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Ron Sanders Feb 15
(Glade, World, Master, Boy, Hero)

                                                 GLADE

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

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

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

                                               WORLD

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                              MA­STER

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

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

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

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

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

                                                  BOY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                HERO

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

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

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

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







Copyright 2020 by Ron Sanders.

Contact:  ronsandersartofprose(at)yahoo(dot)com
Sorry about the ghastly copy. This system makes graceful formatting impossible.
howard brace Feb 2012
Inconspicuous, his presence noted only by the obscurity and the ever growing number of spent cigarette stubs that littered the ground.  It had been a long day and the rain, relentless in its tenacity had little intention of stopping, baleful clouds still  hung heavy, dominating the lateness of the afternoon sky, a rain laden skyline broken only by smoke filled chimney pots and the tangled snarl of corroded television aerials.

     The once busy street was fast emptying now, the lure of shop windows no longer enticed the casual browser as local traders closed their premises to the oncoming night, solitary lampposts curved hazily into the distance, casting little more than insipid pools mirrored in the gutter below, only the occasional stranger scurrying home on a bleak, rain swept afternoon, the hurried slap of wet leather soles on the pavement, the sightless umbrellas, the infrequent rumble of a half filled bus, hell-bent on its way to oblivion.

     In the near distance as the working day ended, a sudden emergence of factory workers told Beamish it was 5-o'clock, most would be hurrying home to a hot meal, while others, for a quick drink perhaps before making the same old sorry excuse... for Jack, the greasy spoon would be closing about now, denying him the comfort of a badly needed cuppa' and stale cheese sandwich.  A subtle legacy of lunchtime fish and chips still lingered in the air, Jack's stomach rumbled, there was little chance of a fish supper for Beamish tonight, it protested again... louder.

     From beneath the eaves of the building opposite several pigeons broke cover, startled by the rattle as a shopkeeper struggled to close the canvas awning above his shop window.  Narrowly missing Beamish they flew anxiously over the rooftops, memories of the blitz sprang to mind as Jack stepped smartly to one side, he stamped his feet... it dashed a little of the weather from his raincoat, just as the rain dashed a little of the pigeons' anxiety from the pavement... the day couldn't get much worse if it tried.  Shielding his face, Jack struck the Ronson one more time and cupped the freshly lit cigarette between his hands, it was the only source of heat to be had that day... and still it rained.

     'By Appointment to Certain Personages...' the letter heading rang out loudly... 'Jack Beamish ~ Private Investigator...' a throat choking mouthful by any stretch of the imagination, thought Jack and shot every vestige of credulity plummeting straight through the office window and amidst a fanfare of trumpet voluntary, nominate itself for a prodigious award in the New Year Honours list.   Having formally served in a professional capacity for a well known purveyor of pickled condiments, who  incidentally, brandished the same patronage emblazoned upon their extensive range of relish as the one Jack had more recently purloined from them... a paid commission no less, which by Jack's certain understanding had made him, albeit fleeting in nature, a professional consultant of said company... and consequently, if they could flaunt the auspicious emblem, then according to Jack's infallible logic, so could Jack.  

     The recently appropriated letterhead possessed certain distinction... in much the same way, Jack reasoned, that a blank piece of paper did not... and whereas correspondence bearing the heading 'By Appointment' may not exactly strike terror into the hearts of man... unlike a really strong pickled onion, it nevertheless made people think twice before playing him for the fool, which sadly, Jack had to concede, they still invariably did... and he would often catch them wagging an accusing finger or two in his direction with such platitudes as... "watch where you put your foot", they'd whisper, "that Jack's a right Shamus...", and when you'd misplaced your footing as many times as Jack had, then he reasoned, that by default the celebrated Shamus must have landed himself in more piles of indiscretion than he would readily care to admit, but that wouldn't be quite accurate either, in Jack's line of work it was the malefactor that actually dropped him in them more often than not.

     A cold shiver suddenly ran down his spine, another quickly followed as a spurt of icy water from a broken rain spout spattered across the back of his neck, he grimaced... Jack's expression spoke volumes as he took one final pull from his half soaked cigarette and flicked it, amid an eruption of sparks against the adjacent brick wall.  Sinking further into the shadow he tipped his fedora against the oncoming rain, then, digging both hands deep within his pockets, he huddled behind the upturned collar of his gabardine... watching.

     It was times such as these when Jack's mind would slip back, in much the same way you might slip back on a discarded banana peel, when a matter of some consequence, or in particular this case the pavement, would suddenly leap up from behind and give the back of Jack's head a resoundingly good slapping and tell him to "stop loafing around in office hours... or else", then drag him, albeit kicking and screaming back into the 20th century.  This intellectual assault and battery re-focused Jack's mind wonderfully as he whiled away the long weary hours until his next cigarette; cup of tea, or the last bus home, his capacity to endure such mind boggling tedium called for nothing less than sheer ******-mindedness and very little else... Beamish had long suspected that he possessed all the necessary qualifications.  

     Jack had come a long way since the early days, it had been a long haul but he'd finally arrived there in the end... and managed to pick up quite a few ***** looks along the way.  Whilst he was with the Police Constabulary... and it was only fair to stress the word 'with', as opposed to the word 'in'... although the more Jack considered, he had been 'with' the arresting officer, held 'in' the local Bridewell... detained at Her Majesties pleasure while assisting the boys in blue with their enquiries over a minor infringement of some local by-law that currently had quite slipped his mind at that moment.  Throughout this enforced leisure period he'd managed to read the entire abridged editions of Kilroy and other expansive works of graffiti exhibited in what passed locally as the next best thing to the Tate Gallery, whereupon it hadn't taken Jack very long to realise that it was always a good place to start if you wanted free breakfast, in fact the weeks bill of fare was tastefully displayed in vivid, polychromatic colour on the wall opposite... you just had to be au-fait with braille.
                            
     No matter how industrious Beamish laboured to rake the dirt there always appeared to be a dire shortage of gullible clients for Jack to squeeze, what would roughly translate as an honest crust out of, and although his financial retainer was highly competitive he understood that potential clients found it bewildering when grappling with the unplumbed depths of his monthly expense account, which would tend to fluctuate with the same unpredictability as the British weather, the rest of Jack's agenda revolved around a little shady moonlighting... in fact he'd happily consider anything to offset the remotest possibility of financial delinquency... short of extortion... which by the strangest twist was the very word prospective clients would cry while Jack beavered around the office with dust-pan and brush sweeping any concerns they may have had frantically under the carpet regarding all culpability of his extra-curricular monthly stipend... and they should remain assured at all times... as they dug deep and fished for their cheque books, and simply look upon it as kneading dough, which eerily enough was exactly the thick wedge of buttered granary that Jack had every intention of carving.

     Were there ever the slightest possibility that a day could be so utterly wretched, then today was that day, Jack felt a certain empathy as he merged with his surroundings... at one with nature as it were.  The rain, a timpani on the metal dustbin lids, by the side of which Beamish had taken up vigil, also taking up vigil and in search of a morsel was the stray mongrel, this was the third time now that he'd returned, the same apprehensive wag, yet still the same hopeful look of expectation in his eyes, a brief but friendly companion who paid more attention to Jack's left trouser leg than anything that could be had from nosing around the dustbins that day... some days you're the dog, scowled Beamish as he shook his trouser leg... and some days the lamppost, Jack's foot swung out playfully, keeping his new friend's incontinence at a safe distance, feigning indignance  the scruffy mongrel shook himself defiantly from nose to tail, a distinct odour of wet dog filled the air as an abundance of spent rainwater flew in all directions.   Pricking one ear he looked accusingly at Jack before turning and snuffled off, his nose resolutely to the pavement and diligently, picking out the few diluted scents still remaining, the poor little stalwart renewed its search for scraps, or making his way perhaps to some dry seclusion known only to itself.
  
     Two hours later and... SPLOSH, a puddle poured itself through the front door of the nearest Public House... SPLOSH, the puddle squelched over to the payphone... SPLOSH, then, fumbling for small change dialled and pressed button 'A'..., then button 'B'... then started all over again amid a flurry of precipitation... SPLASH.  The puddle floundered to the bar and ordered itself a drink, then ebbed back to the payphone again... the local taxi company doggedly refused to answer... finally, wallowing over to the window the puddle drifted up against a warm radiator amidst a cloud of humidity and came to rest... flotsam, cast upon the shore of contentment, the puddle sighed contentedly... the Landlady watched this anomaly... suspiciously.

     The puddle's finely tuned perception soon got to grips with the unhurried banter and muffled gossip drifting along the bar, having little else to loose, other than what could still be wrung from his clothing... Beamish, working on the principle that a little eavesdropping was his stock-in-trade engaged instinct into overdrive and casually rippled in their general direction...  They were clearly regulars by the way one of them belched in a well rehearsed, taken-a-back sort of way as Jack took stock of the situation and was now at some pains to ingratiate himself into their exclusive midst and attempt several friendly, yet relevant questions pertinent to his enquiries... all of which were skillfully deflected with more than friendly, yet totally irrelevant answers pertinent to theirs'... and would Jack care for a game of dominoes', they enquired... if so, would he be good enough to pay the refundable deposit, as by common consent it just so happened to be his turn...  Jack graciously declined this generous offer, as the obliging Landlady, just as graciously, cancelled the one shilling returnable deposit from the cash register, such was the flow of light conversation that evening... they didn't call him Lucky Jack for nothing... discouraged, Beamish turned back to the bar and reached for his glass... to which one of his recent companions, and yet again just as graciously, had taken the trouble to drink for him... the Landlady gave Jack a knowing look, Beamish returned the heartfelt sentiment and ordered one more pint.

     From the licenced premises opposite, a myriad of jostling customers plied through the door, business was picking up... the sudden influx of punters rapidly persuaded Beamish to retire from the bar and find a vacant table.  Sitting, he removed several discarded crisp packets from the centre of the table only to discover a freshly vacated ashtray below... by sleight of hand Jack's Ronson appeared... as he lit the cigarette the fragile smoke curled blue as it rose... influenced by subtle caprice, it joined others and formed a horizontal curtain dividing the room, a delicate, undulating layer held between two conflicting forces.

     The possibility of a free drink soon attracted the attention of a local bar fly, who, hovering in the near vicinity promptly landed in Jack's beer, Beamish declined this generous offer as being far too nutritious and with the corner of yesterdays beer mat, flipped the offending organism from the top of his glass, carefully inspecting his drink for debris as he did so.

     A sudden draught and clip of stiletto heels as the side door opened caused Beamish to turn as a double shadow slipped discreetly into the friendly Snug... a little adulterous intimacy on an otherwise cheerless evening.  The faceless man, concealed beneath a fedora and the upturned collar of his overcoat, the surreptitious lady friend, decked out in damp cony, cheap perfume and a surfeit of bling proclaimed a not too infrequent assignation, he'd seen it all before... the over attentive manner and the band of white, Sun-starved skin recently hidden behind a now absent wedding token, ordinarily it was the sort of assignment Jack didn't much care for... the discreet tail, the candid snapshot through half drawn curtains... and the all too familiar steak tartare... for the all too familiar black eye.

     To the untrained eye, the prospect of Jack's long anticipated supper was rapidly dwindling, when it suddenly focused with renewed vigour upon the contents of a pickled egg jar he'd observed earlier that evening, lurking on the back counter, his enthusiasm swiftly diminished however as the belching customer procured the final two specimens from the jar and proceeded to demolish them.  Who, Jack reflected, after being stood out in the rain all day, had egg all over his face now... and who, he reflected deeper, still had an empty stomach.  Disillusioned, Jack tipped back his glass and considered a further sortie with the taxicab company.

     "FIVE-BOB"!!! Jack screamed... you could have shredded the air with a cheese grater... hurtling into the kerb like a fairground attraction came flying past the chequered flag at a record breaking 99 in Jack's top 100 most not wanted list of things to do that day... and that the cabby should think himself fortunate they weren't both stretched flat on a marble slab, "exploding tyres" Jack spluttered, dribbling down his chin, were enough to give anyone a coronary... further broadsides of neurotic ambiance filled the cab as the driver, miffed at the prospect of missing snooker night out with the lads, considered charging extra for the additional space Jack's profanity was taking...

     And what part of 'Drive-Carefully', fumed Beamish, did the cabby simply not understand, that pavements were there to be bypassed, 'Nay Circumvented', preferably on the left... and not veered into, wildly on the front axle... an eerie premonition of 'jemais-vu' perched and ready to strike like a disembodied Jiminy Cricket on Jack's left shoulder, looking to stick its own two-penny worth in at the 'Standing-Room-Only' arrangements in the overcrowded cab... and at what further point, Jack shrieked, eyes leaping from his head as he lurched forward, shaking his fist through the sliding glass partition, had the cabbie failed to grasp the importance of the word 'Steering-Wheel...' someone wanted horse whipping, and as far as Beamish was concerned the sole contender was the cab driver...

     In having a somewhat sedate and unruffled disposition it had fallen to Beamish... as befalls all great leaders in times of adversity, to single handedly take the bull by the horns, so to speak and at great personal cost, alert the unwary passing motorist...  Waving his arms about like a man possessed whilst performing acrobatic evolutions in the centre of the road as the cabby changed the wheel came whizzing around the corner at a back breaking 98 on Jack's ever growing list... and why, Jack puzzled, why had they all lowered their side windows and gestured back at him in semaphore..?  Rallying to its aid, Jack's head and shoulders now joined his shaking fist through the sliding glass partition and into the cabby's face, "Who" Beamish screeched with renewed vigour ,"Who Was The Man", Jack wanted to know... *"a
Mateuš Conrad May 2017
alternatively known as: trying to sober up... but keep on drinking.

i remember this time,
when a girl i was ******* slapped me
silly...
    because i assumely lied to her...
about getting a university degree...
and oh, what a pain that slap was,
given the ****** that came after.
throw a ******* penny into the fountain
for the last ten minutes i was trying
to sober-up,
      and yes, i was slapping myself
in the face... over 6ft...
     and weighing over 100 kilograms...
a slap by me... i felt it on my cheek...
i almost lost a tooth...
and i had a case for stating: my neck!
my neck!
         but you know what was
agry. puzzlig, painful?
        it wasn't the memory of being
slapped by a russian girlfriend,
and then her fetish for mirrors,
and how she loved looking at her herself
getting ****** in the mirrors...
oh... what an image to glare into...
            no, but i was slapped on cheek by her...
so today, i was reading the newspaper,
meaning: it was a *sunday
...
    i started drinking, and then slapping
myself in the face...
      but that wasn't painful...
    what was? the magazine read the headline:
100 albums you have to hear
before you die...
     in the live rubric:
     stop making sense - talking heads,
mtv unplugged in new york - nirvana,
  1969 the velvet underground - the velvet undergroeund,
live at massey hall 1971 - neil young,
live! - bob marley and the wailers...
  now... slapping yourself in the face
to rememeber an ex-girlfriend is past painful...
it's just itchy...
         it's just an idea of a mosquito...
    you get used to it, like love might be compared to malaria,
you can take a hundred girls slapping
you in the face,
   after which you start slapping yourself
to estimate that 100 girls could slap you and
that you'd still **** them...
  what's painful? the 100 album playlist...
   what the **** happened to tom waits'
  live album         glitter & doom (live)...
which is akin to the doors', roadhouse blues
live...     i really would prefer to slap myself toward
a 1000 times silly... than excuse tom waits' album
not being mentioned in the century of
worthwhile albums...
    come on... live circus?!
          come on!              goin' out west?!
goin' out west live, is as good as the doors'
version of roadhouse blues!
the studio version doesn't match-up to it,
not even half as much!
      sometimes recording music, live,
      propagates the need for a judas...
                    you really need a thief somtimes...
i mean, sometimes the art-work comes with the audience,
rather than "claustrophobic", locked in a recording studio;
it's basically the energy, of the immediacy of feedback.
A Mareship Jul 2014
gay
The English vice,
Some Etonian curse –
Set down in grass
And purple verse,

Lavatory bred
With ransacked blood,
Skin slapping and
With a falling thud –

Takes boys at childhood,
Wishes them away,
With promises of popper fuelled buffets,

And poisons them with
Vice and virus red,
And sees them unmarried
Giving head.

