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

                                                 GLADE

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

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

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

                                               WORLD

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                              MA­STER

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

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

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

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

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

                                                  BOY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                HERO

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

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

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

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







Copyright 2020 by Ron Sanders.

Contact:  ronsandersartofprose(at)yahoo(dot)com
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forgo forlorn formidable foundry foyer fracas fraught frivolous frolic frontier funnel copious furrow fuselage fusillade futile forgone frivolity frolic galaxy galleon galoot galore galoshes gambit gangrene ganglion gargantuan gargoyle gardenia garret garrote gasolier gatling gawky gazebo gazelle gazette geezer geisha gendarme generosity genre genteel gentry genuine geodesic geranium gesticulate ghastly giggle ****** gimmick giraffe gizzard glacier glamour glimmer glimpse glisten glottis gluteus gluttony glyph gnarly gnaw goddess godling gorgeous gorilla gory gossamer gourd gouts gracious gradient granary grandeur granulation grapple gratify gratuitous gregarious grenade committee grievance griffin gristle grotesque gristly grotto grouch groupie grisly grovel grudge gruel gruesome gubernatorial guerrilla guffaw guidable guidon guile guillotine gullet gymnasium gyrate habitable hacienda haggard halibut halitosis hallelujah hallow halyard hammock harangue harass harried hasp hatred haughty hearth hedonism hegira heinous hegemony hemisphere hemophilia hemorrhage herbivorous hereditary heresy heritage heroine hesitate hibiscus hidden hideous hieroglyphic highfalutin high-rise hilarity hippopotamus hoarse holler holocaust holster homicidal horror hosiery hurricane hydrant hydraulic hydronic hyena hygiene hyphen hypnotize hypochondria hypocrisy hypocrite hypotenuse hysteria idiocy igloo ignoramus ignore illicit illiterate illustrate imbecile immaculate immaterial immature immersible immigrant immune impasse impeccable impedance impenetrable impervious imperfect implement implicate implicit important impressible innately inert impression impugn inadequate inanimate inauspicious incandescent incantation incarcerate incentive incinerator inclusion incoercible incompressible incontrovertible controversy indefatigable inconvertible inconvincible incorruptible indices indictment indigent indigestion digestible indignant indiscretion indiscreet indisiplined indiscernible inducible inebriate ineffable inefficacy ineludible inexorable inexpiable inextricable infallible infatuation inferior inflammatory inflexible infuriate inimitable iniquitous infuse infusion ingenuity ingratiate inimical innards innocence innovate innumerable inoculation insatiable insectivorous insincerity insinuation inspection inspirator instability installation insurance insufferable insufficiency insurrection insupportable integrity intellect intelligence intemperance intension interaction interception intercession interdiction interface interference interpolate interrogate interrupt intersperse intervene interstice intractable intergalactic intransigent intravenous intrepid intricate intrigue introductory introject intrude inundate invective invariable invertebrate investigate intuitive invertible investiture inveterate inviable invidious inviolate invigorate invincible invoke invocation invalidate involute invulnerable impregnable ionosphere ipso-facto irascible iridescent eradicable irrational irredeemable irrefragable irrefutable irregular anomalous irrelevant irreproachable irrepressible irresistible irrevocable irreverent irresponsible irritative irrigate irritability isolable isosceles isostasy  issuance isthmus italicize iterative itinerary interjection ******* jackhammer jackknife jackpot jackrabbit jaguar jai alai jalopy jalousie jamboree Japanese jacquerie Jacobin jargonize jaunt javelin jealous jehoshaphat jeopardy jocular jouncy journal jubilant jubilee judgment judicature judicious juggernaut jugular juke julep juncture junta jurisprudence juvenilia juxtaposition kahuna kalpa kamikaze kerf kangaroo karat ken katzenjammer katydid kempt kerosene kewpie khaki kibitz kibosh kilter kimono kinesiology kleptomaniac knell knowledge knuckle kook kowtow kulak kyrie labyrinth laccolith laceration lackadaisical laconic lacunar lacquer lagging laissez-faire lamprey languish lanyard lapidary laputan larceny lariat laryngeal larynx lascivious latent latter lattice latrine launderette lavatory laxity lechery legacy bequeath legend leister lei leisure lemming leniency lentic leopard lethal lethargy lettuce leviathan levitate lexical liable levity liaison libation liberate licentious lieutenant ligament lilac limnetic limousine limpid lineage lynchpin lineolate lingerie lingual liniment linoleum liquefy litany literacy lithesome littoral lizard loath local loiter longevous loquacity lottery louver lucidity lucrative ludicrous luminary lummox lurid luscious lyricism machinator machinelike machismo macrocosm besmirched machiavellian mackerel mademoiselle maelstrom maggoty magisterial magnanimous magnifico maintenance malaprop malarkey malediction malamute malicious malign malinger malleable mandarin maneuver mange maniacal mannequin manure manzanita maquette maraca maraschino marauder marbleize marbly marionette marmalade marquee marquetry marrow marshal marshmallow martyr mascara masochism massacre matriarchy maudlin mausoleum maxillary mayonnaise meager meandrous medial medieval megalith mediocre Mediterranean megalomania melancholy melee membrane memorabilia menagerie mercenary mendacity meritorious mesmeric mesquite metallurgy metaphor meticulous metronome metropolitan mezzanine micrometer midriff mien demeanor millennium minarets minion minuscule minutia misanthropic miscellaneous mistletoe moccasin modus operandi monaural mongrel monotony morgue morose morsel moribund mortgage mosaic mosque mosquito motley mottle mucous membrane mucus mullion multifarious munificent museum musketeer mutable mustache mutineer myopic myrmidon mystique naïve narcissism narcosis narrate nausea navigable Neanderthal necklace needle nefarious negligible nemesis neophyte nertsy  nerve-racking nestle nether newfangled nocturnal nonchalant non sequitur normative Norwegian nostalgic nuisance nullify obedient obeisance obelisk obese objectify oblate oblique obliterate oblivious obsess obsolete obsolescence obstacle obstinate occupy occurrence ocelot odious oedipal officiate ogle ogre oligarchy omelet omnificent omniscient ontological argument oodles oomph opaque operable operative opossum optimal orangutan orchard orchestra ordinance oregano orgiastic oriel oriole ornery orphan osculate ostensive ostrich osteology oust overwhelm overwrought oyster pachyderm pacific pageant painstaking palate palaver libel palette pallet palomino pamphleteer panorama pantheism parapet paradigm papier-mâché paraffin paralyze parishioner parliament parody parquetry parsimonious pasteurize pathogenic payola ******* pediment pendant pendentives penicillin pennant pentathlon perception percussion perennial parameter perimeter peripheral peristalsis permissible pernicious perron perseverance persistent persona persnickety personnel persuasion petite pertinacious pessimistic pestilent pestle petticoat petulant phallus phantasmagoria pharaoh pharmaceutical peasant philander phenomenal philosopher phlegm phoenix phooey phosphoresce physique picayune picturesque piety pilfer finagle pilaster pillage pineapple pinnacle piquant pique piteous pitiful pittance pizzazz placate placenta plagiarism plaintiff plateau platypus plausible plinth plunderous pluvial poinsettia pollutant polygamy pommel ponderous portico portiere portentous prairie precipitous predecessor predicate predilection preeminent preempt preferential premier preparation preposition prerogative presumption pretentious preternatural privilege proclivity prodigious proffer progenitor progeny promissory promontory propellant propensity propound proselyte prospectus protégé protocol protuberant pseudonym  ptomaine pulchritudinous pursuant pygmy pylon python qualm quarrel quarry quash queer quell querulous quibble quitter quixotic rabbet rabbit rabbi radiant rambunctious rancor rankle raspberry rethink rebellion recant recital reconcile redundant referral reglet relevant reluctant remiss reminiscent remnant rendezvous renegade repartee reprieve repertoire repetitious reprehensive reprisal repugnant rescind reservoir resistant resurgence resurrect revelry reverie retaliate reticent retrieve retrograde reveille reverberation reversible reversion rhapsody rhetoric rheumatism rhinoceros rhinoceri rhubarb ribaldry ricochet riddance rigmarole risqué rive rollick Romanesque Rosicrucian rotisserie rotunda rogue roulette rubato ruminate rusticate sabotage sabbat saboteur sacrilege sadomasochist salacious salmon salutatory samurai sapphire sarcasm sarcophagus sardonic sarsaparilla sassafras sassy satiate satirical saturate saunter savoir-faire savvy scabbard scaffold scalawag scarcity scathe scenario scenic schism sciatic nerve ******* scintillate scissor scourge scrawny scrimmage scribble scruffy scrounge scrumptious scrunch scrupulous scrutiny scurry scythe sedition seethe seismic self-applause seltzer semiporcelain seniority sensible sensual separate sepulcher sequel sequin sequoia serape serenade sheaves serendipity  servant settee shabby shackle shanghai shanty shellac shenanigan Sherlock shirk shish kebob shoulder shrapnel shriek shrubbery shtick shush shyster Siamese sibyl significant simile simplicity simultaneous sinewy siphon skeptic skiff skillet skirmish skullduggery slaughter ****** sleeve sleuth slither slough sluice smart aleck  smidgen  smithereens  smolder  smorgasbord snazzy sneer snide snivel snorkel sobriety socioeconomic sojourn solder soldier solemn solicit soluble solvent sombrero somersault soothe soprano sophisticate sophomore sortie soufflé sousaphone ***** spiel souvenir sovereign spaghetti spandrel sparrow spatter sphinx spatula species specific spectacle spectral spelt sphincter spinach spinneret spiritual splatter splitting splurge spry  splutter sporadic sprawl sprinkler spree sprightly squawk spurious sputter  squabble squalor squander squeak squeal squeamish squeeze squiggle squinch squirrel stable squoosh stabilizer stagnant stagnate stalactite stalagmite stammer stampede stationary stationery statue statuesque statute staunch stealthy stein stellar stench stencil stoic steppe sterile stickler stifle stimulant stingy stirrup stolid strafe straggle strangulate stratagem strategy strenuous stretch strident stringent strudel streusel strychnine studious stultify stupe stupefy stupendous special stylus stymie styptic sublimate subliminal submergible substitute submersible subpoena subsequent subsidiary substantiate suburb subversion success succession succinct succor succulent succumb sufferance suffocate suggest suicidal sully sultry sumptuous sundae sundry superfluous superior supersede superstitious surreal supplicate surrender surrogate survey surveillance suspension suspicion sustenance swarthy ******* swath swear sweaty swelter swerve swindle swivel swizzle sycamore syllable symphony symposium symptom syndicate syndrome synonym synonymous synopsis synthetic syphilis syringe syrup suffrage tableau tabloid tacit tambourine tandem tangible tarantula tarot taunt technique telekinesis temperamental temperance thence temporal temporary tenuous tequila terrace terrain terrific terrify tetanus tether thatch thistle thither through though throat throttle thwack thwart ticklish tiffany timbre tirade titillate toboggan tolerant tongue top-notch topography  tortoise trauma tortuous torturous tourist tracery tournament tourniquet trachea traffic tragedy tragic traipse traitor tranquility transcend travesty transcribe treachery treatise trellis trepidation trestle trinket triplicate triumphant trivial troglodyte troubadour  trousers truncate tumultuous tundra turbid turpitude turquoise tutelage twixt twiddle twitter tycoon tyke typhoon tyrannical tyrannize tyranny umbrella unfulfilled unanimous usury undulate unequivocally unguent urethra unprecedented unscrupulous untenable unwieldy utterance vaccinate vagary valance valiant vandal variety vehement veldt veneer vendetta venetian vengeance vernacular versatile version vertebra vicinity victual vigilante villain vincible vinyl violate vitality vivacious volition voluminous voluptuous ****** vulnerable wahine waiver wallaby warble warrant wayfarer weasel wheedle wheezy weird whilst whistle whither whittle whoopee whoopla wistful whither wizen wont worse worst xanadu yowl yucca zephyr zeppelin zucchini extraversion embezzlement euthanasia extortion obscure carousing marauder aptitude ribaldry rigmarole chicanery shenanigans capers antics escapade crafty cunning cleaver connive furtive sneaky stealthy plunderous pillaging usurper pilferous wheedling finagler longevous loquacity derisory deplorable critical decimations tithe cynic frivolity frolic derriere easel emasculate emaciate linguistic depravity berate scold scorn scoff rail rebukeness  brawl vapid hamster spleen sequiter sequacious sequesterous flatulence impressible herbaceous impropriety veneration ignoble fatuous phatic journey acrid pungent fetid fiendness gamut ire irascible graffiti irk tedium diminutive minutia iota iterative reiteration self inductive interpolations objectified interstitial extrapolation trepidation tumultuous tortuous adjunct turpitude salient viable seethe conflagration lexical etymology idolatrous affectionate ****** caress craw swell surge flow flux amorous enamor endear ardent ardor cajole piquant poignant prescient puissant presage apex crux citadel pinnacle vertex vortex matrix ****** peak languishing lurid larcenous licentious lascivious squanderous squaloring wallow in the furrow confluence wretched infelicitous trajectory sordid warp strong raw war resume quirkness ***** tinker **** fink stink ******* eccentric pinky suit idiomatic cognate somatalogy virtuoso concurrent intemperance obsessive habitual addicts psychosomatic pathological psychopaths diabolically maniacal dementia panoramic tableau tediously meticulous laboriously beleaguering excruciating exacerbation autonomous avarice oscillating ostracism adrenergic analeptic adumbrate obdurate aberrance genocidal xenophobic prospectus personification of sartorial perfection visage picturesque vision of spectral grace picture of positive prosthesis protractive analysis cyborg ebullition ne plus ultra monad cybernetics prognosis prognostication clambering clamorous clangor hectic mayhem pulverize annihilate pompous bombastic query squash squawk squish squirm sprocket squeal squelch staunch statuesque steadfast steep stench stint strategic logistical tactician stratum stolid stoic stodgy viscid tumult stray streaky stretch strenuous striated strident stringent strive structural strut subjugate subjective substratum substantiate subterfuge subvert sultry sulk sundry superlative superfluous superficial syllogism soliloquy superovulation superfluity superfetation superfecundation suspicion swig superstratum sycophant ingratiating surrogate suspension swindle swallow swanky swath swill sympathetic symbolic synapse synchronous syncopate synoptic synectics syndrome synonym syntax systematic larceny lecher oligarchy ribaldry rigmarole intoxicate tangential tectonics tantamount telepathy tantalize throng tactile taint talisman talesman squabble brash torment temerarious terminus thrall torpid torpor torque tousle  traduce transform transubstantiate transpire transmute transmogrify transport trapezium traverse treason tremulous trendy trivia trifles trounce turgor truculent tuft turf turbid turgid tussle twain twang twinge twerp twit twitch tweak **** procedure vernacular posthumous spasmolytic propagate prolific proliferative profusion profundity proliferate profligate cogent fecund secund secular thick trick quick mystical silhouette sojourn excursion genre engender jaunt pilgrimage prophet trek waver wrought waxy waylay weave weary web wedge ***** wend whang whet whimsical whir whinny whereupon whish whisk whoosh whizbang whoop whorl wield wile wilco wild whence wingspread wiry wiseacre wherewithal rapacity wolf whistle wrath wraith wrack worship wrest wretch wring wriggle wry shyster shylock phone roan tone zone bone hone loan drone known own moan cone done groan koan gnome dream gleam cream seam beam          team serene ravine green gene careen tellurian terrene quaff query quiescent radishes reciprocate raunchy raspy rascal rampant rampage ravage ****** ravish rebuke rebuff rend reave recourse reconnaissance reconnoiter rectify recompense rectitude reconcile regime reintegrate relegate rejuvenate remission remonstrance reparation replication reprieve reprisal nocturnal emission repose remunerate resonant retort revelation revision grandiloquence cleft fissure crevasse rift rill robust rouge niche
crack tromp stomp chasm crevice trudge rostrum rout roust row ruckus sagacious salacious sapient satiric sarcastic sartorial sartorius scalawag screed scrutable contemptible scurvy scuttlebutt seditious seduction sect segregant sequacious psychic reverie subterfuge serenade sequiter serendipity shuck shylock sibilant shush signet simulation siren skeptic sleek slick slinky snare ****** sneeze sneer snide smug intrados loquacity spandrel iambic sonorous spatial spatiotemporal telemetry spectral spry spectrum speculate solicitor sprout spoof specular splendiferous sporadic spurt binge spree ***** squalid forte fortitude Gumby emit war  time raw umbrage ultraism ultimatum unary unbridled uncanny unanimous ambiguous biased unabated uncharted articulate deviating undertow congenial feint feign unity predicate unprecedented paradigm unscrupulous brash dire unfathomable unlimited urchin usurp utmost utilize fluctuate vague vacuous vanity vanquish vantage veer vast advent veracity verbatim vertex vortex vertigo vestige vex vigor vitalize virile vicissitude viscous visceral virtuous virulence vital virago vivacious vivid livid splurgeness stag vituperatively vociferous volition void voracity waft vulturine wacky waifs wainscot waive wallah itinerant wand wane lavish wanton wonderlust warrantee warn warp warlock warren wastrel wastage warranty dicker insidiously sinister flagrant verity maniac pack mendacity abscissa ordinate yacht yearn yaw yare yen yelp yin yonder yoni yore yours yolk zany zest zeal  zenith zingy zooid treatise hyperbolic lingam blasphemous farcical fugueness and estranged ensemble orchestration rendition various assorted forms of related stranger weirdness traveling down this obtusely overt contusion in my vehicular contrivance convection convolution abalone absolute acceptance accurately acquiesce acquire actually adamant additional adequately adherence affiliation affinity against aggressive allegiance although allusions amendable analogous analysis anchor ancient animation annihilation appeared approach appropriately archaic assembler assimilation assuage attain attempts attendant attribute audience aura auspicious authoritarian authoritative barbeque before belligerent binary blazing Buddha bulwark carousel ceaselessly ceremony chaos character charisma Christmas chronological cite classification classify clutter cocoon cognation cognizant comment communal complete conceive conceptual conclusion conducive conquered consciousness constituent construction continuum contrarily convenient corporeal collage creates credibility crystalline culture curious curriculum decadent decide deferred deified deity deliberately delineate deluded delusion demagoguery democratically descriptions desire destroy destructively develop dialectic dictates difficult diffuse disappeared ecstasy ecstatic efficiency elaborate elliptical empathy endeavor engaging equipment escape especially essence eventually evolutionally excellence excitement expectorant expedience experience extraneous extremity façade facet fashions fever flatten forgotten frailty framework gapping glimpse grandiose graphically groan growing hedonistically hierarchy hobby holocaust homogenous hovering ideology imagination immaturity immediate imperative impertinence important inadvertency inapplicable indispensable individually infancy initiate innate interpreters intervene intricacy intrinsic irrelevance jagged kaleidoscope lit literally lose ludicrous macabre minstrel meld mischievous model monstrous mores myriad mystic necessity negativity Newtonian normalcy nuance nullify obnoxious obscure obvious occasional officiate ominous omnipotent oppose optimizes oscillating ostracism paradoxically partially participants pebbles perceive pervasive phenomena portrayal posses preceding pretty prevalent pregnant primitive prism processional progress prominent proprietor psychic psychological purpose pyramid quandary rational receptacle recumbent redemption refused reiterate relatively relativity relevant reminiscent renaissance revere schemes schizophrenia separately sequence serious severe socially spontaneous stalwart stimulus stomach struggle stunned succession superimpose supplement suppose surround swimming switch symmetry sync taubla tapestry tenacious tendency tyrant terrestrial torrential totally tomorrow transient turbulence tyrannical ulterior ultimate universally unwarranted vicious weather yankee whether soliloquy amenity ambivalence ameliorate aggrandize aghast agrapha barnacle gerrymander jasper jasmine obfuscate obdurate castigate metaphysique cyborg appliance intrepid intrigue mystique impetus volition gumption motivation inspiration metaphor parable leprechaun leniency secund hefty endogenous exogenous lozenge irrefragable recalcitrance fecund jaded seal ordinand obdurate aberrance ignominious interface consent imbroglio embroilment lethargy impressionism agitator treacherous lurid allure obstreperously abstruse subconscious squanderous squalid anomalous punitive incendiary infrangible extemporaneous incognito (succubus , incubus) incongruous incredulous indemnify indigenous infernal infidel iniquitous secular funky spunky Rosicrucian epicurean phlegm levity levee lubricious loath loathe frigid **** ******* lick fenestration dire ****** brash crass rash aggrandize tactile acuity bridge rude crude bandy randy monad positive indenture obnoxious obtrusive obtusely overt indemnities annuities cavalier dawdling gallivant bought naught fought caught ought dribble rip zip gig blond entropy catalyst cohort cavort chronological sublime purvey pander meandrous extravagant exorbitance ***** vicarious endear eccentric cognate frolic frivolity fawn agnate aggregate junction function conjunction conjecture conjugation adjunct contiguous constituency cohesive coercion covert maestro maitre d mastoid newel minx murk monad muss muggy mull mirador bartizan musky meager demonstrative anarchy iconoclasm misnomer mimicry minaret mimetic monocracy pungent mordant mnemonics mangle maim mutilate mesomerism morpheme nepotism nurture vexation anxiety vindictiveness vendetta moot void null meringue laconic obliterate papaya proboscis podiatry polemist porcupine palindrome pandemonium presumptive procureness ploy **** paltry pander paphian pummel puny presage felicity parley parturient potpourri partisan peccavi verity goad penumbral platitude platonic proxy photic pharos perdurable preemptory posh perfunctory perilymph phoneme phenetic phantom permeate proximity phantasm phalanstry delusory apparition pietism oviparous expiate vindicate extricate  exonerate absolve posthumous prehensile prerogative presumptive prestissimo preterite retroactive primacy prevaricate equivocate primordium primeval puissance  pristine prescience prompt prodigious protagonist prurient pyre lurid pshaw guffaw purlin purloin quirk pith quark ***** tip put temerarious userp asymptote pirate tiny hat  thief tine slow slide slim hide me effigy infinitesimal slink slick paw
flaw craw claw heuristic swum cuckold climb locuna live **** sly **** sequacious expeditious sequesterous glove glaive glade
