
of winter
after a long
Indian Summer.

Thank God
I caught a cab.
Outside I hear
The Hawk
nippin hard.
It’ll get your ear,
finger or toe.
Bite you on the nose too
if you ain’t careful.

Thank God,
I’m not walking
the Wabash tonight;
but if you do cover up,
wear layers.

Chicago,
could this be
Sandburg’s City?

I’m overwhelmed
and this is my tenth time here.

It’s almost better,
sometimes it is better,
a lot of times it is better
and denser then New York.

Ask any Bull’s fan.
I’m a Knickerbocker.
Yes Nueva York,
a city that has placed last
in the standings
for many years.
Except the last two.
Yanks are # 1!

But Chicago
is a dynasty,
as big as
Sammy Sosa’s heart,
rich and wide
as Michael Jordan’s grin.

Middle of a country,
center of a continent,
smack dab in the mean
of a hemisphere,
vortex to a world,
Chicago!

Kansas City,
Nashville,
St. Louis,
Detroit,
Cleveland,
Pittsburgh,
Denver,
New Orleans,
Dallas,
Cairo,
Singapore,
Auckland,
Baghdad,
Mexico City
and Montreal
salute her.



2.
Cities,
A collection of vanities?
Engineered complex utilitarianism?
The need for community a social necessity?
Ego one with the mass?
Civilization’s latest *******?
Chicago is more then that.

Jefferson’s yeoman farmer
is long gone
but this capitol
of the Great Plains
is still democratic.

The citizen’s of this city
would vote daily,
if they could.

Chicago,
Sandburg’s Chicago,
Could it be?

The namesake river
segments the city,
canals of commerce,
all perpendicular,
is rife throughout,
still guiding barges
to the Mississippi
and St. Laurence.

Now also
tourist attractions
for a cafe society.

Chicago is really jazzy,
swanky clubs,
big steaks,
juices and drinks.

You get the best
coffee from Seattle
and the finest teas
from China.

Great restaurants
serve liquid jazz
al la carte.

Jazz Jazz Jazz
All they serve is Jazz
Rock me steady
Keep the beat
Keep it flowin
Feel the heat!

Jazz Jazz Jazz
All they is, is Jazz
Fast cars will take ya
To the show
Round bout midnight
Where’d the time go?

Flows into the Mississippi,
the mother of America’s rivers,
an empires aorta.

Great Lakes wonder of water.
Niagara Falls
still her heart gushes forth.

Buffalo connected to this holy heart.
Finger Lakes and Adirondacks
are part of this watershed,
all the way down to the
Delaware and Chesapeake.

Sandburg’s Chicago?
Oh my my,
the wonder of him.
Who captured the imagination
of the wonders of rivers.

Down stream other holy cities
from the Mississippi delta
all mapped by him.

Its mouth our Dixie Trumpet
guarded by righteous Cajun brethren.

Midwest?
Midwest from where?
It’s north of Caracas and Los Angeles,
east of Fairbanks,
west of Dublin
and south of not much.

Him,
who spoke of honest men
and loving women.
Working men and mothers
bearing citizens to build a nation.
The New World’s
precocious adolescent
caught in a stream
of endless and exciting change,
much pain and sacrifice,
dedication and loss,
pride and tribulations.

From him we know
all the people’s faces.
All their stories are told.
Never defeating the
idea of Chicago.

Sandburg had the courage to say
what was in the heart of the people, who:

Defeated the Indians,
Mapped the terrain,
Aided slavers,
Fought a terrible civil war,
Hoisted the barges,
Grew the food,
Whacked the wheat,
Sang the songs,
Fought many wars of conquest,
Cleared the land,
Erected the bridges,
Trapped the game,
Netted the fish,
Mined the coal,
Forged the steel,
Laid the tracks,
Fired the tenders,
Cut the stone,
Mixed the mortar,
Plumbed the line,
And laid the bricks
Of this nation of cities!

Pardon the Marlboro Man shtick.
It’s a poor expostulation of
crass commercial symbolism.

