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Nishu Mathur Jul 2016
Step into to her world, a world where she lives -
Of colors a plenty and flavors many,
A flick of a hand, in measures she gives,
Spices that tantalize, worth every penny.
Red chillies an ounce, turmeric a pound,
Spices scarlet, earthy, exotic,
Peppercorns, cardamoms, whole or ground
Brown bay leaves, cinnamon, aromatic.
Wonders for the body that soothe and heal,
Nurturing from nature, a stoic promise,
From the choicest gardens, as senses reel,
Fragrance of flavors in sensual bliss.

Within her world, another world entices...
Her voice in sweet whispers has tales to tell,
Magic in dark eyes, the mistress of spices,
With a flick of her hand she'll cast her spell.

( inspired by the title of the book with the same name. )
Jonny Angel Feb 2014
It's a special blend
of leaves & spices,
the warmth it brings
goes down so smoothly.

While waiting for the mint
to take effect,
I travel on
an ethereal journey.

I fly to the
streets of Casablanca
& listen to tradition,
searching the faces
to find my kindred.

And when I find them there,
I close my eyes in comfort,
soothed inside
my wildest dreams,
my own special blend
of leaves & spices.
Robin Carretti Aug 2018
Something is
simmering  *  
  ****      
His spice the stars*
His cologne heat up the
woods
Lips and taste boiling
The Green Irish Tweed
Epicurean love at
the Italian
Spice Epic Stadium

Here comes the
Sun the__?
Royal Mayfair

strikingly
My Fair Lady
The spice diction of words
Her name is Sage Lady Bird
You could feel her smile
shimmering

Carnal spice knowledge
Savory animalistic
Spice culture ******
Citrusy fancy dress
Not to panic
His Sunday gravy
Italian sauce garlicky  
She could win so pungent
Spicy lady Pagent

The poor stealing the
rich culture
Sage surrender like the Oz
Like Robin Hood

Spice of life this is our life
Top of the sea salt Spy
scouring
You better have a love
Like a deep pouring
Her Sage Genie bottle
on the stove

Her sheerness lascivious robe

The Meditteranean sea with
Four leaf clovers
freeloaders
These cultures and eyes of
strength feature
There is no time to
break up for the love of a spice
Is this the human race
Fresh linens better company
What a primary
Oh! Hail Mary

Those ethnic spices
what a sensual smell
Sage pretty coffee cup show and tell
What a razzle top of her cake
The media takes over all
painted and swirled
Baked spicy finger she dialed

Through her locket heart sake
Recovered love reconciled
The Teddy Rosevelt or Chicago Bears
tight hugs of cultures


Hairy chest his smooth gestures
Culture rough and tough exterior

Like the smile beautiful mind
creature
Beyond to be seen
The Spices computer
world of devices
Strawberry fields forever
But what is forever more love
Crises

Do we always lose our stripes
Feeling layered with her cereal
Tony the tiger
Whats great about curses
Sage speechless can feel the
roar spicy mouth
Going South or North
Victorian corset sensual
Guity spice dark side of Goth
Hot desire from both
The pine needles
Christmas time
The mistletoe kissing pointing to the star

Wearing herself out with her
pointed pump shoe*
But losing her spirit what to
endeavor
*The Blue Horizon Spice Rub

The  pub the sky has no limits
to the Stars that twinkle
The Gods to their *****
Rip Van Winkle
Dry Vermouth or the Russian Roulette
French spice Crepe Suzette

"Adam I Apple Dante Jubilee
Eve was more like a neigh
Horse spicy slide Colonel Spicy mustard
Meeting General Lee Sage custard

Her handkerchief
with sage cut leaves
Hearing echoes what gives
Anyone's spice rack
of shoes engraves Sage leafs

Noone really knows for sure
She wore spice deep blue velvet
Jade Ring Brittish Colony
Stuck to her beliefs like a magnet

Eating vegetable and fish
Her best China ever find her dish

How the jade chandelier twisted
Became laughing like two musketeers
New York City love Serendipity
The Queen chair so domineer
'What Debutants"
Crazed like spices of mutants
The anger management getting
the evil out
The shoutbox strong clove spice
Sage was never outfoxed
Her **** jaded uniform
The firefighter Smoky the bear
  eyes of candlelight storm
didn't make it this year
Torn to tears like two
vultures of
the haunted night
He peddles fast
But the fear needs to disappear