don’t dale  otter glue equestrian gog rift cog gone lean had good gold ride ode *** house pine low law earth *** guilty slime negligent torrentially torrid tortuously tempestuous einzeln function truckness presumptive procureness ploy **** off the line cyborg cylon live antonym exogamous dimorphism pry rap gape homogeny gap dudely cruel incredulity ergo apropos ipso-facto pith tip push where keeky geek peek peep glib jive gawk talk dudely cruel off the line but off it !  pit ego colossal incredible fantastic great outrageous amazing fabulous terrific stupendous splendiferous glorious God grandiose orgiastic magnificent ne plus ultra astounding astonishing bodacious marvelous exuberantly ecstatic subliminal nostalgic allusions subordinate ancillary conjectures similar analogous configurations exotically ****** quixotic render proof orchestration rendition unicorn railway mainsail ebullition monad girdle thigh spasmolytic heuristic sartorious sartorial discrepancy amendment rip reave rive tear rend esoteric erudite beleaguer hype synch torque your ringer occipital sync ubiquitous eucharistic oblation obeisance oblate obelisk ubiquitous edifice ******* efficacious salacious lubricious sagacious expeditious grief  orgiastic paroxysmal orthogenesis overture repertoire quagmire quandary poshly plush lushly lustful longevous loquacity hunky-dory harbinger guzzle gyro gyre exult heuristic awkward humph haberdashery hauberk huarache bourgeoisie dichotomy greave zealot goatee cavalier humerus gumption hors d’oeuvres coalescent hysterically delirious coercion nullify correspondence corral coral architrave archaeology ardent ardor arduous awry askew asinine altruistic allure allude alluvium aloof egress effulgence ephemeral apathetic anxiety antonym existential exigency exodus expiate esoteric exacerbate evoke exact exult excerpt exorbitance cajole argent apriori arbitrate appliqué aqueduct presumptuous prestige precocious precursor preempt predilection premises premonition preoccupy preponderance prescient pretentious perineum peristyle perpetuity pervade pertinent portent elicit pursuance putrid quasi queasy quaver quarrel rampart ransack voracious rapport ratchet raucous ravenous reciprocal rectitude emanate imminent perdition erudite erogenous scarp lambent reticent vehement auspicious austere consternation construe contingent convection convolution convenient cocoon coerce collaboration collude vacuum vacillate vestibule vicarious recalcitrant repudiate resend resilient resonance purvey wreak writhe wreath fortuitous fulminate fuscous cudgel futurity gable gallivant gallant embellish gauntlet scavenge scandalous scarify scatter schlieren scholarly scoundrel scowl unmelodious scramble scrabble scraggly craggy cephalic fallacious fallible absurd cutaneous synthesis commission extreme  conscientious adherent proponent subtlety diligent receive interesting abhorred exorbitant arrangement intelligence surprisingly important encompass contributes asymmetrical excellent elliptical collaboration straddled collapsible spanned feasible oriented pervasive artistry instructor precursor innovate adrenergic adumbrate queasy acclimatize accommodate acceptive accordant accrue accusation acrimony actuarial acuity adduce adjective adjunct admonish adroit aerobic aesthetic prosaic affiliate affluence aggravate aggregate agnate agonize airy albeit alchemy allege allegiance allegorical alleviate allocution ambience ambivalence amenity amenable anaclitic analgesia anacrusis analeptic anathema subordinate ancillary anecdotist animism animosity annulet announce anomaly anonymity antagonize antecedent subsequent antefix antenna anterior pathos antipathy antithesis aperture appall adorn pertain appreciate aquifer arbiter arbitrage arboreal frantic pedantic febrile fanatic quixotic hegira to xanadu frenetic zealot zeal eucharistic oblation occipital ubiquitous omnipresence opulent effluent affluence larcenous overture orgiastic paroxysmal ornithology orthogenisis gleam sheen English bird treacherous lecherous asinine dumb foolish stupid inane ignoramus absurd idiotically imbecilic silly unintelligent dense dingy crazy insane quasi slow epos epitomize epochal era gemma schema lemma jargon idiom colloquialism vernaculars peer quay pier pair appearance insipid vapid insidiously insolent pompously bombastic blatant flagrant chaparral epopee pseudopodia actuator militantly mercenary covert adumbrate intimate obfuscate abet abeyance proxy fugue edict advocate détente anticipate angary amentia terse inabsentia expurgation imputation impugn exculpate eugenic euphenics incumbent incipient accidence acoustics acquittance amore malign asperse amok amuck allegorist pervert aspect aorist wrist expiate asylum epigynous anovulant antenatal antidote antiquity antitrust antithetical argufy apartheid apocalyptic apologist apothecary apomixis appreciate aposteriori apostrophe protractive analysis parabola avidity liberty concise tine albeit life still arrogance coherent abandon abate abash abase abdicate abduction abject abominable abominate abomination abound abrogation absolution absorption accentual accession accede accessible accommodate accomplice accomplish accrual accursed acerbity acrimony accredit accustomed actuality actuate addle adamant adjutant adventive adultery adulterate adventure adversity advertent adulteration venturesome advocacy eyrie aerie aerial affix affront aggressive agile acuity tactile nimble agnostic agog agonist aghast avid avarice agrarian curtilage Arian airhead peterbrain alacrity alchemize alibi allegation allegory gorge ally allocate aloof altercation ambition amatory prelude amaze amateur  ambidextrous ambient amble amiable amicable amorist amulet analeptic analgesia analytics anathema android amalgamated anemometry animism annals chronicles annex annul annoy anonymity antecedent arcade armature arson articulate ascension assiduity asperity asynchrony augmentation audible auger aural areola auspice austerity authenticate autonomic astronomical enumeration auxiliary avenge avert economist autonomist autonomy aviatrix axiom avow avouch bifurcate bigamy bend bind bent bisexual berate bereft hype due behave behaviorism ******* behest bereave beholden biologism bureaucratize circumvent conscribe bacchae backslide backswept badland baddy bagnio baize balky ball hawk balmy bambino bamboozle banal bandwagon baneful banishment bankruptcy banter bandy barbarism barbarous barratry base pay bang bash bastardy bawdry lewd obscene ***** bawl beamish beatitude ****** beat beautiful bedlam beggary begrudge befuddle perplex behalf beleaguer beneficiary benevolence benighted bequeath bequest berth betroth bevy birth bitchery bivouac blabber blandish coax blah blither blare blazon bleak blear blighter bliss bloomy blot blunder blotch blooper bludgeon gag blurt blush bluster bonkers bosh boulevard bout brat browse brunt brute buck passer buffet bungle bungalow bunk bunt buoyancy burglarize burnish burp belch burlesque bureaucratize sorrowful lamentation baleful caterwaul
true clench closet queen constitution provocative soap menagerie melee cirrus camorra caboodle cabotage cabriole cacophony
cadge cahoots cagey cairn calamitous calculate calibrate  caliginous caliper calyx callet cameo campestral canard candid candidacy candelabra candor canker can’t canter canteen canoe capitation captivate capture carapace caribous carnal carnival carny cartomancy casque castellated caste castle catacomb catatonic phonics caustic cavernous celibate censor centric centrifugal centripetal certify cervixes cestus chalet chalice chameleon changling chaperone charlatan chary chaste chastise chastity cheeky cherish chesty chide ***** chintzy chivalrous chinch chomp choose chortle chromatic chronic intrinsic chroma chump chutzpa chute cinch conciliatory ciliary ciliate citadel citation civility clank clammy clang clairaudience taciturn reticent classify inveterate claudication cloven cleft cliché click clinch clement clip clique ******* cloak & dagger clobber clog clone clonk cloth clothe clothier cloture redolent clout cluck clump clumsy clunk coadunate coalition coadjutor coaster brake coax cochlea chronology inundate **** coexist anachronism coercive coitus coincide collinear collateral collegiate collision collusion coma combinatorics comfy  commandeer  commensurate comensal commend commerce commence commodious commotion compatible compensatory competitive compile complexional complicity comply connotation compost composure compunction compulsory concatenate concoct catenary concubinage condolence condemn condescending conducive cavalcade confidant confession confirmatory confiscate conformity confrontation congruence congeal congenial conjure connection connivance connote conquest conscript consequence conservatism consistent console consolidate consort conspire contagium contention continuity controvert conveyor copulative cordial cordon cornucopia coup couth coy crag cranky craven cringe crud culminate cumulate cursive credulity credulous infidel gullible diatonic perturbed derogate edict delict rage tirade irate vehemence denouement denounce tire dervish dictatorial diction proof desolate deontology Kant indenture defray detinue douceur amuse disseminate eustachian daft dainty damnify dapper dastardly dauntless daymare dead heat dead horse debauch debacle decadent debauchee decamp declamatory declension decorticate deductive default defeasance defenestration defunct defrock deformacy degeneracy deft deforce hipster mesmeric deification deist deleterious delimit deltoid delve deluge delusion delirious demimonde demesne demiurge demoniac demonetize demonstrable denizen denegation denigration demur demure despot desperation destine despise detect determinative determinism detersive deterrent detest determinacy detectaphone devout devoid detract desultory detrimental detour deviate deviant devastate devotion devious devisee devolution devolve developer dialectic dharma diagnosis prognosis matriculate diacritical differentia diffraction digenesis dignitize dignitary dilly diligence ***** dilemma dilapidate diminution **** ding diphtheria diphthong dent dirge dirk disaffirm discontinuity disclaim discern discord disconsolate discourteous discredit discontinuance discretion discriminate distain disenfranchise disenchant disencumber disenthrall disembody disgorge disgrace dishonest disguise disengage disinfestant disjunct disillusion disinfectant dislodge dismal disloyal disoblige disobey disparity disparage dismantle dismay dispatch dispel dispersive disproof dispute disrupt dissertation disrepair dissipate distillate distort distract ditto ditty diverge divaricate divert divest divulge dominion doohickey dormer doss dowdy doughty dowry drastic douse drat dray dread drawl dreary drippy drifty drivel droll drown drowsy drudge plan dubious dude dudgeon dulcify duct ductile drakeness ducky duel dull dusky tawny dynamic dwelling dwindle derisive bombastic primordial integumence parenthetically pragmatically prosaically practically protractively portion premise portent pervasive perpitude phenomena hierarchy predicate metaphysique endoskeleton ectomorphic dour droll dismal dank dreary bleak stark Electra complex lore epigone epigraph epsilon epistaxis epilation earnest earthshaker earthward earwitness eclectic ebonize electroacoustics ciphony ebullience eccentricity echelon echoic eddy edgy edify edit educe edition eerie edacious effectuate effeminate effete efficient efflux effrontery effluent effusion ego defense eidetic ejecta elaborate elapse electioneer curtail elocution elucidate elegant eloquence Elysium emancipation manumission detinue osteopathy elucubrate emasculate emaciate embark embargo emanate emblazon emote embellish elusive enhance embracive embouchure emergent emendator embryology emit emissary emitine jacquerie empathy empennage emphasis emphatic emigrant empirical emulate emunctory encephalic enclitic yuck junk funky junkies enchant enchain enclosure encroach encrustation encumber endergonic endorse endowment enduro enfetter enforce energetic enemy enema enervate engender engage propensity preternatural proclivity prestidigitation gesticulation equilibrate equilibrium equilibrist preterite rendition retroactive engross engulf enhance enjoin enlightenment enlist impressed enormous ennoble enrich  ensheathe enshroud ensnare ensnarl entanglement enthrall enthusiasm entice entity enthuse entrap entreat entrance enunciate envoy envy envisage epigynous epigraphy cipher epilogue episodic epitaph epistolary epithet equate equestrian equity equivocal equivocate eradicate erosion eroticism errancy erratic erroneous ersatz erumpent erudition erythron epistemology espalier essentialism progressivism esprit espy estimator estrus estuary etcetera ethnic ethos ethic eternal ethereal eugenic euphenics eustachian tube salpinx euthenics euthanasia evacuate evaluate evasive eventuate evaporate evict evident evil evert evolve exact exaction exult exaggerate exasperate excel excerpt exception exclaim exclude exculpate excursion excuse execration execution exempt exhume exile exhaustive exhibitionism exhilarate exegesis exert exonerate expense expletive explicit exploitation exponent export exposition exserted exposure expound expurgate ubiquitous extemporize extenuate exterminate extensive externalize extinct extort extradition extrasensory extraordinary extol extract exuberate extrude foible fasciculation twitch flinch fenestra Fabian falchion falangist Phillip felly ferro falsie **** fess fink out festinate ***** bustle fourragrere fimbria feduciary fabricant fable fabulist façade facile facilitate facsimile facture faena fain fairing fallopian fallow fascinator fash fatalism fastidious fastuous fatidic fatigue Faustian fatuity faux pas feasible faze ******* facilitate feline feeler ferocity fertile fervid fervor fetor fetus fetology fetish feverish fester fetation fetch fiat fief fiasco feticide obnoxious fiacre figment fickle fictitious fiddling fidelity fidgety fierce fiesta  filch filly filthy finale finesse fingertip finicky fang finite firmament flabbergast fixation flak flashy flagitious ******
flashpoint paroxysmal retrograde flaunt flasher flask flat flap flaw fledge flee fleece fleet fleshy flighty flick flexible flimsy  
flimflam fling flinty florid flora ****** flourish flotsam  flub fluke flurry flush focalize foist footing foray forfeiture forgery foreign
forensic formalize format formica formulate fornication forsooth forswear perjurious fortify forte fortissimo fortuity forum abjure
abnegation fossil fosterling four flush frame up freaky frazzle frenulum fret frigidity frigate frill fringe fritter frontal fructify fruition frump frugal fuel fulcrum fulgurous fulham sable furor furring brazen furtive fustigate future perfect fuchsia find roan gauntlet gamut gatecrasher havoc glass jaw glare glass eye gabber gadzooks gaff gaga gage gaggle gag rule gainful gainsay gait gala gale gall gallery gallivant gallop galvanic gambrel roof gander gammon garb garish garble garnishment garrulous garter gasp **** gaudy gauge gaunt gavel gear fad gee haw gemma gender genealogist geotropism germinate gestation ghost writer ghoul gig gigantic gill gimmick gimp girlish gist gizzard glaive glamorize glance glaze glean glint glitch gloat globe gloomy glitter glom glob glop glorify gloss glower glutton glum slum glue hue gluteal gnash aphorism adage gnosticism gnome goggle gnomic gold digger psychic golem gore gorge gown gossipy gouge grasp greedy frigid gremlin greave grieve grin grime grim grind gripe ***** groom gross grit groin grove grout growl grumpy grunt guck gruntle guide guile guild guilty guise gull gulch gully gunk gushy gust gussy up gulp gusset gush gustatory gung ** gusto gutsy gyne gyre gynecocracy gyve guy  aceimnorsuvwx  bdfhklt  fgjpqyz atheist goblin Godiva grog hang up disinter gamet zygote hunks hunkers haunches black white life death lithe heart rending miserly greedy stingy frugal habitation propinquity habituate hackamore hagride hairbreadth halftrack hallucinosis hamstring handicapper handless hangin hand woven hanker hanky panky haphazardry hari kiri **** harangue harass harbinger harem oviparous residual harmonic harpy harsh hast hassle haggle hasty pudding haugh haunt haversack haversian canal hawk hazard heady heal headway heap hearing hearty heave heathen heavenly heavy duty heft heir heinous heifer heist helix enliven glue hellion helm hemlock hence heredity primitive anachronistic hangover heretical heritage hermit recluse heresy primordial integumence skull hernia hue hex heuristic hirsute hireling ally hint **** hoard hoax hitch hoist hokey hoot horizon hornswoggle horologist hostile hostage housebreak huckster hovel huff humeral hurtle hustle hutz pah homage homogeny exogamy hone honesty honkies hooky hutch hypercritical hypotaxis hysterics incoercible idiosyncrasy impugn idolatry ileum imagism idempotent ides ichor icky icon ics ictus ideational identity crisis matrix idea iffy ignescent illustrious immaterialize imitation inextremis immanentism immolation mollify impeach impedance impecunious impassion immutable retrograde recumbence inabsentia impious impenitence impinge implore impotent paroxysm impressment impute impromptu impoverish improvident imprudent improvise imputation inanely inanimate inauguration incorrigible inappreciative inconsequential irreverence inconsolably disconsolate irreparably irreconcilable incorporeity ideally ideogram inferential illicit incarnate incestuous inch incident converse incipient incite incognita incommodious incompliant incommunicado indagate incursion incus incumbent indecorous indecent exposure indecipherable indefeasible indenture indictable  indicative indignant indiscrete indite indolence indubitable induce indulgent industrious ineffectual inane inert inertia infamy infanticide infest infinitesimal inflect inflict infringe encroach infrastructure inflation influential informant inimical iniquitous innumerable innuendo inquisitor injunction injudicious inkling innocuous insolent insidious insipid inept phatic volatile instigate insinuate instinct intangible interdict intentional interject intimate intimidate intricacy intrigue intrinsic intrepid introspection introvert intrusive intuitive inviolate invade inundate invalid inventive inveigh inure defeasance foist isomorphic isthmus fistula jabber jackal jackleg jag jaunt jeer jerkin jest jetty jettison jiffy jig jilt jive job jack jolt josh jostle joust jovial judicious juggernaut jugglery jumble jumpy junctural jungle junk ****** jurisdiction justice justification jute jutty juvenile delinquency juxtaposition kale kalimba kangaroo court kaput karate karst kayo keel keep kempt kept keynesianism kick in **** kindle kinetic kink kist **** kleenex kismet kirtle kith kithe kitsch klaxon knack knavery **** knout kobold koan kneed king cogent adroit lollygag lummox languorous lanyard limbus lotic loquacious lesbian lam labial lambaste lampoon landmark bilk lang syne languish languid languor larder larky larvicide larynx lascivious lateral latent recumbent lapel laud lavish layette lecher leeward leer leech legacy legate lefty lest lewd avant-garde levant avaricious liaison libido libertarian lien ligature lilt list lisp liturgy livid loiter loom loophole lubricity lubric lucent lugubrious yuck lunkhead dolt lurk luscious luster luxury lynch lysis legerity lemma lickspittle limnetic ankh maverick mare liberum marabou machete machinate machiavelianism magniloquent macroevolution macrogamete Magdalene mantis mantra maniacal manubrium mare’s nest maenad majuscule maladjustive malfeasance maleficent malefactor malevolence mash malm malocclusion manipular manifesto mastectomy maw manacle manifest Manitou mana marrow pith manumission constitution marsupial mare nostrum masseur pervade perpitude quark master plan master race mastoid glitch exiguous skimpy scanty sparse masticate matriarchy matriculate escutcheon nombril mere mathematics matrix matinee impetus maxim axiom meatus minimax mediation mediocre medley metabolic meddle ménage a trios menagerie mendacity meroblastic menial meiosis meliorate memorandum memoir memento mori menace mesne menarche menorrhagia meninx mesh mesomerism mesne lord metal methodical meticulous mettle miasma microcosm militia mingy minion koan mirage mire misnomer modality mockery ****** mongrel monstrance morbid morose mortify mortise martingale motivity musky mushy murky muse mutuality muzzle myopia mystique mesomorphic nabob nadir narcosis nark native natty navaid necking pilaster neigh neuter neutrino nexus ****** nihilism nimbus nimiety nitty gritty noisome nominalism nonconformity non sequiter nooky noose nostalgia nostrum notch notion notorious noumenon nous nuance nubile nymph nympholepsy numinous ***** obliquity oblivion ubiquity eucharistic oblation obligee oasis oath obbligato obligatory obliterate obnoxious obscene obstreperously abstruse exude obviate ochlocracy odium odalisque ominous awesome omnivorous onerous onus opprobrium opprobrious optimal opulence orifice ornate orotund ostensible osteopathy oust outlier overawe overt **** ozone procurator pagan palingenetic pallid pallor paragon pagoda palpitate pander pandemic panhandling paraphrase paternoster pathetic paunch pavilion pawky peachy peculiar pedagog pedal pedantic peart peccant peeve perception intuition peremptory perdition perdurable detinue perfective
perfidy perforce periphery perjure perk permeate permute perorate perpetual perpetrate perpetuity perplexity persecute
perspicacious perspiration pertinent perturb ******* pesky perky pester pestilence petrify petrous phalanges juggernaut              
phenomenal phylogeny phobic phony photosensitize phrenic physicality ***** physicalism pick pictorial pious piety piffle pilgrimage pinion pithy placate placid plaint planetoid plasma platitude platonic plenipotentiary plucky plunderous poach plenary plummet polemic polyphonic postulate pouch polyandry polygamy populist pounce popsicle potentate pout practicable chatter prattle precarious precedence precess precious predetermined predicament preen prelusive premonition prefix preposterous prevail prevalent presumptuous **** prim priority depravation probity prodigious profane promulgate proffered prohibitive projective promiscuity propagandize propagate prophetic prosthetic propinquity prophylaxis protocol proprietous propitious haggard proxemics prosecutor prospectus protensive proximity pummel pundit prejudice piranha punitive purgatorial purificatory putschist kitsch quag quantum jump quarrelsome quarterstaff Quetzalcoatl quickie quirt quoit rescind reverb revile mnemonics retuse rabble rachis raconteur ratification radial radix raffish raft ragamuffin railroad raiment rake ramify ramet ramus rank rancid **** rapper rapt rapture rarefy rarified rave ravel raw raze razzle-dazzle razzmatazz realm ream reap rebuttal rebuff rebuke receptaculum recital recess reconcile recondite recourse recriminate rectilinear rectify rectitude recumbent recuperate recursive redeem redolent refer reek reeve reflective reflex refraction refulgence refuge refuse relativistic reliquiae remedy remorseless remnant repertory replicate reproach reptilian repugnant repulse repulsion rescissory residue resignation resolute restitution retraction restriction restraint resuscitate reticent retentive retinue retreat retribution revel reverberation reversal revert revulsion rhapsodic rhombus rhomboid rictus ridgy rifle riff rigorous ritzy rival roan roam roar rive robust rodent rodeo roguery rollick frolic romp rote rouge rout ******* rubble rubric rumpus rumor rural ruse rustle Ruth sitzkrieg superciliary supercilious surfeit suture bravo bravado seminal vesicle sacerdotalism sacroiliac sagacious saga safari saguaro salpinx salubrious salvo salve sanction sanctify sanguine sashay satchel satiate saucy savory scads scalpel scandalize scapula **** schmaltz schlep schnook scorn scour scoff scowl scow scram scrounge screak scud **** scuz seclude ****** seer selfish seminiferous senility sedition smear sycophant sensitize sensorium sentiment sequester sequential servile sham shindig shoddy singular screech situate skedaddle skew sketchy skittish skivvies slang slight slogan slovenly slouch sneaky snub soffit solvency sophistic spangle spar spawn spew squall squamous steeple logistical tactician strategy stupor subjunctive suborn subvert the clarity of criticism can create credibility comprehension can cause conducive consciousness supremacy surly burly squirrelly schema temporize tai pan tup trochlea ulna taboo taciturn tacit tacky tact talus tamper tang tamp tangible tangential tank tankard tassel tawny ****** telepathic temerity telos tenable tenet ternary terra-cotta testy topos tiercel theocracy tempting thew tizzy trite thirl throng thundering tantrum tonic torso topsy-turvy torus tour de force touristic **** tout tragus tractive trance tranquil traject transcend trample transducer transfix transgress transition transposition transude transpire treasure treason trek trenchant tremendous tributary trigeminal  trollop triumph tropic tropism troth trough tractable tract strumpet trove trump trustless tribunal twang tweeze twinge twirl twaddle tunic typecast tyrannical tyrannosaur traction padness tyrant tympanum twist ukase ultraism ultima ratio ultrastructure uglify umbilicus umbra umbrage unabridged unconditional unambiguous unanimity uncanny unceremonious uninucleat union unique unison unity farce sham unmannered unremitting unspeakable upsurge upstage urchin urbanist usherette usufruct travesty usury utensil ****** utmost ut uvea utter uvula utility uxorious usurp surreptitious vagabond vagarious vagile vagrant vagrancy vale valor validate vampire vanguard vas deferens vast vaunt vector venery venial veranda venture verbalist verboten verdant verdict verge vertebration verve vexatious fierce vigil vigorous vile vilify villainous vindicate violent virtue vitalist ***** vituperative vogue vomitus volunteer vouch vulcanization vulturous vulgarism weld **** volume decimate wahoo waive wangle wee weepy welch whammy war wharfage whereof whereupon wherein wherefore whereon wherewithal whine whopper wild goose chase wishy washy wisp woeful wrathy wrought wrong xenophile ******* fornication phantasmagoria fluent voluble yammer yelp yes man yummy zany zealotry zilch zing zombie zooidal zoom zounds zygomatic contiguous constituency confluence contiguity continuum concurrence conjunction conjugation métier quintessential
There was a motion on the floor for the nomination of a proxy to be my epigone.  I feared I didn't have enough votes to challenge so I filibustered.
ryn Nov 2014
................A gaping
        written curse...                black hole        
of a mere                             in my    
the vacuum                              space time
    put out by                                continuum...
         Flames                              Tearing a      
 supernovae...                         huge rift        
  of stellar                      in my very
         fireworks              universe...      
*C­ataclysmic
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.
Matt Jursin Nov 2010
Science says that there's a mathematical equation that explains everything in life.