Like I said, I’m a
Devil Fan from Jersey
and Madison Avenue
has done its work on me.

It’s a strange alchemy
that changes
a proud Nation of Blackhawks
into a merchandising bonanza
of hometown hockey shirts,
making the native seem alien,
and the interloper at home chillin out,
warming his feet atop a block of ice,
guzzling Old Style
with clicker in hand.

Give him his beer
and other diversions.
If he bowls with his buddy’s
on Tuesday night
I hope he bowls
a perfect game.

He’s earned it.
He works hard.
Hard work and faith
built this city.

And it’s not just the faith
that fills the cities
thousand churches,
temples and
mosques on the Sabbath.

3.
There is faith in everything in Chicago!

An alcoholic broker named Bill
lives the Twelve Steps
to banish fear and loathing
for one more day.
Bill believes in sobriety.

A tug captain named Moe
waits for the spring thaw
so he can get the barges up to Duluth.
Moe believes in the seasons.

A farmer named Tom
hopes he has reaped the last
of many bitter harvests.
Tom believes in a new start.

A homeless man named Earl
wills himself a cot and a hot
at the local shelter.
Earl believes in deliverance.

A Pullman porter
named George
works overtime
to get his first born
through medical school.
George believes in opportunity.

A folk singer named Woody
sings about his
countrymen inheritance
and implores them to take it.
Woody believes in people.

A Wobbly named Joe
organizes fellow steelworkers
to fight for a workers paradise
here on earth.
Joe believes in ideals.

A bookkeeper named Edith
is certain she’ll see the Cubs
win the World Series
in her lifetime.
Edith believes in miracles.

An electrician named ****
saves money
to bring his family over from Gdansk.
**** believes in America.

A banker named Leah
knows Ditka will return
and lead the Bears
to another Super Bowl.
Leah believes in nostalgia.

A cantor named Samuel
prays for another 20 years
so he can properly train
his Temple’s replacement.

Samuel believes in tradition.
A high school girl named Sally
refuses to get an abortion.
She knows she carries
something special within her.
Sally believes in life.

A city worker named Mazie
ceaselessly prays
for her incarcerated son
doing 10 years at Cook.
Mazie believes in redemption.

A jazzer named Bix
helps to invent a new art form
out of the mist.
Bix believes in creativity.

An architect named Frank
restores the Rookery.
Frank believes in space.

A soldier named Ike
fights wars for democracy.
Ike believes in peace.

A Rabbi named Jesse
sermonizes on Moses.
Jesse believes in liberation.

Somewhere in Chicago
a kid still believes in Shoeless Joe.
The kid believes in
the integrity of the game.

An Imam named Louis
is busy building a nation
within a nation.
Louis believes in
self-determination.

A teacher named Heidi
gives all she has to her students.
She has great expectations for them all.
Heidi believes in the future.

4.
Does Chicago have a future?

This city,
full of cowboys
and wildcatters
is predicated
on a future!

Bang, bang
Shoot em up
Stake the claim
It’s your terrain
Drill the hole
Strike it rich
Top it off
You’re the boss
Take a chance
Watch it wane
Try again
Heavenly gains

Chicago
city of futures
is a Holy Mecca
to all day traders.

Their skin is gray,
hair disheveled,
loud ties and
funny coats,
thumb through
slips of paper
held by nail
chewed hands.
Selling promises
with no derivative value
for out of the money calls
and in the money puts.
Strike is not a labor action
in this city of unionists,
but a speculators mark,
a capitalist wish,
a hedgers bet,
a public debt
and a farmers
fair return.

Indexes for everything.
Quantitative models
that could burst a kazoo.

You know the measure
of everything in Chicago.
But is it truly objective?
Have mathematics banished
subjective intentions,
routing it in fair practice
of market efficiencies,
a kind of scientific absolution?

I heard that there
is a dispute brewing
over the amount of snowfall
that fell on the 1st.

The mayor’s office,
using the official city ruler
measured 22”
of snow on the ground.

The National Weather Service
says it cannot detect more
then 17” of snow.

