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Taylor St Onge Dec 2017
If you're a patient in a hospital, wouldn't you want to know
exactly how many people have died in the room
                                                                 you're currently sleeping in?    
                           How many hearts have stopped beating, how many
                                                               lungs have deflated, how many
pupils have stopped responding to light—
                                                          ­                 how long CPR was
                                                                ­             performed before
                                                                ­            Time     of     Death
                                                           ­                       was called?
How many DNR patients waltzed into the afterlife
without so much as a half-hearted chest compression?

Ribs can break during CPR.
How many cracked ribs have echoed
                                                                ­  across the walls of your
                                                                ­            hospital room?

                                                           x

Eve was made from Adam's rib.
God plucked the bone and
                                                                ­                  fashioned it into a
                                                                ­             subservient woman to
                                                                ­               replace the wild one,
                                                                   the first one, the no good one,
                                     the woman made from the same soil as Adam:
      Lilith.

                                                           x

We break ribs, break wishbones, break most things we don't understand. A confused patient will take out his IV, his PICC line, even pull at his chest tube or his LVAD driveline.
If it doesn't make sense, we will try to eliminate it in the sake of
                                                                ­                               normality.

                      ­                                     x

Some time in August, we had two codes within one hour.  After 30 or so minutes of chest compressions, they pronounced the second man dead.  He wasn’t my patient that night, and I didn’t know him.  I think his ribs snapped under Alyssa’s hands when she tried to revive him.
                                                            ­      And what does that feel like?   Not just the desperate rush of adrenaline,
        of trying to bring someone back to life—not just the emotional,
                                                                ­           but the physical of it all.

The cracking of the bone beneath the heels of your hands.  
Your fingers laced on top of each other
                                                                ­ pounding and
                                  pounding and
                                                                ­                                  pounding
                                                           against the sternum.  
One, two.  One, two.  One, two.  
                                                          ­            The bone cleaves in half.
And how much pressure does it take?  
I’m sure science could tell us, but
                              how does it feel in your arms, in your shoulders—
                       will your muscles remember the strength it takes and
                                                      stop you next time?

                                                           x

How hard did God have to try when he ripped out
         Adam's rib to make Eve? And
                           how long did it take Adam to recover from the loss?
(Maybe he never did.)

                                                           x

Healthcare is still so barbaric.  You must hurt to help.  
                               Saw through the sternum to get to the heart.  
                 Insert a painful tube to remove the excess fluid.  
                             Drill through the skull and remove
                        potentially useful brain matter.

I have nightmares of tripping over IV tubing and
ripping out PICC lines.   I am terrified of
dropping someone's chest tube on the floor,
                                                 of it ripping violently out of their lungs.
It's not my blood, it's some else's,
                                               and that makes it so much worse.  
                    Being responsible for another human's well-being
                                             is actually terrifying.

I just want to be helpful.  I don’t want to hurtful.  But so often,
                                         I find myself damaging the ones I love.

                                                           x

I would rather have my brain-dead sternum sawed open than
rot in some hole in the ground like my mother if it
                                                        would mean that I could be useful.
                                                   And all we really want is to be useful.
To feel something.  To be something.  
To be proud like the original sin.

Remove my ribs.  All 24 of them.  
Make them into several new women with
several new names and
                                           faces and
                                                            eye colors and
                       skin colors.
Their lives would be more beneficial than my death ever could be.

Like Eve with Lilith, replace the bad, with the seemingly good.  
                                                         Replace the soil with the body.
                                                  It all has to come from somewhere.  

                                                           x

                     How to keep the self close and yet distant from trauma.
part of a larger work based on my work as a cna in a hospital
Christos Rigakos Oct 2012
She broke his arms, his ribs, his legs, his heart.
He was a man who loved with all he was.
She ripped a very loving man apart.

He gave her money, pushed her shopping cart,
he bought her heart's desires, and without pause,
she broke his arms, his ribs, his legs, his heart.

His crime was having loved her from the start,
and far beyond her limits without cause.
She ripped a very loving man apart,

and though she was a very sour ****,
he loved her still with everything he was.
She broke his arms, his ribs, his legs, his heart,

hock-spat at him, and in his face did ****,
to agitate that love wrapped tight in gauze.
She ripped a very loving man apart,

and stomped him in his sleep, stiletto darts
pierced flesh and pocked him, loving as he was.
She broke his arms, his ribs, his legs, his heart.
She ripped a very loving man apart.

(C)2008, Christos Rigakos
Villanelle
Ron Sanders Feb 2020
(Glade, World, Master, Boy, Hero)

                                                 GLADE

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

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

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

                                               WORLD

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                              MA­STER

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

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

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

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

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

                                                  BOY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                HERO

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

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

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

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







Copyright 2020 by Ron Sanders.

Contact:  ronsandersartofprose(at)yahoo(dot)com
Sorry about the ghastly copy. This system makes graceful formatting impossible.
Robin Carretti Aug 2018
Where do we meet
    Oh! No He_*
Getting onto
the next courses
Oh La- La "Cheri"
K>ANSAS>>City

_ Prime spot pretty

 let's >- jump ))) To Love
Please raise the horses

What a skirt steak in her
Petticoat Junction
Going to Kansas City affection
Different tribe or breed
What needs to love me
tender Elvis meet Beavis Buthead
    More  T.L.C  
computer DOC Tick Tock
IRS taking a meat beef
chunk is everybody drunk
IOS what is really the meat
Business Politician Trump

Subscribe well done
Cooked or rare spooked
Taking a Spin City kick
She got canned and licked
The prime meat hot seat

The ******* who arrives
first class steak knifes
Ms. Pork hard chew 
Mr. Beans second rate
Dark pumpernickel
Saloon *******, he
is eating
The young tender
chicken leg

High five thigh? Hands
up Robin Fly
Save the meat "let it be"
  "Let it Be" Beatles
The beat Colonel deep fried
Grade A rare meat slicing

Eating in a board meeting
The pig meat market
of pricing

Doe a deer
he loves
International beer
A very sensitive time
Slaughterhouse no way out
His poker face meets
potato heads beef jerky
Surrender Weds
maple smiles picky
The rich Syrup
Disney Mickey Mouse
Kansas City Wonder
meat house

The beauty of animals
"Moms kettle she is talking
to Parrots" meat
the market for rings riot
Six enemies making
6 rounds
Six servants 666 carats
Robin smiles heartily
"Campbells Chicken" little


He's the Beef Man stew
If you only knew

He's spitting tobacco chew
She peels the potato for the
meathead bad to the
T-bone Dachshund I Bone

Garlic knots heart of the
Sausage wearing the
meat corsage Superbowl
My sweet basil good soul
Grilling your bullhead
Pirate Ribeye steak pupils
Mr. "Billygoat" Bachelorette
Hair flat crepe Suzette

Moms Korean style fuss
coleslaw
what a seesaw
Playing Porgy and Bess
 Scarlet the red rare meat
Rolling stone baking pin
Mississippi one or two
Under my meaty thumb

Comes in three-4-5-6- Lucky 7
-Crazy 8 furries
Nine meat ribs-10 babies
with bibs
Hungry Man meat when!!
Country plaid tablecloth
"Kansas Men" of the cloth
The Pig approval
Kansas City Mayor
new arrival

Family together eating
Don't eat our animals
Why is life so unfair
Feeding the poor
with cans
The bad cut of meat devil
this is not the "Grade A"
This is not a ring
circus trainer Bullseye

Robin coffee animal-friendly
Two peas in a pod I pods
  I tune like Gods
Were the luckiest people to have
animals  

The Floridian with dog murals
Palm trees green thumb
plants sunshine events
The symphony dog tails
of hunts
Whats to compare her twilight
eyes hold the moment stare
Talk to the animal's hearts care
The barbecue all the meat men and the women who love their fruit listen to the Owl lady how she hoots those Kansas city slicker boots and the Hehaw have a good time with family and friends treat the animals with tender loving care
Toni Seychelle Feb 2013
The ground beneath the stiff leaves is frozen. The cold, brisk air invades my lungs, I exhale, my breath visible. I step over fallen branches and tugged by thorny vines. A red tail hawk screeches overhead, this is a sign of good luck. There is no path, no trail to mark our way, just an old, flat railroad bed surrounded by walls of shale, blown up for the path of the train so long ago. The only ties to remind of the rail are the rotting, moss covered ties that once were a part of a bridge that would have carried the train over a small creek between two steep hills. I see a fox burrow, and it's escape hatch is one of the hollowed railroad ties. I want to be a fox... The trek down this hill is not easy, thorny blackberry bushes and fallen trees impede progress. At the bottom, the small, bubbly creek is frozen at the edges, traveling under rocks and continuing its ancient path. I look up the hill that I just descended, and wonder how the return will go. Keep moving. The next hill will be easier, there are no thorny tangles, just treacherous leaf litter that will give under my feet if I don't find the right footing. The trick is to dig my boots into the ground as if I'm on steps. These hills are steep. Finally at the top, I look back at this little spring valley, I'm not that high up, but what view. Here, there is a dilapidated tree stand, falling apart from years of neglect and weather. Surrounded by deep leaf litter, there is a patch of rich dark earth, a buck has marked his spot, his round pellets are nearby. The saplings catch my hair as I walk by, and at these moments I am thankful for this cold snap that took care of the ticks. A creepy feeling takes over me, so thankful for this snap. A few feet further, as I watch where I am walking, another tussled bit of earth and I notice some interesting ****. It's furry and light grey; I poke it with my stick and find a small skull when I turn a piece over. Owl. I continue my walk, I didn't come here to play with poo. The last time I took this hike was three years ago, on a similar frigid day. It was a lot easier to make it through the shale valleys. Last summer, a wind storm felled trees and took out power for two weeks. The evidence of that derecho is clear here in this untouched forest. I remembered a tree, which now is a fallen giant, that had lost it's bark. The bark had separated and laid around this tree like a woman's skirt around her ankles. Now the tree lies with it's bark. I pass another tree I recognize whose branch extends out but zig zags up and down, as if it had three elbows. The tree signifies my next move, to descend from the flat railroad bed, down to a creek that flows through the tunnel that would have carried the train. The creek is considerably larger than the last creek I could step across. Descending towards the creek leads me over moss covered rocks and limbs, still bearing snow. Outside the tunnel, the hill walls are large stones, covered in a thick layer of moss, some of which has started to fall off due to heaviness. There's a sort of ice shelf in the creek, it's three layers thick and can support my one hundred and twenty pounds. Laying across the creek is another derecho-felled tree. Some sort of critter has crawled on this, using it to avoid the water below and as a short cut up the hill. His claw marks are covering the the limb, a few are more clear, it looks as if the creature almost slipped off. His claw marks show a desperate cling. I walk through the tunnel, in the mud and water; the creek echoes inside. I look above. There are drainage holes lining the ceiling, one is clogged by a giant icicle. I imagine the train that used to ride over this tunnel, I pretend to hear it and feel the rumbling. The last time we were here, we found cow skeletons. We placed a few heads on branches and one over the tunnel. We stuck a jaw, complete with herbivore teeth, into the mossy wall and a hip bone on a sapling. The hip bone reminded us of Predator's mask in the movie. All these bones are turning green. When I was here before, there was a bone half submerged in the creek; I had taken a picture of it but today, it isn't here. I'm sure it was washed away. After our exploration of the previous visit, we turned back. We are cold again, can't stay in one place too long. I climb through the deep leaf litter and over the rocks back to the railroad bed. Passing all the things I've already seen and spotting things I missed. I find two more fox burrows. They utilized the shale rock and burrowed underneath the jutting formations. Hidden coming from the south, the gaping openings seem welcoming from the north. My friends, the spelunkers and climber, want to descend into the darkness but I remind them, it is an hour to sundown, our trek is hard enough with overcast daylight. Wisdom prevails. We pass a tree, we didn't notice before, that was struck by lightening. The cedar tree was split in two and fell down the shale wall. I see the evidence of the burn and a smoldered residue at the base. Nature has a cruel way of recycling. The downed tree still has snow on it and the path of a raccoon is visible, I like the paws of *****. Though the way is flat, the walls of shale tower above us, limiting routes. At one point I can't see through the fallen trees I have to pass through. I have to crab walk under, crawl over, duck again and find my way around the thorny collections of bare black berry bushes. Finally into a clearing, still surrounded by sharp shale, there is another wall covered in inches of thick, healthy moss. I place my hand, taking time to stroke the furry wall. My hand leaves an imprint. I wonder how long that will last.. Back down the steep hill up and up the thorny tangle. I know I'm on the right path up, I see the fox's hole through the railroad tie, and his entrance burrow up the hill. Going down was definitely easier. The summit is literally overgrown with thorns, there is no clear path through. It is, again, impossible to see through the tangle of limbs and saplings and more thorns. Somehow we make it through. We are close to breaking off this path. We know this by the remains of a cow skeleton that more than likely fell from the top of the shale cliff. Femurs and ribs and jaws abound. On the last trip, we placed a hip bone in the "Y" of a sapling. The young tree has claimed it, growing around it. We add a piece of jaw to the tree's ornamentation and move on. We climb down from the railroad bed to our car - parked on the side of the road with a white towel in the window so that no one suspects a group of people walking through private property, past faded NO TRESPASSING signs.

When I undress for bed later, there are many small scratches up and down my legs from those ****** thorny vines. I'm okay with that, it's better than searching for ticks in my head.
I couldn't write a 'poem' about this hike. It was too full of nature.
Richard Apr 2013
corinth picked up the ball and tossed it up into the air as high as he possibly could. the energy it took for him to do so left him gasping and his muscles stung a little, but to watch the ball arc high above the sky, black against blue, was worth it. when the ball started to sink back down, he ran after it, bumping past athens who had been watching mere inches away.

the enclosure was a backyard to a white building surrounded by concrete walls that cut open hands when rubbed too hard or when scuffles turned sour. in the corner, there was a patch of green grass. the rest was stained yellow from lack of water or from too much sun.

sparta sat in the dust, his hands red with dirt and blood. the stains wrapped around his fingers and wrists and spiraled up to his elbows. he rubbed the pads of his fingers along the dirt, picking up small twigs and stones along the way, as he drew circles around the bird. the bird was dead, long dead, but its brown and grey feathers still stayed in its skin most of the time and the blood was drying so sparta’s hands wouldn’t be red for too much longer. the cracks of flaking blood opened like wounds on small boy's hands: palms big for holding bigger hands and fingers short to keep everything close. sparrow feathers and tears smeared comets into the dust while he cried for his mama even though his mama never came.

corinth ran after the ball, his breath short and his face glowing pink from exertion. as he ran, his hand running along the concrete wall, he started coughing. catching up with the ball started the initial coughing fit that turned into a rattler. he held his hand against the wall, clinging to it with white knuckles, as he hunched over to cough and cough so hard he could feel his throat start to stretch ragged, could feel lunch starting to come up. athens kicked corinth's foot gently before backing away a few feet while corinth continued to cough. when corinth's lungs and throat settled, he stood up straight, grabbed the ball, and threw it up again, this time out of anger rather than play. the ball went sailing backward and athens ran in order to try and get to the ball first, having had a head start. corinth was still faster and managed to shove athens away with a rogue elbow to the ribs in order to claim the ball again. athens didn't argue against the bone.

play continued until the sirens sounded. sparta stopped crying, corinth dropped the ball, and athens picked it up. all three of them hurried quickly and clumsily inside the bunker, shutting the door behind them. as they crawled down the narrow passageway, sparta started to hiccup, a leftover symptom of crying. corinth stopped and glared, and sparta murmured an apology before wiping his sniffles away with the sleeve of his shirt. corinth led the way until the three boys dropped inside the hollowed out room. it was round and the walls were mixtures of concrete, dirt, and chalk drawings. they each had to hunch, especially athens, as the ceiling

they sat in a practiced circle around the center of the room. after a few moments of quiet, hushed breathing, athens began the processions.

“we all here?”

the other two boys raised their hands. sparta’s fingers trembled while corinth raised his arm as high as it could possibly go. his ******* scraped against the ceiling in his earnestness. the three then began the tradition discussion of their names. sparta, forgetting conduct, almost gave away corinth's name, but corinth shut him up quickly. sparta apologized quickly and shoved his fingers in his mouth to keep from saying anything more. dirt and blood mixed with saliva in his mouth, and as he swallowed he ended up choking and gagging on the combination. he coughed and coughed, and corinth slapped him on the back. it didn't help, and the more sparta tried to stop coughing, the harder it lasted. eventually, he had to turn and face away from the other boys as hot bile slid up his throat and onto the floor with a small splat. athens grimaced and edged away.

"alright… show your lungs. everyone."

all three boys began the process of reaching under their shirts and pressing the smooth button under their ribs that unlocked the hatch. the hatch was a small door that ran from the bottom of their ribs up to their collar bone. when they found the smooth button, no bigger than the pad of their thumb, then a small click allowed them to open up their skin. underneath their torsos was a small plastic box that kept everything inside. it helped protect their bones, their heart, and, especially, their lungs. their lungs were frequent targets for doctors; they needed to be accessed quickly. fewer and fewer doctors came by to see the boys recently. corinth wiggled his shirt until he could shove most of it into his mouth, opening his body up and showing gray and green lungs that expanded and collapsed with every breath. his lungs were swollen behind his rib cage, and he experimentally reached in to poke in between his third and fourth ribs. the muscle that was there had been replaced by plastic, and had come loose when he'd pressed the button. his lung shuddered underneath his touch, but he felt the odd relief of pain swoop over him. two blue shirts tumbled to the floor as sparta and athens decided to take off their clothing and help each other find the buttons to unlock their hatches. the boys clung to the small moments of touch when the effects of their touh felt so alien, even after all those years after the surgery.

athens’ lungs were pink and perfect. he coughed and corinth couldn’t help but watch the way his diaphragm moved as he did so, and he felt jealousy pang in his stomach. sparta’s lungs were purple and blue, bruised and small, and they merely fluttered.