But I say that not even physics bears an explanation for...the guidelines of attraction.
Our primal reactions are multiplied in...the highlights of passion.

These laws of love that linger like a lanterns lost illumination...
Like the campfire light on a clear night, leaves coals of culmination.

Sweat beads lead to bare threads and bare bodies.
And oh my, how bare bodies lead to imaginations running wild.

Cold winds inspire warm kisses and close skin.
Sincere actions aren't sins.

Bodies wound in union, formed by light and tightly bound.
Together, these twisted vines penetrate the hardest ground...
Together, harmonic souls produce passionate sounds.
Yet, still somehow, love gets lost more than love gets found.

This equation is unending...like numbers off lips that kiss the air.
Body language spoken...Our physical bonds parallel eternity and pi squared.
And you know that every moment that we share is nothing short of...molecular love for the masses...
Now held captive by gravity and magnetism...

See, the last full moon marked retrograde...and if the moon affects the tide of the ocean...and our bodies are roughly 75% water...can we assume that this is the only body powerful enough to keep ours apart?

This gravity...
This pull...
It's pulling me apart...so let me pull you closer, stop pushing me away!
Hold on tight, dont let these planets drift away into a dark rift of decay.

Let your love lap upon this solid stone like a river riffles smooth sandbars into hills of higher ground.

Because baby, without your water on my beach...
I'm nothing but a desert, dry and deserted.
Love, the drug.
Q Apr 2013
I wake as your  friend                                     You wake as my lover
I speak as your lover                                       You speak as my friend
I act as your possession                                   You are my possesion
I rebel as your cover                                        A means to an end
I hurt for your compassion                             You live for my acceptance
I injure for your respect                                  Though it's never been withheld
I confide for your emotion                              You crave my direction
I give and you collect                                      Never will you rebel

This is madness                                               This is Sparta
This is insanity                                                This is the price of exellence
I can't be everything for you                          I am your everything
You can't be everything for me                     I am magnificence
You treat everyone the same                         I am fair and righteous
As a friend, yet as a lover                              And yet you seek more
And it's a cruel, cruel game                          Dare you grow capricious
From your twisted love, no one recovers     You'll become one I abhor

I am done                                                       You are confused
(I am never done)                                          And I will not calm you
I am sick                                                        As I am amused
(But I'm not tired)                                         As I drop little clues  
I will run                                                        You'l­l never leave me
(I won't run)                                                  But I'll abandon you
Because I love you                                        You'll always need me
(A better word is 'desire')                             And I'll never need you

Let me go!                                                    My grip is vice-like
(But you're not holding me)                       I'm not ready to let you go
Bring me back!                                            If I lose you, 'my dear'
(But I never left)                                          I must find yet another 'beau'
Love me only!                                             And I've not the time to put effort
(But you love equally)                               In little minions like you
Push me away!                                          I've not a care to give for
(Or bridge this rift)                                    You insects I never knew

Please, disappear                                       I am your torture
One day you'll understand                      But I am your salvation
That the twisted way you love                 I am your executioner
Could coax death from any human        And I am your redemption
Please, disappear!                                     You'll wish me dead forever
Though I'll weep when you're gone        You'll wish me dead I know
I know sanity will return                          And you'll wish yourself deader
And I'll eventually move on.                    *When away I finally go.
Cunning Linguist Apr 2017
S
  p
   i
  r
a
l
   i
   n
g

   d
    o
   w
      n
-
[an
infinite
abyss]
-
A temporal anomaly
peaking your drift
Perusing the cosmos,
within Dude's rocketship

Quarantined as a species
from contact with the Gods-
Odds are they're too busy banging
new milky ways into the stars
While you're pensive, quantum-plating
the nature of existence
Prayers fall unto deaf ears
too apathetic to listen

Godspeed towards the rift,
Time bends at the edge of a black hole
-But only the tip

My seeds melt into the motherverse
So I get down on it,
Cunning Linguist eats his words
Oedipus'd be jealous,
In slow motion
Impregnates spacetime itself;
With a big bang fellatious 
 
Thus, the holy seed of life
Was ****** into the void~~~
Perpetuating strife
Into the *****, of beyond

Its not a paradox if you simply process
0 and 1 at once
1 can go into 0
as many times as it wants

8====D~~(Y)

Preach level = Jim Jones
just the punchline's too long
Your golden idol,
Holy ****,
Bless this nut that I bust
I'll stretch my luck
To the sum of existence
Until it comes full circle

Voracious, bodaciously
Spatial in stasis
Without patience
Inseminating your eyeholes
Through lines of text

Transcendental
Entangled in a
  Δ,
With a devil & angel
Dimensions oughta coalesce
At just the right angle

Y'all haven't the wherewithal
To feel my *****
Slap-happy against one's skull
Put the rock in the hard place
Neanderthal
Meander tall, in the wave of thought,
The photons in your DNA are all but shot

I will abduct your subconscious
To probe through your thoughts
* testing Testing *
are you turned on?
Feel your genitals tingling ~~
I'm simultaneously dichotomic
Jerxin off my dingaling
playing your heartstrings like a harp

Allow me to go deeper
& penetrate your very reason for being.
Is the life that you're seeing
-Just the information eyes are receiving
-Only what your mind is perceiving
-Abstract thought is just too deceiving no
Can you even conceive it?

Why bother

Wanna switch positions
so you can see
where I'm coming from?
Go ahead and tell me,
are the heavens not
what you've dreamt of

A smoldering ember
in a once burning sky
Life of a former divine,
Masquerading as an angel of light
A furnace see:
 **nihl
Tethered,
To the nethers
On the outskirts of the universe
TKO May 2016
I forgive you for all
Of the changes you never make,
The blame I've had to take,
The broken promises that fostered doubt,
The nights of my heart being strewn about.

I forgave the friend with whom you left.
I forgave you for leaving him bereft.
I forgave your cowardice in the face of guilt
And my trust in you being sound as silt.

The shrapnel in your wake, left for me to sift,
Has created rift, after rift, after rift, after rift.
Although I duck love's fists anew,
I forgive you ***.
It's not for you to undo.
I related to a beautiful poem by Rose. Thus, I was inspired by: http://hellopoetry.com/poem/1653682/amri/  --- Check it out!
Robin MacCuish Jul 2018
I lie in wait for space.
A space of my own
where quiet ambiance roams

Jasmine and mint steep in time
growing lax on a warm sunlit spot on the floor
my book groaning at me to read it,
just a little more.

something deeper than self-care
a little something of self-healing

I wait for you.
My mysterious being,
although I doubt you exist
I feel myself losing it all in the rift
of these futile wounds
and these nights of sunlit tunes
Douglas Scheurn Oct 2016
Ten million bombs,
In an organism,
Single of cell.

The nucleus becomes nuclear,
The ironic cliche.
Instructions to life is unclear,
Resurrection per touch'e.

The ground breaks and falls away,
Supernatural universe all around you,
Leading yourself away,
Venomous vapor clouds you pass through.

Written texts whisper secrets,
"They're secrets for none exist to hear it!"

Ink fills the veins in challenge,
Blood carresses the paper before you,
Eyes stare in mallace,
Rebellion is the potential in truth,

The light dims as you suffocate the beautiful lie.
Thirteen dice becames synchronized with your soul,
Chances are you will die,
Before your art feeds your home.

As sad as this is,
It brings us boundless joy.

From the darkest possible chasm,
Ascends our Chrystal-Rift ******.
Lucas Perry Nov 2011
In the great rift,
where everything goes adrift.
I feel the pressure on my shoulder,
I believe that I just overheard her.
Many things will come,
be sure that there is some.
Come all ye may,
and be ready to stay.
The rift in time is grand,
may you follow his hand.
WS Warner Nov 2013
Part One
Nascent Craving

The insular heart unsealed; pearled eyes
Breach parapets of stone— periled shield,
The sweetest ****—
A threatening wonder and irrefragable synergy,
Nervous routes of cognition  
In this nascent, amorous craving.
Locked and abased,
Dissonance lends pathos — euphoric and onerous,
Disconsolate cries curb sublimation,
The regnant bleed diffusing — fervid lust
Fondled, tactile surfaces in throbbing anticipation.

Sullen, aft a veil of laughter,
Visceral aftermath, out of
The ardent ash,
Burns a thirst;
Insuperable numbness and ache.
Efflorescent intimacy,
Table for two
Enraptured in new alliance,
Élan vital (psyche);
Urgent dialect petitions
Equivocation, jocularity blending
Provocation with indecision,
Noted lilt of descending inhibition.