The mayor thinks
he’ll catch less heat
for the trains that don’t run
the buses that don’t arrive
and the schools that stand empty
with the addition of 5”.

The analysts say
it’s all about capturing liquidity.

Liquidity,
can you place a great lake
into an eyedropper?

Its 20 below
and all liquid things
are solid masses
or a gooey viscosity at best.

Water is frozen everywhere.
But Chi town is still liquid,
flowing faster
then the digital blips
flashing on the walls
of the CBOT.

Dreams
are never frozen in Chicago.
The exchanges trade
without missing a beat.

Trading wet dreams,
the crystallized vapor
of an IPO
pledging a billion points
of Internet access
or raiding the public treasuries
of a central bank’s
huge stores of gold
with currency swaps.

Using the tools
of butterfly spreads
and candlesticks
to achieve the goal.

Short the Russell
or buy the Dow,
go long the
CAC and DAX.
Are you trading in euro’s?
You better be
or soon will.
I know
you’re Chicago,
you’ll trade anything.
WEBS,
Spiders,
and Leaps
are traded here,
along with sweet crude,
North Sea Brent,
plywood and T-Bill futures;
and most importantly
the commodities,
the loam
that formed this city
of broad shoulders.

What about our wheat?
Still whacking and
breadbasket to the world.

Oil,
an important fossil fuel
denominated in
good ole greenbacks.

Porkbellies,
not just hogwash
on the Wabash,
but bacon, eggs
and flapjacks
are on the menu
of every diner in Jersey
as the “All American.”

Cotton,
our contribution
to the Golden Triangle,
once the global currency
used to enrich a
gentlemen class
of cultured
southern slavers,
now Tommy Hilfiger’s
preferred fabric.

I think he sends it
to Bangkok where
child slaves
spin it into
gold lame'.

Sorghum,
I think its hardy.

Soybeans,
the new age substitute
for hamburger
goes great with tofu lasagna.

Corn,
ADM creates ethanol,
they want us to drive cleaner cars.

Cattle,
once driven into this city’s
bloodhouses for slaughter,
now ground into
a billion Big Macs
every year.

When does a seed
become a commodity?
When does a commodity
become a future?
When does a future expire?

You can find the answers
to these questions in Chicago
and find a fortune in a hole in the floor.

Look down into the pits.
Hear the screams of anguish
and profitable delights.

Frenzied men
swarming like a mass
of epileptic ants
atop the worlds largest sugar cube
auger the worlds free markets.

The scene is
more chaotic then
100 Haymarket Square Riots
multiplied by 100
1968 Democratic Conventions.

Amidst inverted anthills,
they scurry forth and to
in distinguished
black and red coats.

Fighting each other
as counterparties
to a life and death transaction.

This is an efficient market
that crosses the globe.

Oil from the Sultan of Brunei,
Yen from the land of Hitachi,
Long Bonds from the Fed,
nickel from Quebec,
platinum and palladium
from Siberia,
FTSE’s from London
and crewel cane from Havana
circle these pits.

Tijuana,
Shanghai
and Istanbul's
best traders
are only half as good
as the average trader in Chicago.

Chicago,
this hog butcher to the world,
specializes in packaging and distribution.

Men in blood soaked smocks,
still count the heads
entering the gates of the city.

Their handiwork
is sent out on barges
and rail lines as frozen packages
of futures
waiting for delivery
to an anonymous counterparty
half a world away.

This nation’s hub
has grown into the
premier purveyor
to the world;
along all the rivers,
highways,
railways
and estuaries
it’s tentacles reach.

5.
Sandburg’s Chicago,
is a city of the world’s people.

Many striver rows compose
its many neighborhoods.

Nordic stoicism,
Eastern European orthodoxy
and Afro-American
calypso vibrations
are three of many cords
strumming the strings
of Chicago.

Sandburg’s Chicago,
if you wrote forever
you would only scratch its surface.

People wait for trains
to enter the city from O’Hare.
Frozen tears
lock their eyes
onto distant skyscrapers,
solid chunks
of snot blocks their nose
and green icicles of slime
crust mustaches.
They fight to breathe.