“lungs in order,” athens said quietly after a quick inspection of everyone’s insides. sparta immediately closed his hatch, flinching when his finger got caught initially between his inside and his outside, and started to put his shirt back on. corinth stole athens' shirt and slipped it on over the one he currently wore, his other hand slamming shut his lung hatch. athens blinked but let corinth stare at him greedily as he quietly shut his own hatch.

as they waited for the background noise of wailing sirens to disappear, corinth hugged his knees and athens started to draw people in the dirt with his forefinger.
Austine May 2014
be her ribs -
the refuge
of her busy, tiny heart
capture and enclose it
like it’s yours
own it, keep it, cage it,
save it from knives
that intent to
make it bleed
the life out of her
surround her lungs
because she needs them
to breathe you in
to devour your scent
to sponge herself up
with the air that you exhale
through her lips
as you two kiss
and be her ribs
for when a length
of you fractures
even the tiny fragment
will bring her pain
be her guard
against any harm
be her ribs -
her outline
her vault
her kingdom
be her ribs
You already are.
We had wanted to leave our homes before six in the morning
but left late and lazy at ten or ten-thirty with hurried smirks
and heads turned to the road, West
driving out against the noonward horizon
and visions before us of the great up-and-over

and tired we were already of stiff-armed driving neurotics in Montreal
and monstrous foreheaded yellow bus drivers
ugly children with long middle fingers
and tired we were of breaking and being yelled at by beardless bums
but thought about the beards at home we loved
and gave a smile and a wave nonetheless

Who were sick and tired of driving by nine
but then had four more hours still
with half a tank
then a third of a tank
then a quarter of a tank
then no tank at all
except for the great artillery halt and discovery
of our tyre having only three quarters of its bolts

Saved by the local sobriety
and the mystic conscious kindness of the wise and the elderly
and the strangers: Autoshop Gale with her discount familiar kindness;
Hilda making ready supper and Ray like I’ve known you for years
that offered me tools whose functions I’ve never known
and a handshake goodbye

     and "yes we will say hello to your son in Alberta"
     and "yes we will continue safely"
     and "no you won’t see us in tomorrow’s paper"
     and tired I was of hearing about us in tomorrow’s paper

Who ended up on a road laughing deliverance
in Ralphton, a small town hunting lodge
full of flapjacks and a choir of chainsaws
with cheap tomato juice and eggs
but the four of us ended up paying for eight anyway

and these wooden alley cats were nothing but hounds
and the backwoods is where you’d find a cheap child's banjo
and cheap leather shoes and bear traps and rat traps
and the kinds of things you’d fall into face first

Who sauntered into a cafe in Massey
that just opened up two weeks previous
where the food was warm and made from home
and the owner who swore to high heaven
and piled her Sci-Fi collection to the ceiling
in forms of books and VHS

but Massey herself was drowned in a small town
where there was little history and heavy mist
and the museum was closed for renovations
and the stores were run by diplomats
or sleezebag no-cats
and there was one man who wouldn’t show us a room
because his baby sitter hadn’t come yet
but the babysitter showed up through the backdoor within seconds
though I hadn't seen another face

        and the room was a landfill
        and smelled of stale cat **** anyhow
        and the lobby stacked to the ceiling with empty beer box cans bottles
        and the taps ran cold yellow and hot black through spigots

but we would be staying down the street
at the inn of an East-Indian couple

who’s eyes were not dilated 
and the room smelled
lemon-scented

and kept on driving lovingly without a care in the world
but only one of us had his arms around a girl
and how lonely I felt driving with Jacob
in the fog of the Agawa pass;

following twin red eyes down a steep void mass
where the birch trees have no heads
and the marshes pool under the jagged foothills
that climb from the water above their necks

that form great behemoths
with great voices bellowing and faces chiselled hard looking down
and my own face turned upward toward the rain

Wheels turning on a black asphalt river running uphill around great Superior
that is the ocean that isn’t the ocean but is as big as the sea
and the cloud banks dig deep and terrible walls

and the sky ends five times before night truly falls
and the sun sets slower here than anywhere
but the sky was only two miles high and ten long anyway

The empty train tracks that seldom run
and some rails have been lifted out
with a handful of spikes that now lay dormant

and the hill sides start to resemble *******
or faces or the slow curving back of some great whale

-and those, who were finally stranded at four pumps
with none but the professional Jacob reading great biblical instructions at the nozzle
nowhere at midnight in a town surrounded

by moose roads
                             moose lanes
                                                     moose rivers
and everything mooses

ending up sleeping in the maw of a great white wolf inn
run by Julf or Wolf or John but was German nonetheless

and woke up with radios armed
and arms full
and coffee up to the teeth
with teeth chattering
and I swear to God I saw snowy peaks
but those came to me in waking dream:

"Mountains dressed in white canvas
gowns and me who placed
my hands upon their *******
that filled the sky"

Passing through a buffet of inns and motels
and spending our time unpacking and repacking
and talking about drinking and cheap sandwiches
but me not having a drink in eight days

and in one professional inn we received a professional scamming
and no we would not be staying here again
and what would a trip across the country be like
if there wasn’t one final royal scamming to be had

and dreams start to return to me from years of dreamless sleep:

and I dream of hers back home
and ribbons in a raven black lattice of hair
and Cassadaic exploits with soft but honest words

and being on time with the trains across the plains  
and the moon with a shower of prairie blonde
and one of my father with kind words
and my mother on a bicycle reassuring my every decision

Passing eventually through great plains of vast nothingness
but was disappointed in seeing that I could see
and that the rumours were false
and that nothingness really had a population
and that the great flat land has bumps and curves and etchings and textures too

beautiful bright golden yellow like sprawling fingers
white knuckled ablaze reaching up toward the sun
that in this world had only one sky that lasted a thousand years

and prairie driving lasts no more than a mountain peak
and points of ember that softly sigh with the one breath
of our cars windows that rushes by with gratitude for your smile

And who was caught up with the madness in the air
with big foaming cigarettes in mouths
who dragged and stuffed down those rolling fumes endlessly
while St. Jacob sang at the way stations and billboards and the radio
which was turned off

and me myself and I running our mouth like the coughing engine
chasing a highway babe known as the Lady Valkyrie out from Winnipeg
all the way to Saskatoon driving all day without ever slowing down
and eating up all our gas like pez and finally catching her;

      Valkyrie who taught me to drive fast
      and hovering 175 in slipstreams
      and flowing behind her like a great ghost Cassady ******* in dreamland Nebraska
      only 10 highway crossings counted from home.

Lady Valkyrie who took me West.
Lady Valkyrie who burst my wings into flame as I drew a close with the sun.
Lady Valkyrie who had me howl at slender moon;

     who formed as a snowflake
     in the light on the street
     and was gone by morning
     before I asked her name

and how are we?
and how many?

Even with old Tom devil singing stereo
and riding shotgun the entire trip from day one
singing about his pony, and his own personal flophouse circus,
and what was he building in there?

There is a fair amount of us here in these cars.
Finally at light’s end finding acquiescence in all things
and meeting with her eye one last time; flashed her a wink and there I was, gone.
Down the final highway crossing blowing wind and fancy and mouth puttering off
roaring laughter into the distance like some tremendous Phoenix.

Goodnight Lady Valkyrie.

The evening descends and turns into a sandwich hysteria
as we find ourselves riding between cities of transports
and that one mad man that passed us speeding crazy
and almost hit head-on with Him flowing East

and passed more and more until he was head of the line
but me driving mad lunacy followed his tail to the bumper
passing fifteen trucks total to find our other car
and felt the great turbine pull of acceleration that was not mine

mad-stacked behind two great beasts
and everyone thought us moon-crazy; Biblical Jake
and Mad Hair Me driving a thousand
eschewing great gusts of wind speed flying

Smashing into the great ephedrine sunset haze of Saskatoon
and hungry for food stuffed with the thoughts of bedsheets
off the highway immediately into the rotting liver of dark downtown
but was greeted by an open Hertz garage
with a five-piece fanfare brass barrage
William Tell and a Debussy Reverie
and found our way to bedsheets most comfortably

Driving out of Saskatoon feeling distance behind me.
Finding nothing but the dead and hollow corpses of roadside ventures;

more carcasses than cars
and one as big as a moose
and one as big as a bear
and no hairier

and driving out of sunshine plain reading comic book strip billboards
and trees start to build up momentum
and remembering our secret fungi in the glove compartment
that we drove three thousand kilometres without remembering

and we had a "Jesus Jacob, put it away brother"
and went screaming blinded by smoke and paranoia
and three swerves got us right
and we hugged the holy white line until twilight

And driving until the night again takes me foremast
and knows my secret fear in her *****
as the road turns into a lucid *** black and makes me dizzy
and every shadow is a moose and a wildcat and a billy goat
and some other car

and I find myself driving faster up this great slanderous waterfall until I meet eye
with another at a thousand feet horizontal

then two eyes

then a thousand wide-eyed peaks stretching faces upturned to the celestial black
with clouds laid flat as if some angel were sleeping ******* on a smokestack
and the mountains make themselves clear to me after waiting a lifetime for a glimpse
then they shy away behind some old lamppost and I don’t see them until tomorrow

and even tomorrow brings a greater distance with the sunlight dividing stone like 'The Ancient of Days'
and moving forward puts all into perspective

while false cabins give way
and the gas stations give way
and the last lamppost gives way
and its only distance now that will make you true
and make your peaks come alive

Like a bullrush, great grey slopes leap forth as if branded by fire
then the first peaks take me by surprise
and I’m told that these are nothing but children to their parents
and the roads curve into a gentle valley
and we’re in the feeding zone

behind the gates of some great geological zoo
watching these lumbering beasts
finishing up some great tribal *******
because tomorrow they will be shrunk
and tomorrow ever-after smaller

Nonetheless, breathless in turn I became
it began snowing and the pines took on a different shape
and the mountains became covered white
and great glaciers could be seen creeping
and tourists seen gawking at waterfalls and waterfowls
and fowl play between two stones a thousand miles high

climbing these Jasper slopes flying against wind and stone
and every creak lets out its gentle tone and soft moans
as these tyres rub flat against your back
your ancient skin your rock-hard bones

and this peak is that peak and it’s this one too
and that’s Temple, and that’s Whistler
and that’s Glasgow and that’s Whistler again
and those are the Three Sisters with ******* ablaze

and soft glowing haze your sun sets again among your peaks
and we wonder how all these caves formed
and marvelled at what the flood brought to your feet
as roads lay wasted by the roadside

in the epiphany of 3:00am realizing
that great Alta's straights and highway crossings
are formed in torturous mess from mines of 'Mt. Bleed'
and broken ribs and liver of crushed mountain passes
and the grey stones taxidermied and peeled off
and laid flat painted black and yellow;
the highways built from the insides
of the mountain shells

Who gave a “What now. New-Brunswick?”

and a “What now, Quebec, and Ontario, and Manitoba, and Saskatchewan";
**** fools clumsily dancing in the valleys; then the rolling hills; then the sea that was a lake
then the prairies and not yet the mountains;

running naked in formation with me at the lead
and running naked giving the finger to the moon
and the contrails, and every passing blur on the highway
dodging rocks, and sandbars
and the watchful eye of Mr. and Mrs. Law
and holes dug-up by prairie dogs
and watching with no music
as the family caravans drove on by

but drove off laughing every time until two got anxious for bed and slowed behind
while the rambling Jacob and I had to wait in the half-moon spectacle
of a black-tongue asphalt side-road hacking darts and watching for grizzlies
for the other two to finish up with their birthday *** exploits
though it was nobodies birthday

and then a timezone was between us
 and they were in the distant future
and nobodies birthday was in an hour from now

then everything was good
and everyone was satiated
then everything was a different time again
and I was running on no sleep or a lot of it
leaping backward in time every so often
like gaining a new day but losing space on the surface of your eye

but I stared up through curtains of starlight to mother moon
and wondered if you also stared
and was dumbfounded by the majesty of it all

and only one Caribou was seen the entire trip
and only one live animal, and some forsaken deer
and only a snake or a lonesome caterpillar could be seen crossing such highway straights
but the water more refreshing and brighter than steel
and glittered as if it were hiding some celestial gem
and great ravines and valleys flowed between everything
and I saw in my own eye prehistoric beasts roaming catastrophe upon these plains
but the peaks grew ever higher and I left the ground behind
Nat Lipstadt Sep 2019
Unabashedly Public (return of the babies; my broken ribs, Zenith poem)


~for Sue Huff~

“unabashedly public,” the accusation,
causes me no blushing consternation
for it’s true, no secret kept worse, than this,
my sleeves, all outside-stained, heartfelt red,
the poems hide so little, with exception of my multifarious,
multivariate, semi-secret identities y’all mostly ferret out

“had no plans to look you up,”
but you kept sending selected of the eldest children,
even from 2012, I remember an afternoon well,
the odors, the food, my friend Al, now passed,
who made me think, indeed,
where do the poems come from?

a bequest to my eldest, who still never calls,
never writes, but will call me for help when
he finds himself in jail, or needs my (car) services;
its been a couple of years, but suspect time
is on my side, life makes needs, those **** happenstances,
that are never happy, but require your lawful presence

and on and on,

men & women, discovered, by their poetry reveled, revealed,
in thigh highs and backhoes, keepers of tortuous promises,
doing the quiet way, always asking, what’s the honorable thing,
all uncovered here, and secret sharers, these poets grab a holt
of my eye ducts, gifting insights that my brain tearfully inquires,
how did they know that bout me, these new kin and kindred?

my broken ribs?

the knowers know i am a summertime creature.
What they do not know, that on the last day
on where I summer shelter, a thin ring, a tree ring,
appears around my chest, marking my annualization,
some rings thick, thin, a year of seasons, all at different paces,
a year of rain & pain, thicker, slower did it pass

What they do not know, these fateful poets, all of my one faith,
these rings deep go, beyond the surface, constricting contractions,
they tighten, squeezing the lungs, slowing the breadth of my breath,
breaking ribs, reminder to write better, now that time is shortening,
labored breathing is a breathtaking experience, do, be better, chances for kindnesses lessened, why hide, time to be unashamedly public

had no plans to write today, especially this one, but circumstances
of my added-on circumferential measurement appearing, triggered by y’all sending me my poems of long ago, played mind-gotcha, this rambling emerged, to celebrate my being nearer to thee, thee, my passing, nearer than thee, this, me old-crust pieces, cutting the mouth’s soft-inside, inside softness, place where weeping & writing
leak on the poem tongue directly

to live in harmony with the
unending quests that yet, always need doing,
all in, are you, am I, awaiting your best attentions,
giving you thy own reparations, given to yourself;
if this then be my own equinox, autumnal equinox,

when the sun is at zenith, directly above,
the equator, this then my reparation, my

                                          Zenith poem**


9/24/19 12:15p
SøułSurvivør Sep 2015
---

i

blue grey clouds
of crushed
velvet

sunlight
tears
the
seams


ii

embers of
delicate peach
ignite flames
of fuchsia

the orb of
sun burns colors
away to ashes

blown into floes
of white
mare's
tails


iii

tiny bird
settles restless
on the
highest
branch

flits
away


iv

wind
through
the weathered stones
cries then whispers

luring
the children
who lie within our ribs
to break free
and sing
songs
of
play


v

mamalaria
cactus
wears her
wreath
of
pale
lavender
flowers

sings to
her babes
clustered
below

saguaro
listens



soulsurvivor
(C) 9/13/2015
beautiful day rises up
out of the ashes
of a flaming
sunrise

---

To a special friend...
... thank you!
1
I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.

My tongue, every atom of my blood, form’d from this soil, this air,
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their
parents the same,
I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
Hoping to cease not till death.

Creeds and schools in abeyance,
Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten,
I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,
Nature without check with original energy.

2
Houses and rooms are full of perfumes, the shelves are crowded with
perfumes,
I breathe the fragrance myself and know it and like it,
The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I shall not let it.

The atmosphere is not a perfume, it has no taste of the
distillation, it is odorless,
It is for my mouth forever, I am in love with it,
I will go to the bank by the wood and become undisguised and naked,
I am mad for it to be in contact with me.

The smoke of my own breath,
Echoes, ripples, buzz’d whispers, love-root, silk-thread, crotch and
vine,
My respiration and inspiration, the beating of my heart, the passing
of blood and air through my lungs,
The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of the shore and
dark-color’d sea-rocks, and of hay in the barn,

The sound of the belch’d words of my voice loos’d to the eddies of
the wind,
A few light kisses, a few embraces, a reaching around of arms,
The play of shine and shade on the trees as the supple boughs wag,
The delight alone or in the rush of the streets, or along the fields
and hill-sides,
The feeling of health, the full-noon trill, the song of me rising
from bed and meeting the sun.

Have you reckon’d a thousand acres much? have you reckon’d the
earth much?
Have you practis’d so long to learn to read?
Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems?

Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of
all poems,
You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, (there are millions
of suns left,)
You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look
through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in
books,
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self.

3
I have heard what the talkers were talking, the talk of the
beginning and the end,
But I do not talk of the beginning or the end.

There was never any more inception than there is now,
Nor any more youth or age than there is now,
And will never be any more perfection than there is now,
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.

Urge and urge and urge,
Always the procreant urge of the world.

Out of the dimness opposite equals advance, always substance and
increase, always ***,
Always a knit of identity, always distinction, always a breed of
life.
To elaborate is no avail, learn’d and unlearn’d feel that it is so.

Sure as the most certain sure, plumb in the uprights, well
entretied, braced in the beams,
Stout as a horse, affectionate, haughty, electrical,
I and this mystery here we stand.

Clear and sweet is my soul, and clear and sweet is all that is not
my soul.

Lack one lacks both, and the unseen is proved by the seen,
Till that becomes unseen and receives proof in its turn.

Showing the best and dividing it from the worst age vexes age,
Knowing the perfect fitness and equanimity of things, while they
discuss I am silent, and go bathe and admire myself.

Welcome is every ***** and attribute of me, and of any man hearty
and clean,
Not an inch nor a particle of an inch is vile, and none shall be
less familiar than the rest.

I am satisfied - I see, dance, laugh, sing;
As the hugging and loving bed-fellow sleeps at my side through the
night, and withdraws at the peep of the day with stealthy
tread,
Leaving me baskets cover’d with white towels swelling the house with
their plenty,
Shall I postpone my acceptation and realization and scream at my
eyes,
That they turn from gazing after and down the road,
And forthwith cipher and show me to a cent,
Exactly the value of one and exactly the value of two, and which is
ahead?

4
Trippers and askers surround me,
People I meet, the effect upon me of my early life or the ward and
city I live in, or the nation,
The latest dates, discoveries, inventions, societies, authors old
and new,
My dinner, dress, associates, looks, compliments, dues,
The real or fancied indifference of some man or woman I love,
The sickness of one of my folks or of myself, or ill-doing or loss
or lack of money, or depressions or exaltations,
Battles, the horrors of fratricidal war, the fever of doubtful news,
the fitful events;
These come to me days and nights and go from me again,
But they are not the Me myself.

Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am,
Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle, unitary,
Looks down, is *****, or bends an arm on an impalpable certain rest,
Looking with side-curved head curious what will come next,
Both in and out of the game and watching and wondering at it.

Backward I see in my own days where I sweated through fog with
linguists and contenders,
I have no mockings or arguments, I witness and wait.