Adrift, the incessant Now;
As occasion inexorably diminished;
Resonant simpatico tending,
Numinous amity;
Heard conversant, cognitive idioms—
Lassitude, time-eaten pangs of the unhinged heart,
Wounds axiomatic,
In disquieting synergy,
Nibbling, the circumference—
Misery’s permeating truth;
None immune, all trundle incongruously past,
Facing intrepid savages.

Licitly felt, reverberations of Amor
Whence the heart behaves;
Measured cadence, pulse elevating—
Treasured lover, contemplative muse;
Undulating clasp, inflated bone of absence;
Incarnation — a woman,
Beyond prosaic;
Ineffable adoration pours in certitudes of verse,
Elenita, enclothed —virtue unvarnished;
Reservoir intrinsic, poised advocate of the innocent:
The crooked lines of insolence,
Brazen culture of neglected youth.
Perceptive blue stare, sensitized tears—
Plaintively, evincing her injustice ago.

Part Two
Tendered Senses

Siren silence, eruptive blush, ampler between phrases
In dulcet tones — stirring discourse;
Foments rebellion, the strife beneath— his ****,
Out of its vast reserve,
Penetrate the narrowed ambit, vaguely announced.
Groping hands, migrating the sensual member
Stern faces grimacing— mirror in abrasion,
Under the blind surf of consent;
Burrowing ambiguity, emerging torsion,
Plunge, enlisted and content in the sea;
Subsumed in the nonverbal cue,
Persuasion’s plea,
Quelled in the post cerebral assent.

Piercing eyes parallel crystalline waters of Lake Tahoe.

An untouched portion of his awareness remains aloof,
Palpable in the subsequential quiet,
Obsequious and febrile, they sinned on sofas;
Peregrine predilections quenched and viscid—
Serenely requited, the room breathes her presence,
Limp, figures *******, mantled in adolescent torpor.

Erudition in bloom, trust undoubted,
Illuminating, satiating; tempest calm—
Under canvas
Terrain soaked and sodden,
Postliminary — rains of invalidation.
Allowance and permission
Recalibrate, salivate, shortly only—
Initiate, obliged consecration, appraising
Curvatures of the spine,
Stuns him obeisant, her femenine pulchritude,
Propinquity inciting vigor,
Emergent allure, the updriven
Tower of wood sprung from the blanket.


Suffused in ether, purring streams of remembrance
Vaginal honeyed dew, sung into
Orchids, remnants of remember;
Drenched down the cynosure of devotion;
Succulent view, diaphanous pantied bottom;
Halcyon mist, saporous wine — compliance of the will,
Freed fires wander,
Pliable rind, twin plums dripping,
Abject confession, dispatching doubt
In tendered senses,
Pivotal tree, lavender Jacaranda holds the key,
Unfurled, cindered vulnerability.

Half-denuded skin invites confessional savor
Acutely bubbled rear, fleshly furnished denim;
Sultry visit, San Ramon Valley in the fall,
Strewed limbs splendid, flowing filmy;
Imagination yields—
Bursting silk congealed
Across deft thighs, ambrosial thong draping ankles,
Grazing ascension, the curvaceous trajectory
Nose inflamed with fragrance,
Inhaling, climb of acquiescence,
The ****** weal, amid the globed fruit,
Focal intention — ploughed lance thrusting,
Absconding, the ancillary perfume of essence.

Perceiving avid validation,
Swimmingly, amid the monstrous gaze.
  
Humid skies simper dank, set swell the incense of Eros,
Surge of poetry engorged
The flame levened shaft,
Nimble ******* flounce, spill the harboring mouth;
Moist hands merging, unfettered,
Weave in supplication,
Vicinity voicing, enmeshed diversion;
Supple and spherical behind
Posterior arch, milky-skin against the lip—
Ripeness jostling their complacency;
Lapped the mooring, ridden decisively;
Recapitulating— spumed forth, bellied over hips warmth.
Abandon the dirge of self-pity
Late under ego’s trance.
  
Part Three
Present Tenses

Tempting trespass across sacred gardens,
Flowering, scandal set luminous: attachment—
Consensual, their corresponsive fear;
Protean manifestations— evocative, perpetual
Unutterable contention in a fictive resolve,
Deliberating the merits of their widely disparate tastes in coffee,
Amorously touring wine, let’s drowse through the gnarled vine.
Sundry deficiencies pale, once contrasted;
The beatific vision—
Material substance unaccompanied,
Imperceptible, tear-streamed cheeks in synch,
Ventral kiss, peak of carnal perfection,
Reminiscence— flesh violent with Love.

Fiction knew to meander the innominate rift,
A tincture of irony soften misdeeds
Immense as the sea.
Insolvent beast stippled with sapience—
Unmasked, the fabric of delusion;
Dependence smothering the disciplined heart
Resentment put up for release.

Waste of residual years
Fate’s apportion, scars bleakly observed;
Chastened by heartache, engulfing fervor
Too faint to recapture.
Vague glimpses dry—
Hypervigilant his defenses,
Veritable suspensions, embers lit linger;
Slender walls of solidity, the horizoned self,
Faith and reason in concert — stone levels of elucidation.

Fractured bones of distance, emanate a rigid salience,
Another ponderous night of absence—
Lingering, cauldron of dearth as indifference ushers,
The quotidian coil of contrition.
Tearful pallor, sequestered —ciphering time and solitude;
The unkissed mouth, his restive brow;
Suspend in the approximate span.
                      
After Lucid alliterations are spoken
Devoid of her face, his lover’s nudge—
The man nurtures his hurt.

Anxious as seldom unscarred,  
Venus’s susurrations,
In present tenses,
Kissed by her serenades of integration—
Notwithstanding metaphysic intrusion,
No chain stays unbroken,
Postponed drifts of deferment left unspoken,
Reverberations of amor.

© 2013 W. S. Warner
To Eileen
vircapio gale Jul 2012
the story went as though
she'd always known the sea
and trusted in its depth
to mellow any ill, caress her
open lovingkind as in a dream.
and dream she would upon the waves,
having settled into floating reverie.
she'd close her eyes and inhale being
there among herself caressing only
ocean, only breath, all sunlit space
to draw her earthly trials gently out.
softened beachside noise would fade
and let alone her ears to hear
the water oneness dipping clear
and deeper in the troughs, for distance
from the stranded holidays,
the beachy noise of seaside frills
and bear her boyancy to rest
in lilting motion, peaceful cresting sleep
atop an intercontinental,
earthsize water bed.
her trust profoundly spanned
the trans-atlantic rift
and any rift to set apart her undulating
ancient ocean mastery. moon
and sun were kneading vastly where
her snores were lost in starfish whispers balancing
the tidal volume set
to always fill and keep afloat,
or otherwise to wake in
sputters and a salty throat.
her body settles into swinging comfort
napping over waves so deep the shore recedes...
... what bright, kind, clarity cascaded in your dreams?
what heart you had, embracing open quiddity,
never sinking nowness breath alert in lucid sleep
and water surface mystic skyward shallow course?
to merfolk gazing up in wonderment
you limply crossed their bouncing sky,
just another flight of fancy in a world of mystery?
did you dream you were a whalesong
sphering out to carry sadness sonorously? did you
school the many impulse-thoughts to clump and flee
the jaws of time? did you bask in light
and find a shining womb of self
to nurture once again and labor out anew?
did gravity make sense to you?
i float sometimes and live that question true.
sleeping far you drifted out and out and in and out of view
and whistles drowned in gathered drama fear
'my grandma! my grandma!'
screamed my cousin at the lifeguard
sweating ******* and leaping over stroke to spash
into your side a breathless shouting mess for you to calm
and ask 'what's wrong?' and angle slowly back to shore
in fits of giggles, bubble laughter at commotion's reach.
they blink in crowds, standing herdlike on the beach.

and now you swim your last,
another summer day.
like any other i awoke
and fed you eggs, so soft
     (at first it wrinkled my nose),
but taste is strange, and slimy works
just fine sometimes,
like in the absence of teeth.
she never liked her dentures,
     (she said she couldn't taste her food)
and gummed her frozen dinner meals with a smile,
like it was the greatest thing in the world.
     (in fact she'd often say, 'that was the best meal i had ever had',
     and with a force that made me happy to suspend my doubt)
and who am i, judging
that which you select? your pills,
your diapers and your vote,
your shows, your nursery rhymes,
your crown manipulation,
your age?
i use abjection well,
as something not unlike a whetstone for denial.
performing daily rituals i abhor
i retrain and edit, revising social eyes:
dilapidated fictions, safer norms
and mores tailored to a loan
with interest from the self.

she didn't call herself a 'nudist,'
though she lived beyond the fence
living **** for decades saying
'i'll never leave, i love my home.'
we played dominoes 'til noon
'another kind of indoor game, one on a side'
her interpretation of my being there
changed soon, like my aversion
for the liquid yoke she buttered with a spoon.
our neighbors loved her and i,
and to meander down our path,
lay their towels and sit
like all there was to do was visit.
lunched,
she hobbles from her plants back to the sink,
and filling the cat dish, stands
century-old arms akimbo
in the doorway, with a sigh to wake the sun.
being of caretaking was never so fun.
holding hands i help her over roots,
around the rocky sections, through
the easy path and level now
she hobbles sure, the cane a decoration
for her pride at being old and young
at heart and quick at stories overtold
in grooves to satisfy the sense of time.
greetings shower us with beaming smiles,
inching to the sandy edge. denuding,
joining everyone, we stand engulfed
in air. modern digambar to don
a vaster cloth of letting be.
skinny dipping grandma, and me.
the water slips around
her fraglile skin, human driftwood
knotted with a smile.
a grand mother slipping through akashic cracks
to undiscover friends their seeing core.
they wonder at the shore
of hoary plight
and wonder on, once we're gone.
My tears are like the quiet drift
Of petals from some magic rose;
And all my grief flows from the rift
Of unremembered skies and snows.

I think, that if I touched the earth,
It would crumble;
It is so sad and beautiful,
So tremulously like a dream.
An evening all aglow with summer light
And autumn colour—fairest of the year.

The wheat-fields, crowned with shocks of tawny gold,
All interspersed with rough sowthistle roots,
And interlaced with white convolvulus,
Lay, flecked with purple shadows, in the sun.
The shouts of little children, gleaning there
The scattered ears and wild blue-bottle flowers—
Mixed with the corn-crake's crying, and the song
Of lone wood birds whose mother-cares were o'er,
And with the whispering rustle of red leaves—
Scarce stirred the stillness. And the gossamer sheen
Was spread on upland meadows, silver bright
In low red sunshine and soft kissing wind—
Showing where angels in the night had trailed
Their garments on the turf. Tall arrow-heads,
With flag and rush and fringing grasses, dropped
Their seeds and blossoms in the sleepy pool.
The water-lily lay on her green leaf,
White, fair, and stately; while an amorous branch
Of silver willow, drooping in the stream,
Sent soft, low-babbling ripples towards her:
And oh, the woods!—erst haunted with the song
Of nightingales and tender coo of doves—
They stood all flushed and kindling 'neath the touch
Of death—kind death!—fair, fond, reluctant death!—
A dappled mass of glory!
Harvest-time;
With russet wood-fruit thick upon the ground,
'Mid crumpled ferns and delicate blue harebells.
The orchard-apples rolled in seedy grass—
Apples of gold, and violet-velvet plums;
And all the tangled hedgerows bore a crop
Of scarlet hips, blue sloes, and blackberries,
And orange clusters of the mountain ash.
The crimson fungus and soft mosses clung
To old decaying trunks; the summer bine
Drooped, shivering, in the glossy ivy's grasp.
By day the blue air bore upon its wings
Wide-wandering seeds, pale drifts of thistle-down;
By night the fog crept low upon the earth,
All white and cool, and calmed its feverishness,
And veiled it over with a veil of tears.

The curlew and the plover were come back
To still, bleak shores; the little summer birds
Were gone—to Persian gardens, and the groves
Of Greece and Italy, and the palmy lands.

A Norman tower, with moss and lichen clothed,
Wherein old bells, on old worm-eaten frames
And rusty wheels, had swung for centuries,
Chiming the same soft chime—the lullaby
Of cradled rooks and blinking bats and owls;
Setting the same sweet tune, from year to year,
For generations of true hearts to sing.
A wide churchyard, with grassy slopes and nooks,
And shady corners and meandering paths;
With glimpses of dim windows and grey walls
Just caught at here and there amongst the green
Of flowering shrubs and sweet lime-avenues.
An old house standing near—a parsonage-house—
With broad thatched roof and overhanging eaves,
O'errun with banksia roses,—a low house,
With ivied windows and a latticed porch,
Shut in a tiny Paradise, all sweet
With hum of bees and scent of mignonette.

We lay our lazy length upon the grass
In that same Paradise, my friend and I.
And, as we lay, we talked of college days—
Wild, racing, hunting, steeple-chasing days;
Of river reaches, fishing-grounds, and weirs,
Bats, gloves, debates, and in-humanities:
And then of boon-companions of those days,
How lost and scattered, married, changed, and dead;
Until he flung his arm across his face,
And feigned to slumber.
He was changed, my friend;
Not like the man—the leader of his set—
The favourite of the college—that I knew.
And more than time had changed him. He had been
“A little wild,” the Lady Alice said;
“A little gay, as all young men will be
At first, before they settle down to life—
While they have money, health, and no restraint,
Nor any work to do,” Ah, yes! But this
Was mystery unexplained—that he was sad
And still and thoughtful, like an aged man;
And scarcely thirty. With a winsome flash,
The old bright heart would shine out here and there;
But aye to be o'ershadowed and hushed down,

As he had hushed it now.
His dog lay near,
With long, sharp muzzle resting on his paws,
And wistful eyes, half shut,—but watching him;
A deerhound of illustrious race, all grey
And grizzled, with soft, wrinkled, velvet ears;
A gaunt, gigantic, wolfish-looking brute,
And worth his weight in gold.
“There, there,” said he,
And raised him on his elbow, “you have looked
Enough at me; now look at some one else.”

“You could not see him, surely, with your arm
Across your face?”
“No, but I felt his eyes;
They are such sharp, wise eyes—persistent eyes—
Perpetually reproachful. Look at them;
Had ever dog such eyes?”
“Oh yes,” I thought;
But, wondering, turned my talk upon his breed.
And was he of the famed Glengarry stock?
And in what season was he entered? Where,
Pray, did he pick him up?
He moved himself
At that last question, with a little writhe
Of sudden pain or restlessness; and sighed.
And then he slowly rose, pushed back the hair
From his broad brows; and, whistling softly, said,
“Come here, old dog, and we will tell him. Come.”

“On such a day, and such a time, as this,
Old Tom and I were stalking on the hills,
Near seven years ago. Bad luck was ours;
For we had searched up corrie, glen, and burn,
From earliest daybreak—wading to the waist
Peat-rift and purple heather—all in vain!
We struck a track nigh every hour, to lose
A noble quarry by ignoble chance—
The crowing of a grouse-****, or the flight
Of startled mallards from a reedy pool,
Or subtle, hair's breadth veering of the wind.
And now 'twas waning sunset—rosy soft

On far grey peaks, and the green valley spread
Beneath us. We had climbed a ridge, and lay
Debating in low whispers of our plans
For night and morning. Golden eagles sailed
Above our heads; the wild ducks swam about

Amid the reeds and rushes of the pools;
A lonely heron stood on one long leg
In shallow water, watching for a meal;
And there, to windward, couching in the grass
That fringed the blue edge of a sleeping loch—
Waiting for dusk to feed and drink—there lay
A herd of deer.
“And as we looked and planned,
A mountain storm of sweeping mist and rain
Came down upon us. It passed by, and left
The burnies swollen that we had to cross;
And left us barely light enough to see
The broad, black, branching antlers, clustering still
Amid the long grass in the valley.

“‘Sir,’
Said Tom, ‘there is a shealing down below,
To leeward. We might bivouac there to-night,
And come again at dawn.’
“And so we crept
Adown the glen, and stumbled in the dark
Against the doorway of the keeper's home,
And over two big deerhounds—ancestors
Of this our old companion. There was light
And warmth, a welcome and a heather bed,
At Colin's cottage; with a meal of eggs
And fresh trout, broiled by dainty little hands,
And sweetest milk and oatcake. There were songs
And Gaelic legends, and long talk of deer—
Mixt with a sweet, low laughter, and the whir
Of spinning-wheel.
“The dogs lay at her feet—
The feet of Colin's daughter—with their soft
Dark velvet ears pricked up for every sound
And movement that she made. Right royal brutes,
Whereon I gazed with envy.
“ ‘What,’ I asked,
‘Would Colin take for these?’
“ ‘Eh, sir,’ said he,
And shook his head, ‘I cannot sell the dogs.
They're priceless, they, and—Jeanie's favourites.
But there's a litter in the shed—five pups,
As like as peas to this one. You may choose
Amongst them, sir—take any that you like.
Get us the lantern, Jeanie. You shall show
The gentleman.’
“Ah, she was fair, that girl!

Not like the other lassies—cottage folk;
For there was subtle trace of gentle blood
Through all her beauty and in all her ways.
(The mother's race was ‘poor and proud,’ they said).
Ay, she was fair, my darling! with her shy,
Brown, innocent face and delicate-shapen limbs.
She had the tenderest mouth you ever saw,
And grey, dark eyes, and broad, straight-pencill'd brows;
Dark hair, sun-dappled with a sheeny gold;
Dark chestnut braids that knotted up the light,
As soft as satin. You could scarcely hear
Her step, or hear the rustling of her gown,
Or the soft hovering motion of her hands
At household work. She seemed to bring a spell
Of tender calm and silence where she came.
You felt her presence—and not by its stir,
But by its restfulness. She was a sight
To be remembered—standing in the straw;
A sleepy pup soft-cradled in her arms
Like any Christian baby; standing still,
The while I handled his ungainly limbs.
And Colin blustered of the sport—of hounds,
Roe, ptarmigan, and trout, and ducal deer—
Ne'er lifting up that sweet, unconscious face,
To see why I was silent. Oh, I would
You could have seen her then. She was so fair,
And oh, so young!—scarce seventeen at most—
So ignorant and so young!
“Tell them, my friend—
Your flock—the restless-hearted—they who scorn
The ordered fashion fitted to our race,
And scoff at laws they may not understand—
Tell them that they are fools. They cannot mate
With other than their kind, but woe will come
In some shape—mostly shame, but always grief
And disappointment. Ah, my love! my love!
But she was different from the common sort;
A peasant, ignorant, simple, undefiled;
The child of rugged peasant-parents, taught
In all their thoughts and ways; yet with that touch
Of tender grace about her, softening all
The rougher evidence of her lowly state—
That undefined, unconscious dignity—
That delicate instinct for the reading right
The riddles of less simple minds than hers—
That sharper, finer, subtler sense of life—
That something which does not possess a name,

Which made her beauty beautiful to me—
The long-lost legacy of forgotten knights.