Sandburg’s Chicago
is The Land of Lincoln,
Savior of the Union,
protector of the Republic.
Sent armies
of sons and daughters,
barges, boxcars,
gunboats, foodstuffs,
cannon and shot
to raze the south
and stamp out succession.

Old Abe’s biography
are still unknown volumes to me.
I must see and read the great words.
You can never learn enough;
but I’ve been to Washington
and seen the man’s memorial.
The Free World’s 8th wonder,
guarded by General Grant,
who still keeps an eye on Richmond
and a hand on his sword.

Through this American winter
Abe ponders.
The vista he surveys is dire and tragic.

Our sitting President
impeached
for lying about a *******.

Party partisans
in the senate are sworn and seated.
Our Chief Justice,
adorned with golden bars
will adjudicate the proceedings.
It is the perfect counterpoint
to an ageless Abe thinking
with malice toward none
and charity towards all,
will heal the wounds
of the nation.

Abe our granite angel,
Chicago goes on,
The Union is strong!


SECOND DAY

1.
Out my window
the sun has risen.

According to
the local forecast
its minus 9
going up to
6 today.

The lake,
a golden pillow of clouds
is frozen in time.

I marvel
at the ancients ones
resourcefulness
and how
they mastered
these extreme elements.

Past, present and future
has no meaning
in the Citadel
of the Prairie today.

I set my watch
to Central Standard Time.

Stepping into
the hotel lobby
the concierge
with oil smooth hair,
perfect tie
and English lilt
impeccably asks,
“Do you know where you are going Sir?
Can I give you a map?”

He hands me one of Chicago.
I see he recently had his nails done.
He paints a green line
along Whacker Drive and says,
“turn on Jackson, LaSalle, Wabash or Madison
and you’ll get to where you want to go.”
A walk of 14 or 15 blocks from Streeterville-
(I start at The Chicago White House.
They call it that because Hillary Rodham
stays here when she’s in town.
Its’ also alleged that Stedman
eats his breakfast here
but Opra
has never been seen
on the premises.
I wonder how I gained entry
into this place of elite’s?)
-down into the center of The Loop.

Stepping out of the hotel,
The Doorman
sporting the epaulets of a colonel
on his corporate winter coat
and furry Cossack hat
swaddling his round black face
accosts me.

The skin of his face
is flaking from
the subzero windburn.

He asks me
with a gapped toothy grin,
“Can I get you a cab?”
“No I think I’ll walk,” I answer.
“Good woolen hat,
thick gloves you should be alright.”
He winks and lets me pass.

I step outside.
The Windy City
flings stabbing cold spears
flying on wings of 30-mph gusts.
My outside hardens.
I can feel the freeze
deepen
into my internalness.
I can’t be sure
but inside
my heart still feels warm.
For how long
I cannot say.

I commence
my walk
among the spires
of this great city,
the vertical leaps
that anchor the great lake,
holding its place
against the historic
frigid assault.

The buildings’ sway,
modulating to the blows
of natures wicked blasts.

It’s a hard imposition
on a city and its people.

The gloves,
skullcap,
long underwear,
sweater,
jacket
and overcoat
not enough
to keep the cold
from penetrating
the person.

Like discerning
the layers of this city,
even many layers,
still not enough
to understand
the depth of meaning
of the heart
of this heartland city.

Sandburg knew the city well.
Set amidst groves of suburbs
that extend outward in every direction.
Concentric circles
surround the city.
After the burbs come farms,
Great Plains, and mountains.
Appalachians and Rockies
are but mere molehills
in the city’s back yard.
It’s terra firma
stops only at the sea.
Pt. Barrow to the Horn,
many capes extended.

On the periphery
its appendages,
its extremities,
its outward extremes.
All connected by the idea,
blown by the incessant wind
of this great nation.
The Windy City’s message
is sent to the world’s four corners.
It is a message of power.
English the worlds
common language
is spoken here,
along with Ebonics,
Espanol,
Mandarin,
Czech,
Russian,
Korean,
Arabic,
Hindi­,
German,
French,
electronics,
steel,
cars,
cartoons,
rap,
sports­,
movies,
capital,
wheat
and more.