I don’t regret a single thing I am,
I’ve tried it out
And can’t abide the sham –

I’ll **** men
And make them beg for more,
I’ll scrabble for their love upon the floor,

I’ll love men
And love will love me too,
I’ll love for love’s own sake
And when I’m through

I’ll die and I’ll be thankful that your hate
Never made me beg that I was straight.
I don't generally write on the topic of being gay, although I write a lot about boyfriends etc.  Being gay is not really an issue for me, but every now and then someone will make a comment that will ******* enrage me, hence this poem. Let's stick together, doesn't matter who we fall in love with, let's not be ashamed of anything. x
Turtle Eyes Aug 2014
I want to sneak up behind you and grab you
I want to slowly unbutton you blouse as I kiss the back of your neck
I want to undo your bra, exposing your perfect *******
I want to kiss your neck and **** on your ear as I slide one finger up and down your ***** slit and oinch your rock hard *******
I want to rub your ****, making your body vibrate
I want to **** tease your ****** with my tongue before ******* your amazing **** as I slide my finger slowly inside you
I want to lay you down and feed you my throbbing **** as i continue to slide my finger deeper and faster, rubbing your **** until you explode
I want to rub your juices all over your ******* and areola and ******* as I continue to slide my **** down your throat until I  explode down your throat
I want to slide between your legs and seperate your ***** lips with my fingers before I slide my tongue slowly inside you
I want to continue to lick your sweet *****, making your body quiver and your back arch as I alternate between licking, lapping and *******
I want to slide one finger inside your tight *****, feeling your muscles tighten around my finger and one finger in your tight *** as I focus all my attention on your **** with my masterful tongue, lapping soft and slow, then hard and fast until I feel you ready to explode
I want to **** your **** just as you begin to ****** and your bury my head into your sweetness, nearly drowning me in your juices
I want to stand over you and slide my throbbing **** up and down your *****, slapping your **** with my swollen head
I want to look you deep in your eyes as I slowly enter you, becoming one with you, rubbing your **** as I continue to pump myself deep inside you, watching your amazing **** bounce with each ******
I want to kiss you passionately as ******* hard and slow until you *** all over my pulsating ****
I want to stand up, taking you by your hair and put you on your knees so you can taste your ***** juices off of me
I want to bend you over and slide my hard **** deep inside you from behind as I spread your *** cheeks and lightly spank your beautiful ***
I want to tease your *** with my thumb as I ******* slowly from behind
I want to work my thumb into your *** as I begin to ******* deeper and harder until I grab your hips and pound your ******* until I feel you ready to *** again
I want to explode with you, filling your ***** with my load as you continue to cream all over my ****
I want to collapse onto the bed with you, wrapped in each others arm, completely naked and satisified, until....  26
Kara Rose Trojan Dec 2014
My Second Letter to Allen Ginsberg
Dear Allen,
Almost five years ago, I wrote you a letter, and in
That letter, I purged my drunkenly woeful cries
That seem so first-world now and naïve –
The things I grimed over with luxuries I didn’t
Realize that rubbed against my plump limbs
Like millions of felines poised at the
Tombs of pharaohs.

Oh, Allen, I’m so tired –
These politics, and poly ticks, so many ticks that
Annoy my tics. Allen! I smear your name so liberally
Against this paper like primer because the easiest way
To coerce someone into listening to you like
A mother
or predator
tugging or nibbling on your ear –
Swatches of velvet scalped from a ****’s coat
Are you and I talking to ourselves again?
Candid insanity : Smoky hesitance.

Dear Allen, I’m so tired –
Yes, I love wearing my ovaries on the outside like
Some Amazonian soapbox gem glistening from beneath
The iron boots of what the newspapers tell me while
I cough at them with the hurdled delicacies of alphabet soup.
Give vegetables a gender and call them onions, Allen.
Sullied scratch-hicks pinioned feet from slapping
Society’s last rung on the ladder.
Ignore the swerve of small-town eyes.
Scapulas, stirrups, pap smears, and cervical mucus – now do you know who we are?

That fingernail clipped too short, Allen. We’ve all got AIDs
And AIDs babies, haven’t you heard? Hemorrhaging from the political
****** and out – they haven’t reached the heart.  
Since when have old white men given a **** about some
13 year old’s birth control? I’m riding on the waves of the
Parachute game and I swear this abortion-issue is just a veil outside Tuskegee University
Being further shove over plaintive eyes, swollen and black.
Pay up and
shut up.

I still remember my first broken *****, Allen.
Can you tell me all about your first time?
The vasodilatation that made veins rub against skin,
Delirious brilliance : unfathomable electricity.
I made love during an LSD experience, Allen,
And I am not sorry. I see cosmic visions and
Manifest universal vibrations as if this entire world is
A dish reverberating with textiles and marbles, and
All are plundering the depths of the finished wine
Bottle roasting in the sink like Thanksgiving Turkey.
The patience is in the living. Time opens out to you.
The opening, between you and you, occupied,
zoned for an encounter,
given the histories of you and you—
And always, who is this you?
The start of you, each day,
a presence already—
Hey, you!

Ah, Allen, if you are not safe, then I am not safe.
And where is the safest place when that place
Must be someplace other than in the body?
Am I talking to myself again?
You are not sick, you are injured—
you ache for the rest of life.

Why is it that I have to explain to my students that
sometimes what I'm spouting is prescribed by a pedagogical pharmacy --
but all they want to know is "what do the symbols on the television mean?"
I am completely aghast against the ghosts of future goners --
I am legitimately licensed to speak, write, listen like some mothers --
I am constantly cajoling the complex creations blamed on burned-out educators --
I am following the flagrant, fired-up "*******"s tagging lockers --
Pay up and
shut up.

Yes, and it’s Hopeless. Allen.
Where did we get off leaping and bounding into
The dogpile for chump change jurisdiction, policing
The right and the left for inherent hypocrisies when
Poets are so frightful to turn that introspective judgment
Upon ourselves?
We didn’t see it coming and I heard the flies, Allen.
Mean crocodile tears. Flamingo mascara tracks
Up and down : up and down: bow – bow – bow – bow
Buoyant amongst the misguided ******* floating around
In the swirlpool of lackadaisical introspection.
What good is vague vocab within poetry?
Absolutely none.
Would you leave the porchlight on tonight?
Absolutely, baby.

Dear Allen, would you grow amongst the roots and dirt
At the knuckles of a slackjawed brush of Ever-Pondering Questions
Only to ask them time-and-time-and-time-and-time-again.
Or pinch your forehead with burrowed, furrowed concentration upon those
Feeble branches of progression towards something that recedes further
And further with as much promise as the loving hand
Attempts to guide a lover to the bed?

Allen, I wish to see this world feelingly through the vibrations of billions of bodies, rocking and sobbing, plotting and gnashing like the movement of a million snakes, like the curves collecting and riding the parachute-veil.

Ah, Allen! Say it ain’t so! Sanctified swerve town eyes.
And everything is melting while poets take the weather
Too personally
And all the Holden Caulfields of the world read all the
*******’s written on the walls and all the Invisible Men
Eat Yams and all the Zampanos are blind and blind
And blind and blind and blind and blind
Yet see as much as Gloucester, as much as Homer,
As much as Oedipus.

Oh, Allen, do you see this world feelingly
and wander around the desert?
Colored marbles vibrating on the curtailed parachute paradox.
Lamentation of a small town’s onion. Little do we know, Allen,
That what you cannot see, we cannot see, and we are bubbling
Over in the animal soup of the proud yet weary. I can see,
However, how the peeled back skulls of a million
Workboots and paystubs may never sully the burden
Of an existential angst in miniscule amounts.
Pay up and
shut up.  

My dearest Allen, there is always a question of how
The cigarettes became besmirched with wax to complement
What was once grass, and
What was once a garish night drenching doorknobs.
The night's yawn absorbs you as you lie down at the wrong angle
To the sun ready already to let go of your hand
As you stepped, quivering, on to
The shores of Lethe.
jls Nov 2014
They come in waves.
Kamikaze planes or
lovely flowers and sweet lullabies.
Blood boils,
slapping against my skin,
Sometimes.
My love is seasonal,
It won't stay.
Don't expect anything from me.
You will be bitterly disappointed.
I've been super bipolar lately. I'm sorry to all of my friends.
Ken Pepiton Dec 2018
Taken, gotten, or made, the point of anything
can pierce through everything…

slow
Slow think,
make real

re-al-ize
what fighting for life is…
this is the only
try,
it is not a test.

Take your time, use it wisely,
if that means anything.
Wise, I meant.
No offence, if wise is anathema to your kind,
die,
die if I knocked the reason for being right
outa you,
did you hear cognitive dissonance?
did it sound like
this. LOUD?
listen,
rolling rolling rolling
crash crumble rolled in nurse rime frosted
fables of monsters and maids
Thor, witharoar likka Lion King?

or the light brigade,
CHARGE?

thunder words from lost generations of
reasonless riddles for children,

Why did Peter Pumpkin-eater have a wife, but
couldn't keep her here?
Was that okeh? Oh, wait.
Ah, I see, I say,
they never tell that whole story any more.

Know why? They forgot it. In the war.

Duck'n'cover,no
crying, how long?
When begins forever? Did no one tell you, child?

Taken or made, the point of anything
can pierce through everything
like it was nothing, given
enough pre-sure-sup
poser-power

War, as a game, has a reason.

Battle, hitting, slapping

stop touch, stop now slap
slap back

or cry
oh no no ma

waddayahsay?  A theist or atheist
who started this war?

space case, or
lover of wisdom, met on the road
to Emmaus, discussing Weil's proof
firming Fermi's connection to the matter of fear,
3, 2, 1

Kaboom, but with a whump you feel in your teeth

1, 2, 3 Fermat's last theorem ,
easy as pi an no re me

ABC to
Michael Jackson to
Howard Bloom because he

inadvertently, began
an-ionic converstatic re-vibe time warp
meme,
which vibe, started the legendary Sixties. I was alive.
Radioman,
a sixty cycle white-noise humm heard every where these days

There was a gospel song, "Turn Your Radio On".
my theme, open the window in the top of your head,
as it were,
a new,
as new as

a novel-state of water, H three Ohs, re-al-ity ification,
Ah, a shared Oh, I remember now, how this works…

like a poem

at the edge of a water vapor bubble in a boiling body of water,
at the edge of the bubble, water becomes a wall of water,
not vapor, not flowing liquid,

but a wall, insulating the vapor in pressing opposing force
to permit, from permission,
meaning with a message same as the message,

is that the right word? per-mission-grant, is power given,
agency,
that idea….
wait for the sign….?

By sharing an ion ic bond as a quest to make a point
for a free story to go,
the question marks you. Let the snake dance.

Press your point,

whetted edge,

slice through ties holding worthless axioms
with withered dendrites dangling disconnected
in participles
unfired for centuries muttering,
enchanting, enthralling enchained melodies
of ambitious syllables vying for idle minds
to rope in,
unbranded, wild
bucking ideas,
whip-twig, slap-face,
tanglewood  thicket, catclaw and mesquite,
willow,

wait.
And the old man remembered the willow whistle,
so He asked Grandfather,
How is such a whistle made?
And when he knew,
he made one.

A willow whistle with two notes,
like an Oscar Meir Wiener one.

-- and that was a different time
I got lost here, bucked up…
maybe
--- listen, way back--- we-ain't whistlin' Dixie---
we ain't marchin', as t' war.

D'thet mean some sign to pro-phet -ic take?
Tophet?
Ancient cannon fodder shield walls,
a moaning
Pro-phy-lactic warning of the danger of not
knowing exactly
what a war is for?

Get back on,
relieved of any idle baggage words believed
to mean other than I say.

Nullify
Idle words with cultural meanings from
what you thought you knew when you feared hell.

Loose
those peer-locked memes
made of meaninglessness, per se,

shaped and molded into fashions
of expression, once needles and awls,
now, dull as tinker's damns for swearing,
with any effect.

But tools, none the less, a stitch in time took a tool.
An awl or a needle, and a thread, thick or thin,
dependin' on the mendin' needed
to redeem an idle word,
its meaning all bloodied with the tyranny of time.

An awl or a needle,
a tool for a task, mending a tear
where curses, never meant, spent
the entire dark ages, lying, lying, lying

powerless, pointless aimless, proverbial proverbial proverbial
verbiage, vaneless shafts launched at unseen marks,
signs, as it were, a spark,
triggers,
rumored since the sixties,
the first sixties, when Cain killed Able.
Howard Bloom was but a mere gleam
in our mito-mother's eye,
but, no doubt,

his role is real,
in loosing the forces Ferlinghetti locked in
City Lights mystery of secret meanings room,
which un
mystified and blew away upon opening
the door to
meanings mapped on
scrolls rolling and unrolling
idle ideas,
rites of passage, as it were,
Pre-bat-bar-mitz vah
as a fashion
like VBS,

to tickle little minds and make em wiggle.
MEMEMEME, I did it,
mea culpa,

the holy place
Here we are…

On Vacation, leave a message.
-----

See, wee hairs in your ears wiggle, making,
signaling, the need

to scratch that itch, that itching hearing feeling ear… hear that

don't scratch, listen

listen

60 cycle humm, steady, bass, but no thump whumpwhump;
soft, deeep.
ooooooooo or mmmmmmmm or in betwixt, steady thrumm
hear another, and another… sixty in a second,

one in every million ambits twisting,
threading qubits, radiating signals in the field
wireless, blue-tooth... satellite...

can you feel that?

hummmms, all around us, since the womb.
We are not the children of the greatest generation,

We are the children of the last generation of
**** sapiens sapiens non-augmentable-us.

We, the augmented, recycled ideas,
possessing
minds of Adamkind,

is that a secret or a sacred?
Is this
a new thing, an
unknown unknown known known now?

Ah,
novelty.

Whose is fear? Who was afraid of Virginia Wolf?

Should I remain in fear of her now, if I knew why then?
God would know such answers.
Proving my imagined AI guides are not God,
but lesser beings,

haps I recall.
I defined these things,
these thoughts that shape themselves,
forming words and phrases
I saw
shiny. Crow-like,
gleams seen, captured and claimed mine,
I tucked them away,
a sign in a thought in an imagined image made 4
real once more, to be seen from the shore,
new land new world
a fourth for some, a fifth or more for others...

haps happen, I'm not sure how,

Born or emerged, as a bubble, what do you say?

Reserve judgment.
Grant me your grace for now, until you solve my riddle.

Ah, the old way.
Right. Which way,  'ere, 'ear
and do we roll the rock with silent haitch or harsh, shhh

someone's waking up,
a bit grumpy,
don't you dare oppose me in this, the kid is certainly my son

Michael went stark raving mad when I told him, Billie Jean knew better all along...
the link, axiomatic,
the fatherless child has been claimed

hence, the thread to Howard Bloom, meme-ic,
meme-ic, like the Roadrunner,

but with the real Coyote, as the hero in this bit of
whatever, such meandering maundified maun maund  
mound

wind blown crystal silicon dunes
mounded up to that point where granulated
beens and dones

begin to slide at an angle,
a ***** deter-mind by the weight of the rock

We made it.
I know where this is.

This is a novel that has Sisyphus being happy
as the main premise behind the idea of anyone ever being
able, en abled, or un-dis-abled or un-dis-enabled,
if one of those is right,

Sisyphus being happy
is the main premise behind
the idea of anyone ever being glücklich,
happy, blessed, lucky.

How happy is your ever after?
When did forever begin?

"A man is as happy as he makes up his mind to be"
Abe Lincoln, is said to have said,
after the seance, maybe.

You push on, dear reader, make some sense
re-ligare or relegare, but take a stitch,

pull-tight,
do what works the first time as far as it goes, and try each, as needed,
it may be that we invented this test.
To make us think it is a test,
to sort ourselves out.

Get back on,

see who went crazy and who found the thread, if the same thread
this is that, right,
the same train of thought,
the same idea
spirit wind
sign
?
A snake facing west standing tippy-tail on a singularity;
a point in time?