5
I believe in you my soul, the other I am must not abase itself to
you,
And you must not be abased to the other.

Loafe with me on the grass, loose the stop from your throat,
Not words, not music or rhyme I want, not custom or lecture, not
even the best,
Only the lull I like, the hum of your valved voice.

I mind how once we lay such a transparent summer morning,
How you settled your head athwart my hips and gently turn’d over
upon me,
And parted the shirt from my *****-bone, and plunged your tongue
to my bare-stript heart,
And reach’d till you felt my beard, and reach’d till you held my
feet.

Swiftly arose and spread around me the peace and knowledge that pass
all the argument of the earth,
And I know that the hand of God is the promise of my own,
And I know that the spirit of God is the brother of my own,
And that all the men ever born are also my brothers, and the women
my sisters and lovers,
And that a kelson of the creation is love,
And limitless are leaves stiff or drooping in the fields,
And brown ants in the little wells beneath them,
And mossy scabs of the worm fence, heap’d stones, elder, mullein and
poke-****.

6
A child said What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any more
than he.

I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green
stuff woven.

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropt,
Bearing the owner’s name someway in the corners, that we may see
and remark, and say Whose?

Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced babe of the
vegetation.

Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones,
Growing among black folks as among white,
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the same, I
receive them the same.

And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.

Tenderly will I use you curling grass,
It may be you transpire from the ******* of young men,
It may be if I had known them I would have loved them,
It may be you are from old people, or from offspring taken soon out
of their mothers’ laps,
And here you are the mothers’ laps.

This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old mothers,
Darker than the colorless beards of old men,
Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.

O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues,
And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths for
nothing.

I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men and
women,
And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring taken
soon out of their laps.

What do you think has become of the young and old men?
And what do you think has become of the women and children?

They are alive and well somewhere,
The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the
end to arrest it,
And ceas’d the moment life appear’d.

All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.

7
Has any one supposed it lucky to be born?
I hasten to inform him or her it is just as lucky to die, and I know
it.

I pass death with the dying and birth with the new-wash’d babe, and
am not contain’d between my hat and boots,
And peruse manifold objects, no two alike and every one good,
The earth good and the stars good, and their adjuncts all good.

I am not an earth nor an adjunct of an earth,
I am the mate and companion of people, all just as immortal and
fathomless as myself,
(They do not know how immortal, but I know.)

Every kind for itself and its own, for me mine male and female,
For me those that have been boys and that love women,
For me the man that is proud and feels how it stings to be slighted,
For me the sweet-heart and the old maid, for me mothers and the
mothers of mothers,
For me lips that have smiled, eyes that have shed tears,
For me children and the begetters of children.

Undrape! you are not guilty to me, nor stale nor discarded,
I see through the broadcloth and gingham whether or no,
And am around, tenacious, acquisitive, tireless, and cannot be
shaken away.

8
The little one sleeps in its cradle,
I lift the gauze and look a long time, and silently brush away flies
with my hand.

The youngster and the red-faced girl turn aside up the bushy hill,
I peeringly view them from the top.

The suicide sprawls on the ****** floor of the bedroom,
I witness the corpse with its dabbled hair, I note where the pistol
has fallen.

The blab of the pave, tires of carts, sluff of boot-soles, talk of
the promenaders,
The heavy omnibus, the driver with his interrogating thumb, the
clank of the shod horses on the granite floor,
The snow-sleighs, clinking, shouted jokes, pelts of snow-*****,
The hurrahs for popular favorites, the fury of rous’d mobs,
The flap of the curtain’d litter, a sick man inside borne to the
hospital,
The meeting of enemies, the sudden oath, the blows and fall,
The excited crowd, the policeman with his star quickly working his
passage to the centre of the crowd,
The impassive stones that receive and return so many echoes,
What groans of over-fed or half-starv’d who fall sunstruck or in
fits,
What exclamations of women taken suddenly who hurry home and
give birth to babes,
What living and buried speech is always vibrating here, what howls
restrain’d by decorum,
Arrests of criminals, slights, adulterous offers made, acceptances,
rejections with convex lips,
I mind them or the show or resonance of them-I come and I depart.

9
The big doors of the country barn stand open and ready,
The dried grass of the harvest-time loads the slow-drawn wagon,
The clear light plays on the brown gray and green intertinged,
The armfuls are pack’d to the sagging mow.

I am there, I help, I came stretch’d atop of the load,
I felt its soft jolts, one leg reclined on the other,
I jump from the cross-beams and seize the clover and timothy,
And roll head over heels and tangle my hair full of wisps.

10
Alone far in the wilds and mountains I hunt,
Wandering amazed at my own lightness and glee,
In the late afternoon choosing a safe spot to pass the night,
Kindling a fire and broiling the fresh-****’d game,
Falling asleep on the gather’d leaves with my dog and gun by my
side.

The Yankee clipper is under her sky-sails, she cuts the sparkle
and scud,
My eyes settle the land, I bend at her prow or shout joyously from
the deck.

The boatmen and clam-diggers arose early and stopt for me,
I tuck’d my trowser-ends in my boots and went and had a good time;
You should have been with us that day round the chowder-kettle.

I saw the marriage of the trapper in the open air in the far west,
the bride was a red girl,
Her father and his friends sat near cross-legged and dumbly smoking,
they had moccasins to their feet and large thick blankets
hanging from their shoulders,
On a bank lounged the trapper, he was drest mostly in skins, his
luxuriant beard and curls protected his neck, he held his bride
by the hand,
She had long eyelashes, her head was bare, her coarse straight locks
descended upon her voluptuous limbs and reach’d to her
feet.

The runaway slave came to my house and stopt outside,
I heard his motions crackling the twigs of the woodpile,
Through the swung half-door of the kitchen I saw him limpsy and
weak,
And went where he sat on a log and led him in and assured him,
And brought water and fill’d a tub for his sweated body and bruis’d
feet,
And gave him a room that enter’d from my own, and gave him some
coarse clean clothes,
And remember perfectly well his revolving eyes and his awkwardness,
And remember putting piasters on the galls of his neck and ankles;
He staid with me a week before he was recuperated and pass’d north,
I had him sit next me at table, my fire-lock lean’d in the corner.

11
Twenty-eight young men bathe by the shore,
Twenty-eight young men and all so friendly;
Twenty-eight years of womanly life and all so lonesome.

She owns the fine house by the rise of the bank,
She hides handsome and richly drest aft the blinds of the window.

Which of the young men does she like the best?
Ah the homeliest of them is beautiful to her.

Where are you off to, lady? for I see you,
You splash in the water there, yet stay stock still in your room.

Dancing and laughing along the beach came the twenty-ninth
bather,
The rest did not see her, but she saw them and loved them.

The beards of the young men glisten’d with wet, it ran from their
long hair,
Little streams pass’d all over their bodies.

An unseen hand also pass’d over their bodies,
It descended tremblingly from their temples and ribs.

The young men float on their backs, their white bellies bulge to the
sun, they do not ask who seizes fast to them,
They do not know who puffs and declines with pendant and bending
arch,
They do not think whom they ***** with spray.

12
The butcher-boy puts off his killing-clothes, or sharpens his knife
at the stall in the market,
I loiter enjoying his repartee and his shuffle and break-down.

Blacksmiths with grimed and hairy chests environ the anvil,
Each has his main-sledge, they are all out, there is a great heat in
the fire.

From the cinder-strew’d threshold I follow their movements,
The lithe sheer of their waists plays even with their massive arms,
Overhand the hammers swing, overhand so slow, overhand so sure,
They do not hasten, each man hits in his place.

13
The ***** holds firmly the reins of his four horses, the block swags
underneath on its tied-over chain,
The ***** that drives the long dray of the stone-yard, steady and
tall he stands pois’d on one leg on the string-piece,
His blue shirt exposes his ample neck and breast and loosens over
his hip-band,
His glance is calm and commanding, he tosses the slouch of his hat
away from his forehead,
The sun falls on his crispy hair and mustache, falls on the black of
his polish’d and perfect limbs.

I behold the picturesque giant and love him, and I do not stop
there,
I go with the team also.

In me the caresser of life wherever moving, backward as well as
forward sluing,
To niches aside and junior bending, not a person or object missing,
Absorbing all to myself and for this song.

Oxen that rattle the yoke and chain or halt in the leafy shade, what
is that you express in your eyes?
It seems to me more than all the print I have read in my life.

My tread scares the wood-drake and wood-duck on my distant and
day-long ramble,
They rise together, they slowly circle around.

I believe in those wing’d purposes,
And acknowledge red, yellow, white, playing within me,
And consider green and violet and the tufted crown i
Theia Gwen Apr 2014
My ribcage protects the heart
Constricting the love that's overflowing
And slowly dripping out
All to avoid any possible blows

My ribcage does not protect against
The stupidity of my brain
Who fell for the kind of boy I was warned about
Because of the one ***** that can't feel pain

And your hands became my ribs
They held my heart tight
My heart was in your palm
And I prayed you'd treat it right

Turns out you had a collection of hearts
Each varying conditions
So you put my heart in your back pocket
And it entered decomposition

The ribs protect from physical blows
And without even touching me
You've reached past my ribs
And stole the breath and love out of me
oni Dec 2014
they called me crazy
for refusing to pick flowers
for saving spiders from the kitchen
and for talking to birds rather than humans

they called me crazy
for clawing at my wrists
for eating my own words
and for tearing out my hair for allowing myself to feel

nothing ever satisfies
when you worry about the endless amount
of "they"
and "them"
and what "they" think

nothing ever satisfies
when "they" meet your demons
and "they" make a home
in your own ******* ribs
Madisen Kuhn Apr 2015
i’ve given up on days that begin in late afternoon,
skipped breakfast and lunch,
days that fade slowly and end with
****** cut-out holes in eyelids because
the second i close them and it all goes black,
every moment with you comes back
played on fast-forward, the memories moving so quickly
that both our faces are blurred
and it feels like everything i’ve ever felt for you
is overflowing the tub, filling the washroom with
suds that take forever to melt

i’ve given up on those days.

i’ve traded them for ones that begin with
sunrises instead of sunsets,
days that are spent falling forward
instead of trying to chase the past, and i don’t
look back and see something broken, or
something that was better off left unopened

i look back and see our bodies so close together
that you can’t tell where yours begins and mine ends,
i see my heart that grew twenty-three times its size,
i see you and me wrapped up in something that
i didn’t know existed outside of blurry 35 mm
and overdue and falling-apart library books
that sit on the nightstands of middle-aged women
who are bored with their lives

and i’m just so happy i got to love you at all.

but i’ve folded up all the days spent with you
and taped them in the messy pages of my journal
and now i’m running into the sun,
running away from every lie that’s trying to
wedge its way in between my ribs,
running in the opposite direction of words like "regret"
and any feeling that insists that none of it was worth it

because all of it was worth it.

every moment we were together pumps
through my veins, and it will always be there;
it will be there when we’ve both graduated,
when you move out west,
when you kiss your family goodnight,
when you sit in your backyard with tears
in your eyes because you’ve lived a life
you are proud of

it will be there when i finally make it to new york city,
when i kiss someone who isn’t you,
when i find the answers you inspired me to search for,
when i sit on my rooftop with tears on my cheeks
because i’ve lived a life fuller than i could’ve ever imagined

and you and i will live these lives apart,
we’ll move on and forget what it felt like
to wake up beside one another;
we’ll find what we’re looking for elsewhere
and we’ll understand why this all had to happen the way that it did

but what we had will always exist somewhere,
in rotting apples and old mail and unplayed mix CDs,
in mosaics that line the city streets, in sirens and
red and white flashing lights that shine through
your window while you are asleep

you and i were magic,
we always will be.
I want to feel you.
Scraping against me.
I want to taste the,
Mango in your kiss.

Drag from your chest to your neck.
to claw from your ribs down to your hip.
I want to feel you on me.
And taste the citrus on your lips.

Starving for the touch of,
Hoping for your grip.
Trying not to think too much.
About your blackberry bliss.

Distracted by your hammer hits.
The water against the ship.
The boat begins to tip.
Spilling fruit into the wavy rift.
Ashley Dec 2013
our ribs are cages,
that guard our hearts from
physical pain
the protect us from getting
our hearts hurt
they also restrict us,
they prevent us from
loving
they prevent us from
letting love in.
maybe that's why daddy
doesn't love,
maybe his ribs are squeezing
his heart to tight,
maybe daddy doesn't have
a heart.
and maybe that's why daddy
broke my ribs
maybe he wanted me
to feel,
maybe he wanted me
to love him,
even though daddy doesn't
love me.
but daddy
don't you know?
I can't love someone
who has no soul.
Emily Marie Aug 2014
Society sells beautiful lies,
Emphasis on the beautiful,
They sell you the definition of beauty in
small pictures,
small ads,
small sizes.
Spinning the world on a string,
They've got us all fooled.
Telling teens they don't need to eat,
"Skip the food today,
be beautiful tomorrow".
Selling the idea that beauty can replace sorrows.
Society sells the idea that beauty is empowerment.
Society sells the idea that if you are beautiful,
then you could have the world on a string.
These lies lead our leaders of tomorrow into disarray.
Sell us the idea that if we are beautiful
today will be better than yesterday.
But the empty promises lead us all astray,
Abandoned on street corners begging for scraps,
because we didn't think we felt empowerment.

Society sells small,
Society sells beauty,
Society sells small.
Small models,
Small manikins,
Small sizes.
Spinning the world on a string,
Society sells the idea that the size of your waist,
defines how beautiful you are.
Society sells the idea that beauty
is empowerment.
Society sells small.
Society sells the idea that if you are not small,
you are not empowered,
ugly,
waste of space.

Society sells small.
Society says beauty is empowerment.
These lies lead our leaders of tomorrow into disarray,
Too many teens today are to prone to facings their problems with razor blades,
Because today was not better than yesterday.
Then tomorrow won't be either.

Society sells small,
small pictures,
small ads,
small manikins.
Society sells protruding plastic ribs,
ribs sharp enough to cut paper.
Society sells the figures of the sick and dying.

Society sells small.
Small enough to be drop dead gorgeous,
Emphasis on the drop dead,
Society sells women who are severely underfed.
Society sells women suffering from malnutrition.
Since when did this become tradition?
Since when was fragile stature empowering?
Society sells skin and bones.
Society sells so small,
**women are literally dying to feel beautiful.
Society has given the world un-realistic proportions to try and shape our bodies into, and it *****.
howard brace Sep 2012
He'd been conceived in Flamborough, so his little sister assured him some eleven summers ago, which was a tad hard for Rocky to swallow, she was a whole eighteen months his junior and then some... and at that age, well... what did she know, she was only a kid, "on this very rock" River insisted, kicking her heels in delight, "next to this very rock pool" they were both sitting beside, "one sunny afternoon eleven years ago..." and that was how he came by the name of Rocky... she taunted as the rest of the colourful story unfolded... and that she had it all on the best possible authority... although the more she thought about it, had she meant concealed... she wasn't quite sure now, it was all so very confusing at her tender age but thought it sounded close enough not to matter too much and that she would just wait and see which way the wind blew.
        
     It was conceivably an ill wind that blew no one any good that day, especially if you were a boy and just happened to be sat by a rock pool next to your little sister...  Having just taken a well earned drink from a neighbouring rock pool, Sockeye the floppiest Springer Spaniel this side of the Pecos decided that he was going to dig a hole and that he would be digging it deep, then changed his mind mid-dig and decided to have a more down to earth back scratching wriggle instead... then promptly flopped over and slid into the hole... life was sweet.  Now covered from nose to tail with every species of deceased shore life usually found frequenting the high water mark Sockeye, in a blinding flash of canine inspiration judged it would be in everyone's best interest were he to have a really good shakedown which always appeared to go down well on these occasions... and give everyone a good peppering, just so they could see exactly what they'd been missing all their lives.  

     "A rock of all places, for goodness sakes..." and what's more, it was this rock, "Yuk..." he jumped up and wiped his palms on the back of his jeans in disgust, then onto his tee-shirt, then sat back down again and began exploring his left nostril in quiet contemplation before finally jambing his hands back into his pockets... what in Heaven's name had his parents been thinking of..? what on earth was his little sister talking about..? and more to the point, what in fact did conceived mean..?  these were the questions that were uppermost in Rocky's mind as he poked an exploratory stick into the rock pool...  a baby crab marooned by the tide scampered sideways beneath a large pebble and stuck one beady eye out at him... Rocky's sister, seemingly in a world of her own, much like the baby crab sat on the edge of the noteworthy rock kicking her heels, an innocent smile curled the corners of her mouth as she quietly hummed a little song of tuneful bliss to herself and considered what further mischief she could possibly pass her brother's way.

     Rocky tossed a piece of driftwood over his sisters shoulder at a nearby flock of seagulls, squabbling over what appeared to be a discarded bag of fish and chips... Sockeye, simply knowing that his little master wanted to play a game of fetch gambolled after the stick, his ears flying courageously in the still Summer air and burst, amid a melee of feathers into their midst, only to romp back moments later, the stick all but forgotten in the excitement but now proudly sporting the derelict bag of leftovers and the odd splash of guano, his tail lolloping magnificently from side to side... and for the moment at least, leaving the fratching seagulls wheeling noisily overhead and to go about their daily business without further interruption... as for Sockeye, it had been a no contest situation.

     After fourteen years of valiant endeavour his father... Red, so named for his vivid shock of wiry hair, was still engaged in man's eternal struggle to win his significant other half's approbation with the manful art of deck-chair assembly, beach barbeque and other significant gentlemanly pursuits, all while strutting his manly stuff, sporting top of the range beach wear in accordance with the social etiquette of the previous decade... his masculine paunch slumping gallantly atop his waistband...  

     After the same fourteen terms of domestic servitude and the same thirteen identically overlooked anniversary cards a certain someone had no intention of allowing another certain someone to forget so much as one of them... his better half, so she insisted would ride rough shod, administering her own brand of justice at every given opportunity, in much the same way you'd brandish a royal-flush on poker night... or better still, a loaded revolver... and that she personally carried the burden of every ill-fated card that Lady Luck had dealt strung about her neck like Adam's original sin on Judgement Day.  

     Red much preferred the shorter, more condensed name of Rock for his son, rather than the longer more protracted Rocky, as he struggled with the wood and canvas lounger badly trapping the mound of his thumb in the process, "Aaargh...!!!" plunging his throbbing hand deep into the cold, soothing rock-pool "aaah...!!!"   Still marooned by the tide, the baby crab stood poised and ready for action as it considered giving this latest intrusion a good offensive nip, then hang on spitefully as it gave Red the final withering once over with the same baleful eye it had successfully used earlier.