Fresh lake smells fresh
as her breath
The culture and media
make tons of mistakes
She knows what she wants
Not a jungle of
poisonous snakes
He knows what he doesn't want
to tell her
Perhaps losing his
bark dog naps
The best part engage her on
Sage with a heart
The fruit her
flesh and blood
The blood on his finger
Her medicinal herbs
of China
The mason spice jar is empty
The full heart needs his half
Cream of the crop
Careless love accidentally
spice dropped
Sensual Chin like pine needles
The exception to the rule more leaders
Remember Every September
to leave your scent
We all have needs we want
Drinking all the flavors of Snapple
*Big waves of the ripple don't you
love her amazing dimples
Sage spice mighty divine but when its mixed love can be jinxed watch out. But just keep singing her "Sage way" her garden is magnificent in every way just pray
Mateuš Conrad Feb 2019
i could eat a bun of bread,
with green fills of veg.,
and a blue indian curry
sauce:
and... no ****** in sight...
and i thouhgt:
how did their cuisine
and their theology kept
them... intact?!

                the prominent
argument against the colonizing,
in post-scriptum
white man...
oh, hell,
i'm just a drunk...
you fiddle it out!

  but when i ate the sauce i cooked
myself,
and didn't eat any meat...
i started to realize...
YOU BECOM VEGGIE...
BUT NO VEGGIE
SPICIES...
SALT... & PEPPER!
TRASH!
YOU EAT VEGGIE
WITH SIBERIAN
TOOLS OF CULINARY...
STUPENDOUR!

no... i could become vegetarian...
once your burn my tongue...
once you burn WHITE
into your...
             lazy sorry ***** of
being...
  how come
the west indies...
the caribbean blacks
didn't entertain being
moved back to the west coast
of africa?!

subjective... what?!
******?!
i thought i was the magic
disappearing jew
of the europeans for a while?
no?

listen... i don't care...
the english are still the people
who care to play cricket
among their former
colonial subjects,
and send, eddie the eagle types
to ski jump among germans
and the japanese!

oh... but you are...
  "welcome"!
high-pitched: he he he he he he!
so i read yiou reading me
as ******?
yes?
         we're fine with that!
"we" yeah...
did that imply the pronoun
utility of "you",
or "one"...
                           or "i"?
see... thing with these english
people:
i... never know!
i bind myselfto finding
the intelligent "one"...
i never find anything other than
the irish, or alien-speculation...
then i drink enough,
take the pills...
fall asleep...
  sleep...
and...
          tomorrow is no better
than today...
GOOOOOOOOOOOOOD
MORNING
NON-MIRRORING
VIETNAM!

it's a fetish for a ******...
like... revival of the degenerate
nature of the Polish-Commonwealth
nobles... albeit in England...
grammar... grammar was involved?!
****!
normans?! no... swedes?!
i'm pwetty suwe the fwench
didn't awwive...
         the Spanish Armada!

no...
        what?!
just me?
                honest to god...
you can be a god honest
polytheist...
and a vegetarian...
once you have the spices...
no spices: no go go slaughtering
the pig...    

            all the spices of
the Punjab, the Bengal...
honest to god,
you keep your deities...
have them,
if only the part of me
that was a slav that
also wasn't a Russian...

blue Indian! superior cooking!
superior theology!
no cricket!
no stupid rock game
and no no socks game!
you win!
i will become vegetarian!
just send us the spices!
i will not eat the meat
once you send us the spices
to accompany the veg.
to sub. the meat!

that one sauce of y'er...
poppy seeds...
kashmiri chillies...
dry coconut...
         no PORK...
i promise you...
no PORK...
no Russians in Afghanistan...
but none of your
MADE IN CHINA
toothpicks around 'ere
either...
deal?

p.s. this was always
going to be a failure...
but it was always worth
the blockage game of
stalling...
the inevitable script
of: tsunami anti unus...

          i don't even like
"my tribe"...
                  but i was almost
convinced to turning
vegetarian
via all the indian spices
being employed...
    you can only become
veggie with the right sort
of spices...
the spices i was given
to enlist me in reverting
to a... alternative "gnosis"?
salt... pepper...
now...
            can i nibble
       on a ***** from Beirut?!
no... literally,
with the language
i use...
you will not have
to will or want
to address me
with a dear x,
and a sincerely y...
        