Why are you reading this?
Curiosity Shoppes trade in interesting, alluring, click-bait

Pay attention, watch, you shall see

imagine this is the dream,
the stream, the flow, the current, the cream

in a dime coffee at the drug store on the corner

the rounded-corner, in a square-cornered town,
the most right corner of the twelve that quarter what it was

Punctuate, wait, imagine you read ancient Hebrew or Greek and there
are no dyer diacritical's who can twist one's
end tensions into knots

dread extensions, we could sell those,
is that an idea? did somebody
sell white folks dread extensions and black folk dolly pardon wigs?

Did that happen the real real?

-----
Battlefield Earth, oshit
scientology ology ology ology

allaye allaye outs in free

WE we wee every we you imagine you are good in, we

We have a war to win again, we heroes rolling from your
myths of Sisyphus torn from minds trampled
in the mud beyond the Rhine,

Mushrooms. magi are aware, you are aware, of course,
this course includes Basic Mycelium Net Adaptation or Augmentation
BMNAA, eh? So you know.

Camus and many of his ilk were ill-treated, the questions
they asked were memorized, maybe in our cribs ala
Brave New World.

We are all Alphas, always were, of course, you know.

Shall we imagine

more? Re-legare, eh, sistere. Point .(Back to the top.)

or agree? Make peace.
Practice, like Eazy-Bake,
the cook must swallow the first bite. May the best cook win.
A continuing examination of opposing forces when good is the goal, who could be against that? The old word war is festering, inflaming evil to start a try, therefore,  I whet the edge and swing wide
shyann raulerson Jul 2013
I heard faint noises downstairs, and I decided to investigate. I pulled on a pair of cut-off jeans and grabbed the old pump shotgun that had served me so well in Viet-Nam from under my bed and crept downstairs to check. My Ranger training came into play, and I moved soundlessly, down the stairs and into the living room. An air of vague shadowy figures were searching through the cabinet that housed my collection of antique silver. I announced my presence in a sudden and intimidating manner: I merely pumped the action of the shotgun, then immediately moved to the right so if anyone shot, he would shoot where I had been, not where I was now. That sound was a language that everyone understood, including the two figures before me. They froze, and were still motionless.

"Mr. Steve?" one of the figures quavered. "Please don't shoot!"

I recognized the voice as belonging to Lisa, the twenty-year-old daughter of my nearest neighbor. I didn't know who the other person was or who else may be in the house, so I kept the shotgun pointed in their direction and hit the light switch with my free hand. Immediately a car cranked up in my driveway, and tires squealing, raced out to the road and away. I looked at my midnight visitors. I recognized Lisa and Julie, who was a close friend of Lisa's and a frequent overnight visitor of hers. They were holding between them a laundry bag containing most of my silver collection. I lowered the muzzle of the cut down shotgun.

"You sure know how to get yourselves killed," I stated. "Mind telling me who was in the car? You don't want to take the rap all by yourselves."

"Please don't shoot! That was Mike, it was all his idea! He made us do it! He said he would put us out and make us walk home if we didn't do it! Are you going to call the Cops?"

Now I could understand why the girls tried to burglarize my home. It was a fifteen-mile walk home in pitch darkness on a moon-less night for the two frightened girls. It was just what a worthless **** like Mike would pull. Knowing what I did about Lisa's boyfriend, I knew what he probably needed the money for. He was nineteen; the only job he had ever had was selling drugs, and I don't mean at the pharmacy. He was a charmer though. Girls fell for his good looks and his charm, and would do anything for him, and he of course chose the best looking one of the bunch, Lisa. She never realized what a slime-ball he really was. The problem was that Lisa didn't have a father to threaten to put a bullet in Mike's behind, and her mother was just as deceived as she was.

"You broke into my house and attempted to steal my belongings. Why shouldn't I?" I said with false sternness. I wouldn't really turn them in, now that I knew the situation. I would give the girls a good scare, then a ride home. Maybe then Lisa would see through Mike's veneer.

"Because we'll do anything you want," Julie offered, speaking for the first time. "Anything at all!"

Julie stepped over and ran her hand up my leg, pausing to tweak the head of my ****, which was hanging out of the leg of my cutoffs. I hadn't bothered to pull on any underwear. Julie was almost as good looking as Lisa was. Both girls had fabulous bodies, large firm ****, and smooth well-rounded *****. Julie had a cute face, whereas Lisa was absolutely beautiful.

"Yes, anything you want to do!" Lisa agreed.

The girls weren't wanton *****, but scared out of their wits and taking the only way out that they could think of. Of course they weren't virgins. It hadn't occurred to me to take advantage of the girls like this, and I would have declined Julie's offer if she hadn't fooled with my **** like that. You see, I was developing an outrageous *******, and with my **** hanging down the leg of some fairly tight shorts, the situation was rapidly becoming painful and serious. I had to get those pants off fast! Also, I hadn't been laid in quite a while. I decided to lay my cards on the line.

"You kids know me. I never had any intention of calling the Cops. I was going to give you a scare to teach you a lesson, then drive you home. Does that mean the offer is withdrawn?"

The girls looked at each other and both breathed a sigh of relief, big smiles on their faces. Lisa winked at Julie. "Nope," Julie said, smiling, "It still stands. Lets go upstairs."

I escorted the girls to my bedroom, pressed the magazine block on the shotgun, pumped out the shell that was still in the chamber, then put it back in the magazine. I tossed it onto the dresser with a loud thump.

I turned around and both girls were stark naked. Lisa came over, dropped to her knees, and planted a wet kiss on the head of my painfully throbbing ****. My ******* became harder still. I had to get out of those cutoffs! Julie solved that problem. She unzipped and unbuttoned them and gently worked them down around my rock-hard ****, allowing it to spring up to freedom.

"Lets get on the bed first," I suggested, "Then we have fun."

"Lay down on your back," Lisa insisted. "Have we got something for you!"

I complied, and Lisa leaned over and put my **** in her hot mouth. Her tongue swirled over the head, ran up and down the shaft, and started over again. I looked over at Julie and she was watching avidly. Not having anything better to do with my hands, I reached between her legs and caressed her ****. Julie gasped with surprise, then spread her legs. Her **** was already hot and wet, so I slid my ******* in all the way, then started finger ******* her and massaging her **** with my thumb. Her **** hardened and grew. Julie had her eyes closed and was erotically tweaking her ***** *******. She was slowly lowering her body, deepening the ******* of my finger, and rocking her hips back and forth, intensifying the stroking of her ****. Julie's hot ***** juices ran down my hand while Lisa's mouth was still working on my throbbing ****.

I began to draw my hand from Julie's sopping wet ****, but she grabbed it and held it tightly to her crotch. I pulled my hand now, and she came with it. I grabbed her thigh and swung her leg over me, so she was now sitting on my chest. I pulled my finger from her hungry ****, grabbed her ***, and pulled her ****** right up to my face. As soon as I flicked her **** with the tip of my tongue, she went wild, ******* my face, filling my nostrils with the sweet aroma of her **** juices. I thought I would give her all the licking she could handle. I rammed my tongue into her ****-hole with all my might, then gently nibbled on her ****. Apparently she had a low threshold, as this was all she could stand.

"Oh God, I'm coming!" she screamed, ground her **** into my face one more time, quivered, then collapsed sideways onto the bed.

One down, one to go. I looked at Lisa, still ******* my **** for all she was worth. I was nearing the end of my endurance, and I still hadn't had my **** in any hot **** yet. I grabbed Lisa's shoulders and pulled her mouth from my ****. I turned her around and held her up, her blonde ***** triangle just inches over my waiting tool.

"Give it to her! Now!" Julie whispered.

Lisa's **** didn't look wet or ready to take anything in it yet, but my **** was ready to take some *****. Julie reached over and spread the lips to Lisa's still dry *****, and began tweaking her ****. Lisa gasped her surprise at her most private place being touched by another chick. Within seconds though, her **** and inner ***** lips began to swell, and her juices started flowing. I slowly lowered Lisa to my rod, admiring her glistening pinkness. Julie guided my throbbing rod into Lisa's wet love hole.

"Please, be careful! Ah-h-h-h! Go slow, I'm so tight!"

I lowered Lisa very carefully, for her hot ****-hole was indeed the tightest ***** I had ever felt. With that in mind, I fought the urge to slam her down on my eager ****. As soon as she was down, I grabbed her *** and began sliding her back and forth. Lisa bit her lip as a tear trickled down from one eye.

"Stop, Mr. Steve! It's hurting her!" Julie commanded. Then to Lisa, "You haven't done it much, have you?"

"Just once, with Mike, and he isn't this big. It hurt then, too!" Lisa sobbed. "I wanted so bad to do it with Mr. Steve because he's been so nice to me, and I was so scared when I saw how big he was. Oh, it hurts!"

"You'd better get up then." I reassured, "I don't want to do anything to you that you don't want me to do."

"I want to go on, really I do! But don't you have anything I could use to make it easier?"

"Yeah, any Vaseline, or KY jelly, or something like that?" Julie asked.

"I have some KY jelly in the bathroom." I answered.

Julie jumped up and padded into the bathroom. I watched her naked *** jiggle as she left.

"You're gonna have to get up." I told Lisa. I gently lifted her ***. She bit her lip again and moaned as my **** slowly withdrew from her tortured hole. With a pop from her *****, a shriek burst from her lips as my **** sprung from her nearly dry ****-hole. She knelt on the bed next to me, softly crying, clutching herself where it hurt. I realized that she had been wrong in pretending to be so eager. A more gentle approach was needed.

I reached over, pulled her to me, and kissed her lips passionately. She ****** once in surprise, then melted into my arms, returning my kiss, forgetting the pain in her ****. I ran my hand around to her firm **** and gently stroked her *******, feeling them harden under my touch. I pulled my mouth from hers and kissed the point of each hard ******. She moaned and gasped with each touch of my lips, but from pleasure this time, not from pain. While I had her aroused, I lightly traced circles on her tummy with my finger, each circle going lower and lower, until I finally reached the blonde **** of her ***** hair. Slowly, I reached down and cupped her ***** with my hand, being careful not to press too hard or insert my finger. I would know when she was ready for *******. She responded with a **** and a gasp. I pressed again, and she gasped again. I kissed each firm ****** one last time, then started kissing down her tummy to her love nest, which was now warming and starting to respond to my touch.

I spread her legs and gently ran the tip of my tongue the full length of her slit. When I reached the vicinity of her ****, she reacted as though she had been shocked. She arched her back, pressing her **** against my face. Maybe she was ready. I probed again with my tongue, harder this time, hard enough to separate her ****-lips and tickle her ****. She went mad again, jerking and twitching in response to the touch of my tongue, moaning and panting. Then I felt her **** harden, her inner lips swell and spread, and her delicious juices start to flow. Now she was definitely ready for more. I probed her ****-hole with my tongue, licked all the way up to her ****, swirled it around, bit it gently, and then probed her hole again. When I started doing all this, she went even wilder. She spread her legs, ****** and reared against my face, and pulled my head tight against her hot cooze.

"Oh-h-h-h-h, **** me," she moaned, "I can't stand it any more! I don't care if it does hurt! Please, please **** me!"

I put her throbbing **** between my lips and gave it one hard ****, drawing it completely into my mouth, and pulled my head back sharply, causing her **** to pop back. She screamed, ****** her hips at me, and grabbed her sweating *******.

When she had subsided, her legs still spread, I mounted her in the traditional position. I started to position my throbbing pole for a gentle entry, but Lisa released her **** and spread her ****-lips with one hand and guided my tool to her sopping wet ****-hole with the other. She was much wetter now than when Julie diddled her ****, wet enough to ****.

"Please do it now!" Lisa pleaded.

I began to insert my **** cautiously, and found that due to her juices, entry was no problem. Lisa groaned like a ****** as I slid into her hot wetness. When she had taken as much of my ten-inch tool as she could, I still wasn't all the way in. But she began pumping her hips, causing the swollen head of my **** to ram against the back of her *****. She was as deliciously tight as before, but she must have been stretching, for with just a few strokes, my ***** were slapping against her ***, and I was in to the hilt. My tenderness and foreplay had paid off.

"Oh-h-h-h, that's good!" she purred when I began pumping to meet her rhythm. She wrapped her legs around my waist, and was pumping as hard as I was. With each stroke, I would completely withdraw from her hot, tight wetness, then shove my eager tool back in to the hilt, never missing her voracious target, always sliding easily in, jamming against the back of her *****.

Her pumping increased in tempo, and I sped up to match. Each pump became harder and more frantic than the one before. Lisa's breathing became harder and faster. She was about to come, and I wanted to come with her. I raised her legs over my shoulders so that I had a better angle at the depths of her tight hole, and started ramming as hard as I could.

"Don't stop! I think I'm gonna come! Oh-h-h, its so good! Come in me! Oh, please, I want to feel your load in me!" Lisa screamed. She bucked and reared and screamed incoherently, then went limp. I continued to pump. In just a few seconds, she began to pump anew. For more times than I could count, she orgasmed.

Once I felt my ****** approaching, I gave her one last hard ram and drove my weapon in as far as I could. I came at this point, spurting her sweet, tender Steve **** full of my hot sticky come, like an erupting volcano. She gasped, trembled, and fell back to the bed. I pulled out my softening ****. Our ****** energies were spent for the moment.

I glanced down at the foot of the bed, and saw Julie, whom I had forgotten. She sat in the chair at the foot of the bed, her legs spread, working a coke bottle in and out of her *****. She had found the KY jelly, then found us ******* away. Feeling left out but excited by the ****** sight of her best friend getting a good *******, she slicked up the coke bottle and began using it as a *****.

I saw that Lisa also was seeing something she had never seen before, her best friend's ****, gaping open, a coke bottle almost disappearing inside it. "Look how far in she puts it! And see how big it is to go in her like that. How does she do it?" Lisa asked, amazed.

"Why don't you get a closer look," I suggested. "Ask her." Lisa crawled down to the foot of the bed and sat on the end, astounded, watching Julie *******.

Julie finally looked down, under heavy-lidded eyes and saw Lisa so close. "Why don't you do this for me?" Julie asked.

"How?" Lisa queried.

"Just do what I'm doing now," came Julie's reply. Lisa watched for a few seconds more, then pushed Julie's hand aside and grasped the slippery end of the bottle. "In and out, and twist it a little bit. Oh, yes-s-s, oh, yes-s-s. Do it good, oh, that's so good!" Julie purred.

My **** was hardening again at the sight of one female ******* another.

I had an idea. If Julie was as promiscuous as she seemed, she might not object to what I had in mind. While Lisa continued to work the bottle in Julie's stretched ****, I helped Julie out of the chair and down to the floor, her heaving **** on the floor, her *** up in the air. She stayed in the position, crooning wordlessly, **** juice dribbling down her thighs, Lisa still ******* her.

I picked up the tube of KY jelly that Julie had used, and liberally covered my ***** rod with it. Then I stood behind Julie, straddling Lisa.

"What are you going to do?" Lisa asked.

"Watch and see!" I responded. With that I grasped Julie's hips and aimed my **** at the delicate rosette of Julie's ***. Using my **** like a weapon, I suddenly shoved my tool in as far as I could. Julie let out a scream, tearing out fistfuls of carpet.

"Oh God, **** my ***! That hurts so good! **** me harder, give me all you've got! Make it hurt! Give me more of that bottle!"

"I'm ***-******* Julie!" I informed Lisa, who was now completely mind-blown.