     Acknowledging her husbands misfortune with a perfunctory grunt as she rummaged in her beach-bag for the thermos, she refused to be drawn in where thumbs were concerned right now, after all with his DNA sequencing she was convinced he could probably grow a new one within the month... whilst Tina, well... she was just plain worn-out... but still rejoiced in telling anyone who cared to lend a sympathetic ear in her direction... and who in turn was more than happy to listen to the woes of others and went somewhere along the lines of... 'and had she heard any more of poor Mrs Dorey's lingering martyrdom recently..? you know, the downtrodden lady who lives in the next street but one... and how they would all miss her when she was gone... and how she couldn't wait...' and as rumour had it, neither could her husband...

      Feigning to be otherwise engaged, Tina... as her husband, now blowing frantically on his mangled thumb, stumbled backwards over the half erected lounger and with a spine jarring "Ooomph...!!!" landed squarely in Sockeye's subsiding earthworks... professed total disassociation with the entire fiasco as she plunged her nose even deeper into the overdue library book she'd purposely brought on holiday for just such an occasion, making it perfectly clear that she was a tourist and furthermore, planned to stick with the same itinerary once they returned home... and that while she was here, she did not under any circumstances wish to be disturbed, the notice was clearly displayed hanging from the door handle... but if anyone should, then whoever it was did so at their own peril... and she was keeping score... although a mangled thumb she luxuriated, with the same roguish smile curling the corners of her mouth as the one normally found playing around her daughter's... was equally as heart warming.

      All Tina wanted was one week of uninterrupted peace and quiet in Flamborough, preferably with a certain someone out from under her feet then spend what might pass for several undisturbed hours sitting quietly by the rock pool comparing notes on eye makeup and the feminine merits of pedicure with the little crab who, still marooned by the tide was now sat busily knitting four pairs of matching leg warmers in the cool, still water but that was only if that certain someone... a shrill  "AAaargh...!!!" somewhat more desperate than the first, ****** itself upon the as yet unaggressive afternoon as it gyrated across the warm Jurrasic rock and recoiled out to sea... "now where was I", twisting her book uppermost "oh yes..! someone was going to pay..." only now it was going to be sooner rather than later, but only if that certain someone didn't finish the seating arrangements before the Sun disappeared and drift into some backstreet tea-room before all the lemon cheesecake sold out, or was that she reflected, simply too much to ask.

     It was his Surname that Rock found so objectionable, or it had been right up until his little sister's enlightening disclosure, now it was both names Rocky disliked, it would have been far kinder had Rock Salmon been sandwiched between sliced bread and given to Sockeye... who's solemn duty, from the first mouthful to the very last, was to gaze up beseechingly from beneath the kitchen table  and devour anything that passed his way, even the postman had to be quick about his business or have his arm follow the mail through the letter box... then Sockeye would just smack his lips and help himself to seconds.  

     All Rocky's mum had thought about for the last fourteen years was seconds... every last solitary one of them since she'd suffered with an infection of matrimonial neurosis which had deprived her of common sense and her maiden name, from Chovey to that of Salmon and how with hindsight she should have taken an Aspirin instead, wedlock she asserted was everything the name claimed to be and was without doubt the worst move she'd ever made... and what's more was seen as a bad move in whoever's wedding album you just happened to be paying your condolences to.

     Rocky would never be so fortunate on that score, unlike his sister he was stuck with Salmon for good, his grandma-Ann by all accounts had been dead set against the union from word Go and saw his father as someone who would always be out of his depth in whatever rock pool he found himself in, swimming against the tide as it were, rather than going with the flow... and it appeared that Rocky, almost eleven years into a life sentence, was about to flounder in the same murky undertow as the rest of the Salmon family... only he couldn't swim.

     "There"! her husband exclaimed "all finished... better late than never eh', who fancies trying it"? his wife luxuriated over the words 'better late' and wondered whether her new earrings, her latest acquisition would complement formal mourning attire.  Red dusted off the palms of his hands with the certain knowledge of a job well done and cautiously took one step back, looking with justifiable pride at the outcome of his manly exertions of the last two hours, this was what holidays were all about he declared, one man pitted against insurmountable odds...  His wife meanwhile was getting to grips with more odds of her own than you could safely expect to shake a stick at... her husband being one of them.  

     Having gathered her offspring with the promise of verbal earache if they didn't... and finished packing the beach-bag, Tina finally located Sockeye peering out from the shade of an adjacent rock, wisps of feathers poked tellingly from the corners of his mouth, his tail beating mischievously on the shingle decided in one further blaze of canine brainstorming, as Tina attempted to slip his collar on that a game of tag would just about round the day off nicely... Tina then devoted the next ten minutes chasing him amid unrestrained salvo's of cheering from the rest of the family... then bid goodbye to the little crab who, still marooned by the tide waved a friendly pincer in return... and trusted that she wouldn't have too long to wait for the next rising tide back home, then she slid off the rock with a corrosive... "the deck-chair attendant would have shown you" she snapped "and don't forget the deposit when you take them back" then double checking that she landed squarely on his foot she marched past, her floral sun hat jammed resolutely on her head at what she considered a jaunty angle with her equally jaunty, angular children scrambling in hot pursuit, back in the direction of their lodgings.  

     "Woof "..? said a bewildered Sockeye, bringing everyone to an abrupt halt... and with paws the size of place-mats, he wasn't going anywhere he didn't want to... he hunkered down with a look of hurtful accusation on his face, "oh yes you are my lad"! said his mistress "I've met your sort before" and knew exactly where to place the toe of her dainty size-5 as Sockeye, digging his heals in even further created swathes of canine furrows up the beach, leaving her husband the unwitting holder and in sole possession of the overlooked guest-house keys... and somewhat resigned to clean up his own masculinity and dismantle the recently assembled, now redundant deck-chairs by himself... as for Tina, well... she'd had quite enough excitement for one day thank you very much.

     Morning register was always the worst he thought, as they trooped back along the shingle beach, Rocky making surprisingly good furrows of his own... but the rest of the class loved it and saw it as the highlight of each day... Rocky's form teacher, despite showing a brave face was always hard pressed to avoid bursting into hysterics every time she worked her way down the register to the letter 'S' and would attempt to bypass it altogether, jumping from 'R' to 'T' and just prayed that no one else had noticed, but it hadn't taken the class very long to point out her oversight and... "please Miss" they'd all chant "we haven't had Salmon all week" and while the rest of the class were having convulsive fits, Rocky would elbow the lad sat at the next desk in the ribs... and promptly get one hundred lines for his trouble... thank goodness it was school holidays.  Why couldn't they have been given respectable names like Seymour Legge, Rock wondered, who sat over by the window or perhaps the teachers pet, Anna Prentice or even, Robyn Banks at a pinch, but definitely not what they'd been given and certainly not Salmon, they were the most hilarious names he could imagine and if someone was looking down on them right now he thought... then they had a very unique sense of humour indeed and Rock said so... "why" his little sister asked sweetly, "what's wrong with River Salmon".

                                                      ­                         ...   ...   ...*

a work in progress*                                                        ­                                                              240­6
Rachel Herrmann Jan 2015
Ribs,
Protruding proof
Of a girl in pain
With a need for control.
Ribs,
A mark of willpower
Or is it weakness
A false sense of control
A puppet governed
By insecurity.
The monster inside,
Taunting.
Empty stomach
Is it applauding your strength,
Or growling at your cruelty?
B Dec 2014
You use my ribs as your monkey bars
To make your xylophonic melody
Tarzan would be proud, I'm sure
You're doing well at the expense of me
Perhaps I've got a playground heart
And that is what I am meant to be
REAL Mar 2014
above you
and you look at me, as if your waiting
waiting...
grasping my shoulders
you pull me in
our skin was touching
heating up,
your red nails dug into my back
but i loved it
your breathing hard
my mind cant take
im going crazy...
your blonde hair smells like fresh strawberrys
i could taste  it on your tongue

i cant get you out of my mind

****...
feb 28th

this night....
Rebecca Gismondi Apr 2013
Ribs close
breathe
heave
and between the spaces lie pieces of others,
memories you cling on to and never wish to let float away for fear that you will never find them with another
that these memories will be the last you have of this nature with this person who knows your ribs,
can feel their fragility and light weight,
who sees the cracks that others have caused and wants nothing more than to crawl in between your heart and make a home, safe, where you know you can always go
but over time they become restless and struggle to break out of the cage,
they have willingly pushed themselves in the cage but now,
oh now, suddenly,
they want out
and they push past your lungs and puncture them
and bruise your heart on the way out until they
lift out of you, squeeze out, breathe someone else’s air
and for a long time you are crumpled on the floor,
a mass of bones and muscle that don’t connect,
that are no longer one but are just a heap of sadness and guilt and pity
and people walk by your bones and kick them and trample them and get dirt on your muscles and spit on your organs and laugh at your disconnected, dismembered body because
they have picked up their bones and muscle or maybe,
if they were really lucky,
they never had to
they could stay together and breathe in each other’s air and have another person live beneath their skin and inhabit their thoughts and be the main feature of their dreams and the hero of their nightmares
but you are not them
you are
bones and muscle and ***** and
discarded, scattered thoughts on the floor who gasps for air and begs for structure and yearns for fusion of her being together,
wants nothing more than to return to being one, to become a solid again
because why should one person push their way out
and walk on two feet
and kiss girls
and wear banana hammocks
and dye their hair red and blonde and brown
and then somehow, so slowly and so unexpectedly and so amicably and so generously
slice back into your skin until it almost smells like him again
until it oozes with his promises
and his words
and his laughter
and his voice
and its almost as if even when apart,
in separate beds, on different sheets,
you are together
and you feel his skin on yours and you can feel yourself
slowly
but then all at once
melting into him
fading back into his breath
fading into his hands
you place every word into his palms with the promise to hold them like eggshells,
“don’t break them”
and he sets his thoughts into your scrambled mind,
words he’d never utter out loud any other time except now, with you
and
does he miss you like you’ve missed him?
he says he’s lonely but he doesn’t realize you’ve never had anyone between your sheets
or
in your bathroom
or
in your kitchen
but you have inhabited those spaces in his
it might be a different place now,
a new air and smell
but he has probably had her there,
not you,
her,
and you think all of the time of what it is –
full of garbage and clothes and his guitar and exactly $100 worth of groceries
and you want to inhabit that space so badly it consumes you
you want to rub your smell all over so no matter where he is, he will think of you
and you want to lie in his bed with no clothes on and just make him stare at you,
watch you
and you want to write notes and place them in unexpected places
like in his couch
and
underneath his sink
or in his leather jacket
notes that say:
“you inhabit me”
and
“I dreamt of you last night”
and
“I love you my first love I love you I love you I love you”
repeated
and he will find them when you are not there,
maybe not in the near future,
maybe months from now he will see the repetition
and it will rattle his brain
and he will wonder why he ever pushed,
prodded,
and pulled his way out of you
and into the arms of another
Beckawecka Aug 2015
One day,
I find myself
Stroking my hair.
My fingers place between three ribs,
Of my best asset.

I look down at them,
Fine and fierce and fearless.

Three ribs,
Barely cut,
And it hangs off the cage of my head.
I place my hands on either side of my head,
Trying to steady the shaking, malformed,
Ball of meat inside.

I know I'm crazy
Sad girl, mad girl,
But I need to find myself.

The scissors of my hands slice
The three ribs
Off,
They curl in brown and blonde tips.
They tangle, contort, into senseless shapes and letters,
And fall in hand.

I can feel it
When the only place I seem to exist is in my head,
It's my hair,
That lets me know I'm real.
Emma Graci Oct 2014
my ribs are bruised
from my heart pounding so hard
inside my chest
when I think about you
Tom Spencer Jul 2015
Summer morning -
pink jets of clouds
splash out
from the golden well of the east
falling just short
of an ebbing moon.

Streams of swallows
flutter and glide
over the garden -
they are all flying
in the same direction
as if erupting

from the sun’s waking pulse.
Just for a moment
one of the birds hangs
perfectly still -
like the top-most drop of water
from a fountain before it turns

to face the glittering pool.
Beneath them all
the hummingbird
makes her rounds
and a dove scratches the earth
below the feeder

keeping an wary eye
on the scribbling intruder.
So many summer mornings -
too many summer mornings
I have wasted
worrying about the world

and my place in it –
absent from my own body
and breath
the cage of my ribs
rising, falling, and pausing
without me. Meanwhile,

another swallow
stills her wings.
Buoyed by an unseen breeze
she is both feathered sail
and cresting wave as she slices
over my shoulder bearing west.


Tom Spencer © 2015
hollownights Dec 2013
In the heat of the moment,
when we are intertwined
by a single thread,
or by a thick rope,
I will ask you
to rip apart my ribs.

Now when I ask you
to do this,
I do not want you
to ponder the
metaphorical meaning
of what this could possibly mean.
I want you to make me
breathe so heavily
that my ribs will
be ripped apart by
the heaving of my lungs.

I want you to take each bone,
and use it in any way you want.
I want you to make more use
of my body than I will ever have.
I want my lungs to be filled
with blood and the idea
of your hands running through
my ******* hair.

There will be nothing left of me
when you are done.
I am fine with this.
But please promise me,
that when I ask you to,
that you will definitely
Rip Apart My Ribs.
Emmy Jan 2014
You were a nightmare
in a fairy tale disguise
and my heart

heart

aches so hard
you

You were ribbons of blood     tied

so   tightly
twisted around   around my heart
I didn't mind the least, I
distorted
rains as

It fractures across my face
cracks of nostalgia

placed by lightening storms
that crackle
across
my skin

With a slight
slapping
                 sting

I hate time, the way it speeds up
                                                                      slows
down
and     jerks      

me around

It slaps me in the face
Cackling with a ferocity of time travel
rewind reverse velocity

Dragging me by a thought
        
            thread

shatter the light with
explosive
hammering in my eyelids

My atmosphere darkly  
                               clouded
by
lowly haunt clouds

My heart rumbled thunder in my chest  
my eyes swelled stormy
crashing down with foamed black water

I

I struggle to breathe with the crushing
promise broken
      ribs
that cage my lungs

Your cold
spiny fingers

clutch

my heart
as it
        beats
your fingernails needle poison
into
my veins

stopping blood flow once again

In your sick twisted play-time
my eyes witness
my veins
pulse
black

     you

you squeeze completing the crime
blood covers your hands
    
          you wash them clean
     they are stained
  blood blue      
       ribs splinter
your fingertips
       the moon will pull
the
    tide
to wash me into the sea.
Leydis Jun 2017
You say that God made me out of your ribs.
Yet I would like to differ.
Your rhetoric is to oppress me.  
You’ve said it so many times, I forgot my own power!

Let me remind you, that God made us equal.
I do not come from your ribs.
I come from the same dust that created you.
For the Lord saw your empty soul and took pity on thee.
He saw you and thought….
how can my promised be fulfilled, If he is an empty vessel?
So he created me, with all the things you lacked in mind!
Therefore, the parts that made you incomplete, I can complete,
to fulfill his infinite plan for humanity.

He gave me *******,
So that when the hunter gets depressed,
I can still feed human kind.
Throughout history, I have fed the children of the ones that have enslaved me!
I have given birth to the offspring’s of my ******’s.

He gave me ovaries, so that for every child of mine you ****,
be it for your vanity, for your colonies, for the color of their skin,  
I can conceive and continue to multiply.
No child of mine can be replaced.....so I weep, until my milk ducts dry from your senseless crimes.
I continue to thrive, from every ******, from every ****, from ever war, against me, my children, my women, my earth.
You want me to think, God made me inferior.
But, if you think about our design.....
If I chose to, I can stop humanity at its tracks,!
Put an end to you,
to your inhumanity,
and immoral crimes,
just by choosing to never again, give life.  

I am not better than you,
but you will not say I am the weaker one.
If you haven’t understood, WE need each other.
But, I am the connection between earth and God.

Don’t believe the fable, I do not come out of your ribs,
God intelligently placed me on top of you,
so in the hands of women… humanity could be restored,
woven together and be healed...time after time!

I do not come out of your ribs!!!
I love you dearly, but, get your story right.

LeydisProse
6/2/2017
https://m.facebook.com/LeydisProse/
Akemi Sep 2014
Wilt my lungs
I’ll breathe in bitter bloom
And fill my chest with concrete tombs

At twenty one I exhaled tar
And covered my birthday cake

Ribs for the skyline
This city built a church round my heart
Before some gutter punks spray painted the side of the stained glass
With the suicide rates of middle-class citizens

Nothing has been the same since

When I was young
I was raised on Disney
And taught that my bones were living things

At thirteen years old
I nestled a heart within the clouds and smoke of my chest
It suffocated to death

I’ve never broken a bone
But I’ve trailed plenty of marrow
3:03am, September 14th 2014

Naivety is a killer, and we are so very brittle.
George Anthony May 2017
these ribs creak
like old stairs,
wooden floorboards splintered;
tread carefully
so no one knows
you're there

the ladder of my ribs
has been climbed
one too many times,
I only wish
they were as
sturdy as metal

careful, now, darling
you're pushing too hard.
a collapse could
be fatal
and I've got
too much pain
in my heart
to bleed out into the world.

there's cracks
in the concrete
and they look like
the x-ray
I had when
I was thirteen. I think
this pavement took more pressure

than my ribs
ever did.
hush, now, I know
you're scared.
so am I.
tread carefully, don't
push too hard
and maybe
you'll slip between the cracks

without causing
further damage.
I'll carve a space
for you
between my lungs;
I'll tuck you inside
and you can
call me home.

please
don't shatter
the slats.
this room looks
better in the dark
where shadows
can hide the scars.
blanket this
vulnerability, dear.
I'm not ready to
fall apart
again,
Skypath Sep 2014
It's elementary, my dear
This bittersweet affection that I feel
From one boy to the next I grew
Ladder rungs of broken hearts

First grade
Blonde hair and disarming smile
Recess games and hallway passes
A note in a diary and minutes spent giggling
Never talking, always watching

Fourth grade
Glasses frame of brown hair and thin shoulders
Curious enigma to come and go
A bit more literate diary entrees
One year of crossed legs and shy smiles

Fifth grade
A growing tree of lean muscle and blue eyes
Short brown hair and a charming grin
Side by side on a rubber track
Gray skies and sweet goodbyes
A bright dance floor and a shattered heart
Miserable nights and heartbreak songs

Seventh grade
Long dark hair and chocolate eyes
This spring has brought a strange surprise
Wiry muscle and soft cheeks
Once admired, then adored
An ongoing thrum of sweet affection
Sidelong glances and gym class stares
New discoveries and quiet realization
Girl can love girl

Tenth grade
A firecracker packed with mysterious boys
And an enigmatic girl
A bomb in the summer sky
Spelling new names, new faces, new hearts
A whisper of 'I love you' at long last returned
Names carved on my ribs and pulling my lips
A tightened chest never felt so good
J Lohr May 2013
A deep breath, at least an attempt
Drawing air into my lungs; painful to say the least
Short shallow breaths relieving the horrible pain

That last kick, missing the block, threw myself off balance
My own **** fault

Deserving of the next kick, left side of my open rib cage
Stupidity is always punished

A sickening crack, an intense pain
Constant reminder to keep my guard up

Fight the urge to *****
Left arm numb from pain
If I stopped, stayed down too long; he would end it

“Told you to watch that kick Johnny Johnny”

Shook myself hard, working up the urge to keep going
Hell, I’d done this many times before

Eyes swollen shut and ringed with dried blood
His nose, broken; the unnatural angle it tilted, granted mine was too.