          but given that
you are all for formality...
hell...
   you pet the puppy; savvy?
no...
        in a world
where you both need
Jesus Christ and
Pontius Pilate...
you... need... neither.
Karijinbba Mar 8
Roses spices and onions skins off
Richie ride me back home
there's nowhere to hide from your love.
~~~~~
I thought I could find a place not to think of you for one day, so I went to the kitchen for a soup there was nothing to eat but pasta sauce and there you were
in front of me up in the spices
I had to use in place of meat on bone for boiling a soup.

Heating up battled water added cento tomato and the sauce
all kinds of spices; parsely real sea salts garlic pepper a pinch of taco spice wild cilantro, a garlic squized and cloves
(no basil)
cayene pepper did the magic
lemon juice added the final punch for my Mexican soup;
added a few granes bazmati rice found, added a white onion slice and blessed as I felt
"I cried me a river for you" and
The White Cliffs of Dover
songs came to mind to console
me as I broke shrinking down
the stinking onion was me
and noone to share my soup
I turned stove top off to go
wipe face off and
entering the bedroom I tripped
knees on the red floor unconsolable crying.

Yes the room was filled with
roses wild and roses red!
and again you made my day.
I felt so blessed to have
held so many of your treasures
in arms to see my hands half full with roses
and half full with bittersweet spices beheld.
Upon my bed a heart was carved
inscribed in tiny little
red rose buds and purple hearts
in your words "I love you"

I craweled to reach the bed careful not to disturb the million roses nor bleed feet with their thurns as they layed artisticly everywhere room full of roses,
I wept there caressed by your roses spices and songs
hugged all night long.
by insomnia bug

Oh please my darling Old Richie "ride me back home."
there's nowhere to hide
from your love.
~~~~~~~~~
Karijinbba-03/2020.
Copy Rights
Thank you for your healing romantic love even if you now this love to another you give only because it fell from my hands.
I love you more.
Sugar, satin, and spices
Every girl has her vices
Words slip out like sweet molasses
Time slows down as each one passes
Take me captive in your arms
Each breath you take calms and warms
Let this moment never pass
Love me now, like no one has.
Sherilyn Tan Nov 2011
The view outside, looking in,
fills you with envy.
The feeling living it, working in,
fills you with strange uncertainty.
You heard of the stories,
the hand-me-down rumours.
You thought you were prepared,
ready to take on the world in your armour.
You get a taste of the flavours of the world,
yet drowned by the spices of your own.
It's not the world you're afraid of,
it's your own that wouldn't condone.
You know you wouldn't let it pin you down,
it's only as long as it last.
You'll walk out there,dressed with pride
and all that happened will surpass.
The world may make you feel small,from time to time
but the world wouldn't break you.
You take on the world with much professionalism
and you'll eventually grow away from new.
You'll constantly have your spices of surprises,
every time you wait in that room.
But these spices can only make you stronger,
remember, those girls you saw dressed with pride and well groomed.
You wanted that pride, to walk with that honour.
Your feet's in that shoe now, go, and take on the spices and the world.
Nat Lipstadt Feb 2014
slept and soaked
the sabbath Saturday away.
the body, achey breaky,
cranked and croaked,
slewed by a slew of common miscreants.
one, a stitch in my side,
feeling like someone's inside,
wanting to be born, feet first,
coming out the side of my chest,
instead of my ******

so,
promised poems and bills to pay,
put aside for a more poetic bill paying day.

awoke once near midday,
an unusual wake up call,
my nostrils do attend,
when the honey odors of
cinnamon and vanilla invade
the french shores of my subconscious.

I love three things French:
the elegance of their language grande,
their frenchified fries and frenchified toast.

was fed some french toast,
bathed in vanilla and cinnamon,
thus drugged,
went back to bed again.

as I drifted off for the third time today,
heard the woman dramatic say:
"must have, must have,"
two words that I from my past,
consider a curse,
a grave phrase of choice of my ex-wife,
her way of saying I didn't measure up.

must have
paprika
to roast your chicken
for Sunday dinner.


relieved beyond measure,
as I to dreamless sleep dispatched,
vague recall a poem forming about the
spices in my life.
Raj Arumugam Sep 2010
1
My mother would say:
“Little boy Raj…
Go to Muthu’s
and get some
cinnamon, betel leaves
and ginger and garlic”

And so I go to the shops
singing all the way
and when Muthu asks me
what I’d want
I rattle off a list:
“Sesame seeds, onions
tomatoes and pickles”

And back home,
Mother twists my ears

Ouch!