I needed no invitation, and neither did Lisa. Both of us gave Julie all we could, Lisa with the bottle in Julie's ****, me with my **** far up Julie's clenching ***. Julie rocked back to take us both in, then forward, then back for more. I couldn't see
SassyJ Jan 2016
Sensation, intuition, feeling, and thinking,
Is wrapped inside a ball,
A small pink ball inside our head,
That won't stop till we're dead,

Analytical bedrock inside oozing theories,
Elemental atoms sizzling logic,
The imaginative stranger,
One abstracted and eccentric,

Walking with shadows,
Talking and mocking,
Through these theories inside us,
Tilting our caps ‘til we’re shaking our heads,

Pensive love in storming analysis,
Sapiosexually excited, piqued interest,
Unemotional and thoughtfully attuned,
Absently minded, always condoned,

Unconventional and impartially stringed,
Weirdly wired in auxiliary functions,
Misconstrued and misunderstood,
An ****** intelligence bleeding paranoia,

Knocking unto me,
Into you, inside us all,
It’s something we all yearn to be,
And when you fail and prevail we laugh,

Crickling crickets thinking nothing,
Washing down the storm drain,
With no thoughts fluidly sliding down my throat,
Pop goes no questions into absolute concise words like freshly broken glass,

Again shadows await, but different shadows,
Blinking at me staring at you,
Wondering what’s what, inside this dementia made sense of a lovely afternoon,
Inside your sane, autocorrected, predetermined, twitching, little…mind.

Inspired by Myers Briggs Personality Test
Tyler is INTP... Logician  (Introverted INtuitive Thinking Perception)
The drifter, dreamer the absent minded professor!
SassyJ is INTJ... Architect  (Introverted INtuitive Thinking Judging)
The starry-eyed idealist manoeuvring life as if a giant chess board!

What Myer Briggs personality type are you?... See link below
It would be great to know.Please comment!!
http://www.16personalities.com/intp-personality
I am open for One a week collaboration till March 2016. Interested? Leave a comment or message me.

No 1. One a week series collaboration with Tyler James Birabent
Wow, It was creatively fun working with Tyler especially in my first ever collaborative writing here at HP. The piece was inspired by Myers Briggs personality test Tyler is (INTP) whilst I am (INTJ).Tyler is analytical, logical and a very composed individual. At the best of times he has beautifully mused and surprised me.

Thanks Tyler for working with me! ;0)
Tyler HP link: http://hellopoetry.com/tyler-james-birabent/
L B Sep 2016
Route 84 would not lend me
the light of a star last night
Radio blazing at 75 mph
nonsense noise to chew gum by
Crackling political commentary
Static of distance and thick clouds
Invisible mountains blocking
Memories seeping through the cracks
coating the music in a film
I rub my eyes
watch myself punch alert buttons
But it’s the angels’ jukebox tonight

Roll down the window
Watch the heat escape

Summer again

I am building a castle of ancient stones
pulverized by relentless tides
Dragged across maps by mastodons
and mammoth glaciers
The scouring hiss
the ocean sighs
Time has lulled these smoothly
rolling them in the softest hands of sand
and gels of life’s comings and goings
tenderly tumbling
in the millionth moonrise—
Time deposits them here
wet and glistening

For the girl with the plaid two-piece to gather
Shoulders sun-burnt barely say
one week only,
one week of the fifty two
“It’s the time of the season…”
and daddies on the beach are watching….

She has chosen yet another stone
And the castle continues—
in oblivion to all but her legend…

     The queen will be safe here
     from the rabble
     The disgraced Tristan will surely seek her
     Among these lofty cliffs
     Between the raging circuit of the tide
     Here winds forbid the vengeful mob
     Here lovers learn
     the debt of love’s bad timing
     “Drink ye all of it!”
     --the potion that assigns our sorrow….
     She will not sleep—
     while I chew this gum--  GUM?

Roll down the window!

Angels escape with the heat
Waking me with the brush of their wings

As that eighteen-wheeler hugs my flank
And leans on the horn
Lights flashing
Rude rumbling under right tires
Tantrum of snow
In the draft of mass and velocity

…and the angels?
They’ve chosen another good one!
They must’ve liked the 80’s
Their wings slapping the windshield madly  
Their hands steady the wheel
As a fourteen-year old, I picked up a book to read at the beach about the legend of the lovers, Tristan and Iseult.  I was so captivated by their story that it ruled my imagination that summer.  

Anyway, I still think of it when I think of the ocean-- as I did on this cold dark occasion when I should have pulled off somewhere for a coffee, but I was trying to beat the snow storm home.
Route 84, also known as Dead Bambi Highway, has a desolate, treacherous section going over the mountains between NY and Pennsylvania.  Didn't have much option for music at the time, so I leaned heavily on the radio pushing the search button to find anything bearable-- not too much static.
Song reference in this: "Time of the Season" by the Zombies-- all time favorite beach song that happened to be on the radio that night.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBxK3CcOQD8
"Pinch the pink rose bud"*  He whispers

"ahhh mmmm"* she responds

"Harder dear one"

"ohhhoww" as the dark heat shoots through her body

"Yes that's it girl"

"Roll it between your thumb and forefinger"
"How does that feel girl?"

"Mmmss ohhh it feels so good"

"Pinch it hard now"

She cries out as the painful heat surges

"That's it, again now harder"

Calls out louder as the heat in the bud hurts but feels so decadent

"Take your other hand and slide your fingers between your rose petals"

She continues rolling the ****** as her other hand obeys His demand
Her fingers reach the nether lips and find them laden with dew
"Mmmsss" As the fingers slide through the moisture

"Slide your fingers into your well and pull forth what you find"*

Her hips lift off the bed as the fingers slip inside her tight wet well
the heat intense her tunnel soaking wet, how she wonders

"Pull it up over your little nub now and begin circling it as you continue to pinch that tight ******"

"OHHHHH ohhh yesss!!!"
It feels so good she wants to move her fingers faster but doesn't dare

"Circle Your **** round and round now pinch hard and hold it"

Gasping as she does so, her legs jump as the heat seems to stab her between her quivering thighs
Whimpering as desire washes over the ivory flesh, feeling the nectar as it flows between the cheeks of her ***

"What are you thinking girl?"

"How I wish you were here, How I want you inside of me so badly"

"Mmmm I wish I was there to girl"
"Now release your pleasure nub and begin to rub faster"

Fingers flutter over the taut nub, hips lift pushing into the fingers
Other hand continues to roll, pinch and pull the ******
He hears her moans, whines, and whimpers growing in intensity

"Lift your ****** to your mouth girl and suckle the hardness, I want to hear you, keep those fingers moving over that taut lil nub" He whispers sensually

Suddenly he can hear her mouth as it pulls upon her own ******, breathing through her nose as she ***** harder, fingers moving faster now as the passion begins to take over from his demands

"That's it girl, bite it hard as you ****, imagine my teeth against your chest"

Her scream is muffled by the large ample globe of flesh as fire shoots to her *****, nectar floods her well

"Yes my girl you sound so good, are you close" He asks softly

"Yessss" is muffled as she continues to **** and bite her bruised breast

"Rub harder girl, faster, I want to feel your release" He says firmly

Her fingers pinch and pull her **** as her mouth suckles on the breast harder pulling more of the flesh into her heated mouth

Tension builds, hotter, as body tightens, muscles grow taut, suddenly her breath holds, her body stiffens liquid shoots into her mouth from her ******, as the clear viscous fluid floods her bed

"Screaming yes oh yes oh **** yes"*  She cries

She hears him as he responds to her ******

"Yessss oh yes girl I am ******* you so hard, oh godddd yes here it
comess"


She hears him hold his breath as his body releases the slapping liquid sound is heard as her own body is still pulsating, muscles finally relaxing as fireworks still explode behind the closed eye lids

"You are so ******* hot ****, I can't wait to yank that long hair as I ram my hard **** deep into you"  He pants

"I can't wait either, I need you soon, please don't make me wait much longer" she begs

His wicked laugh is heard on the other end of the phone as He says firmly
"Now **** *** now"

Believe it or not she did, this time harder than before, thighs quivered where she could not walk, they were actually sore from the strain, she blushed at how easily he could get her to release

"It won't be long now girl, we will meet and you will feel my hand pulling those long locks as I push deep inside you, where you can taste the effect you have on me and I can taste your sweet essence"

"Oh yes I can't wait to be beneath you, on top of you, in front of you, I can feel your bites on my flesh already, I can feel your hard shaft opening me up over and over again, I can't wait"

"Yes that isn't all you will feel is it girl?"  He asked

"ummm no Sir" she shivered thinking of the sting of leather against her flesh, the feel of rope binding her tight, and the clamps all strategically placed to enhance her ******

"Sleep now My girl, naughty dreams"  He whispered huskily

"Sleep tight my Love" She responded softly
The pain scared her but she had experienced it before and the pleasure it brought was so all consuming words could never describe


****** pain can bring intense pleasure. I would suggest you not try things on your own without the guide of an experienced lifestyler.  This definitly enhances the ****** experience.  Not everyone is into it but I hope my poem did it justice
Written by : Jennifer Humphrey all rights reserved   Updated 1/31/15
it sits outside my window now
like and old woman going to market;
it sits and watches me,
it sweats nevously
through wire and fog and dog-bark
until suddenly
I slam the screen with a newspaper
like slapping at a fly
and you could hear the scream
over this plain city,
and then it left.

the way to end a poem
like this
is to become suddenly
quiet.
Recently I’ve been censoring myself
Because the things I imagine you doing to me
Are somewhat brutal
And the fact that I enjoy the thoughts
Disturbs me.

The thought of your hands slapping
Things that have only ever been caressed
Excites me.
You make me hurt
All over, and inside.
Francie Lynch May 2014
There's a silence in the evening,
A silence most displeasing.
It's not the absence of mowers running,
Or bedsheets flapping, motors humming.
Trains still shunt, foghorns blast,
Where are the sounds
From our past?

It's not the sound of contrary laughing
Walking from a parent's lashing.
Something's missing,  sounds are gone,
Familiar sounds from our lawns.

The sound of rope slapping cement,
Fantasy games kids invent.
An echoing slapshot before, "Car!"
These missing sounds are so bizarre.

Those yestergames we played in jest,
Like Hide and Seek at dusk was best.
But outside games gave way to screens,
I'd rather hear childish screams.
Mark Sep 2019
I love da sound ya ***** does make
While slapping up against your sister, for Christ sake
Watching you all doing the ***** deed, *******
On ya momma's brand new, multi coloured **** pile  
***** young boys, are forever slapping, keepin’ it real
While viewing ya *****, in ya year nine, high school classes
Even some curious gals, like to slip in a quick feel
While flashing their hallway entry, fancy gold passes

Da sound ya ***** makes, ya must be using an amplifier
With a **** load of flaming, boom-boom, bass  
Next time though, try turning the treble up, as you were
And turning down that flaming bass, just in case  
This mornin’, I woke up stiff, like feelin’ as if dead
Then flicked through the paper, my obituary, I just read
Didn't feel that great, after we had finished the missionary
Wish I was much more aware, like a future visionary

I haven't even ironed my clothes or done my face
For my very last day of this bright sunlight  
Will I need to pack a jumbo suitcase
Or maybe just some shorts and thongs
On my mystery vacation, one-way flight

Da sound ya ***** was making when shaking
Was maybe way too loud for some, last night
It put me in, like a clothes dryer spin  
Police came by, just to check that no one was pranking
With some spray with mace, just when I was about to sin

Everyone's got an unusual craze in life
Mine just happened to put me in a daze  
Should've taken a much deeper breath
When going down between ya momma's thighs  
Send flowers to my ******* and hoes
And never ever forget, ya ****** nice ways
Always tried to satisfy the whole **** world
But still hearing some sad **** woes

I like da sound ya ***** makes
Reminds me of some ole dance tracks
Played by the DJ, named Georgie O’Kay
While everyone dances to a beat
I'm hard at work, while trying to get ya
To get down lower and pretend to be ya momma.
A huge shout out to my homies HIPPO + HARPS. Appreciate your help Bros. F
Emma Liang Mar 2012
I bounce a volleyball as I walk to my dorm
just to hear that delightful sound, that satisfying, clean thud off the cement.

look up, see you in that grey hoodie that gives me bad dreams
and curse under my breath, eyes darting like a cornered fox,
            there is nowhere to hide.
we almost exchange eye contact, I almost taste blood in my mouth
            I hate how familiar you are.
you look down, cough;
I murmur a dusty hello-goodbye into the ground, hold my volleyball tighter
against my chest –
and hurry on, court sneakers straining on the pavement, trying too hard to forget your cracked smiles.

--

I remember how we used to pass for hours
no sound but the volleyball slapping against our forearms,
brushing off our fingertips,
echoing through that Choate gymnasium, that cold spring;

My head had barely reached the middle of the net,
but you were tall and brave and handsome, my Prince Charming, and
I was a freshman girl with her heart on her sleeve, who
hugged a warm volleyball to her heart and smiled,

thinking herself lucky.

--

Spring thawed your heart, eventually,
and you let me hold your hand;
you had long fingers, cold to the touch.
you taught me how to set, complimented my hands,
trained me to cradle the ball with my thumbs like it was made of glass,
your hands around mine.

I was braver than you were,
because everything felt fresh and exciting to me, like the
smell of crushed pine needles in the air;
you kissed me (I kissed you?) on that night
and I leaned forward, curious and eager, and wrapped my arms
around your neck.

--

The days melted into one another,
and we became
like chalk drawings blurring after rain,
like floor burns from sliding to save a falling ball –
but missing it, all the effort gone to waste;
the burns will still burn and still scar, for nothing.

May to June, June to July,
I hugged you and laughed, but my eyes
were cold; you said I love you
And I tried to say it back, but I couldn’t without
sticking a used to before the love –
            the honey words stuck in my throat.

Our kisses were routine, stale
like the crackers I left out the night before;
I tapped my foot and
tossed the volleyball quickly behind my back with nimble fingers
and counted the seconds before it was acceptable to pull back;
I had homework and volleyball practice and quizzes to study for, you know – I tried to smile but
it felt so wrong, I stopped –
you asked what was wrong, I shook my head, there are no answers for some questions.

--

It’s been four years since we’ve spoken,
shared secret moments under solemn oak trees, behind library bookshelves
that promised to keep us away from prying eyes,
smiled into each other’s lips,
blinked stories into each other’s eyes.
It’s been four years since people have teased you for not
hitting the ball when we passed – you gentleman, you –

I will not say I miss you, because I refuse to lie for your sake;
but sometimes as I set a ball perfectly to a hitter
I think of you for a split second, wonder where you are and if you remember as much
as I do, which is, honestly
not very much.

--

she writes letters to him and then burns them all, the smell of smoke fills the room.
It’s as if she is stealing the fury of the sun, which is cooling down, melting into lava at the horizon –
it will be another cold winter, there is already frost in the grass, the air smells chilly.

Dear you,

I broke up with you as nicely as I could –
there was no reason I fell out of love, the same way
there is no reason people fall in love.

you have no right ******* me out on the internet the way you did.
Every time I hit a volleyball I imagine your face on my palm, and I hit harder.
I will never forgive you for the things you wrote,
and I don’t know if I ever loved you at all,
because you are despicable.

Goodbye,
the girl of your dreams.


--

it’s the beginning of the end of July, everything is so hot.
the pavement is baking, the volleyballs are flat,
her arms feel weak and limp like overcooked noodles.

it’s hard to think straight. She can hardly remember
her own name before remembering that she has a boyfriend.
He calls, he says I love you and she tries to choke out that well-rehearsed lie –
what was it again? something like I love you too?

But it’s too hot, and she
can’t do it anymore –

she swallows hard and grips her volleyball tighter,
her hands sweating against the weathered sphere that has been through so much with her
as she prepares to say goodbye.
Francie Lynch May 2015
I will re-visit
The modern picts,
The viking border people
Comparing *******
And slapping bellies
While giving dheagh shlainte.
They've plundered their last village;
It's been a while since they protected the walls
While sleep sets in.
They raid the pubs,
Raise a glass shield,
Weild a shot glass
Singing shlainte,
The dragon ships have sailed.
dheagh shlainte: Your good health
armon Jun 2014
raw ******* thumbs drawing open the canvas of cavities
hot stink, tangles of pink wrinkles, ground turkey and beef
pulse of the earth in the groan of the springs as the sequence of spirits inhabits a lopsided carpet of blood, cardiovascular, creation, crawling
pineapple sweat, *******, neck licking saliva stains, flesh slapping, teeth jousting, chins grinding
explosions, eruptions, screaming, biting, clutching the rim, apocalypse, APOCALYPSE, the guilty apocalypse
lost girl Jul 2014
if time were flies
we wouldn't waste our time
on slapping them away
instead
we'd grasp them,
and try to
catch them.
If only time were flies.