My left arm hung limp by my side
I swung again, hard right, for the widening cut above his eye
But so did he
Same hard right, sent me back into the dirt
He fell too.

Blur in my left eye, mere pooling blood
One person among the crowd
A girl
My age, dark hair
It was brown or black?
A tank top and jean shorts
Stood watching the fight shaking her head
Her coy smile
“Boys will be boys”

Only to muster a smile back
A toothy stupid grin
My mouth and teeth rather ****** and red


I wanted to just look at her
But time would not allow
Staggering forward again

Wanted this to end
Wanted to wash my face
Fix the pain that was tearing my ribs,
Most importantly
I wanted to know who she was.

Both fists back up
Swung slow, left hook
Left my ribs wide open
Brought his leg around again
Harder than the first
Grunting in pain and barring my teeth
Anger kept me on my feet

Left arm down fast a
Trapping his leg against my side
My right fist onto his knee
A satisfying crack
A blood curdling yell

He sobbed
Gasping for breath
Through tears he put his fists back up

My shoulder then planted hard into his stomach
Slammed into hard concrete below
He grasped my back until his met concrete
Only good fist ready to finish the fight
Last punch down I stopped.
Anything more would have been cruel


“**** John you look like hell!”

“Hey man,” I stopped him grabbing his arm, “who was that girl in the tank top, behind you earlier?”

He started to laugh. “Don’t concern yourself with that my friend, she’s too high class company for a guy like you.”
Ember Evanescent Dec 2014
Psychological issues?

Sure.

I've got plenty.

I don't know exactly when it started
But some time ages ago
During elementary school
I just felt so worthless
Like I was numb
I wanted to feel
But I didn't know how
And it wasn't a sharp pain
I would welcome a sharp pain
It was dull ache that wouldn't leave me
I froze in my own icy thoughts
Maybe it was the loneliness
Or all the things those girls said to me
Maybe it was the insults or the whispers
Or maybe it was just my twisted mind
But whatever the cause
I tried to **** myself
When I was just a little 11 year old girl
When some girls were still playing with Barbies in secret
I was secretly playing with knives and ropes
I would take that blade
And scratch a cut into my wooden headboard
One slit in the wood for every moment that I wanted to die
Because I was too young back then to even think of my wrist
That came later
A few years later
And still
There are days where I just feel so horrible and sad and broken
For absolutely zero reason
It doesn't make sense
Nothing bad is even happening
But I feel shattered
I spent a year feeling so. hollow.
So f!cking hollow
I felt like I couldn't breathe
Like I wasn't alive
I spent entire days
Not speaking
I still miss the cuts sometimes, honestly
I like my scars
Which sounds terrible
But I trace them with my fingernails absentmindedly some days
During the darker nights
It comforts me
Because even though I’m not going to cut myself ever again
I can jolt myself into remembering the pain
And it is a form of relief in itself
I don’t know
Not something I can explain
Is that depression?
Probably not though, I feel bad suggesting it in front of people who actually for sure have depression when I haven't been analyzed
But still, it's not impossible I guess

I spent 5 years
From grade 5 through to grade 9
Which is pretty **** young
Feeling fat
Hating my body
Hating myself
I can see my ribs but I still feel fat
It’s okay I can fix that
Eating a little less
Skip a meal
Just skip lunch
Just eat a tiny breakfast, no lunch
No breakfast, no lunch but it’s okay because I have a good dinner
I think I’m losing weight
Is it bad that I’m in grade 5 and thinking like this?
This is great
I think it’s working
I’m in grade 6 now
Maybe I won’t be worthless if I become skinny
I can still see my ribs
I could from the beginning
But I still feel fat
Okay, less dinner now
Hide it well
Let’s switch
No lunch, a little dinner and a bit of breakfast
Just enough to stay alive
Although how much to I really want to stay alive?
Fat.
Look at my legs
Look at their legs
My thighs God I hate my thighs
Eat less
Eat less and less
Until I’m basically surviving on snacks and just the beginnings of each meal
Just enough to take a few bites before they leave the room for a minute
Just long enough for me to throw away my food
But I don’t think I’m losing weight
I will never be enough
7th grade
Just a little less
Don’t tell any of them
Losing pounds
Check my reflection
I still feel fat
I try to be less so I can feel like I’m more
But does the number on the scale even matter anymore?
I’m promising and promising I ate before I came
But these pretty little lies are driving even me insane
And they can’t see through my smile they can’t figure it out
I’m slowly killing myself
From the inside out
Pretty soon, “I don’t feel well” is my favorite phrase and an everyday thing
A justification for my small portions that I don’t finish
It’s true though
I don’t feel well
I feel worthless.
It continues into 8th and 9th grade
Worse and worse
Looking up the calories of different food
Surviving on water and tea
Just enough food to stay alive
Though I really don’t care that much about my own survival, really
Is that anorexia nervosa?
I doubt it
But it’s a possibility I guess

I look in the mirror
And I feel so f!cking ugly
I literally cannot find ONE thing I like about myself
I cannot leave the house without makeup
Because I am SO ashamed of my own face
I genuinely feel bad for the people who have to see my face
I cry sometimes, because I look in the mirror and see my own worthless hideousness
I remember that sleepover I was invited to with the popular girls and I wondered why
When I got locked in a closet, got soap sprayed in my mouth and locked outside in the freezing cold snow without pants on when I was just trying to change into my night clothes
That’s when I knew I had been invited just so they could torment me
I don’t like being the entertainment for the party
I tried to just go to sleep because if I called home I would look like a coward
And my mother who NEVER let me go to sleepovers would get to say “I told you so”
And when they thought I was asleep
But I wasn’t
I listened to them talk for a full hour
My eyes on the clock
My ears on their conversation
“Is she asleep”?
I didn’t know they were talking about me until I heard them mention my name
When they talked for a full f!cking hour
In detail
About why I was ugly
On what levels I was ugly
The degree of my ugliness
I didn’t cry
I didn’t sit up and tell them I could hear them
It would be too humiliating
I listened
And I know they are right
But now it’s getting bad
My face doesn’t even look human to me anymore
It looks like some sort of beastly troll’s face
It looks f!cking hideous
My mother is worried about me
Because I can’t even look myself in the mirror when I have no makeup on
Because I Freak. Out when it is suggested that I might have to be in public without hiding my ugly face in makeup
It literally affects my ability to function properly in everyday life.
The thing is, those girls said it
And they ALL agreed
So if I REALLY had dysmorphia
Then it would all be in my mind
And if they all agreed I was hideous
Then I must be
So how can it be imagined?
I don’t know
Anyway
My point is
I suppose
MAYBE
It is possible
I have dysmorphia

But
Depression
Anorexia Nervosa
Dysmorphia

Those possible diseases of the mind
I
Have multiple
Psychological issues

BUT OCD IS NOT F!CKING ONE OF THEM

How dare he suggest such a thing
Just because I
“Always seem to be working towards something”
Excuse me for not getting drunk and high and naked
Putting off work
Not caring about anything
It’s not OCD though
It’s just called going somewhere in life
Because I may as well
Since in my mind
I’m hopelessly lost
Sorry this is so long. Don't feel any obligation to actually read the whole thing it's more for me to get out some bad emotions.
d Jan 2016
it started as a polite knock
tap tap tap
always three times
my heart asked timidly to leave my body
tap tap tapped
on my ribs
always in three
my heart has ocd you see

soon my heart progressed
thud thud thud
always three times
my heart started raising its voice
thud thud thudding
on my ribs
always in three
my heart has ocd you see

then my heart was angry
wham wham wham
my heart pounded in my chest
wham wham whamming
on my ribs
always in three
my heart has ocd you see
Tessellate Nov 2012
i had a thought.
i ran out of my room,
down the hallway,
and into the bathroom.

i wriggled out of my worn down, tie dye shirt.
hopping up and down as i pull off my
high-waisted jeans, pulling my pant leg with my foot as i
trample the dark denim to the ground.

i stand there naked, in front of the
harsh, full length mirror.
combing my fingers through my natural, wavy hair.
i contort my face in disgust, cocking
my head slightly to the side.

i close my eyes, and take one deep breath in.
when i open my eyes,
the reflection staring back at me is a thin, natural
beauty.

Her smooth ivory skin glows in the
silvery reflective glass.
Her stomach is flat and toned.
Her ******* lay on Her chest in perfect
proportion to the rest of her petite frame.

i run my fingers down the sides of my body.
my palms trailing along, dipping and
rising with the mounds beneath my skin.

i close my eyes and open them again,
this time taking my reflection for
what it really is.

i am fat.
my skin is pink and spotted with freckles the
colour of blood.

my stomach hangs low, covering the part
a man should see when i'm naked.

my ******* are big.
but not in the way you'd like them to be.
they lay there, sort of lop-sided.
hanging just above my ribs. Another place for
fat to take over.

the cuts on my thighs are hardly noticable
next to

all

that

fat

i can see tears in the eyes of the reflection staring back at me,
but i am numb.

i thought correctly. i am
fat. i am ugly.
Nobody in their right mind would want to
love me.
n)Ethno-spirit and Biodiversity (Diogiversity)

Given its ethnikos factor and contribution towards a common origin of multiethnic languages, in values and traditions, its morphological factors of Verthian sub-mythology, are provided with content, features, colors, and textures of neutrality, focused on a biosphere ecosystem, where the air conditioning, flora-fauna will make Sub-mythological Biodiversity, where the beings that inhabit it and will be in the range of evolution of mythological living beings, whose diversity of genetic seizures, will adopt natural and compound patterns, but always predominant in the biological pattern and organic. Wandering the world in desert places, in alloys and classified plant compounds, emptying their species through the hollow of the atmosphere and through the green grasslands in the reviving surviving evolution of organisms and species that for the first time see each other as a biotype between rocks and plantations, reciprocally among themselves, and extemporaneously generating mythological genetics heritages. Considering millions of years in evolution with explosions of multicellular and fossilized species extinct in massive and occlusive memories. Inert matter and geological strata will make millions of years converted into microseconds in the Verthian Biodiversity of the Duoverse, in a Psychic and spiritual Universe, emerging in all macroscopic perspectives and parapsychological regressions. Impact They will cause the maturity of all the diversity of externality and sensations in new topologies of anonymous universes and species of biodiversity, under a pillar of culture based on the Sub-Mythological biosphere process, encompassing all mythological species where the hope of Life and Super life. Transforming systems of functionality under the protection of spontaneous generation and in a matter that is availably underlined in the mountainous tissues of the mechanics of the subset of the air mass, water, climatic biospheres, and biogeochemistry, that in the unreal juncture of, and inter-procedural reality of carbon, that factor the species key and specimen disclosure, in the collection and in sinks, water drains but without carbon. encompassing all mythological species where the Life expectancy and Super life unfolds.

Hyperdisis, the galaxy connected to the Duoverso, in its biotic diversity, reinsert thick clumps of Nothofagus Obliqua forests, in waste processes, to domesticate the Leiak ethno-forest species, as balance nutrients and repair the disgraceful disgrace of unnatural toxicity and fragile of the agrosystem, maturing cultures and preventive pollination in succulent transfers for purposes of food webs and the environment. Making the appearance of species more effective and perceptible, reunited in community chains of coherence, to amortize low-resource needs and distance economic-political impacts, in view of new base resources and the sustainability of balance of allopathic crops, for the good of driving the extinction of plagues or flagrant excesses not converted, Hyperdisis has a mass of inert matter that creates accesses of resilience, for salinity, rainfall, and human adaptive mythological innovation, given its versatile opening of complement and generation of substances, for the convenience of living beings and No. Having adopted in the context of mythological Galaxy, related to beings of light comparable to distant elements, by means of Psychic Trisomies and tell transportation, for energy sources and soil and water mechanics with Leiak, constituting molecules for the simplification of phenomena of exacerbation of chronic diseases and endogenous. Forests and parks of Hyperdisis in the symbiotic open air, for more airs in microbiological space, in the intimate portion from greatest to least challenge of elements exclusive of antinomies of hieratic human bio culturalization, in a showcase of communities with an interest in technologies and renewable empirical usability, each part doing its scientific role and biodiversity in the portico of its home. As a hieratic quality, presenting amendments that are glimpsed and more existing, although it passes before our eyes without a Carbon Footprint, figuring logical mathematics by sponsoring its count more than a shadowy synthetic body, anticipating super-appraisal measures, averaging them in tiny theological portions, with varied and dissimilar levels of genetic habitats and alleles or heterozygous in the taxonomic functionality of reproductive and approving biological elements. The wealth and abundance of this item are delegated to Leiak, in all the revolutionary processes of the oak forests and the high mountains,

Within the gasifications of Cinnabar, there was Carbon in its Life cycle, being Zefián; the curator of the Duoverse, destined for a lifetime, under Universal and intergalactic effects. Claiming innocent beings with greater attributes of predation survival in the ecological chain, with the mix of Tsambika and Theoskepatis, granting multidirectional dynamic residual matter for green energy emissions. Feedback quantifies offset options in carbon circulation, offsetting multipurpose CO₂ inventory. Through the darkness Zefián and Vernarth traveled in the streets of Rhodes, and in Tsambika looking for the distilled portions of the carbon and sulfur emanated by the Cinnabar. In the same way Etréstles in Theoskepatis initiating with the Archpriest by virtue of the honors and the rubies of accumulations of water mass and of sulfur and carbonated air, which hung over the low sky of Rhodes and Kimolos. They were going to the Necropolis of Hellenika, when the gnostic rampages were glimpsed in the surrounding slab, minting half of the gold bars for the great goldsmith who erects the conventionality of having the physis imperturbably established, as a matter of patriarchal character. They entered Helleniká and the souls that wandered were ringed under crescent-encrusted rings, lavishing the independence of the night in the hands of Borker, which was reflected in the capitals of a mausoleum. Borker is consistent in saying that he is free in Helleniká, In the myth of the dustbin woodworm of the frieze where Etréstles perched next to Zefián's strap, who would manipulate the gold and alabaster chain, to pull its ascetic and rubies from it, approaching a final night in the astronomical autumn, in the last parapsychological regression of the god Vertumnus, which would embody the expiration of the Helleniká friezes by Kashmar branches decayed from vegetation and the tears of the Etruscan god Vertumnus. Making the branches of the Kashmar, the epithet of heraldry in the noble metals and woods of the autumn, and the mountainous temple of the one that follows the equinox in the meridian of seven days towards the southern and northern hemisphere. in the last parapsychological regression of the god Vertumnus, which would embody the expiration of the Helleniká friezes by Kashmar branches decayed from vegetation and the tears of the Etruscan god Vertumnus. Making the branches of the Kashmar, the epithet of heraldry in the noble metals and woods of the autumn. They enter the Necropolis of Helleniká, by upper and lower trays, cordoned off by obelisks in a series of petrified labels, in the square sections of the convergent ones and the linearity of the central pyramid, where they sponsored all the sectors of the stones of the prismatic geometric body, next to some piloneos that flanked the third of those that were in the figurative memory of funerary monuments of Vernarth. In harmony with the radiosities of the Cinnabar, they purged the carbon emanations in the intra-bodies of petrified breaths, expanding in the segments of frenetic life of the behavior of the inert matter, crushed by the organic, polishing the degrading character of the excavated prayers, under a superfluous shade. It was already dawn, Etréstles and the Archpriest broke the loaves to deposit them in the bowl of the Day, stretching in the arms of heaven under the gargle of the god Vertumnus who forged from the materiality of Jupiter. Vernarth nodded his head to the movement of the winds that cut the profile of a Citarista yawning on the frieze that raises all the crowns of the princes of the living-dead, making them part of the royal occasion, preparing petty spaces and tyrannies for devouring vassals in Helleniká, from the lair of his rib one, sees Diogenes of Sinope emerge, splitting with his doctrinal staff all the Isthmian paroxysms, which declared the cell of his life as Diogiversity.

"There were murmurs of astonishment at the surprising response of the wise man because no one dared to speak like that to the king. Alexander the Great asked: "Why do they call you Diogenes, the dog?", To which Diogenes replied: "Because I praise those who give me, I bark at those who don't give me, and the bad ones I bite." Again, more murmurs, but Alejandro was not moved by those answers and said: "Ask me what you want." So Diogenes, undeterred, replied: "Get away from where you are, you cover the sun for me"..., Vernarth replied: "Look for him in the bones of those who refused to die and fear beyond expiration who rejoices in the cold of the dean ossuary seed, without heat or memory here in Corinth and its Diogiversity ".

o)Reflection space length (π)

The hemispheres were out of proportion, one another was modified in the air, leaving the horizon exorbitant and the poles out of square. Coastal the lengths of the sun around areas that some Helleniká countrymen had never put on the crowns of their consciousness. Certain pressure changes dislocated other modules in the filaments that had rudimentary inaccuracies, creating reflection space failures in the installation of the Duoverso, due to the due calculation defect. The observations of Hyperdisis, generated superpositions of the Zigzag Universe, before the crescent moon, after the full moon, again de-calculating the sphere of Hyperdisis in relation to the ecstatic length of itself in the hands of a third of a second a day, to overflow in impositions that They revealed Dekas Cove in Kimonos(π).