Always more.
Much much more
in Chicago.

2.
Sandburg
spoke all the dialects.

He heard them all,
he understood
with great precision
to the finest tolerances
of a lathe workers micrometer.

Sandburg understood
what it meant to laugh
and be happy.

He understood
the working mans day,
the learned treatises
of university chairs,
the endless tomes
of the city’s
great libraries,
the lost languages
of the ancient ones,
the secret codes
of abstract art,
the impact of architecture,
the street dialects and idioms
of everymans expression of life.

All fighting for life,
trying to build a life,
a new life
in this modern world.

Walking across
the Michigan Avenue Bridge
I see the Wrigley Building
is neatly carved,
catty cornered on the plaza.

I wonder if Old Man Wrigley
watched his barges
loaded with spearmint
and double-mint
move out onto the lake
from one of those Gothic windows
perched high above the street.

Would he open a window
and shout to the men below
to quit slaking and work harder
or would he
between the snapping sound
he made with his mouth
full of his chewing gum
offer them tickets
to a ballgame at Wrigley Field
that afternoon?

Would the men below
be able to understand
the man communing
from such a great height?

I listen to a man
and woman conversing.
They are one step behind me
as we meander along Wacker Drive.

"You are in Chicago now.”
The man states with profundity.
“If I let you go
you will soon find your level
in this city.
Do you know what I mean?”

No I don’t.
I think to myself.
What level are you I wonder?
Are you perched atop
the transmission spire
of the Hancock Tower?

I wouldn’t think so
or your ears would melt
from the windburn.

I’m thinking.
Is she a kept woman?
She is majestically clothed
in fur hat and coat.
In animal pelts
not trapped like her,
but slaughtered
from farms
I’m sure.

What level
is he speaking of?

Many levels
are evident in this city;
many layers of cobbled stone,
Pennsylvania iron,
Hoosier Granite
and vertical drops.

I wonder
if I detect
condensation
in his voice?

What is
his intention?
Is it a warning
of a broken affair?
A pending pink slip?
Advise to an addict
refusing to adhere
to a recovery regimen?

What is his level anyway?
Is he so high and mighty,
Higher and mightier
then this great city
which we are all a part of,
which we all helped to build,
which we all need
in order to keep this nation
the thriving democratic
empire it is?

This seditious talk!

3.
The Loop’s El
still courses through
the main thoroughfares of the city.

People are transported
above the din of the street,
looking down
on the common pedestrians
like me.

Super CEO’s
populating the upper floors
of Romanesque,
Greek Revivalist,
New Bauhaus,
Art Deco
and Post Nouveau
Neo-Modern
Avant-Garde towers
are too far up
to see me
shivering on the street.

The cars, busses,
trains and trucks
are all covered
with the film
of rock salt.

Salt covers
my bootless feet
and smudges
my cloths as well.

The salt,
the primal element
of the earth
covers everything
in Chicago.

It is the true level
of this city.

The layer
beneath
all layers,
on which
everything
rests,
is built,
grows,
thrives
then dies.
To be
returned again
to the lower
layers
where it can
take root
again
and grow
out onto
the great plains.

Splashing
the nation,
anointing
its people
with its
blessing.

A blessing,
Chicago?

All rivers
come here.

All things
found its way here
through the canals
and back bays
of the world’s
greatest lakes.

All roads,
rails and
air routes
begin and
end here.

Mrs. O’Leary’s cow
got a *** rap.
It did not start the fire,
we did.

We lit the torch
that flamed
the city to cinders.
From a pile of ash
Chicago rose again.

Forever Chicago!
Forever the lamp
that burns bright
on a Great Lake’s
western shore!

Chicago
the beacon
sends the
message to the world
with its windy blasts,
on chugging barges,
clapping trains,
flying tandems,
T1 circuits
and roaring jets.