(a.d)
LONG ago I learned how to sleep,
In an old apple orchard where the wind swept by counting its money and throwing it away,
In a wind-gaunt orchard where the limbs forked out and listened or never listened at all,
In a passel of trees where the branches trapped the wind into whistling, "Who, who are you?"
I slept with my head in an elbow on a summer afternoon and there I took a sleep lesson.
There I went away saying: I know why they sleep, I know how they trap the tricky winds.
Long ago I learned how to listen to the singing wind and how to forget and how to hear the deep whine,
Slapping and lapsing under the day blue and the night stars:
  Who, who are you?
  
Who can ever forget
listening to the wind go by
counting its money
and throwing it away?
Mitchell Duran Dec 2012
She stood up against the wooden bar lit by a stale football field that shined florescent green and highlighted polyester blue like a muse of Van Gogh or Galileo. Her hair ran down the nape of her neck like a ****** waterfall and the light of the bar highlighted her sphinx like eyes as she turned and caught his eye. He stood at a small table away from the main bar with a couple of friends who were telling stories of their old college days and he, half-listening, quickly looked away, faking to scratch his eye, for he knew he had been caught looking at the back of her and she, with her women's intuition of being observed and knowing this, kept looking and he knowing the only way not to show he had been caught was to look away quickly and very obviously; like a bad actor caught dumb and silent, clueless of their next line. They blushed and shared the heat of embarrassment in their cheeks with the sounds of worn dollar bills slapping hard against the smooth wood of the bar, the bar man eyeing it angrily as cigarette smoke surrounded them and slowly drifted up like a lost soul toward the ceiling and the piano man, eyes tight shut played for everyone there when no-one cared to listen, all underneath the dim light of the bar as they strained to look away from one another, trying to find something they could put their focus upon, but, at the same time, wanting very much to look back and have their eyes meet by mistake all over again.

He focused on the design of the bathroom placards that were in the right corner of the tiny bar where you had to turn sideways and touch shoulder's with every soul inside just to get a drink. He feigned interest in the bronze design of the men's bathroom: a tiny boy looking down at his pecker as he ****** a 1/2 inch thick stream into what the man gathered to be a sunflower ***. The boy was thrusting his hips forward, both of his hands on his side, and he showed no smile, no grin of satisfaction or victory, just a stark, blank face, as if he were thinking "I am peeing in this ***. That is all." The women's bathroom sign was of a young girl with the same kind of *** the boy had been ******* in, but it was missing the sunflower and was replaced by the *** of the girl. She stared up into the sky and into the ceiling lights and was dramatically reaching for a butterfly or bird - he couldn't make out which - something with wings and made him think of a basic metaphor that this poor little girl just wants to get off the *** and be free like the birds and butterflies and clouds in the wide blue sky.

She focused on the man's shoes. She looked at the black shine and the pristine black shoe laces, all looking like everything had just been purchased that day. "There is not a single scuff on them and the way this man cuffs his pants only a single turn," she thought to herself, "Tells me he has something of a style on him". Not so run of the mill. Something special. Something of interest.* But then, she was annoyed by the cuff of the pants because she remembered that was what all the schoolboys in her prep school would do when the day was rainy or the boys rode their bikes home from school or they were nerds. The memory immediately turned her off of the man all together, but luckily, she put her gaze back on the jet-black, seemingly un-touched leather that told her success, class, and security.

The man heard a loud Cheer's!" from his table, abruptly bringing him out of his distraction. He was forced to turn and as he did, he made sure not to look up. He kept his eyes on the table and looked for the half-full beer with the worn Budweiser coaster underneath it. He could see from the his top periphery that she was still facing him but she was looking down at something toward the floor. He fumbled with his large hands for his glass and panned his eyes up slightly. The woman, seeing the movement at the table, looked up. She stared back to where she had first caught him looking at her and waited. The man felt her looking at him and in the same instant, saw the faded Budweiser coaster and reached for his beer. He picked the glass up and as the second Cheer! was yelled, he clashed his glass against all the others, all the while keeping his head not toward his friend's faces, but turned in the direction of the bar toward the girl. He smiled at her as he lowered his glass, not taking a drink. His friend slapped him on the back and told him," You gotta' drink after the cheers or its bad luck," and so he did, still staring dumbly at her as he did. She nodded at him with a self-conscious and embarrassed grin, raised her nearly gone low-ball glass of gin and tonic and tipped it toward him and turned around to face the bar.

"I"ll stand here and wait for him to come up to me," she thought, "And if he doesn't the man is a coward and a louse and not worth my time. I have looked twice now and there is some rule in some magazine that I read somewhere, that if you look twice at a man that it is sign, not a coincidence. No, it has a purpose and though I barely know what reason I want this man to look at me other then to get a drink out of him and maybe some conversation, I am certain I have looked twice, maybe even three times. Yes. I have looked at him and I have made my interest known and now I must wait for him to either come or stay with his drunken friends. They look like frat boys cheering like that. They look like drunken, silly frat boys that wouldn't know the first thing about chivalry. Hell, they probably couldn't even spell the ****** word." She laughed under her breath and smiled maliciously to herself and caught her own reflection in the mirror and, for an moment, wanted to quickly look away. Her face did not frighten her, for she was a beautiful woman, not her skin, which was milky white with the faintest and gentlest dash of rouge on each cheek, nor her chocolate colored curls that bounded like boulder's down a hillside. She turned away from a look upon her eye she had not seen or had recognized in a very long time. Her eyes were frightened.

"Frightened?" she wondered.

The man put his beer glass on the table on top of the coaster. The foam rested at the bottom of the cup like the thin layer of ice that blows over a frozen lake, barely there at all passing with the wind. He stared at her back and liked how she leaned on her right hip and put the toe of her left high-heel to the ground, rocking the nose of the shoe back and forth like she was thinking about something playfully frivolous. Behind him, the noise of his friends became a hollow echo, drowned out by the draw of this woman. She swung her left heel back and forth like a pendulum trying to hypnotize him. Someone touched his shoulder but he shrugged the hand away as in this echo chamber he could only hear the music change tracks on the juke box. The song had changed to an old Ottis Redding song and there was nothing else in the world that he wanted to listen to in that moment. As he watched her, leaning into the bar seemingly all alone, no boyfriend or girlfriend in sight, he saw her raise her glass to the barman and knew she had something by the gentle nod of the back of her head. He then saw her point with her left finger and tap the rim of the glass. Her drink was empty. She wanted another drink. He would buy her another drink.

"There is nothing in this world that a man is more responsible for than getting a woman like this a drink," he nodded, thinking to himself and trying to pick up his courage,"One that plays with my heart like a kitten would a spool of yarn, and yet also like a vulture who would peck out the eyes of a dead man in the desert. This is nothing more then that obligation. A rule passed down from man to man, from age to age, where chivalry was not for the base reason to lay with the woman, but to honor them, praise them lightly as the rain from a heavy mist and show them to the pedestal every woman, whether they wish to admit it or not, do wish for, sincerely do at least once in there life." He readjusted his belt and realigned his shirt that had gotten crooked after the celebratory cheer and thought some more,"I'm not going to do that here, this pedestal stuff. This is more like a step toward that pedestal. Yes. A step toward the shrine she wants to trust she deserves and will one day end up on. And this shrine is all cast and painted in the blurry french film noir of dream, is it not? Aren't dreams the only thing we hope to one day come true? How often - when and if they do come true - they can sometimes disappoint and eventually turn sour like a bad orange. I hope she is drinking and that wasn't just a tonic water. If this woman doesn't drink I don't think any of this will be worth anything at all."

She stood there serene and angelic, the hand that held her drink now resting on the base of the bar. Behind the man, he heard the chatter of his friends and the drone of football scores and player updates coming from the ten or more televisions that hung from the ceiling. Someone reached out to touch his shoulder but missed him as he left the table. His name then echoed behind him but soon the sound evaporated as dew does that rests on blades of grass in a summer morning to a summer afternoon. There was only her and her smell that had drifted to his table and shrouded him with the scent of white chocolate and smoke and her delicate, porcelain hand that had held up the drink shyly but not weakly, in passing demand without that demanding quality drunk people can get like at bars sometimes. He approached her, hovered behind her, but she did not turn, and then came up to the bar to lean into. He did not turn to look at her, though he wanted to very badly, but looked down at her low-ball glass with two half-melted ice cubes and a used lime. The smell of gin came from the glass and the man smiled to himself and put his hand up to signal the bartender.

"If this man orders his drink first and walks back to that table with all of his drunken friends, I am giving up men all together," the woman thought to herself," * Tonight and forever! If he can put his hand up and not even turn to look at me, as I was doing, I thought, to be very flirtatious but gentle, then I see no reason at all to keep going with men. They are barbarians that only want to eat, drink, sleep, and fornicate with women that are easy and provide no real challenge at all in their life. If he wants it easy, he can have it as easy as he wants, but not with me. No sir. Not with me ever. Not with me for a night, an hour, a minute, or even a second."

The bartender, a stout slightly overweight man that was a little over forty with streaks of grey in his thin, short-cut hair, looking very much like he should be home reading with a nice cup of tea by his side rather than in the bar serving drinks to stranger's, approached the man and asked him what he would like.

"Two gin and tonics please," the man said, "With a slice of lime and four ice-cubes in each."

"And what kind of gin, sir?"

The man turned to the woman, "What label do you drink?" he asked.

"Pardon me?" she stuttered startled, her eyebrows raised.

"Your drinking gin, aren't you?" He nodded his head toward the woman's empty glass. The tiny lines of transparent lime skin floated on top of the water that had gathered from the melting ice-cubes.

"Yes, I am. I was just about to order."

"I'll get this round and you'll get the next one."

"Any gin is fine."

The man turned to the bartender," Tanqueray, please bartender."

He nodded and went to make the drinks.

"Your very perceptive," the woman said as she turned to face him.

"I try."

"I saw you from across the bar, but was afraid to walk up to your table for fear of getting ambushed by all of your friends. Those are your friends, right?"

"Yes," he nodded as he looked over his shoulder at them, "Old college friends all with old stories of college that, truthfully, bring me little or no joy to even hear."

"Then why come at all?" she asked, "You seem smart enough to know that if you meet up with old anything, you'll be hearing about the old times all night."

"I was forced to come."

"Someone getting divorced?"

"No," he laughed, "The opposite. Married."

"Well, I hope it's not you or this would look very bad if your fiance walked in."

"And why's that?"

She clicked her tongue and turned to look at the shelves stocked with every kind of liquor. The bottles reflected the soft orange glow of the lights that circled the bar and the colors of the television screens. The man continued to look at the woman who had turned her back on him and caught their reflection in a bottle of Jack Daniel's. He waited for a response, but she stood there silent, knowing she was playing with him. Behind him, his friends were growing louder and a tray of shots had found its way to their table. The waitress who had brought the drinks, polite and with a smile, asked them to try and keep it down. They shouted "YES'S and screamed "YEAH'S" with moronic smiles on their faces, their heads nodding up and down like a dog playing fetch. The waitress giggled a thank and walked away shaking her head with disgust when she was out of sight.

"Well," she said,"You did just order two gin and tonics and I think if your fiance walked in with you chatting with me with the same drink in both of our hands, I think she would be a little upset. I know I would be."

"Perhaps we could act like we are old grammar school friends and just happened to run into one another?"

"Well, that would be a lie."

"Yes, that would be a lie."

"Which would mean we were hiding something from said wife."

"And what would that be?"

"That you approached me after I looked at you, perhaps the look from me wasn't flirtatious, maybe I thought you looked familiar, like I had seen you somewhere, and you came up to me and ordered me a drink and started a conversation with me, much like we are doing right now."

"What's wrong with conversation?" The bartender approached them and placed the two drinks in front of the man. The man took out his wallet without losing his gaze on the woman, took out a twenty and slid it toward the bartender. The bartender took the twenty, paused for a moment to see if the man wanted any change, but left when he saw he didn't want any by not moving.

"Conversation can lead to very dangerous things," the woman said playfully and wise.

"Your here by yourself and your not stupid; someone is going to come up to talk to you."

"And your that somebody?"

"I'm sure I'm not the first one tonight."

"Your sweet."

"I try," he said as he slid the drink over to here,"Your drink."

"What should we drink too?" She asked and raised her glass, the light above them reflecting in the ice-cubes and thick glass of the high-ball.

"Conversation," he said proudly and with a smile, "And the danger that it brings."

They clinked their glasses together, their eyes never leaving one another, and they both took a long drink.

"I'm not here with anybody and I'm not expecting anybody tonight either," the woman said.

"What's your name?"

"Why?"

"I want to be able to tell my friends I met a very interesting woman, but they won't believe me if I don't give them a name."

"I'm standing right here, silly. Go and tell them you met the most interesting woman in your entire life, look over at me when they ask you what my name is, then point over to me and I'll wave."

"You'll be here?"

"I'll be here."

"Promise?"

"Go, go, go," she repeated, pushing him back toward his table, "You bought me a drink, didn't you? The least I can do is wave to your drunken college friends."

The man walked back to his table, glancing quickly over his shoulder, trying to hide it, before he reached the table. He arrived to all of them drunk, beer spilt on the table and an ashtray full of punched out cigarettes and ground up cigars. Every one of them were rocking back and forth with each other, their arms sloppily hung around their neighbor's shoulders, their eyes blood shot with their mouth half-cracked open barely breathing in the smoky, beer smelling air. The man struggled to wedge his way into the circle, and when he did, he tried to get the groups attention by screaming an
Cunning Linguist Aug 2015
Through a crowd
of homeless Vietnam war vets
Betcha I'm textin looking for more ***
From ****** galore
Open the back door and explore

Wreck that ***** (then I'm on to the next)
Next level ****, I'm on one at best
Deftly slip a little in your sister's sip
Now I'm caressing her *******
Hoping and praying my conquest ends with ******!
Yes, I confess I'm grotesque,
but I have finesse
I play that ***** like a game of chess

Bare witness -
I only ***** with the fattest of *******
Robbed a ******'s V-card
Now I'm charged with theft

I'm possessed and I have Tourette's
Ingested some drugs at the playground
Now I'm getting undressed
Digest my suggestive rhymes
I'm just a poor kid repressed
Manifest my pervertedness
My mind is a mess,
a nest
of enmeshed ******

And I obsess for excesses of distastefulness

It's disgraceful
My biracial angel
When I go directly from **** to ******
- In the blink of an eye
My *** game is fatal
Robbing the cradle & writing fables simultaneously
Screaming banzai!
Whilst I swan dive
straight into your ***** hole
& disable it

I'm insatiable,
Your mind is impregnable
Cause the impeccable mental images
I paint aren't erasable
Incomprehensible and intangible
Yet undeniable, I'm a despicable imbecile
Gazing in the peephole
Took a blindfolded stroll
down ***** lane and I'm on patrol
for an ocean of blowholes hundredfold

At the club so I dropped a bunch of Ecstasy
Take my shirt off so the ******* can all laugh at me
Tryna get the best of me
So I spite them out of jealousy
And absently drift away
through my mind to pornographic fantasy
My rhapsodic masterpiece
A mental form of ******
Getting busy in the squishy
til I'm dizzy in the hizzy
Swag, I do it valiantly

Turn it up this my jam
~Little ditty, bout jackin Diane~
Still a pity, too bad she's a man
Greasy ***** slap your eggs on my ham
If you'd prefer,
I might lend you a hand
Ram bam
bite the pillow I'm coming in dry
Don't be shy
Turn down for why
Either way have you in chains
by the end of the night

I'm a nemesis
***** slapping feminists
For emphasis
Hit em with a left fist
catching equal rights and ****
Yes I reek of cannabis
Can't handle bars I spit
Snide *******,
blame it on my pride and prejudice... ugh

I'm just a ******* egotist
An unrepentant hedonist
Check out Cunning Linguist
He da hypnotistic lyricist
This is my hypothesis
Maybe I'm just a nihilist
Detonating bombs
Catch me on the terrorist watchlist
Yes my words are devastating
But in your mind are resonating
Penetrating brains til it all begins disintegrating

I'm plastered
Falling over backwards
Mental state is fractured
Now watch me while I stagger
Tell your mother run for cover
Finna kidnap her


Pop pop
Got this **** on lock
Seeing double vision
Catch me jizzin in my sock

Steady speaking nonsense
Nearly unconscious
Bailing from the cops man
Too much Dwayne Johnson
***** have the nerve to call me obtuse
I be that Mr. got ***** the size of grapefruits
Dallas Phoenix Apr 2015
Her tone,
Crispy like new pair of headphones,
Screams when I finger down her *G string
,
Love hearing her moan,
Get over here and lay on my lap,
One hand down your neck while the other's ready to smack,
She's a brand new model,
My pick up line was immaculate,
Coke bottle modelling body,
Fuzz pedal throttled and jacked you in,
You fret all day and no one to hammer your strings,
******* Brew in Chili Peppers but I'm willing to make you Cream,
So lay across my leg and let me do the rest,
All that phat bass and no one to properly make you wet,
Rubbing across your curves making sure your knobs are turned,
Steel strings tight and ready to give this spanking you deserve,
Tease and deceive till your ready to sing,
Slip my fingers down your A and I'm ready to B,
Playing your scales,
Hitting that tail,
Your mahogany curves scrumptious as hell,
Maybe I'll stand up and ****** my hips,
Into that back of that phat bass while loving the notes you hit,
Strap you on because the way I like to hit it is hard,
Octaves ****** and quiver on my fingers,
Your heart,
The shape of that wide, seductive and sumptuous ***,
All that bass you have can make any guy..........
Meztli Apr 2015
The rooster sings to the sun,
answering the call is the light that embraces all.
All at once the birds sing their own song.