The value of the opinion of reflections will be the originality of breaking of statics, of the motors of the verb and the conscience of the flushed being, and of erudition of the naive contrast when decanting the perceived morality. They concur with the moral value in every sub-mythology of an ambivalent being of supernatural human co-belonging, not dependent on gnoseological reflections, rather spontaneous under the embankment of reason. The latter being absent in the shadow of its shadow, no reflection can take hold of anti-values, self-valorized in contingencies under the effects of the drug of lies or truth, in a difficult equation to refer to in gnosis treatises, declaring the absence of consciousness to species without reflection or length of their molecular evolution, in evidence of mythological humans. The triangle Patmos, Rhodes, and Kímolos, make up a Venusian adonis, of stimuli in the nostrils of Aion, which sneezed on the integrity of the reflex arc at high speed superseded in the tremors of Athens until Hyperdisis, flashing anatomical and pejorative on the optic nerve of the Colossus Rodino, and the twisting of the multi-personal muscles..., but already depersonalized..., with little telluric reaction in the core of the symmetry of his legs, dodging as he thrashed on his frowned arms, behind the legs of the lycaons..., digging his jaws in reflex arches, for ages that only an immemorial one would enchant him, and be it the throbbing of the earth in the crust and seams of the calcined Colossus. Existing like this their reflection of attenuated light, they shook through the sea full of sinewy pieces of precise length. Frequently in the hydronium cations, undermining the temporality of Tsambika in random stones in the humid, and dark narrowness of the anthropic reflection, having lived in the heavenly paradise that formed them by the volcanic tube and its syngenetic, by the erosion of the subsoil of Rhodes. In Helleniká, everything that is expected, flows with the Meltemi tubularly, so that they are polyps of fluctuating desolation or placed above all zephyr or anti-wind, in ammonoids or ammonites; reviving from the seas it flows with the Meltemi tubularly, so that they are polyps of fluctuating desolation or placed above all zephyr or anti-wind, in ammonoids or ammonites; reviving from the seas from Devonian to Cretaceous, escaping from the ferocities of the Etesios and these same escaping from the roars of Vernarth.

p) One-Dimensional Beams II

When their ears fell in love with the Orthoptera or Grylloideas before Joshua, the night became restless, abandoning them from their shelters, they brushed the seeds of the thistle that trembled with the new millennium of the Duoverse. Levitating their ailerons in the tenors of their birth and dilettante sounds, before an ovipositing candor of the remains of the abdomen that remained in their jaws, always being from one of the Beams, for the largest Enciphers that hung from their antennas in search of Joshua's telepathic messages in the manger. Sappho of Mytilene, also known as Sappho of ****** or simply Sappho, pretended to be a marigold proliferating in the twenty corridors of the Greek poet, and also as the tenth poet in the other ten that was reflected with transparent wings of the dew that stuck, phenomenal of physique -Saphonic and in the recent rain of wind and condensed air, in the form of drops due to the sudden decrease in temperature in contact with cold surfaces. Sappho's dew was talked about in Kafersesuh, usually when it comes to condensation on a Poetic Grylloidae surface, naturally on the ground cover or artificially in a dull cloudy crystalline, in the amount of supernatural tradition, heroes, superheroes, and anti-heroes conspiring with the territorialities of hexagonality.

The Aramaic message comes forward with vigor from the orthopterans and birds that piled up on the journey, going back and forth. The Beams shone from the celestial kingdom holding on to the Cherubim and the Archangels, through the paths of conversion and the support of the bizarre Christian time, in implacable hegemony for the propaedeutic of phylogeny, but more than perfumers chemistry and the same creation. carrying Lepidoptera winged tetra and Sand Crickets, on the interlocking and obfuscated pheromones from a nascent-elemental child, in his own evangelical philosophy, from a winged dimensionality and in the gloom of Manger shouted and aligned, before the compendiums of double pyramidal landmarks and of inflection, of his word in the Grylloids and panaceas created in the affinities of the world and Animalia, stylizing muleteers carriers, phrasing acronyms and parabolizing the polygonic nomenclature of the child made a territorial man on the wings of a Cricket, already being it !, but representing himself as a lifeless man in the entirety of an advantageous canon child, from a sudden bi-dimensionality of Grylloideos. A great Zohar light gathered all towards a whole in those vantage points of terrestrial columns and orthopterans that Joshua felt in advance in his resined ears, like irreversible entropy giving back his wise existence to prepare them for the day of his holocaust. Pre Existing in catharsis and busilis substance of divinity connected with the Grylloid phylogenetic species, classifying until the Aramaic crackle, pontifying pheromones settled in the lithosphere site of Gethsemane, coincidence in the wading of a Libraco period, or in the phenomenological simultaneity of Eukaryota and Glaucophyta until late Animalia, giving relation parental in the characters of the vibrational timbre of the Beams and the atavistic pedestal, readapting in the evolutionary ellipticals of tetra-winged species, allowing to change the ancestral linguistic accouterments in processes of redesigning the genetic historical tree..., divine and increasing.

Inter-Duoverse, in space demography, has been frequented since today in a nuptiality between the Sun and Earth, wrapping the inter-generational homes that have prostrated themselves to the One-dimensional Beams, evolving millions of years between links of angels from the north and the south., for each year between half years and decades that the ancestors are passionate about, unleashing in what they aged in their youthful lives and eternal ideals, as an atom not guaranteed in families that did not get to know their Duoverse. When they walk through the urbanized farm of their parents they go in their shoes and in the paternal and inter-parental sun barefoot, the children travel far from the monographic patriarchy, declaring themselves between psychic families and unstable plots of core conformity and procreation.

The line of supra healthy cerebral is born from the Beams of deforested family trees and treasured in the Trunk of the seventh ascending generation, towards a nefarious tribal of industrious and vegetating regressive parapsychology, bringing zombie societies, to great lethargy that disorganizes the parallel emotion of the Being descended from a Messiah, with the prophetic organization. There in the Koumeterium of Messolonghi, in past generations, the "IO" was omitted to limit them from the spellings like Ghost Cemetery lost in other lost sacramental ancestors. The inappropriate location of our ancestral duties has guided us in the axis of the pabulum, before the second coming of Messiah Parousia, to continue the re-sprouting foliage of the Universal theological tree. The children of the seven intergeneration generations, will be from the endearing of a patriarchal family, and those of Exo family lineage will be from outside the non-generational family, where everything flourishes according to the requiems of ******-domestic economies, and in the new chimera from new shocks and reprimands, already being spouses the Sun and the Earth after being divorced from a deluge of immolations and inter-millennia and rotations, further than those of any prophet wandering without advancing or rotating, enlisting and expiring in succumbed and pre-historicized generations of other prehistoric ones. Pre and post Flood; not presenting itself as the object of linking a thousand decades where not even a holy chirp from the Thrush, praises on the windows of the world bringing us babies that are born without past or future quantum generations. Ready to the hint of Duality and its nuptiality with the Sun and the Earth, They will make us magical creditors of the increase in demography and of unions that will marry in inter generations, not seeing passions in exhaustion, under the grass of the allegory of defeated love. Giving ourselves conjugal virtuosity, but of immanent dogma for the purposes of multi-figurative coexistence, under the Yoke of an individualized Faith, in the passing of millennia, we continue to crawl on the floor of the nebulae, and we do not rise to establish ourselves as masters of ecstasy, and the pendulum of the stars, creating us more in the orthogonal egalitarian of the cosmos and its Vernarthian architecture, of poly productivity, of Sun-Earth and its post-genetics, of high-grade clay, expanding with halberds on the self-insolated Suns, and highly calorific inherited towards a rupture of Solar freedom leaving us in the horizontal, not having ascendants of sin enriching their illicit chromosome. Made a beast, from the inertia of a paradise full of hidden public and private exchanges, but not secular, for those who pay tributes of ecstasy in a reborn and weakened state. This is how Diogiversality is verticalized (Diogenes's anthological action), concluding the variants that weaken the nexus of the denatured society of its atavistic social nuclear concomitant, extending eco-life gaps, but eco-unstructured and crucial inter-generational nature, being of arbitrary passion and of seismological doctrines, of haughty morality and of sociology fabrics without body or motor, with frail of castes and generations evolved age in a retrograde and elemental psychic sense, but biologically and reversibly to their boomerang lineage.

q)Amphibology Cosmogonic, Sub-Mythological root

The threshold, as a minimum rubric, must be in force from the Constellation of Orion, with barely a hundred millionths under the same eye of Orion and his psychophysical space, sensitive to the falcado charioteers and the water vessels on the backs of the probable Barnard Loop., and its nebula presence. The icy impulsiveness brought her under her right shoulder and the lean hollow under her arm unraveling from a staircase, at the entrance point of Betelgeuse coming from the cosmogony of Eridanus and in tune with Ptolemaic astrology. In the Sibyl and with a hint of a metric brilliant mass triplet, Betelgeuse Orionis, is the scale of the Aulos and piccolos expelling hydrogen as an Ace in 240 scales of harmonies and in sounds of light, for cycles and years of Light. The binary of Orion, is pre-born of the sub-mythological root, with binaries of Poetic Parapsychology, or Para-poetical; which is the trapezoid and the kinetics of the hunter Orion arrowing the Pleiades and its nebulous plains, with diametrical diarthrosis in his synovial joints, with the third militarizing joints already formed by the hyaline cartilage, which joins the two bones with the synovial fluid, before reaching the deltoid of Hunter Aurion, to awaken the Asleep world.

Vernarth in one of his adventures in Pella, scapula with his arms the force of the friction discs of the Olympics and corrected his hands and shoulders, for this purpose of Aurion and his dilettante Astro Betelgeuse, with giant arrows against matters towards the sky of its Constellation, embedded in beaten Odyssey and turpentine in the sullen Hellenistic, being for May its amber trapeze of trunk and arm, in each hand a Xifos and Dorus, always in right-handed hemispheric pathologies of their shrewd hands in Kopis swords, and in the memories of the wind that throws pain to the whistle of the combatant, when the meteorites decay in the Tyrrhenian Sea. With his brass-bronze club and Vernarth's corrosive breath, he proceeded to file odyssey on Eos's ******* and peduncles; Goddess of the Dawn, in Dionysian beauty in bulk, Mintaka, Alnitak, Alnilam, (The Three Mariah), For the twelfth lunation of the Celestial Vault, together with Pleione, in its bolometric Oceanid matrix; against borderline stellar magnitude in the major and minor dogs, and in there a priori waves of misdeeds lending measurements in the eyes of Aurion, always henchmen on their Pleiades.

From this intricacy, Cosmo-is born the Vernarth Duoverso incited towards the Horcondising, so that it is mythical co-property at the origin of the universality of the Duoverse in the Vernarth scapulae, bleeding towards the cosmos that was born from his stellar blood, conjuring chaos and uncertainty in messenger Gonies, facilitating community life free of ethnocentric, psychic, intersubjective life, the metaphor of myth and dogmatic, by the imaginary struggle that leads its bleeding back over the Cosmos, and its demiurgic brilliance over the atmosphere of the earth like bronzes that twist in the necks of oxen, that urinate on the officers of the Barnard Loop, and its polyphonic magnetic exciter, on it the ***** of Orion falling on the poles, like flagrant Amphibology.

The Kanti Steed and the Aurion nebula, to the beat of a waltz ionize, lavish chemical ions free of electrons, on the neutral molecules of Betelgeuse, to proclaim in the nerves of the shoulders and its bronze club, as musical praxis and harmony net, giving way to the nebula and the art of the Duoverso, which shows the pristine astral days, how his alchemical arm sprouting in chemo-astralities of the pectoral, and his armpit that joined in its maximum stick, cutting down roots of Olive Bernar, behind Barnard's Loops, in the midst of runaway stars that are systematized in their ionized bleeding esplanade, such as Stellae Novae, who retrograded the astronomical ritual into cosmogony, and in her escape by going at night to sleep near her father Poseidon and Euryale, who cheered him near the grassy fields to paste explosive clay on the sheet of his drunken smiley face with Ionic wine, in advance of spreading the nascent Duoverso throughout the new world.

r) Hyperdisis

Sitting on the edge of Andromeda, in his planetary chamber Zefián; The Duoverso computer separated the parasitic inter-chamber from the Duoverso, which would be born from the Auriga, which in his buggy would unleash the senses of structures and luminosity between this colossal interplanetary chamber. Being between points that venture through the axon of time infinitesimal and longitudinally for light-years, which even so, will intervene from the Duoverse, for thermal purposes and other changes of the remnants, when especially the luminosity will speak of the destruction of the darkness inherent in the eyes of the universe, which can only stabilize areas that have not been fused in the discs of the Universe-Duoverse spatiality, long before the initial explosive between the Constellation of Orion and Andromeda. Globular clusters that will make up the perfect delay of transfusing the blood and no other, which makes the character Hyper naming and hyper-pectoral blood, which flows from this tri-astral polynomial, compromising the method of area, shape, and refinement of the sagittal profile of Hyperdisis in the Duoverse in the reversible intergalactic plane. Going from lenticular to irregular over the keystone of the trapezoid, towards the right arm of Orion, where its radius becomes hypocentral sequentially, but it takes advantage of interstellar matter, to generate its own light. Some explicit explosive arms of Andromeda were expelled from their center towards the right arm of Orion, for the purpose of implosions in the effect of the clubs or snails, as a sublime effusion on other stars, which lost essential stellar mass, to differ from one another.

Radio-Patmos, or galactic energies of Andromedian origin, would arrive as devout prayers at the border of Skalá, such astro-omegas and Invisible Universes, which inhabit the flaccidity of the Universe of Consciousness of the pole contact with the Xifos or Kopis, when Andromeda contacts the spur of the clubs or snails, inciting the capos of Astro-Omegas spaces, which would begin to take the front and front, after having been the atrium of invisible stars, only visible in the spurs of the swords, which were only moistened with the viscous blood draining from Orion, towards Hellenic lands as Omega age, for Vernarth early when he carries the keys of the Omega World, towards the shadowy proto galaxies, knowing that the Milky Way and Andromeda come so close in their stellar mass, being able to collide in a few million of light years, in advance, since the Duoverse of Hyperdisis will be formed as a Galaxy of change, to interact with each other, dismembering, but re-transforming into the new speculative nucleus of the Duoverse as a great Black Hole, embedded in the Kardiá of Patmos.

Hyperdisis, navigates from the most ancient confines, from the origin of nothingness itself on the threshold of the Universe, but now it is already converted into the Duoverse, re-implanting itself in helical polarity, and in bifurcations of luminosity, of colorful reincarnations or astral, to consent to the cessation of darkness and valuing luminance, possessing colorimetry and chromatic steps of childish tales in infant galaxies, which in all the lives of Greece and Vernarth delivered for their ancestors, articulating the iconology of Orion, in candlesticks per square meter, in vigils of:

LV is the luminance, measured in Nits or candela per square meter (cd / m²).

• F is the luminous flux, in lumens for the Andromeda triad, Milky Way e Hyperdisis in conjunction with Orion.
• dS is the surface element considered in the triad of Kímolos, Rhodes, and Patmos.
• dΩ is the solid angle element, from Vernarth Omega and the origin of the Duoverse.
• θ is the angle between the diameter of Andromeda and the Milky Way (2.5 million light-years)

The luminance can be defined from the radiometric magnitude and the radiance without more than weighting each wavelength by the sensitivity curve of the eye. Thus, if LV is the luminance, Lλ represents the spectral radiance and V (λ) symbolizes the sensitivity curve of the Vernath's eye of the Betelgeuse area below, dumping plasma and bruises on the galaxies and the Orion Eyes.

s) Zigzag Universe

The Zig Zag Universe was and will be excluded between time and space, in a world adjusted to the senses that are driven within the contextual totality, the world and the biosphere framed in the phenomena of the Zig Zag Universe, being born on a stellar night when Our life searched the earth, being able to see how cordial matters of the cosmos caressed its cosmology, making it its magistracy and descendants of the Hellenic cosmos, in constant caresses of the universe already predisposed to the Bing Bang, emerging from another type of self-observation, seeing ourselves in the face of Horcondising anti-material and Universal Biomass. We preexist under science that models the system of energy and matter in causes of ancestors, with whom their vital and ours sneakily crashed. Gravity made great paternity in the Vernarth Biomass, being in the Dodecanese, being cosmos in its arcuate curvature, which makes us screen with the moon in its romantic astrophysical swings, and with the exaggerated geometry of a zigzag. We are the versatile and multi-dynamic mass that expands simultaneously in the head that pauses in the Nothofagus Obliqua of Vernarth's Horcondising and also time2-space2, which has not been troubled by the origin or abscess of the stars that move irregularly in zigzag, for the fractality of its component, which is clearly Aramaic blue light, in circuits of clusters and movements brushing the air, attracting the attention of the entire order of the hypnotized universe and making the duplication of the universe itself appear before them; in Duoverso that is the Universe shaken and young of its gratitude's ".The distribution of nearby galaxies are keys to the paleo universe already arranged in macro waves, which are percentages of spaces in the Trisolate energy fields, which interact with the Mashiach of Gethsemane phylogeny, now tending to a stagnant decomposed future, towards a specific frozen present. Its final station is to bet the Zig Zag Universe on the re-expanding temporal Medieval chrestomathy, in gregarious qualities of Sub-mythology, already conformed here in Archangelos. The implosion of gravity has created worlds of visibility in great astronomical yearnings, in some fractions of time zigzagged by millions of fractured light-years, as an irregularity that resembles the measurements of everything quantifiable, being omniscience or not, acquiring the hexagonality of the birthright in the passage, Here the Mashiach emerged and died in its abstraction in the One-dimensional Beams and in the foreign eyes, eroding those who are mortal and do not see with divine eyes in the self-resemblance, of our hypochondria and of the failed plan to amplify the size of the unknown analytic, of this new dimension in the implosive movement of the Verthian Duoverse. The nature of the snowflakes in Bethlehem are natural fractals, detailed in their nature and in the natural infinity, here the privileged new world was envisioned, for self-similarity in the speculative and cosmogonic functions of Vertnarth, at intervals in each space of the shadowy walls, bringing accelerated courier bombs from Gethsemane among mutated olive trees to other humans. "Its correlation is an infinite fractal with reversible observable time.