“I chose amongst the five fat creeping things
This rare old dog. And Jeanie promised kind
And gentle nurture for its infant days;
And promised she would keep it till I came
Another year. And so we went to rest.
And in the morning, ere the sun was up,
We left our rifles, and went out to run
The browsing red-deer with old Colin's hounds.
Through glen and bog, through brawling mountain streams,
Grey, lichened boulders, furze, and juniper,
And purple wilderness of moor, we toiled,
Ere yet the distant snow-peak was alight.
We chased a hart to water; saw him stand
At bay, with sweeping antlers, in the burn.
His large, wild, wistful eyes despairingly
Turned to the deeper eddies; and we saw
The choking struggle and the bitter end,
And cut his gallant throat upon the grass,
And left him. Then we followed a fresh track—
A dozen tracks—and hunted till the noon;
Shot cormorants and wild cats in the cliffs,
And snipe and blackcock on the ferny hills;
And set our floating night-lines at the loch;—
And then came back to Jeanie.
“Well, you know
What follows such commencement:—how I found
The woods and corries round about her home
Fruitful of roe and red-deer; how I found
The grouse lay thickest on adjacent moors;
Discovered ptarmigan on rocky peaks,
And rare small game on birch-besprinkled hills,
O'ershadowing that rude shealing; how the pools
Were full of wild-fowl, and the loch of trout;
How vermin harboured in the underwood,
And rocks, and reedy marshes; how I found
The sport aye best in this charmed neighbourhood.
And then I e'en must wander to the door,
To leave a bird for Colin, or to ask
A lodging for some stormy night, or see
How fared my infant deerhound.
“And I saw
The creeping dawn unfolding; saw the doubt,
And faith, and longing swaying her sweet heart;
And every flow just distancing the ebb.

I saw her try to bar the golden gates
Whence love demanded egress,—calm her eyes,
And still the tender, sensitive, tell-tale lips,
And steal away to corners; saw her face
Grow graver and more wistful, day by day;
And felt the gradual strengthening of my hold.
I did not stay to think of it—to ask
What I was doing!
“In the early time,
She used to slip away to household work
When I was there, and would not talk to me;
But when I came not, she would climb the glen
In secret, and look out, with shaded brow,
Across the valley. Ay, I caught her once—
Like some young helpless doe, amongst the fern—
I caught her, and I kissed her mouth and eyes;
And with those kisses signed and sealed our fate
For evermore. Then came our happy days—
The bright, brief, shining days without a cloud!
In ferny hollows and deep, rustling woods,
That shut us in and shut out all the world—
The far, forgotten world—we met, and kissed,
And parted, silent, in the balmy dusk.
We haunted still roe-coverts, hand in hand,
And murmured, under our breath, of love and faith,
And swore great oaths for one of us to keep.
We sat for hours, with sealèd lips, and heard
The crossbill chattering in the larches—heard
The sweet wind whispering as it passed us by—
And heard our own hearts' music in the hush.
Ah, blessed days! ah, happy, innocent days!—
I would I had them back.
“Then came the Duke,
And Lady Alice, with her worldly grace
And artificial beauty—with the gleam
Of jewels, and the dainty shine of silk,
And perfumed softness of white lace and lawn;
With all the glamour of her courtly ways,
Her talk of art and fashion, and the world
We both belonged to. Ah, she hardened me!
I lost the sweetness of the heathery moors
And hills and quiet woodlands, in that scent
Of London clubs and royal drawing-rooms;
I lost the tender chivalry of my love,
The keen sense of its sacredness, the clear
Perception of mine honour, by degrees,
Brought face to face with customs of my kind.

I was no more a “man;” nor she, my love,
A delicate lily of womanhood—ah, no!
I was the heir of an illustrious house,
And she a simple, homespun cottage-girl.

“And now I stole at rarer intervals
To those dim trysting woods; and when I came
I brought my cunning worldly wisdom—talked
Of empty forms and marriages in heaven—
To stain that simple soul, God pardon me!
And she would shiver in the stillness, scared
And shocked, with her pathetic eyes—aye proof
Against the fatal, false philosophy.
But my will was the strongest, and my love
The weakest; and she knew it.
“Well, well, well,
I need not talk of that. There came the day
Of our last parting in the ferny glen—
A bitter parting, parting from my life,
Its light and peace for ever! And I turned
To ***** and billiards, politics and wine;
Was wooed by Lady Alice, and half won;
And passed a feverous winter in the world.
Ah, do not frown! You do not understand.
You never knew that hopeless thirst for peace—
That gnawing hunger, gnawing at your life;
The passion, born too late! I tell you, friend,
The ruth, and love, and longing for my child,
It broke my heart at last.
“In the hot days
Of August, I went back; I went alone.
And on old garrulous Margery—relict she
Of some departed seneschal—I rained
My eager questions. ‘Had the poaching been
As ruinous and as audacious as of old?
Were the dogs well? and had she felt the heat?
And—I supposed the keeper, Colin, still
Was somewhere on the place?’
“ ‘Nay, sir,’; said she,
‘But he has left the neighbourhood. He ne'er
Has held his head up since he lost his child,
Poor soul, a month ago.’
“I heard—I heard!
His child—he had but one—my little one,
Whom I had meant to marry in a week!

“ ‘Ah, sir, she turned out badly after all,
The girl we thought a pattern for all girls.
We know not how it happened, for she named
No names. And, sir, it preyed upon her mind,
And weakened it; and she forgot us all,
And seemed as one aye walking in her sleep
She noticed no one—no one but the dog,
A young deerhound that followed her about;
Though him she hugged and kissed in a strange way
When none was by. And Colin, he was hard
Upon the girl; and when she sat so still,
And pale and passive, while he raved and stormed,
Looking beyond him, as it were, he grew
The harder and more harsh. He did not know
That she was not herself. Men are so blind!
But when he saw her floating in the loch,
The moonlight on her face, and her long hair
All tangled in the rushes; saw the hound
Whining and crying, tugging at her plaid—
Ah, sir, it was a death-stroke!’
“This was all.
This was the end of her sweet life—the end
Of all worth having of mine own! At night
I crept across the moors to find her grave,
And kiss the wet earth covering it—and found
The deerhound lying there asleep. Ay me!
It was the bitterest darkness,—nevermore
To break out into dawn and day again!

“And Lady Alice shakes her dainty head,
Lifts her arch eyebrows, smiles, and whispers, “Once
He was a little wild!’ ”
With that he laughed;
Then suddenly flung his face upon the grass,
Crying, “Leave me for a little—let me be!”
And in the dusky stillness hugged his woe,
And wept away his pas
In the heart of the Courtroom sat God with his Only Begotten Son The Christ to his right-hand side to the left-hand side was Lucifer fully armored with a Golden Celestial Horn which will be blown once the war speech commences. Directly in front of them sat 25 Golden Robed Kings dressed in a white tunic with Golden Crowns flowing above their heads. In the massive throne room, there were nearly 750,000 thousand Angels gathered to hear this important speech. Within the crowd, there was some excitement and yet commotion going into play. The Golden Armada Of ArchAngels was presently composed of only 8 Lv-1000 ArchAngels they are under God's direct command and they are the most powerful toughest meanest baddest Angels God has put aside for the most dangerous and toughest assignments ever to be imagined. What God didn't expect was about to happen he was about to get betrayed by one of his main Angels and he himself be tested with the greatest trial he would ever face. Suddenly, Lucifer blew the horn the speech was about to commence...

Meanwhile in Infernus...
Inrah is harnessing Infernus power and converting it into a massive ball of power by opening his mouth wide the energy ball that has a rainbow color to it gets bigger and bigger and has created a transparent shield covering him leaving the angels unable to attack him directly...so every attack they throw at him has failed whether it be a long ranged attack or a close-range attack. Sebastian added "If I were to attack the beast somehow in close range I could potentially aim my Holy Spirit Purple Flame Arrow Of Fate is one of the most powerful attacks I have in my repertoire of moves. Valerye tells Krillin to use stealth and cloak herself from enemy view and attack him from behind the skull of the dragon...the dragon had peaked power in its attack and aimed directly at the 4 ArchAngels floating in mid-air about 400 ft away. In a blink of an eye, Krillin shot at the Dragon with Heavenly Gun Celestial Ray Bullets to draw attention to the dragon. Leona had used her doppelganger to act and be portrayed as Krillin. That made Inrah believe all 4 was there. The bullets broke the shield behind Inrahs skull and 3 bullets penetrated his head exploiting deep within and causing huge rupture like holes on his head. Inrah lost power and was interrupted so the energy ball lost some power itself. Squad #6 realized this was their chance to take Inrah down ...so Valerye being the muscular wise the strongest she leaped then teleported to Inrahs head and descended with a colossal attack disestablishing his power ball and exploding creating a distortion of ethereal space and the blast was so powerful that the Arch Angels suffered extensive damage to their armor. This time Inrah whole head had exploded and collapsed on itself Slowly but surely the tremendous beast with ferocious power had been silenced they all thought Inrah was dead. So each of them examines their selves Valerye had a crack on her shoulder side of her armor. Krillin had her armor almost intact except the broken shattered part of the crystal armature which some shards cut her left arm below the armpit. Krillin was bleeding but recovered phenomenally. Sebastian had Burn marks all over his lightweight armor. Leona had not suffered much due to the fact that she was observing the blast farther away. She had once again used her doppelganger to trick Inrah that she was Sebastian and had moved close to the energy ball when it was still in decent condition. Those golden seconds allowed her to teleport to a nearby location to observe the blast.
It had been 7 minutes and Inrahs head had not recovered...Exhausted from the long battle the Angels began to slowly fly away from the scene. However, Inrah was not dead yet and he gathered his last bit of strength to go back to his Arch Fiend form. The Arch-Fiend flashed and grabbed Valerye then Inrah began glowing dark energy and wouldn't let go of Valerye. So then all the other 3 members threatened Inrah to let go of Valerye then Inrah shouted to the Angels that if they were to attack him or interfere on the absorption of holy power he was going to perform that he would explode leaving Valerye dead or heavily injured. She then telepathically told all the goodbyes and all. Then Valerye heard the Lord's voice to tell her teammates to attack Inrah. Sebastian telepathically asked her if she wanted him to use Celestial Arrow so then they all detected that Inrah couldn't telepathically communicate with them anymore due to his lack of power. So they communicated this among each other and they took advantage of this opportunity to communicate with each other about Jesus message to them saying it was OK for them to attack Inrah due to the fact he had allowed the Holy Spirit to descend to Infernus temporarily to shield Valerye. Taking advantage of Inrah's inability to decipher their angelic messages thru telepathy they readied their positions. In fear, Inrah shouted to him and warned him that he would explode. Sebastian just looked at him and smirked and said... "Don't you see Demon is over..." at that very moment he drew his heavenly bow and slowly drew a celestial arrow. So then Inrah responded nervously... "I may be at my last stand but Master will understand..." right when he finished those words he exploded annihilating him instantly but Valerye was left unharmed due to the Holy Spirit Godly Shield an ability able to withstand any blast with a power level below 1000. So there all four Arch Angels stood on the ground of Infernus and made a surprising discovery. Their power level had grown. Furthermore, a new ability was unlocked by each member of the group. Sebastian learned Shadow Arrow. Leona Infernal Shield. Krylinn learned Earthly Armor. Last but not least Valerye Shadow Clone the ability to use two doppelgangers. The victory came at last and they all four after being left roaming Infernus for 7 long days they arose to heaven victorious and feeling joyful to see the Lord's gentle face and to feel God's embrace and power ever so mightily.

Back in the Courtroom...
The earnest tone of voice and a most elegant poise was worn by Lucifer as he gave his speech. Spoken in Umen a diabolical dialect mixed in the crowd was Vhar disguised as a messenger Angel. He contacted Nebol the 6th DemonLord of Infernus who has 650,000 Necromancers and 1.5 million undead soldiers at his disposal. Nebol made a rift allowing the Undead and Necromancers inside Infernus to relocate to random places around the perimeter of the Throne Room. Vhar and Nebol stormed into the Throne Room just to find themselves surrounded God had given orders to dispose of the imminent threat if any that opposed him or his kingdom. However the demons knowing God's presence would be overwhelming Nebol opened a portal right in front of him which transferred him to Infernus however him and Vhar sustained damage which lowered Nebol vitality due to Occult technique Shade of Darkness which allowed them to be shielded from God's Celestial Light and Adonai Vortex the first ability allows Yahweh the to impair demons use of abilities and conjuring power. The second ability is a is a white dim and slowly becomes a transparent hole that disintegrates demons any rank if touched by it. So with 1/4 of Nebols troops disintegrated when he almost lost his life and almost lost one of his best Generals Vhar he was outraged at the fact he had lost a significant amount of his demonic fleet. Now with 450,000 Necromancers and only having a million undead soldiers left. Nebol killed and consumed the heart of 5 Lv500 General Undead Soldiers and 1 out of only 6 in all the Necromancer Platoon an Lv-800 High Diabolic Priest Necromancer regaining all his power and armor back and with a stronger more powerful stance now regaining his posture as a Demon Lord. *There are 9 DemonLords in Infernus. Each and every single Demon Lord has Immortality and a power level of 1000. However some Demon Lord's are weaker and some stronger even though their power level cannot be higher. It ultimately matters of determination and skill. Aikalar First of the Demon Lord's rules the first circle of Infernus. He is a Huge White Wolf with Black flames with a small blue hue in his eyes and tail dominating the entrance of Infernus the smallest circle of Infernus. The Second Demon Lord portrayed as a Crow in a rotten tree high in the heights of Infernus. The second biggest circle in Infernus. Croxuss the third Demon Lord of Hell portraying himself as a huge turtle looking monster with Bloodshot eyes and ugly putrefying stench emitting from his body. The 4th Demon Lord known as Flayiron a once beautiful Arch-Angel LvIII Bow-Master now that he has joined the Infernus Fleet after his rebellion in Acapella He has a light blueish/purplish armor with a gigantic bow that can be transformed to a sword or a shield with a telekinetic command given by Flayiron. The fifth Demon Lord of hell is known as Asmodeus a half-giant half grey skinned demon who killed an Arch-Angel known Killas. Nebol the 6th Demon Lord of hell who was inbound to attack the great palace of heaven retreated momentarily to collect his thoughts. Lilith the 7th Demon Lord is the Angel of Lust a pure goddess of seduction with tremendous power. Nova the eight demon lord the most powerful goddess of all demon lords extremely beautiful and extremely sensual she does as she pleases with any of the Arch-Angels God has sent her way so far...she doesn't know she is about to meet her doom ...
Squad # 6. Arch-Angel Valerye with Arch-Angel Leona Arch-Angel Kryllin and Last but not least Arch-Angel Sebastian. They came to the 8th Circle Of *Infernus
where Demon Lord Nebol from the 6th Circle Of Infernus.
Work in progress...
He Pa'amon Aug 2018
"And in a funny way, the shaving of my, uh, head has been a liberation from, uh, a lot of, uh, stupid vanities really. Uh, it has simplified everything for me, it has opened a lot of doors maybe." - Stephen Malkmus, Jo Jo's Jacket

the first layer of skin i shed
was the bra

rid of the foreign metal sculptor producing a deep rift between skin
my third eye, swallowing gazes

rid of my **** , my ***** , my rack
replaced with sacks of fat and nerve and milk ducts
hanging, existing, for no one else
not even myself

the second layer of skin was the painting of the face
the concealing and erasing of imperfections, the lines of laughter of sorrow of life
redirecting attention and importance to the bow and symmetry of the lip

no longer did i have to put myself on in the morning
i woke up as i was, as i needed to be,
bare and uninhibited

my skin now breathed, and for no one else
not even myself

and then i grew another layer of skin,
made of dank tangles to protect my age,
i stopped shaving the years i'd walked this earth, shedding my womanhood

the skin grew to my armpits, little tufts of sweaty, odorous mother nature dozing in a fleshy convex nest

and to my legs, were the tangles wrapped around my ankles
preventing the spreading of the legs for every life
for not every life wanted what was not tame
and what was not tame no longer wanted to be.