Awaken by mother's sweet voice.
"It's time to go" she says.
She hands me a  green cubeta con maiz.
The corn's color is purple and white instantly
I fall in love with its kind
The cold blue morning gives me chills.
I carry the bucket to my grandmother's house.

With her mandil and her braided hair,
she sits by the comal making tortillas.
"Good morning abueltia" with a smile on my face.
"Good morning m'ija" she replies.
I keep walking carrying the heavy bucket.

A small room next to a store crowded with senoras.
Their rebozos around their heads and arms and buckets in hand.
I feel so small so young but inside I'm proud.
I wait in line as I greet and make small talk.
These ladies have the nicest smiles.

My turn, I grab my cubeta and proceed to the molino.
My arms are too little.
A lady approaches and helps me load the molino.
I watch in awe as the grains turn in masa.
I bend down and collect it.
"En una bolita" the lady tells me to shape it.
I nod and continue to make it.

Gray like the color of my grandma's hair.
soft like my mother's hand.
I fill the bucket with the masa.
I thank las senoras and head back to mi casa.

I hand the bucket to my mom who was milking la vaca.
She starts the comal and gets the cal.
Her hands slapping the masa like she was clapping.
Perfect big round warm tortillas.
I was a little girl that helped her make them.
A little girl that still remembers.
Childhood memories in Mexico.
Stephen E Yocum Sep 2013
Can there possibly be,
any more affable and
devoted friend than big old dog?

Dogs; the only animal in the world,
bred, and raised that have within
them one driving passion and desire,
to live along side and please their
human companions.

Should we find reason to scold,
or forcibly correct them for some
transgression of unwanted behavior,
They merely love us with their eyes
of shinning acceptance and affection,
Ready to forgive and forget.

A dog is not petty, they hold no grudges.
They seldom nag, never talk too much,
In short they are the perfect friend.

Other than a hopeful encouraging gaze,
Two times a day, like clock work,
Beseeching us as they do, for food,
They seldom require anything of us.
Except to be protected, loved
And treated fair.

Oh sure they also let us know when,
they need to go outside to do their Duty.
Now that is so completely preferable,
to that other odious option.
How **** smart is that?
Sometimes I don't even know,
when I got to go to the bathroom,
And I'm an intelligent human.

At least once a day, they
conspicuously stand at the
door, leash in their mouth
looking to go outside,
for a little exercise.
And gentle reminder to us,
that a brisk walk would,
do us more good, than them.

I can sometimes be a little down,
When along comes my canine clown,
And charms and delights all that,
Right out of me. Such is their nature.

Even merely going out to the garage,
for less than five minutes,
Upon my return, I'm excitedly,
lovingly greeted as if,
I'd been gone forever.

Five minutes or five days,
To a dog, it does not matter.
Unconditional love has
no built in time meter.

If you could hook up,
their gyrating, manic tails,
to your house current,
no utilities' bills need be paid.

Sometimes I swear,
that old dog of mine,
is actually smiling.

Long tailed dogs can be a bit of a menace,
What with their "Excitement Whip" appendage,
slapping seated kids on the floor, in the face,
And sweeping all the little bric-er-brac,
keep sakes, right off your coffee table.
A small price to pay for all their affection,  

I like people just fine,
but I must honestly admit,
to the company of noble dogs,
I can be completely content.

Sure occasionally I seek the
reassuring comradeship,
of some good humans
As long as my dog,
can come along,
and attend the party too.

When I was a child,
we moved a lot,
Human Friends
were not in abundance.
It was an old loving dog.
that pulled me through,
all those dark hours and,
I have never forgotten.

It was about then,
that I truly understood,
that dogs are people too.
Much smarter than,
we give them credit.

The only real sad part
to this compatible pairing,
this marriage of the heart,
is that we must always,
it seems, out live our buddies.

Love is love and
gone is gone
and nothing
can ever change that.

That loss has come
to me, more times
than I care to remember.
I weep and morn and
Swear to never ever,
Suffer that pain again.
That my last dear friend,
was beyond replacement.

Yet a sweet new
little puppy can
do wonders to heal
a sad broken heart.

Once more you begin,
to open your soul
and embrace that
young pup forever.
And what was old,
is new again.

And just starting over,
that fresh beginning,
That new budding
friendship,
Is what's important.

For no man is an Island
as long as he has a
good dog beside him.
A little surgery, sure. Over stated, maybe too
sentimental, could be. But if you ever had a
great dog in your life I think you'll get it.
To those of you that hate this write, go buy
or rescue a dog and a year or so later talk
to me. Or better yet write some verse.
I bet it will contain some of this same
sentimental dribble will drip from your
chin too.
If you can keep your dignity when all about you
Are losing theirs and pretending its not true,
If you can avoid contact when all men want you,
But straight faced act like you want them too,
If you can force a smile and never tire of smiling
Or being fake, never believe the lies
Or being grabbed, never give way to slapping
And yet listening to *****, just bat your eyes

If you can dance – and use it to men master
If you can flirt – and not fancy, play a game
If you can have nights o’ triumph and disaster
And come back to work just the same  
If you can bear to hear some filth to you spoken
Uttered by fathers to get off on, the fools
Or watch brothers pretend they’ve just woken
And to our sisters, say they play by the rules

If you can make one big heap of cash earnings
And not think you won’t ever make a big loss
And save, and start again as if you’ve no savings
And never boast or act like the boss
If you can force your mind and body and sinew
To serve endless men like they’re the only one
And be a drunkard, when there’s not drop in you
Accept it’s a job and it’s a job to get done

If you can talk with rich men who have no virtue
Or sit with ****** – not attend to their crotch
If neither boss nor floor staff ever alert to you
If all the girls like you, but none too much
If you can stay how you feel this minute
With your innocent heart pure and head clear
Yours is the ******* and the cash that’s in it
And – which is more – you’re a stripper, my dear!
A Stripper's ode to Rudyard Kipling's poem 'If'
Men
When I was young, I used to
Watch behind the curtains
As men walked up and down the street. Wino men, old men.
Young men sharp as mustard.
See them. Men are always
Going somewhere.
They knew I was there. Fifteen
Years old and starving for them.
Under my window, they would pause,
Their shoulders high like the
******* of a young girl,
Jacket tails slapping over
Those behinds,
Men.

One day they hold you in the
Palms of their hands, gentle, as if you
Were the last raw egg in the world. Then
They tighten up. Just a little. The
First squeeze is nice. A quick hug.
Soft into your defenselessness. A little
More. The hurt begins. Wrench out a
Smile that slides around the fear. When the
Air disappears,
Your mind pops, exploding fiercely, briefly,
Like the head of a kitchen match. Shattered.
It is your juice
That runs down their legs. Staining their shoes.
When the earth rights itself again,
And taste tries to return to the tongue,
Your body has slammed shut. Forever.
No keys exist.

Then the window draws full upon
Your mind. There, just beyond
The sway of curtains, men walk.
Knowing something.
Going someplace.
But this time, I will simply
Stand and watch.

Maybe.
Lady Bird Jan 2015
somehow stupidity
slithers so slowly
showing ****
smiling so sweetly
sometimes
slapping-em senseless
strengthens
smiling snakes
I made up this crazy "Tongue Twister"
Can you say it 5 times fast?... lol
Hal Loyd Denton Oct 2012
First what I learned about business at six years old my sister and cousin were out in the pasture behind the house on Jefferson St
We were this messing around and we found these turnips in a line in these little piles with weeds piled on top they were covered
With little flakes of ice very cold on bare fingers we weren’t deterred before long the little red wagon was bulging or this was
The sales and delivery truck so now let’s find some customers so off we went door to door people were pleased and we did a crisp
Business success came to fast we were up at Beno’s little standard gas station spending our windfall so back to work well
Got back to the house and then I thought man uncle Fred was living in the office now defunct after the green house went down
We all have old uncles how sweet fun loving knee slapping koots hold on big sale straight ahead so I knocked on the door the door
Opens wide prospective customer is ready to be sold uncle Fred would you like to buy some turnips then it happened right above his
Collar red started to rise it was surprising to say the least it seemed like right then was when the ping pong game started in my mind it would
Bounce back and forth front to back one side was thinking this is wild then hey this looks like a thermometer how is he doing that
Then as it kept going to his full white head of hair one part of the Childs brain is it going to catch on fire about then the top of his head
Didn’t blow off the only place available came to life this great roar emits from his mouth if this was a peanuts comic strip our
Hair would all be blown straight back I also didn’t know he had been a sailor and I thought he had me confused with someone else I
Heard that happens to older folks he spoke as though he thought we had a hearing problem then the mistake he said you sons a b——-
No I’m Lavern’s boy your sisters daughter he said what were you doing in my turnips back to the back part of the brain I was thinking
Thank God we already cashed out our profits butter fingers baby Ruth’s bubble gum and all the other candy was all I was thinking
Well and how to go out of business gracefully mostly in a hurry how fast can you get a wagon in motion going the other direction
maybe it was me but from then on he looked like he looked on us with a birds eye and we were worms to tell the truth I’m still not a
Great fan of turnips later I learned the line cussing like a sailor I thought he must have really sailed long and hard.

How come your brain doesn’t have a red flashing light when you’re going to do something stupid Halloween night eight years old?
Costume or lack of one go out as Minnie pearl straw hat corn cob pipe and dress the late October wind was alive to say the least
Legs so use to cover and warmth now pop cycles so high then the thrill of cold wind whipping up you rear what to do slap your legs
Together that only would help the inside cross your legs then you couldn’t walk only thing left grin and bear it what else could go
Wrong walk up to the door the guy whips the light on why couldn’t a lady have come to the door an old lady so it’s show time for
Effect I **** on the pipe one problem the idiot who made the pipe didn’t clean out the dust when he drilled the well part of the pipe
No problem I cleaned it out the tongue barely felt it the throat got the whole load so for the next three minutes I choked gagged spit
All Over the guys yard he was quiet amused it seems later I found a piece of paper that said inspected by number fifty four I wanted to
Write a letter dear fifty four but I didn’t have any other address and I was to small any way so frozen somewhere from the middle of
My shorts down half strangled I hate Halloween.
Almost childhood
The Jefferson gang went to the lake to camp out we were in this hideaway deserted spot off the main lake at the end of a slough
It was as black as the end side of a barrel and cranes are almost extinct well why this one had to stay alive at our camp site
It would fly over the water right at you then make this terrifying sound it was like a white specter a ghostly sight and it just kept doing
It well what do the brave do I can’t speak for them but I can speak for five spooked cowards we all jumped into a pup tent for two all
Of us were armed with shotguns all I know is if a farmers bull or cow walked up and mooed it would have been cow dunnie everywhere
A tent hanging in tatters and all of us chocking from gun powder at close quarters and deaf somehow we ****** up our guts and went
To bed it was five thirty in the morning it was nice and cold but I had pants on I was down at the edge of the water the mist was over
The water and then the biggest boom it was like a farmer had been blowing out a stump with dynamite and forgot the last stick or it
Was the crack of doom maybe it was I whirled around and there was Jesus standing right in front of the camp fire his Indian blanket
Held straight out with both arms I heard how he turned water into wine but he turned our campsite into chef Boyardee spaghetti
Factory well at least Charlie Cole did he came late into the camp out idea he wasn’t there when we were told to punch a hole in the
Can Before you throw it in the fire to heat it up he had scalding hot spaghetti on his face in his hair all over the tree limbs he continued
His Christ like imitation like he was amazed or in deep worship where ever he was he felt no pain maybe he was where the can went we
never did find it I hope no one was blown out of bed by the blast well it didn’t make the paper I guess all kinds of crap happens at the
lake.
Bruce Mackintosh Sep 2012
It should be
illegal
because
I don’t
look good
in shorts --
white spindly
legs
like those on
an emu
and big
fat feet
slapping the
suffering
pavement.
For no reason he starts screaming
Then begins to hit you
Shouting for no given purpose
He will begin to bite himself

It is then as nothing happened
He plays with an electronic game
Something then will disrupt him
So begins punching himself in the head

He will not wait his turn
Even when others are already speaking
So starts to bite himself once more
Shouting out threatening behaviour

You can never try to tell him off
It will only make him worse
He believes he is only allowed to shout
He will never understand what you say

The throwing of things will then commence
Showing you outrage and anger
Comes up and shouts in your face
Followed by slapping and hitting you

Then it will all suddenly stop
Begins talking nicely to you
Talking non-stop about his cars
He will then put them all in a line

Come and ask for a cuddle
Not even remember what just happened
For an hour or two he talks politely
You dare not try to change the subject

Never try to break his routine
For he will start swearing at you
Everything will start all over again
Because he will never understand change

He even hates his baby sister
Because he needs all the attention
He has no understanding of sharing
Or how to ever show fair play

He is locked away in his own world
Expects everyone to know what he is thinking
He can not even dress himself
But he has a perfect photographic memory

Others will never come to realise
They will only think the worst of him
They call him names behind his back
All because he is a little different

Autistic children may be a challenge
But remember, they are still children
All they need is understanding
So, will you love him?

copyright Chris Smith 2012
For children with Autism/Asperger's Syndrome
If only we could understand autism a bit more
shayla ennis Oct 2016
(Narrator):
Upon a sunny day you see a girl leading a horse up a beach in the heated sun of the Roman Empire. She is a princess to a great roman king. This king’s name be Alexander the Great who in our history died young. The king dressed in white with red sashes covered over it is in the mist of trying to find his daughter a husband, one who will be fit to be king when he no longer can. The beach being sunny and warm princess Auria has chosen to take her horse for a ride while her father speaks to his men of the council.
Princess Auria: [riding her horse down the beach in a gentle stride] [clip clop………]

(Narrator):
Suddenly the horse rears up into the air throwing the princess from its back!

Princess Auria: [haa… … screaming [smacking into the ground] thump!]

Enters: Tibius [walking up to the horse who threw the princess tibius calls for it to calm itself and then walks up to Princess Auria asking… …]

Tibius: dear lady do you need some assistance?

Princess Auria: no but I thank you for retrieving my horse. Asking herself under her breath… What could have scared you so…?

Tibius: I believe it may have been that serpent over there near the sands edge.

Princess Auria: oh that must be the reason, Thank you again. What be your name young man.

Tibius: my name lady be Tibius and you are most welcome.
Princess Auria: Tibius you say. Would you be willing to come with me to see my father and gain his thanks as well for he would be most grateful to you for what you have done this day.

Tibius: I know not why this is needed but I will follow lead the way my lady.