Sandburg knew
a Chicago
I will never know.

He knew
the rhythm of life
the people walked to.
The tools they used,
the dreams they dreamed
the songs they sang,
the things they built,
the things they loved,
the pains that hurt,
the motives that grew,
the actions that destroyed
the prayers they prayed,
the food they ate
their moments of death.

Sandburg knew
the layers of the city
to the depths
and windy heights
I cannot fathom.

The Blues
came to this city,
on the wing
of a chirping bird,
on the taps
of a rickety train,
on the blast
of an angry sax
rushing on the wind,
on the Westend blitz
of Pop's brash coronet,
on the tink of
a twinkling piano
on a paddle-wheel boat
and on the strings
of a lonely man’s guitar.

Walk into the clubs,
tenements,
row houses,
speakeasies
and you’ll hear the Blues
whispered like
a quiet prayer.

Tidewater Blues
from Virginia,
Delta Blues
from the lower
Mississippi,
Boogie Woogie
from Appalachia,
Texas Blues
from some Lone Star,
Big Band Blues
from Kansas City,
Blues from
Beal Street,
Jelly Roll’s Blues
from the Latin Quarter.

Hell even Chicago
got its own brand
of Blues.

Its all here.
It ended up here
and was sent away
on the winds of westerly blows
to the ear of an eager world
on strong jet streams
of simple melodies
and hard truths.

A broad
shouldered woman,
a single mother stands
on the street
with three crying babes.
Their cloths
are covered
in salt.
She pleads
for a break,
praying
for a new start.
Poor and
under-clothed
against the torrent
of frigid weather
she begs for help.
Her blond hair
and ****** features
suggests her
Scandinavian heritage.
I wonder if
she is related to Sandburg
as I walk past
her on the street.
Her feet
are bleeding
through her
canvass sneakers.
Her babes mouths
are zipped shut
with frozen drivel
and mucous.

The Blues live
on in Chicago.

The Blues
will forever live in her.
As I turn the corner
to walk the Miracle Mile
I see her engulfed
in a funnel cloud of salt,
snow and bits
of white paper,
swirling around her
and her children
in an angry
unforgiving
maelstrom.

The family
begins to
dissolve
like a snail
sprinkled with salt;
and a mother
and her children
just disappear
into the pavement
at the corner
of Dearborn,
in Chicago.

Music:

Robert Johnson
Sweet Home Chicago


jbm
Chicago
1/7/99
Added today to commemorate the birthday of Carl Sandburg
Arlene Corwin Mar 2018
Finding Your Rhythm

Your rhythm can have heat,
It can have speed.
Depending upon what you need
In the moment’s feat,
It’s very heartbeat.

Whatsoever gives you power,
Your bio-clock
May rock
That hour.

Power by the minutes is what counts.
It mounts by seconds as you play.
It plays,
And you should let it play
Since rhythm’s power never stays,
Permutating with each pulse.

Respect it, for it’s no one else -
The simplest sample of the minute’s you,
All you are and all you do,
Adapting, altering, amending,
Reconstructing and evolving
As you solve new pages,
Entering and leaving stages.

When I play or sing
Finding tempo’s rhythmic swing
Is key; door’s opening
To fundamentals: moving, sitting, cooking,  eating…
Finding beat the core and more.

At the bottom your rhythm
Lies a measure of your pleasure,
An intrinsic part of it;
Pleasure in the heart of it.