my body did not conform,
for it was not brought into this world to be consumed for the pleasure of others

it exists for no one else,
not even myself

and as i was engulfed in this hairy wonder of my own body
i shed the last layer,
the shaving of the head

my brain, my being breathed
porous and exposed
vulnerable to weather and whispers

but i was all at once naked and calm,
having finally peeled away the layers of ***** over-sexualization and constrained femininity that had molded this meat sack that serves me,
a bundle of circuitry and solution balancing and bobbing on the neck

for i exist for no one else,
only myself
inspired by the song Jo Jo's Jacket by Stephen Malkmus
Simon Soane Jul 2013
I'm a schizophrenic hypocrite
thankfully not in a medical way
i don't have to pop pills everyday
to keep an essence of danger under control
and to stop my head doing backward flips and forward rolls
to curtail bad thoughts and contain OCD
wake up and think "what's happening to me?"
but sometimes i'm full of mazey bomb blasts
and crazy contrasts,
I'm a schizophrenic hypocrite
I say work i'm not even gonna give 50% percent never mind double
but i'll stay just below the warning threshold so i don't really get in trouble,
i do see my sick days as extra days of annual leave
but my bums on my seat most of the year and at least one Eve.
I'm always ducking and diving, i hide and they seek,
but i hit my targets every week.
They can say put down your pens,
strip your pencils of lead,
you can't stop me writing in my head
But you'll sometimes dictate what time i go to bed.
I'm a schizophrenic hypocrite
Nearly every road i walk down i've got a ***** cat friend
there meowing never drives me round the bend
but if me owing then just a letter i'll send.
I’ll rescue  spiders from the bath, without any exception,
But I’ll clean their webs and evict them when I have a house inspection.
Giving up pork, on a parity with pigges at last
But then i broke my faste with bacon for breakfast
Watching lambs a gamboling there frolicking is fab,
but i'll see you on a plate later if i'm craving a kebab.
I'm a schizophrenic hypocrite.
Money and the capitalist structure baffles, no thanks, no ta
but before i go out a quick sub off Ma and Pa.
I'll pay for a taxi, i don't care about the amount,
while checking fervently the statement from my bank account.
Cash cannot be eaten it just gets you into Eton
but i'll rifle through my pockets for pennies to get an eat on
i don't adore you, i'll say your the means to an end
but then i spend some more and ask for a lend.
I'm a schizophrenic hypocrite.
I'll say anarchy  is everywhere, petition and abstain
then  read in the late edition who i think should take the reins.  
I scream smash the system without any regrets
but then start stubbing out where they deem no cigarettes.
I'll say **** big business they are always looting tons
while cutting out Asda coupons to get the soup with croutons.
i'll say **** materialism, to that i am adverse,
"ohh if you want to get me some trainers Mum can you make em Converse? "
I'm a schizophrenic hypocrite
One Saturday i found it hard to move
crying out for water, more than needing food,
stomach emptier than the packets in my pockets
Early winter scribble
spoiled by the ripple of rain,
deadened and dull
on a precious day,
the time I crave
passes through a husk
full of caves.
Each inhabitant curses
and burns
the stagnant soil under their feet,
I want something to eat.
I need to drink.
The cold slab of sink
lures flesh to rest,
unsatisfied
with retched offerings
flung from a scorched earth
so next Friday, a few beers and l I’ll hit the hay
Ten beers later, where’s the MDMA?
And my staunch resolutions go up my nose
Chatting through the night, striking a pose,
Music accentuated, stars sparkling hard
World’s discussed in magic back yards,
Focused and fraught in tumultuous thought
Ten cigs in an hour
An hours too short,
As the morning comes, I start feeling a mess
It slowly disintegrates the treasure in my chest,
Feelings of strength crumble to a feeble frame,
Spears in my head, WHOOPS I’VE DONE IT AGAIN.
You’ll stop this time, I curse and lecture,
Two bottles down next Friday etc etc,
I’m a schizophrenic hypocrite
I remember an uneventful Tuesday when i wasn't working
belly full of rice
and i saw you twice,
two times a day,
on a day in lieu,
time stood still,
smiling at you
i thought i'm gonna have to write about you,
so i park myself in a bar after a joint in Netto carpark
and start using words to build an arc
and if you you do wanna walk in two by two,
can i walk in with you?
Is it this green ride that's getting me high
or the regret i seen in the gleam of your eye
that as soon as we said hi we said bye,
as disappointed as the catcher when he dropped the rye.
If i may be so bold,
if you were cold
i wouldn't hail these stones
i'd pummel Jack Frost until he knows he's lost,
i'll leave all the lights on to hasten global warming
make Obama declare winter a season of mourning,
If you met an iceberg of Titanic  proportions
i'd cut through it quicker than the Ripper does back street abortions.
If you were in prism
i'd try to unrangle the science of triangles
so i could build you a pyramid with all the right angles,
my stomachs in knots;
the most tranquil of tangles.
Then i saw you get out of the lift
and i wanted to play you a rift
until you exposed your midriff
because you set me adrift from chains and shackles
my mind goes crazy and fills with cackles,
i crackle with lightning, my energy heightens
my heart tightens
and not cos of cholesterol
cos i think you're special
and celestial!
I got dreams from naught, my head feels taught,
i prised a lesson from your eyes,
love is the greatest prize.
But now that's gone, all things
pass evolution in transience
faces that were everything lost to balance
blue it merge
but seldom a residual surge
and your bark today was worst than your bite
it said something softly,
i sow the seeds for the sycamore trees
we can carve our names on next summer.
Under an endless stretching sky
you wrote you
and i wrote i,
the lights in our eyes don't lie
they are gateways to the suns inside,
our hearts couldn't hide from this brightening tide.
I'm a Schizophrenic hypocrite
I remember this guy from work, cooed to me
look at the **** on this page 3
he drooled over Nuts magazine like he belonged in a zoo
i bet he frequented strippers too.
He said seen this clip, it's ******* great,
it ad turn a couple of queers straight
it was these two twins with rouge lips being rude,
the way she chomped on her like food
and they defo loved it,there is  no doubt
it's just just ***** Eskimo ******* kissing snouts
and sharing with her sister the joy of getting licked out.
Wonder how they looked in the family car?
giggling about some exciting destination,
like all kids displaying a lack of patience,
“are we there yet” chorused with glee and duality,
dressed in the same clothes to ensure parity.
Ice cream for tea.
Maybe they might be way into drugs
or addled with addiction
lacking hugs
and sore from the friction.
Not liking the glare
feeling scared.
maybe?
He said nar they love it up them baby.
But then,
i have it
about 3 or 4 times a week
after the 5th time of hitting snooze,
or a heavy night on the *****,
or sometimes no beer,
even after a sonnet of Shakespeare
a sudden urge comes over me,
GET THE LAPTOP!
GET THE *******!
Then it's
Japanese teen lesbians spitting,
finger ******* wearing mittens,
****'s ******* Britions,
oap creampies
***** covered eyes
***** flicking,
extreme suction,
**** destruction,
Captain Birds Eye gobbing
Batman ******* Robin,
A ten inch plumber ******* in a kitchen sink drama
Robert de Niro unpeeling Bananarama
Marty doing the Doc
a gimped up Kirk whipping Spoc
Rita  ******* Norris
Gail licking Fizz
Sally doing Dev
and Kevin doing ki.............Kevin, get out of the room.
Back to
a **** doing a ******
a pre op pleasuring granny
two ***** one *****,
then i chuck my muck all over my tunic
flip over and continue reading The Female ******,
I'm a Schizophrenic Hypocrite,
i've gotta split.
mark john junor Nov 2013
the clouds have a rift
that bleeds sunlight
down on the thought machine
that grinds a steady pace
of meat upon which the bearded wisemen must chew
only they can interpret the bones cast
like oracles of old
only they can see the fates
so i rise and step carefully through the empty door
thinking that it once held such promise
the morning is rampant with people
and id rather not speak till
i have a grasp on what im not thinking
so i retreat to the filthy carpet of her hole

the muttering continues into the night
and no matter how many times i step to the hall
he just stands there and speaks to  the window
open and blowing soft
he tells the night
that hes not frightened anymore
he will do that till dawn
then he will crawl to his screaming bed and try to sleep
nothing prepared him for the slow torture test that hes been dealt
keep on keeping on till you cant keep on no more

she walks in and shakes off the rain
scattering droplets of her passing
she looks at me with open questions
but the closed fist of her mouth speaks louder
than any words she could muster
they strike my mind with painful reality's that
have never seen the light of day
she just made them up to justify
and i make it clear that i wont stand for it
as i lay here and absorb her verbal fantasy's
wish sometimes i could be like him
and just whisper the world away
dream away the words

in the hallway of the building
on the vast ***** white tiles
she absorbs the nights festivity's
with the jaundiced casual hand of a lifelong soul thief
with the barrenness of a wasteland for a heart
i look upon her with growing need to
simply let loose and walk away
this is no place for me
for i am alone
a white is black get back you yiccky yack
Listening to these depressing songs.
It's ironically giving me the will to be strong,
And I don't mind if they're being played for long.
They're making the oceans of my heart rift,
Letting my soul drift in the cold water.

Staring up into the sun,
Ironically it seems fun.

Dipping in my own sorrow,
Urging me to press play,
Again and again,
Making me feel a little bit insane.

I'm enjoying dwelling in my inexplicable pain,
Making me realize,
That maybe,
Sometimes,
One can be happy by just being sad.
Alexander K Opicho
(Eldoret, Kenya;aopicho@yahoo.com)

It is not a half a yellow sun
Nor a full purple hibiscus
Neither a question of Americana
But the political tidbits of Africana
They are indeed a half a government
Neither a coalition nor coalescence
But a journey which starts with one
Very African mile in the sunny city of Nairobi
In the country Kenya where there is hakuna matata
Where gorgeous skyscrapers hang loosely
Like Towers of Singapore in a babellian ego
Swam of humanity in full pomp and glory
Money, property and cityish aura
Moving up and down in bluish collar task
Flock and throng like the north bound mating fish
In the waters of river Nile; O Nile!........,

Moving you down then the countries
Passing the geographical enigma
Of the Great Rift Valley view point
Putting a wonder working escapement before
Your eyes in which once the daughter of primitive
Political bourgeoisie rolled in a Germany Volkswagen
And gasped the last ****** breath
A beautiful Maasai breathe echoing
In the ***** of masculine bowels
The waves of erotically charged ions,

You then passing down to Nakuru minus
Your meat eating halt at carnivorous kikobey
Strait to Kiamba  area where you easily
Meet the Kalenjin militia in a tribal cleansement
Ruthlessly roasting the human steak of kikuyu merchants
In the church but not a mosque due to scarcity
Both young and old kikuyus being roasted
As they forlorn groan and wail;
Atherere ! atherere ! atherere ! niki kioru muntu wa lumbwa !,

Down you go again to a chilly town of  Eldoret
Where you get a ****** *******
Pursuing a bachelors course at the dumb
Moi university where low temperatures
Curtail lively learning in the pedagogy
Or pedagogy of the kipsigis ******,

Down you go a fresh to the town of Kitale
You meet with  maize and corn in the
Full regalia of colonial economy
In its ostensible memento  
Of the palimpsestish British Empire
In the brutish colonial history
Of man eat man civilization,

Then up you go, you beautiful nincompoop
To the slopes of pokotish kapenguria and
Again down slopes to Ortum valleys then whoopsy!
A half a government starts in full swing
The bush pokot youths utterly naked
Like the chimpanzees in Kakamega forest
Shoals of them and throngs of them
Each having a modern gun,a short gun
A Sten gun,a  machine gun,a slave raiding long gun,
Revolvers, the lethal AK 47,
Them pokot youths; extremely illiterate
Put extremely armed with extremely
Modern weapons like the last wonder of the world,

Up you go into the desert of Dr. Richard Leakey’s first home of man
In the land of the Turkana, to a toast of human misery
Where people are sick, people are naked
People are hungry, people die of starvations
After thorough hunger based emaciation
Redolent of purely   a half a government.
Andrew Rueter Oct 2017
I'm on the run
And not for fun
The police are chasing
My heart is racing
When my life is at stake
My morality I'll break

The police release the hounds
I can hear their deadly sounds
They want to maim me
I want to stay me
I decide to fight the charging canines
Because I just snorted a ******* line
My judgement loses length
To my influx of strength
I break the dogs' legs
Until they beg
That's not enough
Sorry Scruff
The steel gun I fire
A furry cop retired

The police attack me
For defending myself
They refuse to see
The danger to my health
They chose to use crazy canines
So I feel the fault isn't mine
That doesn't change their decision
For me to die slowly in prison
I am in the teeth of the government
Much to my human wonderment
This is the way I'll spend the rest of my life
For the decisions I made at the end of a knife

The irony is cops **** dogs all the time
Yet they obstruct their vision of the line
Where it ceases to be man versus society
And becomes man versus nature
When a man is in peril
He must turn feral
But in a country that blindly idolizes aggression
The police don't acknowledge this discretion
They dig their teeth into our skin
While draining us financially
The only way we'll ever win
Is if things change substantially
Sadism fervently fuels the flames of conflict
With an exasperated public sick of being kicked
Cruelty is what they witness
To lose their mental fitness
How can they protect their babies
When the police have rabies?
The police relationship with the effected public will never shift
When there's a Cereberus between them maintaining the rift
Faint as a climate-changing bird that flies
All night across the darkness, and at dawn
Falls on the threshold of her native land,
And can no more, thou camest, O my child,
Led upward by the God of ghosts and dreams,
Who laid thee at Eleusis, dazed and dumb,
With passing thro' at once from state to state,
Until I brought thee hither, that the day,
When here thy hands let fall the gather'd flower,
Might break thro' clouded memories once again
On thy lost self. A sudden nightingale
Saw thee, and flash'd into a frolic of song
And welcome; and a gleam as of the moon,
When first she peers along the tremulous deep,
Fled wavering o'er thy face, and chased away
That shadow of a likeness to the king
Of shadows, thy dark mate. Persephone!
Queen of the dead no more--my child! Thine eyes
Again were human-godlike, and the Sun
Burst from a swimming fleece of winter gray,
And robed thee in his day from head to feet--
"Mother!" and I was folded in thine arms.

Child, those imperial, disimpassion'd eyes
Awed even me at first, thy mother--eyes
That oft had seen the serpent-wanded power
Draw downward into Hades with his drift
Of fickering spectres, lighted from below
By the red race of fiery Phlegethon;
But when before have Gods or men beheld
The Life that had descended re-arise,
And lighted from above him by the Sun?
So mighty was the mother's childless cry,
A cry that ran thro' Hades, Earth, and Heaven!

So in this pleasant vale we stand again,
The field of Enna, now once more ablaze
With flowers that brighten as thy footstep falls,
All flowers--but for one black blur of earth
Left by that closing chasm, thro' which the car
Of dark Aidoneus rising rapt thee hence.
And here, my child, tho' folded in thine arms,
I feel the deathless heart of motherhood
Within me shudder, lest the naked glebe
Should yawn once more into the gulf, and thence
The shrilly whinnyings of the team of Hell,
Ascending, pierce the glad and songful air,
And all at once their arch'd necks, midnight-maned,
Jet upward thro' the mid-day blossom. No!
For, see, thy foot has touch'd it; all the space
Of blank earth-baldness clothes itself afresh,
And breaks into the crocus-purple hour
That saw thee vanish.

Child, when thou wert gone,
I envied human wives, and nested birds,
Yea, the cubb'd lioness; went in search of thee
Thro' many a palace, many a cot, and gave
Thy breast to ailing infants in the night,
And set the mother waking in amaze
To find her sick one whole; and forth again
Among the wail of midnight winds, and cried,
"Where is my loved one? Wherefore do ye wail?"
And out from all the night an answer shrill'd,
"We know not, and we know not why we wail."
I climb'd on all the cliffs of all the seas,
And ask'd the waves that moan about the world
"Where? do ye make your moaning for my child?"
And round from all the world the voices came
"We know not, and we know not why we moan."
"Where?" and I stared from every eagle-peak,
I thridded the black heart of all the woods,
I peer'd thro' tomb and cave, and in the storms
Of Autumn swept across the city, and heard
The murmur of their temples chanting me,
Me, me, the desolate Mother! "Where"?--and turn'd,
And fled by many a waste, forlorn of man,
And grieved for man thro' all my grief for thee,--
The jungle rooted in his shatter'd hearth,
The serpent coil'd about his broken shaft,
The scorpion crawling over naked skulls;--
I saw the tiger in the ruin'd fane
Spring from his fallen God, but trace of thee
I saw not; and far on, and, following out
A league of labyrinthine darkness, came
On three gray heads beneath a gleaming rift.
"Where"? and I heard one voice from all the three
"We know not, for we spin the lives of men,
And not of Gods, and know not why we spin!
There is a Fate beyond us." Nothing knew.

Last as the likeness of a dying man,
Without his knowledge, from him flits to warn
A far-off friendship that he comes no more,
So he, the God of dreams, who heard my cry,
Drew from thyself the likeness of thyself
Without thy knowledge, and thy shadow past
Before me, crying "The Bright one in the highest
Is brother of the Dark one in the lowest,
And Bright and Dark have sworn that I, the child
Of thee, the great Earth-Mother, thee, the Power
That lifts her buried life from loom to bloom,
Should be for ever and for evermore
The Bride of Darkness."

So the Shadow wail'd.
Then I, Earth-Goddess, cursed the Gods of Heaven.
I would not mingle with their feasts; to me
Their nectar smack'd of hemlock on the lips,
Their rich ambrosia tasted aconite.
The man, that only lives and loves an hour,
Seem'd nobler than their hard Eternities.
My quick tears ****'d the flower, my ravings hush'd
The bird, and lost in utter grief I fail'd
To send my life thro' olive-yard and vine
And golden grain, my gift to helpless man.
Rain-rotten died the wheat, the barley-spears
Were hollow-husk'd, the leaf fell, and the sun,
Pale at my grief, drew down before his time
Sickening, and Aetna kept her winter snow.
Then He, the brother of this Darkness, He
Who still is highest, glancing from his height
On earth a fruitless fallow, when he miss'd
The wonted steam of sacrifice, the praise
And prayer of men, decreed that thou should'st dwell
For nine white moons of each whole year with me,
Three dark ones in the shadow with thy King.

Once more the reaper in the gleam of dawn
Will see me by the landmark far away,
Blessing his field, or seated in the dusk
Of even, by the lonely threshing-floor,
Rejoicing in the harvest and the grange.
Yet I, Earth-Goddess, am but ill-content
With them, who still are highest. Those gray heads,
What meant they by their "Fate beyond the Fates"
But younger kindlier Gods to bear us down,
As we bore down the Gods before us? Gods,
To quench, not hurl the thunderbolt, to stay,
Not spread the plague, the famine; Gods indeed,
To send the noon into the night and break
The sunless halls of Hades into Heaven?
Till thy dark lord accept and love the Sun,
And all the Shadow die into the Light,
When thou shalt dwell the whole bright year with me,
And souls of men, who grew beyond their race,
And made themselves as Gods against the fear
Of Death and Hell; and thou that hast from men,
As Queen of Death, that worship which is Fear,
Henceforth, as having risen from out the dead,
Shalt ever send thy life along with mine
From buried grain thro' springing blade, and bless
Their garner'd Autumn also, reap with me,
Earth-mother, in the harvest hymns of Earth
The worship which is Love, and see no more
The Stone, the Wheel, the dimly-glimmering lawns
Of that Elysium, all the hateful fires
Of torment, and the shadowy warrior glide
Along the silent field of Asphodel.
Diamond Dahl Nov 2012
I am a controlling boyfriend.
No, I am not a male, nor do I have a girlfriend to abuse. But I am the crazy stalker controlling boyfriend.
I have realized something in myself:
I am free with my boy and his casual flirtations, but am extremely jealous and possessive of my girls, when I have one.
Or even in my present case of not having one, I want to possess her as she has possessed me. I want all your time, all your thoughts, as you inhabit mine.
“How do you handle the jealousy??" It's funny, I don't get jealous when I have both partners in my bed, or in my arms. That is when I’m most content.
I get jealous when outsiders are flirtatious or show interest. It's also funny, I'm more annoyed when people flirt with him thinking he’s unattached.
I don't get it either; just a quirk of mine.
Perhaps my nonchalance with my boy is merely grown out of our time together. In nearly seven years, not one has managed to create a rift. Those who have tried have failed, and he and I have come out the better.
Patience is a virtue I do not possess, and the longer I go on incomplete... mayhap my own fears make me dig my claws into a new potential. Fear that someone else will charm such a rare unicorn away from me/us, and we’ll be left again, searching.
Nor is this a new feeling, for this young woman. A year ago, I felt the same overwhelming possessiveness. Then again, it would not do to compare the two; they are two different people, who hold different qualities.
The bitter jealousy I now project I have tasted before. The shock that I’ve become my own controlling high school boyfriend fills me with disgust.
Unbeknownst to her, I imagine her not only in my bed, in my arms, in my life… but also on my knee. I’ve never before considered someone as both lover and submissive.
Unbeknownst to me, would that make my jealousy grow or fade, were I to possess her in every way I’ve imagined?
Obviously I have some things to work on.
Firstly, finding our unicorn.
After my initial post of this piece made it to the trending list, I thought I owed it to you all to rearrange it in a more appropriate manner. This is Hello Poetry, after all.
Feel free to tell me which you prefer.
the river flows as
living memory

the birds of the
Nile are its
knowing eyes

fly catchers
ply the rich
delta
probing
sediments
of sand
washed
from
distant
Nubian
mountains
eons
ago

layers of
recollection
go fathoms
deep

shrieking
gulls
plumb the
mud flats
with heroic
persistence
as they did
when the
first rafts
drifted out
of the
Great Rift
ferrying
civilizations
forebears
to the
opening chapters
of world history

the first
seafarers
competed with
greedy spoonbills
to navigate
porous
papyrus
crafts
through
the narrow
channels
of the
Damietta,
transporting
ideas, skills
and goods
to build an
emerging
world

mallards
troll the
same
gentile
eddies that
goaded the
Mother of
All Waters
to float the
basket cradling
Yahweh’s
infant prophet
Musa, into the
loving arms
of Bithiah
who nurtured
the vanquisher
of Osiris’
galleries of
Gods

a litany
of conquests
rolled on the
silver waves
of this river

conquerors
maneuvered
the truculent
currents
like sharp
eyed hawks
skimming the
pliant waters
with well
extended
razor quick
talons
picking the
Nile’s bounty
clean

this fertile
delta remembers
more than
6,000 seasons
of harvests

the
cycles of time
has produced
seasons of plenteous
abundance and
desperate privation
all cleverly exploited
by generations of
fearless herons
who wrangled
the demons
of hardship
to route the
dread of hunger
expelling despair
from the Egyptian
DNA, etching
a new hieroglyph
of freedom onto
survivors hearts

the Niles
sorrows
and glories
perpetually
wash this
magnanimous
delta
surely as
the gentle
wakes
of feluccas
continue
to lap its
shore

the marshes
have not withered

the verdant
reeds prosper

flamingos find
the water
rich in fish

in due
season
the red
lotus will
paint
the arcuate
alluvial
fans in
scarlet
autumnal
hues