Princess Auria: please call me Auria.

(Narrator):
Princess Auria leading the way takes Tibius to the king her father who sits in the throne room talking to friends and family. Walking up to her father she tells him what tibius has done. Tibius stands there after being shocked that the lady he helped was actually the princess. Not knowing what to say to the king tibius stands before him in silence.
King Alexander: you a man so young and by the looks of it having little coin save my daughter! This cannot be…

Tibius: if I may speak great king.

King Alexander: you may do so.

Tibius: I was walking along the beach when I saw a horse running in my direction but without rider. I choosing to find said owner came upon your daughter the princess Auria and thus I am now before you.

King Alexander: if this be true what my daughter says than you must in some way be rewarded. But how is the question…

(Narrator):
Enters Princess Auria’s mother Dayanara, coming from tending the gardens within the palace walls dressed in a blue dress trimmed in silver she walks towards her husband the king.

Dayanara: my husband may I say a word or two for I have heard what was said and have an idea.

King Alexander: what idea would you have dear wife.

Dayanara: I speak this let him guard Auria from this time forward both within the walls and without them so as we her parents need not fret so when she goes off alone. I know it may be much for so small a thing. Let him be her personal protector. My other words spoken, I have word of someone who wishes marriage to our daughter.

King Alexander: this is a wondrous idea about Tibius being a protector, let as my wife speaks be done. Do you agree daughter? What about this marriage you speak of Dayanara? Who?

Princess Auria: yes father it is a pleasing reward.

King Alexander: and you Tibius. What do you say to this?

Tibius: I can do nothing else but agree for not too would be a dishonor to both you and your family king Alexander. So yes I say to what has been spoken.

(Narrator):
Scene changes to a battle on the high mountains behind the palace near the ocean. Hundreds of men from Rome and far off Greece that comes by ship battle on the damp sands and grasses of roman earth to take what is not theirs the Greeks wish. Blood and life be spilled at all ends and innocent’s being slaughtered without care. The roman princess waiting in the palace by her mother’s side wondering what is to become of them because no word has yet come about how the battle fares.
[On the battle field]

King Alexander: men raise your blades, your shields, do not yield! Do not I say!
[Clashing, banging of armor and weapons]

King Alexander: men forward March, lances and horses ready. [Forward……!]

(Narrator):

Enters: solder sadeen

Sadeen: my king the battle falls not to us but our enemy we lose men to fast.

King Alexander: we must find a way to get them into the water and then hit them with fire and oil that will burn greatly.

Sadeen: we could place oil along the hills and light it aflame this may drive them back if we make it strong and high.

King Alexander: see it done sadeen; see it done fast for I fear we will lose as you spoke before if you do not.

Sadeen: [riding away from the king at full gallop towards his men to carry out the orders given]
[Gallop… gallop…]

(Narrator): Sadeen follows the Kings orders by lighting aflame ***** of hay covered in oil his soldiers pushing them down the green grass hills where battle takes place to weaken the Greeks ground and might. [Greeks screaming]
[Outcry…… Shrieking…… Men dying]

King Alexander: [praying to himself that what he has asked of his men does not fail] you boy over their go to my family and give them this letter see to it that it is only to them you give it.
[Yes my lord]

(Narrator):
The boy with the letter runs as fast as his legs can carry him back threw the roman streets to the palace and gives the letter to the queen. The queen opens it and read the news of how the battle fares and the instructions given if the king falls.

Dayanara: [calling her daughter] auria… auria…

Princess Auria: what is it mother? Why do you yell so?

Dayanara: your father has written of the battle he pleads with us to leave and go to the villa where you grew as a child for the battle does not fare well and he fears that they will lose. He speaks to us that he will send someone to find us if they win. Come we must go.

Princess Auria: I will find Tibius he can see us to safety out of Rome and to the villa.

Dayanara: go to him in silence speak to no one else only him.

Princess Auria: yes mother [off she runs with her footed sandals slapping on the marble floors as she does].

(Narrator):
Princess Auria runs to the solders corridor and finds Tibius telling him in hurried breath that they must leave fathers words for they are in danger. Tibius gathers up his things and follows the princess back to the royal halls and they silently leave threw the gardens heading to were the villa rests dressed in peasants clothing they be. The king back in the battle hopes that the letter he wrote as found them in time. [He once more prays]

Tibius: come my ladies this way but be careful and quite

Dayanara: we walk silent but you must call us by our names not by title Tibius

Auria: mother is right do as she says for doing so will make others think we are peasants and family. It be less likely they will look our way with suspicion.

(Narrator):
[Suddenly Greek soldiers come of darkened shadows intending to strike and **** the ladies Tibius raises his blade to stop them].

Tibius: [Crash…… his blade smashing into another]

Soldier: his blade striking back [Clashing……]

Tibius: striking the soldier down leaving blood pooling upon the marble path [rushing away]

(Scene):
Days later the three peasants make it to a quite villa outside of Rome and begin a new life as mere workers for those who live there. Any who ask about the owners the peasants simple tell them that they are away due to the battle. They being servants were made to stay behind to keep the place clean for when the owners returned, when that is they do not know. Weeks and more months pass with no word from the king they begin to fear that all is lost when one day a man wearing roman armor rides up asking for the lady Dayanara. Tibius stepping forward asks why? They must return this man says for the king calls them to him.

Tibius: who is the king?

Stanger:  King Alexander of course

Tibius: wait here go nowhere else

Dayanara: what is it?

Tibius: there is a roman outside he says the king calls for us

Dayanara: then we go; this is the sign, find my daughter and gather our things.

Tibius: yes lady right away

(Narrator): They return home going back the way they had left, but through the city rather than the village.

(Scene change): they are home at the royal palace before the king once more, but he was not alone.

King Alexander: you have returned safe, this makes me happy, and rushing to them he smiles [giving them fierce hugs]

Dayanara/ Auria: we are glad to be with you once more, it was worrisome and lonely without your presence being with us.

Dayanara/ Auria: who is this man that stands before us with Greek Armor?  Why is he not dead or imprisoned like the others?

King alexander: he is the prince of the Greek people and the son of King Simentos. Please be polite let me explain what has come about from the great battle on Mount Tear. [He explains]

(Narrator): alexander tells both his wife and daughter that the battle was won due to the son calling up a white flag of truce and asking that no more blood of their people be shed. (Enters Brontes).

Brontes: I am the son and prince of Greek and I wish to come up with a way to unite our lands and people. Your father mentioned that he was looking to finding you Auria a husband; I know that me being Greek may not seem a pleasant thing but I hope for a chance to prove my worth to you.

Auria: I know you be Greek but what does that have to do with the man you have become I see not. The place we are born and live helps us to grow but does not make us who we are.

Dayanara: husband I believe that Auria likes him and they seem to be getting along well [she whispers to him].

King alexander: do you think then that the idea of marriage to Brontes will suit her well, that she will love and or care for him as he will to her.

Dayanara: I do, but let them decide what their choice will be.

(Scene):  the princess and prince wonder into the garden that is covered with the roman flower called the Gladiolus which means sword lily. Speaking of many things that have happened in their lives they continue walking. She tells him that she would hope to see both her homes often if she were to say yes to this peace proposal.

Alexander/Dayanara:  we must speak with the two of you. Have you come to a decision about what this marriage may mean?

Auria/Brontes:  we have come to a final choice after our long talk. We believe that this marriage would be well placed for both of us to accept. We have chosen to wed here and stay till the spring then to travel to Brontes’s home and have a smaller wedding there to please his father. Though this set of weddings we will sign a truce treaty combining our to lands and people.

Dayanara/ Alexander: that is well thought of from both of you. Well done, I believe that this is going to be a very happy time for all of us. Let the wedding be within a months’ time.

(Narrator): the wedding takes place upon the hill where the battle was once fought this is where they will make peace and sign the treaty. The wedding is beautiful and the flowers that are thrown around them show their unity. Both are dressed in the colors of the ocean and their prospective homes. {This is the end of their tale and perhaps a new beginning for us all on earth}.

THE END
playwrite
Ivy Leigh Aug 2015
Today I saw something simple
Simple but fun
And I knew you'd love

And I want to be that nicE guy
But I get nothing back but
2 bottle caps and a happy birthday <3

LOOIVVEEE
ivy :)
twas a most disturbing scene
in a kitchen at Aberdeen
the details are too horrific
to disclose
let's say this
and this alone
the forensic team
had to ladle some bone
bits of dermis
were scattered around
the kitchen compound

the wife had done the deed
she'd disposed of her husband
who was a bad seed

he'd been thumping and slapping
her around
knocking her with force
to the ground
she'd contended
with his rough house treatment
for far too long
so she decided
to right his wrong

she's in prison
doing time
but it is her husband
who now tows the line

domestic violence
did him no favors

a woman was pushed
one too many times
in a kitchen at Aberdeen
gruesome was the crime
This poem is based on a true story.
zebra Jan 2019
they danced in a dream
of bending shadows
face down
begging ***
all hungry back door paradise

ankles strapped on a foot worn floor
paint faced in whorey nights
with pin needle eyes
beded
blood crimson neon's
cut curtains
like kissing claws
so their bodies wouldn't forget
dark pleasures lightening
and biting tantra tantrums
they swallowed mad ***** blossoms of hell candy
breathing the others inhalations
foot sniffing ballet arch
in fastened Japanese melting red slippers

gazing upwards rectums prayer
solar eyed insurrection

finger by finger
clutching wrists like the grave
for bloods salty cove
an injured landscape
a dire pink desert
like bogs hold bones
a rave for a slave
covered in yellow ocher rubber sheets
soft on the feet
x rated amputee costume
made of blood and spit

look mommy no arms
a bellied tattoo
of hennaed homunculi  
burning Candomblé Jejé, skull

black eyed beauty hissing
while accordion throated
rip tie tighten
another notch please
a dizzy *******
down silver fluted gullet
in a steamed up bath house
party of blotted sockets

*** kitten
kissed dead girls thighs
tremulous and stretched
a shimmering serum
like wide tubular channels
as pontoon edges slit
through midnight howls for velvet skinned girl
who thrills
her head a veiled Jehovah
saliva wagging tongue ****
a stuttering ****** dance
a hula hot momma in rubble
slapping hot lipped kisses
over starved darkness
along telegraphs avenue
melting eyes like butter
a globed pudding spill
******* drool drops of gold
and black river gladiators
slaughter lies
with every long stroke
between cascading squeals

paraphilias mausoleum
like tumbling eels
a scapegoat pulp fiction
chiseled in cement
******* rips
drip drip drip

babbling **** bubbles
**** spasms ooze like a hot glue gun
fire spats soil cherry clover
A Tale of Two
Her Story>>>>
Today was my free day and I longed for some soothing nature time. I had my picnic basket with some food and wine. I wanted to enjoy my afternoon alone. I was just standing there, waiting for the cars to pass me so I could cross the street to the park. He walked by me and the wind blew his scent right to me. He smelled like heaven on earth.
I am very familiar with many scents and this one was new to me. I watched him walk past me. He was hansom with dark hair are mysterious eyes. His hair blowing in the breeze just as mine was. I love that feeling, being caressed by the wind. Before I knew it he was out of sight. I did not see where he had gone, for I had been day dreaming of what he would be like to kiss.
I continued on my way to the park and found a nice quiet place to read my book. I laid out my blanket and flung off my shoes. I wanted to lay there under the fading sun and enjoy the wind flirting with my dress while I read. It’s a warm windy day and its perfect. I had been reading for 30 minutes before I was warmly surprised by the smell that came to me. It was the smell of the man who had passed me. I looked up and saw him; he was standing over me with a poetry book in his hand. I smiled and invited him to sit down.

He smiled and introduced himself as a fellow nature lover. He didn’t tell me his name and at this point I was so surprised by his presence that it didn’t matter. I sat up and I asked him if he would join me in a glass of wine. He comically answered that he is sorry but we both cannot fit in that glass! I laughed and poured two classes of BlackStone red. He accepted with a smile. I lay back down on my stomach with my book half-open. My heart was beating so fast, he was right here with me and I could smell him, it was wonderful. We were strangers and I had no idea how he found me or why.
"What brings you to the park today?" I asked. He didn’t answer me, he just looked into my eyes for the longest time and then slowly bent down and kissed me. I thought my heart was going to be heard for miles. Surely he could hear it! It was a very long sweet kiss, perfect in every way, as if we had been kissing each other for years. I broke my lips free reluctantly and asked him once again, "who are you?" He opened his mouth and he said, "I came to the park today because you are here" I was speechless, I didn’t know what to say.

I turned over and lay on my back ready to question him again. He was right next to me, a man out of a dream, just appearing from no where. My mouth opened to ask once again who he was and as soon as I did his lips fell to mine in a long wet kiss. He was pure heaven to touch tongues with. I was enjoying myself too much to ask him anything. I dropped my book and heard the pages flapping in the wind while we kissed. My hands made their way to his dark hair and I could not help myself, I pulled him closer to me. There was no one around; we were in no danger of being seen. He moved closer to me and held me tight. I could not brake away from his kiss, nor did I want to.
He left my lips on his own, kissing my neck. He whispered in my ear "I have been watching you for a while now". I suddenly felt a little frightened. I do not know this man at all and yet he is kissing me. He reached past me and into my picnic basket. He pulled out the strawberries and nibbled on one while staring at me. I couldn’t speak, I was staring right back and it was like he had my mind engulfed with thoughts.
He then fed me a strawberry very slowly; juice ran down the side of my mouth. He reached down and licked it off with his tongue. I whimpered, I wanted him so bad. He picked up another berry and took a big bite, the juice feel on my chest between my *******. I looked him in the eyes, smiled and closed my eyes and waited for him to lick it off me. And he did, very slowly lick it off and trailed his tongue down the length of the opening of my blouse.
He began unbuttoning me, my hand went to stop him, and he reached out and held my hand. He kissed my fingers and said, "abandon all fears". I let my hand fall to the grass and let him unbutton me. I was wearing nothing under my shirt, no bra. I felt his breath touch me on my ******, and I felt it rise to a stiff peak. He took a bite of a strawberry and left half of it on the stem. He kissed me once again, and at the same time I felt the chill of the cold half strawberry touching my ******.
This was heaven, my god I felt a trickle of my own juice run from my *****. I was whimpering while he was kissing me. He touched me so slowly and with such care. The cold berry circling my ****** and the kiss at the same time was driving me wild. He moved and began ******* the strawberry mess of my ******. I held his head to my ****** for a moment, it felt so good. I felt his hand reach for my thigh, soft and warm hand just caressing me. He found my wetness and was surprised by it.
I smiled and giggled, what could I say. He looked right in my eyes and told me I was about to get a licking I would never forget. He was very right! He knew what he was doing, and he made me *** so fast I couldn’t believe it. I was in heaven. Still quivering and whimpering I rolled over on top of him. I kissed him like he was my long lost love. I quickly unbuttoned his pants while a stared at him with glazed satisfied eyes. I moved lower and found his throbbing **** staring at me. I took him into my mouth while I stared into his eyes. I saw the thrill he was having as the moistness from my mouth mixed with the wind as I moved up and down. He tasted and felt wonderful and I couldn’t stop myself from wanting all of it for myself.
I heard the noise of pleasure comes from him and suddenly he stopped me and laid me down in the grass next to the blanket. He wanted me as much as I wanted him. He joined me and made love to me in the grass. The breeze blowing over our bodies, the currents within exploding. He stayed on top of me and started kissing me again.

I broke the kiss and I whispered to him, "Who are you?" He simply reached for the wine and smiled. He filled my glass and placed the cup in my hand while he buttoned my blouse and smiled. I sat up and looked into his eyes, why do I feel is if I know him! He bit my thigh and I jumped spilling the wine on my skirt. I ran to the water fountain to rinse it off and when I looked back he was gone. There was no way he could have left without passing me! I was stunned. I went back to my blanket and collected my things. My book was gone, he taken it. And he had also replaced it with the book of poetry he had brought with him. There was no name written in it, no sign of who he was. Just a book of poetry and a note slipped into a fitting page of love for a moment and it read ‘Meet me in the moon light tomorrow night, I will be waiting" and it was signed no longer a secret admirer.