Finite is the curvature, between the time that walks between the grove of the Duo-Universe as an alternative of energy Zig Zag and Duoverso, which triggers our subconscious observable world, which is a great reflecting lantern eye, which ignores and prescribes extreme distant and focal parts of the One-dimensional Beams of Kafersuseh in Ein Karem, since the Duoverse is the trial Universe that the Mashiach had, before coming to the Holy Land, provided by his form of Hyperdisis escorting him from Betelgeuse and in Orion. Change from arduous colors to the gradient in Avant-Garde, for the confines of perspectives and verbality, in amendments of physical fields, interwoven by an external gravitational means. The macro waves, are exposed matter not contained in the abrupt changes of the optical selection of the Mashiach with the One-dimensional Beams, attracting selection crystals to atomize them, in reaction disturbances and recreation of multiform plasma saviors of Christian cosmic. The double expression of macro waves and the equation of them over the axial of the universe turned into the universe Duoverse, in millions of light-years will continue in the Duoverse, for ectoplasmic reconversion energy with great margins of assertiveness. The cartography in hyper diction will correct errors of the current universe, losing itself in the second thousandths of figures that separate us from the Universe, but all being more than time... !, remaining at the expense of the wick of all electro-matter " The double examination of the macro waves and the equation of them on the axial of the universe turned into Duoverse, in millions of light-years will continue in the Duoverse, for ectoplasmic reconversion with great margins of assertiveness. The cartography in hyper diction will correct errors of the current universe, losing itself in the second thousandths of figures that separate us from the Universe, but all of them being more than time... !, remaining at the expense of the wick of all electro-matter. The sub-mythology having already been constituted, Hestia appears, having slept a great slumber. When he appeared before Vernarth in Tsambika, he was seen changing in size, when he was six meters away he looked dwarf and when he was already two meters from him he looked monumentally huge, but in a versatile physiognomy, therefore he was already appreciated in his last steps, with her domestic Goddess figure that emanated light-years from the chimneys of the habitable galaxies. The critical immanence will happen, pre-existing of the perfectible plan for the Universe Zig Zag and Hyperdisis, as Hyper-Hestia, bringing torn words for those who were approaching the main altar of Vas Auric, which was in the great ratio of the proscenium in the vicinity of Tsambika, between Mind / Meditation for constant mechanisms of Wisdom / Meditate, according to the cosmological constant, taking them perhaps to the beginning of a decade and the third universe called Traverse. The oscillations of all these fantasies, Vernarth observed, but he knew that he would have to collide with these worlds finally already precipitated, and of temperature that acted on the average of the normal range, therefore it was imminent to mutate it to the provisional Christian Duoverse, which moves backward. among the dizzying lights of creation. Immediately afterward, the Universe has torn apart and lost among those around it, establishing itself in units of millions of years of light compressed in the piccolo Aulos, which Hestia carried in one of its golden hands, from the prytaneion, igniting with the flames of the Kardiá on fire and the passion of consanguineous love, "Prytaneum", the omphalos stone, marking the navel of the world with the boast of wandering towards the island of Delos, in the daily warmth of a spring afternoon in Rhodes. She is a woman with veils on her face, always walking to and from her virginal abode, in the house of foolish or vestal virgins, there is no Hestia, only maybe there are some similar ones staying in the cold fire of her menopause, losing fertility afterward. that his father swallowed it, and then it was expelled from himself, regurgitated in flames of love candles in a blessed house and full of immunity, giving the Duoverse another geometric category with never contained angles, sliding vibratory between the distances that discount minutes of the Hestian space, for such a corollary by approaching its finitude, and inaugurating the sub-finite, that it will never be the source of the end of a disconcerting end of time, neither equationally consummated nor physical. "This consolidates the Duoverse into Duo-Universe, expressed in figures that moderate the length of a physical state before it is finished and restarted in a process that does not end (sub-infinity)

t) Vernarth Omega (Ω) - Preface

before facing the Achaemenides. Being Omega and Micron in the warlike primer of their cause, within the prophetic in all necropolises of tiny omega (ω), towards an Omega that reaffirmed the good hand in Saint John the Apostle by rewriting the Apocalypse twice, coexisting the same but with the voice of Vernarth commanding the ten thousand Falangists, who made up inter-generational gaps, of camouflaged alien ancestors. For this purpose, he opened the windows with their pillars sheathed with tetrachloride of chlorine, at solid angles of Ω, in what was Virgo institutionum / Aurion-entity that interfered by projections and leaks, which converged on the strut of the omphalos of his heavenly father dealing frequently and bled his immortality, constituting from a helper being to the planes of subconscious reprogramming and perspective. With his arms raised, in each hand a raised sword to pierce the vanishing point, between the spaces that were ascribed, under the solid projection, from an observer that inhibits ad limits the biomass in all the masses of aqueous filter and lumen flow, towards the throne of the angelic guardian of Avant-guard by the stereotype and sclerosis of Zeus in his dissociated physicality, even though he is an amorphous entity with pulverized magnitudes, between Pi and Golden numbers, fading away without area or volume. Vernarth in the humanoid apocalypse was transfigured from a solid point in Hyperdisis, as a direct escape settlement to Aurion, towards a surface of conical vestige in three-dimensionality towards Andromeda, the Milky Way, and the shoulder of Betelgeuse,

Vernarth distracted the emeritus stars in the corner of his room and in the convex the points of his celestial patriarchs in the conical spheres of perenniality, leaving only solid angles in each of the two parts of space-delimited by two semi-planes that start from their common edge, under the ideal geometric concept and that it is only possible to partially represent it as duplication in parallelograms with a common side, symbolizing two half-planes, making from all distances seclusion of visions in the culmination of imagination and apparent angles, seen from any point of the Celestial Vault in invisible counterpoint.

The decalcified cells of Vernarth solfying together with Sophocles in orpheons after the victory of Salamis. Already being a tragedy in the next act of the prologue and their friendship bordering on his tragedy, he continues to exist in energetic arms to write, and Vernarth to dispute the characters from a regular prologue writing with his own blood hematology verses, which traveled meters and that they shrunk from the anti-verses scarring their declaimed intra-breath, in corals that only the wind clarifies of what precedes and happens towards the suffering, in the metrics of the Areimos chorus that were lectured anti-verses, and that they tried to ****** him from the hands to Sophocles, in immortality that refined him by abandoning him in sub-units. With masks and mythical cycles, he mixed the metaphorical facsimile of momentum and the separation of friendship with him, seeing him in an episode of his works, and instead of Vernarth's transcript sheltering him in the origins of the volatilizations of his orpheons, converted into physical waves of a dramatic-oracular order. Gods re-transformed into divination and futuristic germination, they were hidden dormant and forgotten in times of subconsciousness in the Selenite collection, felt in the Colossi signs of parliamentary, where the oracle leans on the lines of vibrational words and how they cough their " páthis "in the place where the language dissociated from the heart nucleus speaks. In misguided divination, the oracular mantic brought the cold of loneliness and the fiery heat that guesses in the laurel forests in oracular daphnomancy, Vernarth omega self-erects as a versatile column that temporalizes the threads of his organic brain, creating synaptic logos in Pashkein or the alert regret of abandoning the arm that rewrites his heroic Sophoclean and tragediographic biography, in ancients transiting in disintegrated emotionality and ****** Hellenic neurotransmission, "Two omega men or omega speedometers, carrying neurons from ankylosed and frustrated herd of pleasure, for tripartite meson form of routine grinding in Alzheimer's lost, lost in sympathetic and para-sympathetic routines, with probability of Hellenic gray matter; That is to say, of all memory that does not sin of ignorance in the ancient world, in more than nineteen hours of vehemence, the dangers will brighten when reliving nth times in the twilight of omega, Vernarth, was already narrowing on the tracontero Eurydice, to save his pains, deposed in terms that would renew anti-economies by supplying unsustainable in liquefactions and in synaptic melts, extra energetic vesicle of pure natural law of the eyebrows, of lunation that rests in the inter millennium, beating with ecstasy in the Buddhist suttas, and in the adaptation of the flesh of the hypersonic fissures of the Meltemi, and attachments that still beat over the dermis of pain. Vernarth draws his sword Xifos of phenomenal structure and he cuts on the Sutta or sermon that mimicked him at the time of the lunation, doing sabotage of redemption of the anti-verse from the court of Sophocles, as a myth-saboteur and anti-value, overvaluing the wiles of the same utilitarian tragedy, conquering in the curtain of mourning and sadness, unguarded and overcome by the stoic duel of jubilation. From here Vernarth, opens the gates of hell, eight hundred times going mad with omega value, by reiterating omeganymy, creates the numbering of the anti-verse and the suffering that does not even sleep further from the departure of a soul and a body only asleep of concave omega, overlapping in golden transfinite chests, which reorder the natural numerals with the ordinal transfinite omega, but on frictionless wheels of other omegas that break in recirculation rules on alpha, in supra omega levels such as parades, stamens, episodes, and Vernarth-omega paradigmatic exodus.

Omega I Prologue: "Once upon a time, amidst a rain of clouds full of drama, in a time that was oriented regime of the armpit of Betelgeuse and Aurion, 334 BC, it was the penultimate breeze of Tsambika, in the spiritual devotion that hovered over the unison voice in the magnanimous Zeusian chorus, as an alternate event of imprisoning past and next in an episode of the present act. The expectant was curious about the retouched makeup of the drama's superlative consonant, in a disembodied place, but with a good narrative source when it came to fruition. Here the myth is plausible, among everything mythical, more than all the super sums of expectations of the Ismo "

Parod I: "For the submissive words on the stage of the trident fire, where I have to warm my hands with ashes of eternal fire"
(Directing the scenes through the coripheum, there is the master lord who, in flames and by unequal numbers, pawned in the Aulos and piccolos, whose bare feet bordered the risk of the bellies of the Maenad damsels united in processions, between princes, powers and Dionysian dances holding on to the Pufios; in Baquian and ceremonial liturgy near Vernarth, taking a glass every seven minutes in animosity, in cages of his stuck little finger, whistling from organic pimping, next to dancers raising an arm and directing the palm towards the heaven, while the other remained down with the palm towards the earth; in this position, since he was like Vernarth buried by the tides of Patmos wandering him in times that marked the entrance from Mars to Jupiter, and from autumn to winter in fifteen times agreed with Sophocles, hanging from the penultimate to the entrance with his trembling voice desalted..., tolerating himself in his own tragedy)

This is I: "Through the right hemi-body, Vernarth intoned his laterality exposed in harsh penumbras, while Hera brandished over his existentialism clouds of oatmeal and candies in a liturgy, a homily that personified the Stasis, in the choral intermission resisting his angry hands in tragic passion and frenzy, unleashing oratory of self-blame, unraveling drama-tragic, and in each pause the emotion that was accompanied in new episodes when it was stoked "

(Vernarth says: "submitted in parts that are not its parts, my pain has blinded me, where it has embittered the conflict of ethical interest if the stars as a public cheer are anointed, sentencing the opposition of other lesser stars who cheer what that does not shine. The principle of the voice violates the normal parenthesis, which is governed by itself in the omega voice, mocking the modal in four magistrates, in martyrdoms of an ideal of the procession, each one being with his super-private toga, before me It must not be who recognizes if I will be who I am, on the seventh judgment of my surviving ethics)

Episode I: "Vernarth extrapolates the values of his judgment, which override the first, the coryphaeus directs his promenade from the countryside on his Horse Alikantus"

(Vernarth says: "I have instantiated the steps that my chestnut crossed with you in the future if I am to sing with a sorrowful voice, no choir will be able to follow me when you are gone. However, I have to define what personifies who, more than a thousand miles away, carries with him the lamp that opens the light of your roguish contemplation... "
Alikantus wailing says: "From the luster of your heartbeat, I obfuscated the jailer from your ribs, for the preference of the one who takes you even further in tempestuous pro-hedonistic prose "

Exodus I: "Sometimes the endings smell like fields of lavender, where the call of the almighty is heard, to take him over his loaded plantations, which are emerging from the dialogues in the afternoon with its twilight, as well as stanzas that smell of lavender anointing, separated in syllables and tonic that flex my charm, not to say that I was anointed with Lavender when I was prepubescent "

(In fifteen times, in syllables and rakes, the sentences of its paragraphs are sterilized, leaving the audience speechless, without a gesture or word that emanates from a sacred paradise, rather from the Stasis that never purged the omission of the syllable that is not of proscenium nor trident, but it is umlauts on Omega, between syllables of fire that burn from its proscenium)

With few and precise changes of consciousness, Vernarth approaches his Omega Point, as the end of his self is identical to his consciousness. He was leaving Tsambika and Kímolos, diligent towards Theoskepatis, warning Etréstles for defiance goods in the aftermath of the Eschaton. His spiritual cerebellum faded identically when he wandered through the distances of the entities that competed and are prominent, transforming his Hetairoi reliquary, here his tendentious impulse begins and dehumanizes him by becoming a Celestial entity, but with Noosphere endowment. The tendencies are established hyper-connected, with him Tsambika, Theoskepatis, and Patmos were triangulated for consummations and finality from the rudiment of Universal deity, reprogramming the end of restricted humanity to a mere boundary of dogmatic morality declared existential.

Within the Omega points, his unfolding acted as a disembodied statue and redemption of similarity and humanity, leading him to a self-conspiracy, by abandoning himself to his own equal, for the duration of the final sulfurous sublimation of the Cinnabar's margin of abstraction, after joining in all the quantum, physical and biological lines, making the Duoverse an inter chamber of the prior Master in a process of change, to sensitize his image of physical-chemical Man, but of God in his rigid powers. Cataloged as hommo sapiens who expresses himself in fallen beings under the arms of his sword in a limpid target, rather than in his own pointed tongue, and steely towards the point of unification in the hyper-dimensional of good achieve spatiality and volume, only contacted by his devoid of a Xifos hand. Consciousness rarely loomed in its compendium in nth bytes and data, much more than those recirculated in astrobiological quantum, creating blind exclusive and patrimonial universes, on the basis of nth bytes, which kept reorganizing itself in the personality of the unknown, fewer than four bridges of consciousness united in their own gregarious universe. The transcendence of the basic data of consciousness will lie in the Maenads, and their deliberate acre magic, extending through the limbs of the Nymphs, to re-possess it and take them to the confines of mystical paranoia, perhaps towards the embodied Vestal Virgins, purging their paths that they notice a variant of licentious departure in the stanzas when seeking final swings, which are not for the sake of shedding everything before the Universe rescinds its intellectual limitations, contracted in an orgiastic Imaginary Universe, and the precariousness of the concept transporting us to the origins of the species and its behavioral rapture of loss of sensation, and reason, for this reason, Vernarth takes them with him for his ******* and alienated perceiving of inherent reality and its opposite sunset. The ministry of the sacramental mystery is the consciousness of the Dionysian being in gestation, wanting to be the paroxysm of its equivalent, in an eternal Omega effect, for the purposes of omeganymy of conscious chaos, being the same portion of omega ad limit of its secondary reluctant personality of being, to found the hermit solitude on his revived empty ego, residing in his being by bilocating with two idiosyncrasies for a Venarthian Thiasoi, succumbing to weightlessness over all the Maenads and the intoxication of community in its opacity,

The madness was a transcript of reasons lost by the Vernarthian Omeganymy, sometimes the disproportionate of his steps by more than what should be generated was objected to in the circles of the Tsambika monastery. The unification of blood was confused by the viscous wine of the mysterious foliage of the Diospyros tree that led them through the enigmatic unaware, in primary practices that tore apart some somatized ones of the order of a third body, which still transmitted the last organic matter, refusing to spread at the omeganimic points. The consciousness of replicated beings of themselves challenged themselves towards the perfect copy of their transcendent alter ego, in an understanding of the present-future elucidating for whom or those who demystify the visions of an arbitrary creation, allied to the evolutionary myth-truth, in the face of any real and human maturity gap, the conclave of the near pious Christ, bequeathed in us and in the venerated hominization, at his sole and directional will. Now we are all in the aqueducts of Christian science, for specimens of eternal categorization and frontally in view of a God-Mashiach, as ordinal inclusion and in greater ecumenical diversity, with variables of independence range, for staggering motor skills, retaining the attention of all the powers of the Christian world at an Omega point that seemed to be Alpha. The sense of the Duoverse in Vernarth Omega makes us rethink the central phenomenon of thought and frustrations, by the socialization of distant species from prudent dogmatic ostracism, towards refractory empathic and ultra-rational reasoning. conclave of the near pious Christ, bequeathed in us and in the venerated hominization, to his sole and directional will. Now we are all in the aqueducts of Christian science, for specimens of eternal categorization and frontally in view of a God-Mashiach, as ordinal inclusion and in greater ecumenical diversity, with variables of independence range, for staggering motor skills, retaining the attention of all the powers of the Christian world at an Omega point that seemed to be Alpha. The sense of the Duoverse in Vernarth Omega makes us rethink the central phenomenon of thought and frustrations, by the socialization of distant species from prudent dogmatic ostracism, towards refractory empathic and ultra-rational reasoning. at his sole and directional will. Now we are all in the aqueducts of Christian science, for specimens of eternal categorization and frontally in view of a God-Mashiach, as ordinal inclusion and in greater ecumenical diversity, with variables of independence range, for staggering motor skills, retaining the attention of all the powers of the Christian world at an Omega point that seemed to be Alpha. The sense of the Duoverse in Vernarth Omega makes us rethink the central phenomenon of thought and frustrations, by the socialization of distant species from prudent dogmatic ostracism, towards refractory empathic and ultra-rational reasoning.