In the
Valley of
the Kings
the shadows
of migratory
flocks mark
the foundation
stones of the
pyramids
as they did
when slaves
pushed them
into place

the eternal
lines of
pharaohs
rule has fallen,
their gods
imprisoned
in hieroglyphs
adorning their
royal tombs
on display
in the worlds
museums

the weathered
pyramids continue
to crumble

the face of
the sphinx
withers away

torrents of
blood flowed
in this rivers
currents, now
strained clear
by the reeds
anchoring
its banks

the fleeting
rule of regimes
are pictured
as momentary
reflections
skimming along
the ripppling
water; the
rise and fall
of rulers is
captured like
the shifting hues
sunrises and
sunsets bespeak
upon the waters

the ascending
waves of
the Sacred Ibis
dance atop
the Nile’s gray
waters; the
river jumps
to life as the
graceful wings
take flight
to foreign
destinations;
expecting
to return
again as
the cycles
of seasons
round once
more

as the Nile flows
its memory deepens
the eyes of the birds
watch and remember


Music Selection:
Gary Bartz, I've Known Rivers

Oakland
3/31/12
jbm
Indian Phoenix Oct 2012
I hated Dawkins a little less when his words came from your mouth.

Your unabashed sincerity endeared me to you from the moment you showed me your vintage Atari. I don't recall if that was before or after you bragged about your Star Trek DVDs. Not that it matters, but I hope you've found a place to store all of those wires protruding out of your gadgets like Medusa's head of snakes.

My family liked you, especially my mother. It was probably your staunch advocacy of 4th amendment rights.

Remember those nights we sat in bed and traded secrets on small scraps of paper? We were lovers  for... five weeks by then? It struck me by the third slip that it didn't matter what it would say--I knew I'd still love you anyway. But I knew that from the moment you removed my knee-high boots and kissed my feet when I rode up on my Harley. You unstrapped my helmet and poured me wine. Though we promised to never tell anyone, I just wanted to say: I still smile when I think of your 15-year-old self trying to pick up a ******* on a desolate dusty road. Do you still have those hastily-written pieces of paper? They're yours to keep; I hope they're safe.

Nothing of my new world reminds me of you. There's no Jeopardy to watch, no NPR to hear in your white Saturn, and no desert mountains to hike. Not in India. Maybe it's because nothing is similar that my memories of us stay so firmly imprinted in my mind. Similarities would only erode my recollections. Maybe that's why I almost forgot about the chai tea I'd serve you in bed, coupled with almonds and apricots on the saucer.

But you, you're a walking encyclopedia of my home town. You knew every cactus-lined freeway, the name of the state attorney general, and the best place to grab a Four Peaks beer. Because of this, I could never extricate my love of home and my love for you. To me, you'll always be home.

For better or for worse, I remember it all. Including the soft piano rift of the chess game we'd play on your XBox. I'm guessing you'd beat me, should we play again today. I still have the wooden chess set I got you for your birthday... but we both know I can't give it to you. I'm sorry.

I never believed in saving people before I met you. Before, damaged was a weakness; now I think you just needed a polish. I never told you, but I read your psych evaluation--I found it when I was cleaning your room (with your permission, I add). The therapist was right: you're not aloof, just too smart for the room. I thank God that you never bought that container of nitric oxide.

I know we said we'd marry if I ever came back home. A no-frills city hall marriage suited us just fine. I have no doubt we would have had a simple, sweet life. You would've relented to letting me get a dog to keep your arrogant cat company. Our biggest fight would be over which castle door the RPG character should open, and you would've helped me improve my golf swing on the inexpensive dilapidated course near my old junior high school.

But likewise... our biggest adventure would've been only a roadtrip to the neighboring county. And I wanted to explore. I needed to explore. You, who never wanted to stray outside of a 100-mile radius could never satiate that curiosity. But I know we could have made it work. I know we would've been happy.

Sometimes I wish we could be the best of friends. I know we can't; not when I started dating my now-husband so close after we ended things in tear-stained emails when I went overseas. He swore off her; I swore off you. That's the way things go, I guess, when you get older.

I know it might seem like I've moved on and forgotten you.

Moved on, yes. Forgotten? Never.

It probably wouldn't be the same if we met again. I have too much love for you that could never be conveyed. My love for you has changed; it's not romantic. But it's still this throbbing appreciation for everything you are. I couldn't bear guarded chit chat. Not with you.

And I hope you are happy. Have you realized your worth yet, or are you still wasting your time with broken high school grads who listen to Ke$ha? I can't tell you who to love... but I hope she's an astrophysicist, someone who loves Carl Sagan even half as much as you. I want her to read Noam Chomsky to you late at night, and wake you in the mornings with a glass of milk and cookies. She'll prefer simple mashed potatoes to dim sum, and have a weakness for microbreweries. She'd be gorgeous in that bookish sort of way. Yes. That's the girl for you.

....I'm sorry it's not me, my dear atheist.
A Simillacrum Jul 2018
Master, have mercy.
I am Master. I
Have no Master.

The planet
is atrocious.

I am It.

Planet Earth
is atrocious.

I am It.

Why is it so hard
to see
be yond peace?
Why is it so hard
to be
who you want?

The mind, secluded
in a prison rift
of copy paste
makes waste.

Where is my paper?
Where is my pen?
I write for me!
I repeat as if I
will soon
believe.
I write for me!
(logging on again)

The planet is horrid.
I am part of It.

Oh, Peace & War,
do we know it.

Yet with an audience,
my imagination
grows stagnant.

The once in abstract
gathers into form.

I did this misdeed.
A disservice.

Once a dreamer.
Now a journalist.
This one is for [redacted]
You make me want to run away.
That, is definitely a good thing.
A reminder that I never meant to stay.
Mother always called me the devil child
She said I was  loud, destructive and wild

Parents told sister I was bad and she didn't ever have to play with me
Much time alone was no fun, however for some friends I did make a plea

I'd beg for my mothers attention, she'd run off to her room crying,
Yelled for my dad to come get me, because to her I was very trying

I heard my mother double dog dare my father to hit me
Mother would refer to me as a **** in front of the family

When I was very young mother once said “I’ll ****** you in cold blood”
Today mother said “you’re crazy, I’d never say that to a child, you are crud”

Nothing I did would ever please my mother
Gifts I bought her were tossed in the gutter

All my cousins were smart, while I was failing all my classes in school
Got into many fights with bullies and teachers who were always cruel

My family would all make fun of me, call names bully and teased
I was the loser that anyone could do or say what they pleased

None of my cousins was I ever allowed with to play
Was always much of the time alone every and all day

I lived in a strange way my dad was very to the T religious
And my mother was always drunk and of course blameless

She’d drink when home from work, on the weekends or holidays
And could always hide it from all her friends and the relatives

No one believed me when I told them that she had been drinking
They acted like I was crazy by then I knew what they were thinking

Mother took me out Friday's to eat and buy what I wanted, after work
Last stop, the liquor store for drink and smoke, was left in car like a ****

Mother would always drive with me while she was drunk
I knew she'd been drinking because she smelled like a skunk

Bought games that took two to play, parents never had any intention  
Of spending time with me, I was a bad child needing intervention

If I didn’t act a certain way when opening all my very expensive Christmas gifts
She’d pout, leave, and I’d have to open my gifts alone because I’d created a rift

Wasn't  perfect I admit;  ran off when 16 regret parents sent me away,
Came for counseling I complained about moms drinking, she felt angry

Said drinking not my problem, she’d return when I could face the truth
Never could admit wrongdoing, everything was because I was a youth

Home from school one day mom was passed out on  floor drunk
Called 911 her Dr blamed me and said no visit,  he called me a punk

My dad arrived home, find she was throwing up while passed out in bed
He'd take bowls put them near her mouth to catch it,  something I'd dread

He’d walk to the bathroom, empty the bowl and go back to get the next one to do the very same
And replace the unfilled one repeat the process.  I was told by her doctor that I was the blame

Sometimes mom would run down the hall to the toilet bowl throw up then my heart would race
Because I always knew mom would do this and then she’d come to room to scare rant and pace

Since I was a badly spoiled child who had parents with money, nice house cars and good jobs
And I was not willing to help out or be responsible, was told I made the family look like slobs

My sister let her boyfriend talk her into letting him take me to dentist, instead, he molested me
No one believed me because in the past I had lied about things, and the truth no one would see

I was different all the cousins, my aunts and uncle could blame me when things went missing
Or went wrong I was then and still am now the perfect scapegoat yes about it I’m still babbling

My father ran out the back door when he heard me wake up and come out of my room
So he didn't have to  bother with me, I wanted to spend time with him he’d assume

Somehow I managed to graduate from high school and I then would move
To a different city, I felt I might have better luck and my life would improve.

Married two very bad guys both who drank, beat me and verbally abused
Divorced them both and had one child and how I’d raise this child alone I was confused.

Moved into an apartment I still today about it rave
Mother always referred to it as a little dark damp cave

Things I wanted my mother to do with me she would say no
But wouldn't turn down a chance with other family to go

But this home where I've written articles, poetry that's been published
Most of the things I've written, mother has said they are mostly *******

Tried to work and go to school never was competent enough to follow through
Each time I would start either I did not have the ability to complete anything new

My daughter grew up, became ill with a repeating debilitating disease
I dedicated myself to getting her well, and nothing about it was a breeze

Had to take her in pain for doctor visits many times she’d cry and wished she were dead
This broke my heart with no family help, just her and I to face things in the years ahead

Unable to attend school for years, the doctor signed permission to stay home
School system assigned a teacher who was mean nothing about her was tome

School Social workers interfered
And my name they smeared

She finally one day went into remission
And now the Nephrotic kidney condition

Seems, for now, to have forever gone for good away
For years it’s been don’t want others to downplay

For a while, I home schooled her and the first semester back in the public school
She was on the honor roll things seemed to be looking up and I felt like I was the rule

Then one day she lost interest in classes, homework, and attending
And the principal of the high school was calling and threatening

Took her out of school and put her in to get her GED
Then  she was soon graduated within month of three

A year before she was supposed to graduate
I knew by then that I was doing things right

Enrolled me and her in community college we made the Dean’s list and no student loan debt
Last May she and I graduated have a new life now I don’t feel things in my life are a threat

Alone I’ve raised a good child, published a book and kept things together
I’ve published some poetry and stories in that will be on web pages forever

Even though my parents have helped me out once in a while financially
I feel lack of respect since they helped family who treated me crummy

I’m still feeling and have most of the hopeless thoughts when I was young
I still try to steer my daughter to be different from me and hold my tongue

Sister divorced husband for molesting children told kids I was bad
Lives in my town and over 20 years never talked, by her, I've been had

I think it's because my parents never would face reality or admit
To any wrong doing of years of abuse, something I couldn't forget

Mother has disowned me going to court to remove my name
Because she said I've caused her embarrassment and shame

I'm damaged goods, only go to doctor and for groceries to shop
I hide inside and on computer, write stories and poems till I drop

Why am I talking about this after all these years still?
Because I think that it may just possibly help me to heal

Looking back I find so many things have not been my fault
But I still feel many days like I'm the only one under assault.

Copyright 2013
All Rights Reserved
Am not proud of this but I had 30 jobs that I lost in 10 years and even tried going to college
Unable to remember how and when to do things, my head from years of abuse was in a fog
Your daisies have come
on the day of my divorce:
the courtroom a cement box,
a gas chamber for the infectious Jew in me
and a perhaps land, a possibly promised land
for the Jew in me,
but still a betrayal room for the till-death-do-us-
and yet a death, as in the unlocking of scissors
that makes the now separate parts useless,
even to cut each other up as we did yearly
under the crayoned-in sun.
The courtroom keeps squashing our lives as they break
into two cans ready for recycling,
flattened tin humans
and a tin law,
even for my twenty-five years of hanging on
by my teeth as I once saw at Ringling Brothers.
The gray room:
Judge, lawyer, witness
and me and invisible Skeezix,
and all the other torn
enduring the bewilderments
of their division.

Your daisies have come
on the day of my divorce.
They arrive like round yellow fish,
******* with love at the coral of our love.
Yet they wait,
in their short time,
like little utero half-borns,
half killed, thin and bone soft.
They breathe the air that stands
for twenty-five illicit days,
the sun crawling inside the sheets,
the moon spinning like a tornado
in the washbowl,
and we orchestrated them both,
calling ourselves TWO CAMP DIRECTORS.
There was a song, our song on your cassette,
that played over and over
and baptised the prodigals.
It spoke the unspeakable,
as the rain will on an attic roof,
letting the animal join its soul
as we kneeled before a miracle--
forgetting its knife.

The daisies confer
in the old-married kitchen
papered with blue and green chefs
who call out pies, cookies, yummy,
at the charcoal and cigarette smoke
they wear like a yellowy salve.
The daisies absorb it all--
the twenty-five-year-old sanctioned love
(If one could call such handfuls of fists
and immobile arms that!)
and on this day my world rips itself up
while the country unfastens along
with its perjuring king and his court.
It unfastens into an abortion of belief,
as in me--
the legal rift--
as on might do with the daisies
but does not
for they stand for a love
undergoihng open heart surgery
that might take
if one prayed tough enough.
And yet I demand,
even in prayer,
that I am not a thief,
a mugger of need,
and that your heart survive
on its own,
belonging only to itself,
whole, entirely whole,
and workable
in its dark cavern under your ribs.

I pray it will know truth,
if truth catches in its cup
and yet I pray, as a child would,
that the surgery take.

I dream it is taking.
Next I dream the love is swallowing itself.
Next I dream the love is made of glass,
glass coming through the telephone
that is breaking slowly,
day by day, into my ear.
Next I dream that I put on the love
like a lifejacket and we float,
jacket and I,
we bounce on that priest-blue.
We are as light as a cat's ear
and it is safe,
safe far too long!
And I awaken quickly and go to the opposite window
and peer down at the moon in the pond
and know that beauty has walked over my head,
into this bedroom and out,
flowing out through the window screen,
dropping deep into the water
to hide.

I will observe the daisies
fade and dry up
wuntil they become flour,
snowing themselves onto the table
beside the drone of the refrigerator,
beside the radio playing Frankie
(as often as FM will allow)
snowing lightly, a tremor sinking from the ceiling--
as twenty-five years split from my side
like a growth that I sliced off like a melanoma.

It is six P.M. as I water these tiny weeds
and their little half-life,
their numbered days
that raged like a secret radio,
recalling love that I picked up innocently,
yet guiltily,
as my five-year-old daughter
picked gum off the sidewalk
and it became suddenly an elastic miracle.

For me it was love found
like a diamond
where carrots grow--
the glint of diamond on a plane wing,
meaning:  DANGER!  THICK ICE!
but the good crunch of that orange,
the diamond, the carrot,
both with four million years of resurrecting dirt,
and the love,
although Adam did not know the word,
the love of Adam
obeying his sudden gift.

You, who sought me for nine years,
in stories made up in front of your naked mirror
or walking through rooms of fog women,
you trying to forget the mother
who built guilt with the lumber of a locked door
as she sobbed her soured mild and fed you loss
through the keyhole,
you who wrote out your own birth
and built it with your own poems,
your own lumber, your own keyhole,
into the trunk and leaves of your manhood,
you, who fell into my words, years
before you fell into me (the other,
both the Camp Director and the camper),
you who baited your hook with wide-awake dreams,
and calls and letters and once a luncheon,
and twice a reading by me for you.
But I wouldn't!

Yet this year,
yanking off all past years,
I took the bait
and was pulled upward, upward,
into the sky and was held by the sun--
the quick wonder of its yellow lap--
and became a woman who learned her own shin
and dug into her soul and found it full,
and you became a man who learned his won skin
and dug into his manhood, his humanhood
and found you were as real as a baker
or a seer
and we became a home,
up into the elbows of each other's soul,
without knowing--
an invisible purchase--
that inhabits our house forever.

We were
blessed by the House-Die
by the altar of the color T.V.
and somehow managed to make a tiny marriage,
a tiny marriage
called belief,
as in the child's belief in the tooth fairy,
so close to absolute,
so daft within a year or two.
The daisies have come
for the last time.
And I who have,
each year of my life,
spoken to the tooth fairy,
believing in her,
even when I was her,
am helpless to stop your daisies from dying,
although your voice cries into the telephone:
Marry me!  Marry me!
and my voice speaks onto these keys tonight:
The love is in dark trouble!
The love is starting to die,
right now--
we are in the process of it.
The empty process of it.