His Story>>>>
I saw her again yesterday. This time when I went past, she seemed to notice me. Like so many days recently, she took my breath away. I remember the first time I saw her; she was wearing a **** black dressed that crossed at the front. Today, she was carrying a picnic basket.
I ducked behind a corner and watched. Who was this woman? And more important, whom is she going to have a picnic with? I followed at a safe distance and watched her unpack & prepare a picnic for one. She started reading a book and I knew she would be there for a while. I don’t know why, but I decided to backtrack and bought collection of Emily Dickinson poems before making my way back to the park. When I got back, my heart pumped hard in my chest. I could feel a throbbing in my head as the blood coursed through my brain.

Suddenly, I was only aware of our immediate surroundings. The sun caressing my face, the wind lapping at my hair. And her. She looked radiant in the dappled light of the afternoon, her hair flowing over her shoulders. Her sensuous mouth twitched every now and again as she read. Something caught her attention and she looked up at me. I was a mess. All I could come up with was that I was a fellow nature lover. I just stood there until she invited me to sit down.
Worse still, when she asked me to join her in a glass of wine, I blurted "I’m sorry, but we both cannot fit in that glass". At least she laughed and when she handed me the wine she asked why I was there. Having made a fool of myself already, I decided that actions would speak louder than words and surprised both of us by leaning forward and kissing her.
Her mouth was beautiful- soft, full lips. I could taste the wine on her lips and as my tongue gently parted them. Her mouth opened to greet mine and I took her lower lip between my lips.
She was reluctant at first but warmed to me and I felt her hand on the back of my head pulling me to her. I was no longer aware of anything but her. Nothing else mattered.
At one point she asked me again why I was there. I couldn’t believe it when I heard myself say that I had been watching her. "Great", I thought. "Don’t worry about looking foolish because now you look like a psychopath". Deciding for the second time that silence was golden, I kissed her again. Our tongues explored each other’s mouths.
I could feel her warm breath on my face and I pressed my body firmly against hers. My leg found its way between her legs as I used it to press on her *****. Reaching for some of her strawberries, I took one in my mouth and fed her the rest. I put a strawberry half in my mouth and lent forward to give her the rest. She bit into it and our lips caressed as she swallowed it. When some juice escaped her mouth and ran down her cheek, I licked it off, running my ******* trail from the base of her neck up to her mouth.
She was now irresistible; I had to have her. I undid her dress button by button. I licked berry juice from her ****** as I felt it harden under my tongue. I ran my tongue around and around her ******, then from the base of it to the tip. I felt her back arch towards me as my hand wandered down her body. The leg, which had been pressing against her *****, was damp. Her ******* were completely soaked and I was astonished to find her completely shaven as my fingers slipped under the waistband.
She opened her legs as my fingers slipped inside her. As I let my fingers caress her ****, I kissed and nibbled my way down her body. The further I moved down, the stronger her scent became. It was intoxicating and I knew that I must have her juices flowing over my tongue. My fingers slipped under her ******* and I gently pulled them down, very slowly. She lifted herself off the ground, inviting me to take them off completely. It felt like I was 6 years old and opening a Christmas present. When they slipped off her ankles, I brought her ******* to my face and inhaled deeply.
The scent hit my nostrils and went straight to primitive parts of my brain. I dropped them and immediately ran my tongue up her inner thigh towards her *****. I stopped before my tongue reached there and let her feel my breath. I enjoyed the smell while I could as I plunged my tongue between her lips and straight into her *****, the sharp tang of her juice stimulating my taste buds.
She tasted as good as she smelled. I made my tongue rigid and slid the tip of it along her ***** up to her ****. My tongue broadened as I delicately licked her **** like it was a melting ice cream. My wet fingers found her ****** and I caressed it to the same rhythm as my tongue on her ****. I felt her ****** build up and a gush of her *** soaked my chin and my chest.
I was aroused to the point of unconsciousness when she suddenly pushed me on my back and straddled me. She was quick to free my **** and took it in her mouth and looked up at me. Our eyes met in a moment that I will never forget. We both knew what was to come. Releasing my ****, she straddled me and lowered herself onto my ****. We both gasped as she opened up and slipped over my head and down the shaft, her **** grinding against my ***** bone. We kissed deeply as our bodies united and we tasted each other’s juices. When I first saw her, I thought how much I would love to **** this angel. But we were not *******, we were making love.
At last, our bodies climaxed as we ****** hard at each other, my **** slamming hard, my ***** slapping against her *******.
We lay on the soft grass in ******* bliss and she asked me again "Who are you?". I avoided the question by biting her thigh, which made her spill her wine. I took my opportunity and left, but not before swapping books with her. I left a note for her asking her to meet me tonight. Such unimaginable beauty and sensuality can only be enhanced by the moons pale light.
a situation told by male and female perspectives
Jonathan Witte Sep 2018
I
I stole my brother’s car and drove to Phoenix in the dark. Bluegreen glow of dashboard gauges, the faint scent of roadkill and desert marigolds. Tap. Tap. Tap. Insects slapping the windshield like rain. How many miles does it take to turn yourself around, to rise up from ashes? Keep driving. Drive until the sun blooms.

II
Some days were more dire than others. CCTV footage confirms I pawned a shotgun, a Gibson guitar, and my wife’s engagement ring at the pawnshop next to Fatty’s Tattoo parlor. The typographically accurate Declaration of Independence inscribed on my back also confirms this.

III
I ran the tilt-a-whirl at the Ashtabula county fair, fattening up on fried Oreos and elephant ears, flirting behind tent ***** with the cute contortionist with strawberry-blonde hair.

IV
I derailed in a dive bar.

V
I disappeared in a city lit by lavender streetlights, where buildings blotted out the stars and the traffic signals kept perfect time.
I picked through trash bins. I paid for love with drugstore wine.

VI
I closed my eyes on a mountain road. The sheriff extracted me from a ****** snowbank.

VII
I holed up for weeks in an oceanfront motel, dazed by the roar of the breakers. Each morning I drew back the curtains and lost myself in the crisscrossing patterns of whitecaps, the synchronous flight of sanderlings above the dunes. I dreamed of dead horseshoe ***** rolling in with the tide.

VIII
The moon over my shoulder tightened into focus like a prison spotlight. One night the barking dogs undid me. Goodnight, children. Goodbye, my love. I capitulated to the candor of a naked mattress. I grew my beard, an insomniac in a jail cell clinging to bars the color of a morning dove.

IV
I coveted the house keys of strangers.

X
I opened and closed many doors. I sang into the stoic mouths of storm drains. I stepped out of many rooms only to find myself in the room I just left. Despite all my leaving, I remained.
Nat Lipstadt Aug 2013
The Seven - The Mashup


In memory of my mother who passed away recently, I wrote, or intended to write seven (only six were actually done) new poems themed about her, her passing and some perspective on life and death.  All were read and I am deeply appreciative.  I have consolidated them all here, in order, though not necessarily the order in which they were written. But the order does matter, as it reflects the change in my mood with each passing day.   Perhaps I will write the seventh someday, but not now, not soon.

Thank you all so much for incredibly kind words of sympathy. I am not a dweller, so I set myself a goal to complete this vow, this task, in a week to correspond to the seven days of mourning the immediate family observes after the burial (the shiva, shiva meaning 7).  For seven days, the bereaved family "sits shiva," sitting on low, uncomfortable stools and the comforters come to share their grief, praise the deceased, from mourning till late at night


#1 Shiva

I am confused - what day is it?
Windows tell day or night, a necessary but a condition insufficient.
The days have no distinguishing marks, a video stuck on
Repeat - a single track of recollected tales, prayers add a mild seasoning.

Though brief is this week of pre-sentencing hearings,
If one cannot dice the time into portions,
Then, there can be no pardon,
No early release date, from Phase One.

Rinse grief. Repeat. Seven cycles.
Apply stain-stick at the intersection of
Bloodied hurts and dimming memories,
Strangers secreting, spilling on you secrets unwanted.

This play, saw it many decades ago,
Before there was poetry, children.
A young man of twenty one,
Very afraid, silently, of the newest unknown,
His father, cancer won.

I hated it then. Now experienced, I hate it more.
This semi-catharsis, a tapestry tale wove of faded pasts
Twisting an heirloom blade into an old wound,
the original cast, a new revival, playwright, regrettably, deceased...

First time at bat, hid in a small room, away from this tradition.
Beating my head against a wall privately,
That being my preferred manner of mourning,
Not this Broadway show, twice a day, seven days.

Rituals well intentioned, a time tested method,
nonetheless, jail time for me, a/k/a, the boy, the brother.
Familiarity comforts some. Me? A prison uniform.
I write my own poems, I am not a Borg collective.

Cast as Son, my obligations specific, aged.
My Hamlet doublet, cut/torn, messaging my somber status,
The cuts deepest, invisible, but all see this child
Drowning in eye pools that continuously self-replenish.

I'll do the time, this show the longest running ever,
Did forty years as son-shadow of a father-man,
Tacked another concurrent sentence for his woman,
End Date: Indeterminate...

The low stools will reappear, seven days for me,
Yet my job as poet not fully done, until this be read!
Leave 'em laughing o'er this Official Release from the obligatory,
Read, sit but once, read this poem, this script, this story, and be freed.

#2 Hover^

My Children:

Ancestral homes oft possess,
a unique scent, product of an atomizer, a memorizer

Musty time, the odor of
faded and shadow,
hollow, yet hallowed.

Somewhere along the road,
a residence transforms from home to
shrine-storage unit-hospital room-tomb-records depository.

Dust, expired perfumes,
the sweet odor of crumbling, yellowing books, disinfectant,
stale medicine chests, years of furniture polish, sabbath candles.

It is my smell -
the parfumerie of my history, a customized blend,
a commissioned work in 1964, entitled, more accurately, emitted,
"Her-Story."

Photographs, memories, and paper scraps
my very own Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
Yet the most potent firing pin for historical retrieval,
the molecules of scent.

Soon all will be dismantled, discarded,
just plain dis'ed.

Confused and disenchanted,
my departure orderly but, in a disordered fashion.
unable to seed one last kiss upon your forehead,
nonetheless, surreptitiously enter your neurons
though my entity, away, across the miles-wide Hudson River.

For three days, I will hover invisible,
implanting myself once more,
slapping your mucous membranes,
transversing this pathway, an additive to your cells, nuclei,
where my markers always reside.

Adding one more ingredient to your inner vision,
strengthening the formless structure, my altered state.
This odor, keep close, fresh, no becoming musty too, my scent,
the last of your senses knowing me, a true keepsake.

Hold me close and hold me fast.
This one last magic spell I cast.
This one last magic smell I set fast.
You cannot hold it, but it will cradle you.
You cannot see or touch it, but when contact comes,
You will see me, hold me, as in the days of your youth,
When you loved me best,
And I, you.

^According to the Talmud, the soul hovers over the body for three days after death.  The human soul is somewhat lost and confused between death and before burial, and it stays in the general vicinity of the body, until the body is interred.


#3 Orphan

The funeral will commence at 11:30 am.
Gives me one last review time before the
Final Exam.

Panicked, I discover a whole new chapter
for which I am wholly unprepared,
though its inevitable presence was
assuredly knowable long in advance.

Orphan

It doesn't fit, occur, imagery is of a young child to
soon abandoned, not a late-in-life curmudgeonly poet-boy,
who has been multi-times reincarnated.

I add this title to my list
of proper ways to address me,
titles earned by dint of hard work,
or just unlucky luck.

This new status, orphanhood,
bequeaths no special privileges,
other than, a semi-official
societal permission slip
to feel bereft, lost, and compose poetry.

Know a real orphan, from early, early on,
has never recovered and
never will for it is just impossible.
Just impossible.

So whom am I to make light of
my undesired, unrequested new degree?

I accept it and to my surprise,
It hurts.

# 4 Judgement Day

After you put in some time on this planet,
You kinda know what the world thinks
About you, your rep, what they don't say to your face,

Sure, thingies, time and incidence and circumstance
Can sometimes cause makeovers external,
But each of us know the quality of ourselves,
Self-certification, you can out your internal self,
Better than anybody else.

So I inquire of myself, about myself,
what will you be remembered for, if at all?

Why do I ask, today, now?
Do we not ask ourselves this
On the low down, subconsciously everyday?

Is this a poem?
Most assuredly...
And a trial.
You, the judge the jury and the prosecutor,
The defender, if u can, if u will.

For seven days my mother was adjudged,
Family, friends, hers, her children's,
Almost an 80 years of live, in color, HD, looking back video,
Tales told, memories dug up, old photos explicated,
Who what when where of the details of one women's voyages,
Creations.

I cannot, I will not, do the details here.
Suffice, acts of kindness, faith in people,
Feminist in a strange land, a chance taker,
Gifts of memories, streaming of adoration,
Many strangers are witnesses to me,
This trial a runaway train.

I am outed.  There will be no such verdict for me.
I am outed.  There will be no trial needed, just a
Summary judgement delivered.

Out yourself.
What will you be remembered for, if at all?


#5 Summer Girls In Their Summer Clothes

Oh yes!

The streets of Manhattan, jewel dusted,
Summer girls in their  summer clothes,
Bedeck the streets and make men say, Thank You!
To their creator.

Little black dresses, previously immortalized^,
Seasoning and sauces, halter tops and jeans cutoff,
Give thanks for the tanks, revel in the revelations,
For God created man and women in his/her teasingly bare image.

Yo! Dude!  This is number 5 in the series,
Of sad and somber, re dad and mother, ***?
Have you lost perspective, not read the directive,
You're in mourning, time to be introspective,
Not dis-respective!

My mother was a beautiful women.
Till the day she died.
Yes, physically beautiful at 98.

She, was a poem.
For her exterior was suffused, burnished,
By the spirit residing within her body

I ask myself, why not judge a book by its cover?
Her cover was exquisite, but what gave her a glow,
A radiance, was her modesty, her love of humanity.

What's under our cover?

^ Nat Lipstadt · May 30
The Little Black Dress (and its magic prowess!)

*#6 & 7 Live like you're dying

Perhaps you know the lyric, the song?

Live like your dying.
Dying caught my ear, my eye, can't imagine why.
Con-Textual emendation, Natalino style.

Live like your writing.

Yes, that makes sense...
Embrace with passion each new session
Charge every second stanza with ruminating rhythms,
Cut the wires to the air traffic control sensory tower, go solo,
Pulse each word, beat all into a plowshare, even the anger,
Even the hate, dressed to ****, in words, forgivable...

Grant the mundane, the insane, even the pain of tragedy,
You refuse so hardily to glorify, grant it and
Record it all - a moment,
A royal audience with all
Your writing parts.

No fancy footing, keep it simple.
No jesters in rain puddles,
Let images of clouds of sand
Born and perish  in other's eyes and sighs, let verbal games bedevil other
Wooden puppet princes drinking fairy ales.

Huh?

Write clean and clear,
Let the sheerest wonderment of a new combination,
Be the titillation of the tongue's alliteration,
No head scratching at oblique verbal gestation,
Let words clear speak, each letter a speck,
That gives and grants clarification, sensational.

You, afternoon quenching Coronas, white T shirts,
Sun glazes and later, a summer eve's Sancerre,
Wave gazing on the reality of rusted beach chairs,
Babies sandy naked, washed in waves of Chardonnay,
The traffic-filled word-way highways and bay ways,
Exiting at the Poet's Nook, for exegesis & retrieval.

Write of:
Body shakes and juices, skin-staining tongues,
Taking her, afternoon, unexpectedly, her noises your derring-do!
Broken tear ducts, the Off switch, so busted, write about
Real stuff.

Write not in fear of dying
Angels delivering bad news in vacuum tubes,
Write joyous, psalms of loving life,
Live like your writing,
Write like your living,
So you may die well.
Paul Lockley Nov 2010
Standing perplexed
Vigorously stabbing button
Scowling at passing traffic
Prodding repeatedly
Slapping neon display like
a defective vending machine
Arms flailing in impatience
Fidgeting on kerb edge.
He's the cross crossing man.

— The End —