The supra intelligence has to become in them and those, the pre-existing point of duality, to reunify them in Patmos, as the only spirited meaning, and biomass evolving on the super-dimensioned materiality, in a greater radius where it will have to be delivered to whoever speaks with words. of living energy, and not complex towards all processes of emancipatory concord of personal authorship, on levels of relative lust in the absolution of medium integrity, and towards an elemental unitary totality of animal instinct guarded by the instinct of Being, that from its similar awakened rebirth of the sleeping mass matter, and in the animal purifying multiplicity. The man stands in his memorandum bend, like a haughty memorial, evolving in the cosmic expiration of the molecular transverse, admitting us in its vestige of complex extinction, but not in human slip, nor in acid and self-instituting scenery, on the real creation of its DNA, which reverts from the formality of helical reiterative rings, by heights of whoever oscillates in their coupled pairings, and their silent probable associations, in the nature of real origin and their structural perfection. The acceptability scenarios derive from the feasible concretion, and the approval of their tendencies and mobilizations of the structure of life, and codes greater than those that limit them to reside, to more than one body, residing from an incorporeal body, capable of its quantitative life and the extension of existence, super existing in the heights of the helical rings, which may vary more than they are, and which could be, without being seen under a scientific gaze. "Becoming a mechanics of maturation and prayer, which the energy from the material world to the spiritual, as a moving particle of inert matter in parasitized free radicals, which are re-energized by the mystery of the helical trans-threshold of the Aramaic mystery of the Olives Bern. "Vernarth disintegrates in omeganymy in laxity towards Aurion, descending pro-tenebrosity towards the profanity of Patmos, engulfed by Love in a dark summer, brushing the silos of DNA in the will of the automated world"
DUOVERSE
Alyssa Nov 2013
i wrote a poem. it wasnt about the leaves falling or growing back. it was about a boy that was too sad to
even look at himself in the mirror. sometimes he believed that if he looked in the mirror for too long he wasnt who he was supposed to be, sometimes if he looked in the mirror too long he became a monster and thats particularly the reason why he avoided the mirror at night because thats when monsters become real and he was tired of thinking of himself as a monster.
i wrote a poem but it wasnt about summertime or the way the sand feels between your toes or the cold rush of ocean water on a hot day. it was about the salty tears that he would cry because demons were haunting his room at night. and not the demons like ghosts but the demons from within. the kind of demons that you cant run away from.
i wrote a poem it wasnt about a bride blushing when the groom snuck a kiss when the priest wasn't looking it was about the funeral we gave you. it was about the hundreds of people who stood in line just to see your face one last time before youre put in the ground. it was about me staring at your chest from afar hoping that it would move that maybe this was one of your famous jokes and maybe your lungs would start working again along with your heart and your organs and your brain and maybe your eyes would open. perhaps itll scare someone whos standing right next to you but who cares bc youre alive. but you didnt. and now now youre in the ground.
i wrote a poem and it wasnt about me it was about finding the demons. i found the demons inside of you when you were put into the ground. i found the demons because as they lowered your casket into the 6 foot hole they dug for you i saw one slip out before they closed it. the demon was dancing on your casket and as they lowered you to the ground, i jumped. i didnt jump up i didnt jump back. i jumped in and i started hitting that demon as hard as i could because now that youre gone the demon had no place else to go. the demon knew he had won but even the best fall down sometimes and i made sure he fell as hard and as far as he could.
i wrote a poem but i couldnt save you from yourself. if i could have shrunken down and fought that demon before you left me i would have. but i couldnt. i had all these words left to say to you but they started in my chest and never made it to my throat and now im sitting here with all the words that couldnt have saved you anyway because the demons were trapped inside of you. the only way for you to be happy again is to cut yourself open & rip them out yourself, so you did. the demons were trapped & stuck inside you, and i know because i have demons stuck inside of me too. but sometimes i get so mad because if im still here then why arent you? if im still here fighting myself trying not to rip out my own demons, then why couldnt you have done the same? i needed you.
i wrote a poem. and it was about my demons being stuck inside of me and theyre crawling and theyre running around and sometimes they run to a dead end and they hit my fingertips and they bounce  back and run straight into my heart. they run through my veins, through my arteries. sometimes they break my ribs in the process but they heal so quickly that the doctors dont believe me and call me crazy but i promise them that theres a demon inside of me and hes breaking my ribs and hes breaking my soul and hes breaking my heart but i can still feel the demons running inside me. and i dont know how or why or when but i just want them to go away i dont know how im going to do that but i said some day i would. and i think thats the reason i cut myself open, to try and find a way to show the demons a way out but they run through my blood stream and i can feel them in my fingertips and i can feel them
in my forearms and i can feel them in my elbows and i can feel them in my shoulders and in my neck and i can feel them going down my throat. and i can feel it in my chest and i can feel it in my liver and i can feel it in my stomach and i can feel it in my pelvis. and i can feel it in my knees and i can feel it in my shins and i can feel it in my ankles and i can feel it all the way down to my toes and suddenly its like an electric current and it flows all the way back up to my head and shock the hair in its roots. it feels like i cant say anything fast enough or correctly.
i wrote a poem & it was about sometimes i believe that why i write & not speak is because i cant say the right words and maybe if i state at a blank piece of paper long enough the right words will come out but i know, i know they wont bc the demons are still stuck inside of me and i think thats why you wrote so beautifully that night and didnt ask for help. the demons knew that they were finally coming out and sometimes when the demons come out its the best time to say things.
i wrote a poem and it was about wanting peace. i just dont have peace but rather i have pieces of myself.
i will never have peace until my demons are gone. but im trying to find a way to get the demons to leave me alone without dying im not sure if i know the right way but im sure as hell trying. but the drugs dont work and the alcohol doesnt work and the cigarettes dont work and the blood doesnt work and the pills dont work. but i have to find a way to stop them before they eat me up inside and they tear me apart. in order to stop them ill have to tear myself apart and thats why i break things and thats why
i throw things because i have to find something to destroy other than myself and sometimes i pull my hair because i cant understand whats happening to me.
i wrote a poem and i started to see red for a bit but i stopped seeing red because the curtains are red and the walls are yellow. the candle on top of the cabinent is red brown and yellow and the book on the couch is  yellow and red the couch is yellow red tan green blue. the table is brown and the floor is brown but the carpet and the drapes are red.
i wrote a poem. maybe i should stop talking about them before they come back its like a taboo its like the  field of dreams and the saying"if you build it they will come" and i promise you that if i built a bridge from my heart to my brain the demons would make their way back & i would be consumed by them and im not sure if i can deal with that so ill cut the bridge in half before they start walking towards my brain.
i wrote a poem. and it was about me snapping that bridge in half and watching the demons fall down my throat and into the acid in my stomach, but that doesnt make any difference because once one does another one is born. so as long as the demons keep walking they will die with my secrets but the new ones will find  a new way to torture me, and maybe thats worse because if they need new ways to torture me then every thing will torture me. perhaps thats what happened to you.
i wrote a poem but im not sure what its about anymore. but i do know that its not good and im tired of speaking.
sorry this is long
1
I sing the body electric,
The armies of those I love engirth me and I engirth them,
They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them,
And discorrupt them, and charge them full with the charge of the soul.

Was it doubted that those who corrupt their own bodies conceal themselves?
And if those who defile the living are as bad as they who defile the dead?
And if the body does not do fully as much as the soul? And if the body
were not the soul, what is the soul?

2
The love of the body of man or woman balks account, the body itself
     balks account,
That of the male is perfect, and that of the female is perfect.

The expression of the face balks account,
But the expression of a well-made man appears not only in his face,
It is in his limbs and joints also, it is curiously in the joints of
     his hips and wrists,
It is in his walk, the carriage of his neck, the flex of his waist
     and knees, dress does not hide him,
The strong sweet quality he has strikes through the cotton and broadcloth,
To see him pass conveys as much as the best poem, perhaps more,
You linger to see his back, and the back of his neck and shoulder-side.

The sprawl and fulness of babes, the bosoms and heads of women, the
     folds of their dress, their style as we pass in the street, the
     contour of their shape downwards,
The swimmer naked in the swimming-bath, seen as he swims through
     the transparent green-shine, or lies with his face up and rolls
     silently to and from the heave of the water,
The bending forward and backward of rowers in row-boats, the
     horse-man in his saddle,
Girls, mothers, house-keepers, in all their performances,
The group of laborers seated at noon-time with their open
     dinner-kettles, and their wives waiting,
The female soothing a child, the farmer’s daughter in the garden or
     cow-yard,
The young fellow hosing corn, the sleigh-driver driving his six
     horses through the crowd,
The wrestle of wrestlers, two apprentice-boys, quite grown, *****,
     good-natured, native-born, out on the vacant lot at sundown
     after work,
The coats and caps thrown down, the embrace of love and resistance,
The upper-hold and under-hold, the hair rumpled over and blinding the eyes;
The march of firemen in their own costumes, the play of masculine
     muscle through clean-setting trowsers and waist-straps,
The slow return from the fire, the pause when the bell strikes
     suddenly again, and the listening on the alert,
The natural, perfect, varied attitudes, the bent head, the curv’d
     neck and the counting;
Such-like I love—I loosen myself, pass freely, am at the mother’s
     breast with the little child,
Swim with the swimmers, wrestle with wrestlers, march in line with
     the firemen, and pause, listen, count.

3
I knew a man, a common farmer, the father of five sons,
And in them the fathers of sons, and in them the fathers of sons.

This man was a wonderful vigor, calmness, beauty of person,
The shape of his head, the pale yellow and white of his hair and
     beard, the immeasurable meaning of his black eyes, the richness
     and breadth of his manners,
These I used to go and visit him to see, he was wise also,
He was six feet tall, he was over eighty years old, his sons were
     massive, clean, bearded, tan-faced, handsome,
They and his daughters loved him, all who saw him loved him,
They did not love him by allowance, they loved him with personal
     love,
He drank water only, the blood show’d like scarlet through the
     clear-brown skin of his face,
He was a frequent gunner and fisher, he sail’d his boat himself, he
     had a fine one presented to him by a ship-joiner, he had
     fowling-pieces presented to him by men that loved him,
When he went with his five sons and many grand-sons to hunt or fish,
     you would pick him out as the most beautiful and vigorous of
     the gang,
You would wish long and long to be with him, you would wish to sit
     by him in the boat that you and he might touch each other.

4
I have perceiv’d that to be with those I like is enough,
To stop in company with the rest at evening is enough,
To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breathing, laughing flesh is enough,
To pass among them or touch any one, or rest my arm ever so lightly round
     his or her neck for a moment, what is this then?
I do not ask any more delight, I
     swim in it as in a sea.
There is something in staying close to men and women and looking on them,
     and in the contact and odor of them, that pleases the soul well,
All things please the soul, but these please the soul well.

5
This is the female form,
A divine nimbus exhales from it from head to foot,
It attracts with fierce undeniable attraction,
I am drawn by its breath as if I were no more than a helpless vapor,
     all falls aside but myself and it,
Books, art, religion, time, the visible and solid earth, and what
     was expected of heaven or fear’d of hell, are now consumed,
Mad filaments, ungovernable shoots play out of it, the response
     likewise ungovernable,
Hair, *****, hips, bend of legs, negligent falling hands all
     diffused, mine too diffused,
Ebb stung by the flow and flow stung by the ebb, love-flesh swelling
     and deliciously aching,
Limitless limpid jets of love hot and enormous, quivering jelly of
     love, white-blow and delirious nice,
Bridegroom night of love working surely and softly into the
     prostrate dawn,
Undulating into the willing and yielding day,
Lost in the cleave of the clasping and sweet-flesh’d day.

This the nucleus—after the child is born of woman, man is born
     of woman,
This the bath of birth, this the merge of small and large, and the
     outlet again.

Be not ashamed women, your privilege encloses the rest, and is the
     exit of the rest,
You are the gates of the body, and you are the gates of the soul.

The female contains all qualities and tempers them,
She is in her place and moves with perfect balance,
She is all things duly veil’d, she is both passive and active,
She is to conceive daughters as well as sons, and sons as well as
     daughters.

As I see my soul reflected in Nature,
As I see through a mist, One with inexpressible completeness,
     sanity, beauty,
See the bent head and arms folded over the breast, the Female I see.

6
The male is not less the soul nor more, he too is in his place,
He too is all qualities, he is action and power,
The flush of the known universe is in him,
Scorn becomes him well, and appetite and defiance become him well,
The wildest largest passions, bliss that is utmost, sorrow that is
     utmost become him well, pride is for him,
The full-spread pride of man is calming and excellent to the soul,
Knowledge becomes him, he likes it always, he brings every thing to
     the test of himself,
Whatever the survey, whatever the sea and the sail he strikes
     soundings at last only here,
(Where else does he strike soundings except here?)

The man’s body is sacred and the woman’s body is sacred,
No matter who it is, it is sacred—is it the meanest one in the
     laborers’ gang?
Is it one of the dull-faced immigrants just landed on the wharf?
Each belongs here or anywhere just as much as the well-off, just as
     much as you,
Each has his or her place in the procession.

(All is a procession,
The universe is a procession with measured and perfect motion.)

Do you know so much yourself that you call the meanest ignorant?
Do you suppose you have a right to a good sight, and he or she has
     no right to a sight?
Do you think matter has cohered together from its diffuse float, and
     the soil is on the surface, and water runs and vegetation sprouts,
For you only, and not for him and her?

7
A man’s body at auction,
(For before the war I often go to the slave-mart and watch the sale,)
I help the auctioneer, the sloven does not half know his business.

Gentlemen look on this wonder,
Whatever the bids of the bidders they cannot be high enough for it,
For it the globe lay preparing quintillions of years without one animal or plant,
For it the revolving cycles truly and steadily roll’d.

In this head the all-baffling brain,
In it and below it the makings of heroes.

Examine these limbs, red, black, or white, they are cunning in tendon and nerve,
They shall be stript that you may see them.
Exquisite senses, life-lit eyes, pluck, volition,
Flakes of breast-muscle, pliant backbone and neck, flesh not flabby, good-sized
     arms and legs,
And wonders within there yet.

Within there runs blood,
The same old blood! the same red-running blood!
There swells and jets a heart, there all passions, desires, reachings,
     aspirations,
(Do you think they are not there because they are not express’d in
     parlors and lecture-rooms?)

This is not only one man, this the father of those who shall be fathers
     in their turns,
In him the start of populous states and rich republics,
Of him countless immortal lives with countless embodiments and enjoyments.

How do you know who shall come from the offspring of his offspring
     through the centuries?
(Who might you find you have come from yourself, if you could trace
     back through the centuries?)

8
A woman’s body at auction,
She too is not only herself, she is the teeming mother of mothers,
She is the bearer of them that shall grow and be mates to the mothers.

Have you ever loved the body of a woman?
Have you ever loved the body of a man?
Do you not see that these are exactly the same to all in all nations and
     times all over the earth?

If any thing is sacred the human body is sacred,
And the glory and sweet of a man is the token of manhood untainted,
And in man or woman a clean, strong, firm-fibred body, is more beautiful
     than the most beautiful face.
Have you seen the fool that corrupted his own live body? or the fool
     that corrupted her own live body?
For they do not conceal themselves, and cannot conceal themselves.

9
O my body! I dare not desert the likes of you in other men and women,
     nor the likes of the parts of you,
I believe the likes of you are to stand or fall with the likes of the
     soul, (and that they are the soul,)
I believe the likes of you shall stand or fall with my poems, and
     that they are my poems,
Man’s, woman’s, child, youth’s, wife’s, husband’s, mother’s,
     father’s, young man’s, young woman’s poems,
Head, neck, hair, ears, drop and tympan of the ears,
Eyes, eye-fringes, iris of the eye, eyebrows, and the waking or
     sleeping of the lids,
Mouth, tongue, lips, teeth, roof of the mouth, jaws, and the
     jaw-hinges,
Nose, nostrils of the nose, and the partition,
Cheeks, temples, forehead, chin, throat, back of the neck, neck-slue,
Strong shoulders, manly beard, scapula, hind-shoulders, and the
    ample side-round of the chest,
Upper-arm, armpit, elbow-socket, lower-arm, arm-sinews, arm-bones,
Wrist and wrist-joints, hand, palm, knuckles, thumb, forefinger,
     finger-joints, finger-nails,
Broad breast-front, curling hair of the breast, breast-bone, breast-side,
Ribs, belly, backbone, joints of the backbone,
Hips, hip-sockets, hip-strength, inward and outward round, man-*****, man-root,
Strong set of thighs, well carrying the trunk above,
Leg-fibres, knee, knee-pan, upper-leg, under-leg,
Ankles, instep, foot-ball, toes, toe-joints, the heel;
All attitudes, all the shapeliness, all the belongings of my or your body
     or of any one’s body, male or female,
The lung-sponges, the stomach-sac, the bowels sweet and clean,
The brain in its folds inside the skull-frame,
Sympathies, heart-valves, palate-valves, sexuality, maternity,
Womanhood, and all that is a woman, and the man that comes from woman,
The womb, the teats, *******, breast-milk, tears, laughter, weeping,
     love-looks, love-perturbations and risings,
The voice, articulation, language, whispering, shouting aloud,
Food, drink, pulse, digestion, sweat, sleep, walking, swimming,
Poise on the hips, leaping, reclining, embracing, arm-curving and
     tightening,
The continual changes of the flex of the mouth, and around the eyes,
The skin, the sunburnt shade, freckles, hair,
The curious sympathy one feels when feeling with the hand the naked
     meat of the body,
The circling rivers the breath, and breathing it in and out,
The beauty of the waist, and thence of the hips, and thence downward
     toward the knees,
The thin red jellies within you or within me, the bones and the
     marrow in the bones,
The exquisite realization of health;
O I say these are not the parts and poems of the body only, but of
     the soul,
O I say now these are the soul!
Our heart burns broken at the ends, they fail us, keep building
my lungs are wax inside my ribs, you’re burning, well I’m breathing
this back breaks walked on from carrying friends, can’t stop now, still working
your life’s like rain drops on my tongue, I believe you, keep raining
and it’s alright, it’s alright, we are not right now complete
and I’m alright, you’re gonna be alright, we might never be complete
but the water keeps rising, it’s rising, everybody get into the water
and hold each others hands and lives, let’s all push our hearts together....
we’re gonna leave these shores right now, be everything we’ve never been
but you gotta swear to promise that we’ll never go back again, ever again
and we’re not just islands lying beside each others shorelines
we’re all bound with veins and hopes, we are not each others ghosts
our hearts are abridged, let's build bridges to each other
so this river won’t take us under
filled with monsters and goblins, they keep dragging the bottom
our life is a bridge, let’s build bridges to each other
and pray we don’t go under, oh these careless waters

I’m trying not to confuse: being used, with giving all I am
by: being used, and giving everything I have, all I am
so I’ll build a bridge with hollow bones filled with hollow teeth
inside a hollow heart, with the insides carved
and let the blood in these veins freeze
let the water in these veins freeze and break and flood the dam
we are all we have, this is all we need, hold on it may never end
and I might have to drink my teeth again if I wash up on the coast
so I’ll build a bridge with all that’s left, & not make any more new ghosts
show me your life, wide and bright, I hope that patience fills the seams
keep what’s inside, dry and right, you arch the frame I’ll span the beams
our lives are a bridge for us to give, I want to build a better bridge
from every wrong we’ve done to each other, if I forgive will you forgive?
cause one day we’re gonna close our eyes for death or rest
and abandon ourself, this weak mind and breath
and the columns we made, and roots we grew down deep
will be pulled and gathered in to firewood, and burnt for heat
but when the tension shifts, and these braces turn
I’ll try and build a better bridge
and when all our piers burn, and the hinges miss
I’m gonna build a better bridge
our hearts are abridged, let’s build bridges to each other
so we don’t take ourselves under

Our heart burns broken at the ends, they fail us, keep building
my lungs are wax inside my ribs, you’re burning, I’m still breathing
this back breaks walked on carry friends, can’t stop now, still working
your life’s like rain drops on my tongue, I believe you, keep raining
our lives are a bridge for us to give, I want to build a better bridge
from every wrong we’ve done to each other, if I forgive will you forgive?
our hearts are abridged, let’s build bridges to each other
so this river won’t take us under, so we don’t take ourselves under
our lives are a bridge, let’s build bridges to each other
and pray we don’t go under, oh these careless waters
our lives are a bridge for us to give, I want to build a better bridge
from every wrong we’ve done to each other, if I forgive will you forgive?
our lives are a bridge for us to give, I want to build a better bridge
from every wrong we’ve done to each other, if I forgive will you forgive?
our hearts are abridged, let’s build bridges to each other
so this river won’t take us under, so we don’t take ourselves under
Magdalyn May 2015
Sometimes I wonder
what would happen if I
went up to you @ school and said
"You know, I write poetry
about you.
Sometimes I stay up late to do it,
or spend a while perfecting
every
word."
Would you laugh? Poke me
in the ribs?
Or just not hear me, and walk
away,
and I would think
"I don't know what I was
expecting."
written 10-29-14 10:43 pm

— The End —