I see two deaths,
and the two men plod toward the mortuary of my heart,
and though I willed one away in court today
and I whisper dreams and birthdays into the other,
they both die like waves breaking over me
and I am drowning a little,
but always swimming
among the pillows and stones of the breakwater.
And though your daisies are an unwanted death,
I wade through the smell of their cancer
and recognize the prognosis,
its cartful of loss--

I say now,
you gave what you could.
It was quite a ferris wheel to spin on!
and the dead city of my marriage
seems less important
than the fact that the daisies came weekly,
over and over,
likes kisses that can't stop themselves.

There sit two deaths on November 5th, 1973.
Let one be forgotten--
Bury it!  Wall it up!
But let me not forget the man
of my child-like flowers
though he sinks into the fog of Lake Superior,
he remains, his fingers the marvel
of fourth of July sparklers,
his furious ice cream cones of licking,
remains to cool my forehead with a washcloth
when I sweat into the bathtub of his being.

For the rest that is left:
name it gentle,
as gentle as radishes inhabiting
their short life in the earth,
name it gentle,
gentle as old friends waving so long at the window,
or in the drive,
name it gentle as maple wings singing
themselves upon the pond outside,
as sensuous as the mother-yellow in the pond,
that night that it was ours,
when our bodies floated and bumped
in moon water and the cicadas
called out like tongues.

Let such as this
be resurrected in all men
whenever they mold their days and nights
as when for twenty-five days and nights you molded mine
and planted the seed that dives into my God
and will do so forever
no matter how often I sweep the floor.
Kyle Janisch Oct 2016
As time goes on, I can feel it leaving me behind. Caught in-between the rift I struggle to tell what is real and what is not. The world is a blur as I move at the speed of light. I am frightened that I will never catch up. I am frightened that I will never be able to tell what is real and what is not ever again. Why is this happening? Why am I losing my grip on reality? My days grow shorter and it’s impossible to tell when they begin. Immense pressure placed upon my head. It is being crushed by the rifts of time and soon I will perish without even knowing why. Time has consumed me with intentions of never letting go. Trapped in-between when I only wish to grow.
brea Mar 2014
creeping fingers,
crawling hands,
innocent at first--
innocent? not likely--
malicious more like.
the purity of your
polystyrene soul,
the unremitting cleanse,
the repent(the chase),
it's your lifeline. the
shocked look, saccharine power
held over tiny fawn--
****** clarity as they might,
oh dear incubus.
the power to end all
held in tiny fists.
this births not demon babes,
but a century of fear
and inadequacy.
downy kittens hardwired with
an inevitable self-destruct.
bring the world to it's knees,
incessant, indefatigable pathogen,
taking grasp of neurons, synapses.
good intentions yearned for the green light
while yours-- red as the blood rose
manifests in lovely lips
for eternity stained with **** wine--
the wine you brewed, you fermented
in the cellar of ******* and hatred.
the father, the son, and the holy spirit,
and the things that lie between.
blessed fingers, blessed breath
freezes as the stiff arms of your diocese.
hushed catholic whisper, angels to never
nearly achieve their wholly holy grail--
your kryptonite. secret looks, hasty deliverance,
catharsis.
There's a rift between the dead and me,
Sinking and falling faster into the dark,
The closeness of it seems sickening,
I can feel the teeth of the vehement shark,
Closing in around my throat,
I feel lured and enticed to feel the pain,
Is it wrong to want to feel something,
Is it wrong to be this insane?
veritas Oct 2018
there's a rift in your heart (as there
are in the hardest of hearts)
and it festers like an unsolicited wound,
inflamed by the ire from which your deeply-seeded roots grew, from which you longed to escape but could never run from  ,
but leave it, now.
lay it low,
in a river of forgiveness dispel your grievances
and come up, come again, unbowed of burden,
lest it finds its way downstream to you once more.
read a book a year ago about a sad boy. wrote this.
aj Jul 2014
i reach out, fingers stretched and aching;
across galaxies, my bones are breaking.

i spill my spacial despair into the cosmos,
and pour my tears into Andromeda, and think "almost."

my binary star, a galaxy gushes past my lips.
when i reach you, i will know that our love has eclipsed.
:(
pat pakla Jun 2012
Fatima Latima**

I had wished I had no gift of sight
That the worst I could endure is hear you speak
And not snapshot the footfall of your gradation

You may not be a thief
Nor ****, daughter of the dayspring
But definitely my heart you stole

I speak of the daughter of Arabia  
Aesthetically, she rocks
The queen of the pilgrim sands
And aeonian desert stones

Beyond the hijab
Artistically knead with consummate craft
Like the relics of Mecca
Blest by the prophet’s bones
The blessed

I see torches
Beaming with intelligence
Within those mascaras
Exquisitely trimmed and vibrant
A lulu class botany

She fixes a searching gaze
As she saunters close
And the stride and tread
Beats a drum entrancing
Soothed in her solacing spell
I give in, to her lullaby

She halts her perambulation
Stands magniloquent and stupefy
Like some pop diva magazine pose
Or Victorian secret shot
A tactical derangement of her gluteals
As she rests her palm in its cleft
I feel contractions, my dartos muscles

The blew of summertime
Gently beats her exceptional form
Her belt submerge her thigh crevice
Cleft by the sundered rift of fleshy fat
Built by the dainties and delicacies
Seasoned by the finest Arabian chef
As her silken dress slithers and gowns
Under the breeze bulging and blooming
Like a rose blossom or sunflower fore

As she bends down
To assuage the burlesque
The sun specula lilts her sensational
Her smile apologetic bids me stillness
I am caught staring
Guzzling down her scent and
Feasting on empty imaginations
Of What If that accentuate the mind and
Speed a hormone
And I pray I sin no more
Next time we meet and I see her again

For I am but a writer
Learning to use my pen and paper
And hope you but forgive
My linguistic impotence
When I make my confession
Employing too plain a language
When I say thus;

Her smile is classical
Her walk magical
Her beauty celestial
Her stride sensational
Her religion ethical
Her character spotless
And that leaves me breathless

And forgive if I step on broken toe
And try speak of the unspoken
Her ****** is sacred
Her being a type that dresses up
In the milliards of brutes dressing down
And shamelessly style it fashion

I must see a priest
One confession I ought to utter
And even vociferate abroad
For once I had fallen in love
With an Arabian Beautie
A ****** of Mecca.
Timothy Clarke Mar 2011
She’s the daughter I never had,
All grown now, I am not her Dad.
All her childhood, I did not see
And yet, somehow, she seems like me.

She’s the daughter I never knew,
Only close to her a time or two.
Of my influence she's completely free,
And yet, somehow, she thinks like me.

But now I have a fleeting gift,
Of time with her to fill the rift.
Paths long parted finally blend,
I believe that she is now my friend.

Even if we had never met,
Her path to success has long been set.
She needs nothing that I have to give,
To live the life she is going to live.

And so, although I’ll never be a Dad,
I hope to provide what she has not had,
Shade underneath my family tree,
And a chance to know someone like me.
Of the many gifts that my new wife brings to my life, the most precious are her four daughters... Her oldest is a wonderful young woman ready to start a life of her own.
Locksley Hall

by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Comrades, leave me here a little, while as yet 't is early morn:
Leave me here, and when you want me, sound upon the bugle-horn.

'T is the place, and all around it, as of old, the curlews call,
Dreary gleams about the moorland flying over Locksley Hall;

Locksley Hall, that in the distance overlooks the sandy tracts,
And the hollow ocean-ridges roaring into cataracts.

Many a night from yonder ivied casement, ere I went to rest,
Did I look on great Orion sloping slowly to the West.

Many a night I saw the Pleiads, rising thro' the mellow shade,
Glitter like a swarm of fire-flies tangled in a silver braid.

Here about the beach I wander'd, nourishing a youth sublime
With the fairy tales of science, and the long result of Time;

When the centuries behind me like a fruitful land reposed;
When I clung to all the present for the promise that it closed:

When I dipt into the future far as human eye could see;
Saw the Vision of the world and all the wonder that would be.--

In the Spring a fuller crimson comes upon the robin's breast;
In the Spring the wanton lapwing gets himself another crest;

In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnish'd dove;
In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.

Then her cheek was pale and thinner than should be for one so young,
And her eyes on all my motions with a mute observance hung.

And I said, "My cousin Amy, speak, and speak the truth to me,
Trust me, cousin, all the current of my being sets to thee."

On her pallid cheek and forehead came a colour and a light,
As I have seen the rosy red flushing in the northern night.

And she turn'd--her ***** shaken with a sudden storm of sighs--
All the spirit deeply dawning in the dark of hazel eyes--

Saying, "I have hid my feelings, fearing they should do me wrong";
Saying, "Dost thou love me, cousin?" weeping, "I have loved thee long."

Love took up the glass of Time, and turn'd it in his glowing hands;
Every moment, lightly shaken, ran itself in golden sands.

Love took up the harp of Life, and smote on all the chords with might;
Smote the chord of Self, that, trembling, pass'd in music out of sight.

Many a morning on the moorland did we hear the copses ring,
And her whisper throng'd my pulses with the fulness of the Spring.

Many an evening by the waters did we watch the stately ships,
And our spirits rush'd together at the touching of the lips.

O my cousin, shallow-hearted! O my Amy, mine no more!
O the dreary, dreary moorland! O the barren, barren shore!

Falser than all fancy fathoms, falser than all songs have sung,
Puppet to a father's threat, and servile to a shrewish tongue!

Is it well to wish thee happy?--having known me--to decline
On a range of lower feelings and a narrower heart than mine!

Yet it shall be; thou shalt lower to his level day by day,
What is fine within thee growing coarse to sympathize with clay.

As the husband is, the wife is: thou art mated with a clown,
And the grossness of his nature will have weight to drag thee down.

He will hold thee, when his passion shall have spent its novel force,
Something better than his dog, a little dearer than his horse.

What is this? his eyes are heavy; think not they are glazed with wine.
Go to him, it is thy duty, kiss him, take his hand in thine.

It may be my lord is weary, that his brain is overwrought:
Soothe him with thy finer fancies, touch him with thy lighter thought.

He will answer to the purpose, easy things to understand--
Better thou wert dead before me, tho' I slew thee with my hand!

Better thou and I were lying, hidden from the heart's disgrace,
Roll'd in one another's arms, and silent in a last embrace.

Cursed be the social wants that sin against the strength of youth!
Cursed be the social lies that warp us from the living truth!

Cursed be the sickly forms that err from honest Nature's rule!
Cursed be the gold that gilds the straiten'd forehead of the fool!

Well--'t is well that I should bluster!--Hadst thou less unworthy proved--
Would to God--for I had loved thee more than ever wife was loved.

Am I mad, that I should cherish that which bears but bitter fruit?
I will pluck it from my *****, tho' my heart be at the root.

Never, tho' my mortal summers to such length of years should come
As the many-winter'd crow that leads the clanging rookery home.

Where is comfort? in division of the records of the mind?
Can I part her from herself, and love her, as I knew her, kind?

I remember one that perish'd; sweetly did she speak and move;
Such a one do I remember, whom to look at was to love.

Can I think of her as dead, and love her for the love she bore?
No--she never loved me truly; love is love for evermore.

Comfort? comfort scorn'd of devils! this is truth the poet sings,
That a sorrow's crown of sorrow is remembering happier things.

Drug thy memories, lest thou learn it, lest thy heart be put to proof,
In the dead unhappy night, and when the rain is on the roof.

Like a dog, he hunts in dreams, and thou art staring at the wall,
Where the dying night-lamp flickers, and the shadows rise and fall.

Then a hand shall pass before thee, pointing to his drunken sleep,
To thy widow'd marriage-pillows, to the tears that thou wilt weep.

Thou shalt hear the "Never, never," whisper'd by the phantom years,
And a song from out the distance in the ringing of thine ears;

And an eye shall vex thee, looking ancient kindness on thy pain.
Turn thee, turn thee on thy pillow; get thee to thy rest again.

Nay, but Nature brings thee solace; for a tender voice will cry.
'T is a purer life than thine, a lip to drain thy trouble dry.

Baby lips will laugh me down; my latest rival brings thee rest.
Baby fingers, waxen touches, press me from the mother's breast.

O, the child too clothes the father with a dearness not his due.
Half is thine and half is his: it will be worthy of the two.

O, I see thee old and formal, fitted to thy petty part,
With a little hoard of maxims preaching down a daughter's heart.

"They were dangerous guides the feelings--she herself was not exempt--
Truly, she herself had suffer'd"--Perish in thy self-contempt!

Overlive it--lower yet--be happy! wherefore should I care?
I myself must mix with action, lest I wither by despair.

What is that which I should turn to, lighting upon days like these?
Every door is barr'd with gold, and opens but to golden keys.

Every gate is throng'd with suitors, all the markets overflow.
I have but an angry fancy; what is that which I should do?

I had been content to perish, falling on the foeman's ground,
When the ranks are roll'd in vapour, and the winds are laid with sound.

But the jingling of the guinea helps the hurt that Honour feels,
And the nations do but murmur, snarling at each other's heels.

Can I but relive in sadness? I will turn that earlier page.
Hide me from my deep emotion, O thou wondrous Mother-Age!

Make me feel the wild pulsation that I felt before the strife,
When I heard my days before me, and the tumult of my life;

Yearning for the large excitement that the coming years would yield,
Eager-hearted as a boy when first he leaves his father's field,

And at night along the dusky highway near and nearer drawn,
Sees in heaven the light of London flaring like a dreary dawn;

And his spirit leaps within him to be gone before him then,
Underneath the light he looks at, in among the throngs of men:

Men, my brothers, men the workers, ever reaping something new:
That which they have done but earnest of the things that they shall do:

For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see,
Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be;

Saw the heavens fill with commerce, argosies of magic sails,
Pilots of the purple twilight dropping down with costly bales;

Heard the heavens fill with shouting, and there rain'd a ghastly dew
From the nations' airy navies grappling in the central blue;

Far along the world-wide whisper of the south-wind rushing warm,
With the standards of the peoples plunging thro' the thunder-storm;

Till the war-drum throbb'd no longer, and the battle-flags were furl'd
In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world.

There the common sense of most shall hold a fretful realm in awe,
And the kindly earth shall slumber, lapt in universal law.

So I triumph'd ere my passion sweeping thro' me left me dry,
Left me with the palsied heart, and left me with the jaundiced eye;

Eye, to which all order festers, all things here are out of joint:
Science moves, but slowly, slowly, creeping on from point to point:

Slowly comes a hungry people, as a lion, creeping nigher,
Glares at one that nods and winks behind a slowly-dying fire.

Yet I doubt not thro' the ages one increasing purpose runs,
And the thoughts of men are widen'd with the process of the suns.

What is that to him that reaps not harvest of his youthful joys,
Tho' the deep heart of existence beat for ever like a boy's?

Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers, and I linger on the shore,
And the individual withers, and the world is more and more.

Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers, and he bears a laden breast,
Full of sad experience, moving toward the stillness of his rest.

Hark, my merry comrades call me, sounding on the bugle-horn,
They to whom my foolish passion were a target for their scorn:

Shall it not be scorn to me to harp on such a moulder'd string?
I am shamed thro' all my nature to have loved so slight a thing.

Weakness to be wroth with weakness! woman's pleasure, woman's pain--
Nature made them blinder motions bounded in a shallower brain:

Woman is the lesser man, and all thy passions, match'd with mine,
Are as moonlight unto sunlight, and as water unto wine--

Here at least, where nature sickens, nothing. Ah, for some retreat
Deep in yonder shining Orient, where my life began to beat;

Where in wild Mahratta-battle fell my father evil-starr'd,--
I was left a trampled orphan, and a selfish uncle's ward.

Or to burst all links of habit--there to wander far away,
On from island unto island at the gateways of the day.

Larger constellations burning, mellow moons and happy skies,
Breadths of tropic shade and palms in cluster, knots of Paradise.

Never comes the trader, never floats an European flag,
Slides the bird o'er lustrous woodland, swings the trailer from the crag;

Droops the heavy-blossom'd bower, hangs the heavy-fruited tree--
Summer isles of Eden lying in dark-purple spheres of sea.

There methinks would be enjoyment more than in this march of mind,
In the steamship, in the railway, in the thoughts that shake mankind.

There the passions cramp'd no longer shall have scope and breathing space;
I will take some savage woman, she shall rear my dusky race.

Iron-jointed, supple-sinew'd, they shall dive, and they shall run,
Catch the wild goat by the hair, and hurl their lances in the sun;

Whistle back the parrot's call, and leap the rainbows of the brooks,
Not with blinded eyesight poring over miserable books--

Fool, again the dream, the fancy! but I know my words are wild,
But I count the gray barbarian lower than the Christian child.

I, to herd with narrow foreheads, vacant of our glorious gains,
Like a beast with lower pleasures, like a beast with lower pains!

Mated with a squalid savage--what to me were sun or clime?
I the heir of all the ages, in the foremost files of time--

I that rather held it better men should perish one by one,
Than that earth should stand at gaze like Joshua's moon in Ajalon!

Not in vain the distance beacons. Forward, forward let us range,
Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change.

Thro' the shadow of the globe we sweep into the younger day;
Better fifty years of Europe than a cycle of Cathay.

Mother-Age (for mine I knew not) help me as when life begun:
Rift the hills, and roll the waters, flash the lightnings, weigh the Sun.

O, I see the crescent promise of my spirit hath not set.
Ancient founts of inspiration well thro' all my fancy yet.

Howsoever these things be, a long farewell to Locksley Hall!
Now for me the woods may wither, now for me the roof-tree fall.

Comes a vapour from the margin, blackening over heath and holt,
Cramming all the blast before it, in its breast a thunderbolt.

Let it fall on Locksley Hall, with rain or hail, or fire or snow;
For the mighty wind arises, roaring seaward, and I go.
impale olympic skies! their pacific
avarice, turbulence, mai-tai-dyed
oxycontin contradictions pull out
deep convictions to rift meteoric
and fall apart.
happiness apart.
CAL Dec 2018
i often wonder why it is i can’t dream
i can sleep just fine
but i’m always tired
i sleep pitch black
like a smoker’s lungs or like the rift
my mind blank and open, empty
dead asleep
dead still, awake
tired and fatigued
unconscious with open eyes
i hear little monsters in my head
chanting
“sleep, sleep lion boy”
their unholy mother sings
“rest up, lion blood”
and they stop as soon as i close my eyes
as soon as i pass into that void
i cross a line into the abyss
i can no longer think
do i even breathe
sleep now lion-hearted child
i want to dream
i want your pixie themed, technicolor movie theater dreams
i don’t miss my rusted monochrome nighterrors
i just want back those memories i never had
blazing beaches, my arms tanned and strong
but all i know is my body pale and sick
all i know is i’m awake
and i don’t think i want to be
sorry i havent posted for awhile, got busy then school let out for break

— The End —