Finding Your Rhythm 3.28.2018 Vaguely About Music II; Circling Round Energy, Nature Of & In Reality; Arlene Corwin
Find your rhythm!
Mateuš Conrad Aug 2016
sliding your slippers against the wooden flooring
for the grit, the sand, the rattle, is very much like playing
the jazz drums while shaking the maracas... jazz drummers
with brushes, ever so slightly the sand-timers' expression...
horace silver's sighin' n' cryin'... it's sandy, shaky,
a 40 degree heat  off the isle of Celsius...
boom boom bara boom... ta'dum  ta'dum tapas baked at noon...
i love the all the instruments can break away from their rhythmic
roles and do a solo... everyone is minded, no one is dismissed...
everyone take a part... once the base freed from rhythm,
takes to solo, another instrument takes the leading
role in providing the rhythm, the many
handshakes in jazz, the merchant's ergonomics,
then the piano solos... then the sax,
and then the drums... while some other instrument
takes the lead for the rhythm...
maybe my love of jazz stemmed from
never getting to grips with rap: the deviation
from the puritan practices of poet-speak...
but we're far removed from philosophers...
they can take their comparisons and
arguments elsewhere...
compared to philosophers and novelists...
who **** out a constipated 600 page novels
weaving, constantly weaving...
we're journalists in the ozone layer...
poetry forgot the old grievance with philosophy,
it just said: i attire myself with journalistic ambitions,
that's where i preside, and nowhere else...
indeed, jazz means much more than it did
in the 20th century, in the 21st century we are just
about seeing it's status improved as equal to a Mozart,
adding the spontaneity... forever divorced from
mingling with poetry... because no one would
dare to mash-up a session with Mozart playing
in the background... well, adding the Operas...
no jazzy operatic would ever work, even
with Porgy & Bess...
but still, the sandy rhythm of the drums...
like rain on umbrellas, but in reality like
Sahara dropping on an umbrella in Algiers...
the laziness and fulfilment...
i simply can't despair like some poet
commenting on a Liszt performance...
i love the lazy Caribbean approach...
if it ain't broke, don't fix it...
and if it's broke, allow at least a few days of
fermentation... never be too busy as to later
bust on what life means to only relieve yourself
with a meaning: just work, therefore it works,
life just means work... they've been selling
us the Auschwitz slogan for a long time.
it wasn't a wet crash cymbal, crash or splash as such...
it was the sand-paper scratch of the brush-strokes
on the floor tom and the snare;
as some might consider arithmetic the quantum
physics of the other linear expression of counting -
quantum (a particular source of all our mental
blockages, call the plumbers of our blanks) -
so too the keeping of rhythm as superior against
keeping count... just when the two seemed identical,
keeping rhythm: 1, 1, 1, 1
            rather than keeping count: 1, 2, 3, 4...
came on top... just like 1 x 9 made more intellectual
improvements to sentence the symbols to
that hide & seek of binary (0-0, 1-1, 2-10, 3-11, 4-100, 5-101,
6-110, 7-111, 8-1000)...
keeping rhythm and the original spontaneity,
keeping count and the precursor of pre-ordained script;
i don't see what certain words should become like castles,
with moats and bridges and hot-melt poured on
the attackers... but they have become like castles...
totally deviating access with our request for accessing them...
while other words lie about like pennies on the pavement...
where everyone can pick them up and exploit them...
flick them, make them crowd gathering utensils,
shame that some words ended up so sacred as to be
commonplace in our adventure into ignorance...
while other words became the crowd-pleasing
five loaves of bread and two fish... sure enough
certain words became just that...
other words became elephants... like calculus... or
evolution... it's not that people wouldn't reach a zenith
of sustenance with them, that their stomachs would be
filled... it's that eating such words was impossible...
because they couldn't stomach / digest them...
it was really like trying to eat a whole elephant in one
go, rather than a small portion and freezing the rest...
these days people still try to compete in the eating races,
trying to eat the entire elephant in one go...
and every time they try it, they fail, by simply regurgitating
what they couldn't eat for another person to eat...
given the span of 2000 years from that famous
spectacle of 5000 x 5 x 2....we hardly know whether
1 multiplied by anything will be adequate to satiate us
to have the cement dry and
allow certainty to provide us with established norm,
and the process of forgetting the instigator of
the original idea.
Ashley Chapman Jul 2018
Pressesd tenderly,
your carnal flower opens,
its butterfly released,
hovers like a hummingbird
drinking from the bill.

Oh, I too would steal you away
and cage you happily,
to get under your black-fringed skirt; 
to see that pretty dress,
fly off once more,
and see you bare;
burned now forever in my banks,
a first sight,
of dark curls!

As I think of it,
my desire stirs,
but of us
I have already masturbated twice:
jammed,
hips pinned,
sliding over our wet perspiring bellies,
in our jungle heat:
'cause in the firmament of our embrace
- it's hot -
where glued we **** into each other,
stoking flames,
until sleep,
when we disappear from each other.
My mind crowds,
with niggling neurotic inanities;
yours with manic dreams where bed-wetting criminals in cages beg to be freed,
before better spaces overtake.

When I awake,
I am lying next to you,  
Gwen over the horizon of your fertile valley,
a mountain,
white and reposed.
You,
murmuring desire for me.
****!
I can't wait to answer.

It is late,
late morning,
and we are all half asleep.
You have your back to me,
as we lie,
rubbing feet,
stroking hands,
(the oiled bulb at the end of a finger),
your fine shoulders,
(that delicate but persistent bone in your wrist that stretches with pointed elegance);
as quietly inside,  
(warmly enveloped),
my couched *****,  
rocks us:
each diffusing into the other
like the early morning brew.

Lust and love,
closing-in,
which for a good while on edge had been:
the weeks,
days,
hours;
faint promises from afar;
sometimes a little closer,
our shadows in daylight cross,
as one over the other storms;
and once (or twice),
a sleeve brushes,
even better,
hair crackles,
as a speaking lip touches lobe,  
and for a moment,
taking in the other's scent,
a hint sublimely overpowers.

And these,
dearest of fancies,
are just some,
with which to penetrate your mind,
as you have mine:
the energy of my yielding tenderness,
inviting you to complete me,
as I spread for you with desire.

Much later,
those daring looks you have,
the way you walk our stage:
your beautiful elongated face,
those quick-fire arousing eyes,
your sultry self-assuredness,
your pre-possessing self.

I could talk about your couple,
of generosity,
reaching up,
beyond mere comprehension:
of the fact that I like Gwen
(his love gift for you, me);
but actually,
in truth,
I prefer to take this moment to make love to you;
to say how wrapped I am,
folded in your limbs,
in our mingling sweat;
how with your joy,
you touch my desires,
into yours,
so they flow,
run rather:
honeysuckle from your blessed nymphae.

You love my smell,
you say,
and I dream of gathering you in pheromones,
of drugging you,
of intoxicating you,
so once again you will find me,
take me,
have me.
Entice you once more like a creature from its shell:
Come!
where I can ravish you,
all of you,
lay naked to me,
flesh,
sinews,
everything,
your very bones;
those fine elbows,
those knees I would like to ******* over;
wash their smooth surfaces in my come:
from these cliff heights,
rain ***** on the rocks below.

To once more cast aside your socks and get at your toes,
to pour oil on 'em,
to rub and squeeze' em,
while in the moist cavern of your insides,
we ****,
half washed over by our own tide.
And as we do,
I quail,
speaking sweet nothings of appreciation;
from full lips,
your sounds return,
the hypnotic rhythm of your breath:
I engorge and in our labyrinth,
- the maiden and the bull -
we consume ourselves.

There,
Sweet Lentiform,
you did it,
you got me rolling in flesh,
lusting after your intimate parts,
wanting you in bed as I know you must have me:
pulling me on you,
kissing and biting;
my arousal in your palm,
pops,
as you run a curved finger over my nethers.

Lying,
lying,
side-by-side,
lying prone,
lying ******,
never unconsumed,
because,
please,
please  us,
with more;
so rarely,
unfucked even for a pause,
nothing doing more than sleeping and carousing;
our sustenance barely enough to keep us at it,
an occasional comic thrown in.
Oh,
God,
throw the ******* comic at me,
will you?
Beat my ******* flesh with it if you like.
Anything to see you standing in all your pearly naked glory!

And if you can,
keep texting me,
so I can hang on your every word like a ******* puppy!
Beautiful
long-haired,
skin tight,
upright,
wise,
gorgeously wild,
woman ...
Now pull me by my **** into your **** -
where I love it best.

— The End —