2
And inevitably I grew up
and inevitably I got married
and inevitably my wife says to me:
“Dear husband whom
I married in a fire-ceremony;
could you kindly go to Woolies
and get me some
flour, castor sugar,
pepper, pasta sauce and pancakes…”


And so I drive to Woolies
singing all the way;
and walking down the aisles
I throw the following
into the trolley:
cinnamon, betel leaves
and ginger and garlic…

And back home
though my wife does not twist my ears
I feel Mother reach forward
from the other world
and she twists my ears

Ouch!
preservationman May 2015
Ketchup bottles have been taken off the shelves
Homes don’t even have ketchup themselves
French Fries, Hamburgers and Franks are all upset
But who in the world let?
A mystery we all must solve
We all must get involved
Look for clues in find
It’s the French Fries in who we must be kind
Let’s see of we can find any clues
We must be determined and not lose
There were traces of ketchup spills
Where there is a way is also a desired will
On the TV, there was a briefing at Heinz concerning why the ketchup was stolen
A competitor with its own brand recipe of ketchup stated, “Our ketchup is the best, and we are ready to do the test”
But will really contest?
Heinz has been around for years, but a new competitor wants to triumphed in preserver
Now how long can French Fries and other foods requiring ketchup continue in going plain?
Now the competitor being called, “ALL THE SPICES COMPANY, INC.”
ALL THE SPICES COMPANY, INC. does have a ring in its name
But what is their ingredient too whom they want us to be lame?
Now Heinz has a special blend, which they will never tell
Yet in the supermarket stores it does sell
But not knowing much about the competitor, how can they tell?
The Consumers have control in the flavor test
They will surely determine who is the best
Maybe more of less
Well after much tasting, Heinz was the victor without any effort
I am sorry to say, “ALL THE SPICES’ just couldn’t cut it
They wouldn’t have compared to even mustard
But don’t let me go there
However, just beware in who you feel is the best
Let your taste buds be the test
The French Fries can continue to have the ketchup style while competitor, “ALL THE SPICES” we be thinking on Heinz resources during while.
M Seifert M Mar 2013
I want you
I want someone to want me
but
you don't want me

please want me

don't!
I'm broken
you don't want a leaky faucet
that
self repairs
with duct tape and silly putty

I'll recite you the backs of cereal boxes
and
throw away the locks on the doors of our common places
I'll keep a smile on mine if your face feels too tired from the weight of what your mind is speaking out your eyes

Everything.
Every string
that hangs off of well worn sweaters
snags on finger nails and pealing calluses.

I'll draw the curtains
if
and ONLY
IF
you first admit that you
are
BEAUTIFUL.
and i know it.

Your doubt should drown.
We'll drink it down.
Sipping wine only to set the scene
because
WE
already ditched our inhibitions
and
we decided that what was best for each other was to feeds each other's needs with the other's body.

This letter.
This note.
To you.
The long lost women of my dreams
the shape shifting goddess
who floats freely through the open windows of my memories.
Will this be enough to summon spirits to lift me to your level without being beaten to life by a trigger happy judge's gavel?

I built my prison to your specifications.
The measurements may be off
but
the bed...
The bed is warm
and cozy.
And
it fills my heart to see your cheeks turn that rosy
rosy red
that same
rosy red
that fills my heart
and
flows through yours.
Kept inside
but
peaking out in moments of vulnerability.
Shed your false
heavy
layers of security
toss them in the water and...

Flush skin of lips and finger tips
other places where my mind can only wander
wondering where in the world we will
meet again.

It's half past ten or some other hour,
I don't know and you don't mind
because
we're alive!
and our heart beats will set the pace
keeping time in place.

THE STORM IS LOUD
MY VOICE
is softer
now...

Okay--

Alright--

*
I'll give you your space{













But
YOU
BETTER FLY.
And NO MATTER HOW HIGH
NOW IS YOUR CHANCE TO SHOW
to TRULY KNOW the color of your wings.

And
I'll continue singing
because
someone else may be listening.
And
although these tears won't quench my thirst
I'm learning more about myself through my time searching
through my ***** laundry:
Bags of rags
and forgotten junior high and high school notebooks.

Failed jokes took to heart
the stinging silence of laughter kept inside.

Broken funny bones
NUMBED by repetition [repetition]
DUMBED down
COMFORTABLE BEING SUBMISSIVE

Well, I'm not sorry
NOT SORRY
to tell you
this mouse
whose mouth you shut is now stirring

Stirring the ***
Kept at temperature
All the right spices and slices and dices to enlighten you as to what the taste of life is.
.............................................................­.................................................
Please sit, here is your chair.
I love what you've done with your hair!
let me know if you would like seconds
but
that depends on if you brought your appetite.
I know I'M Hungary [hungry]
but
I won't slurp my soup if it offends you.

We'll take it slow
because
I know that
I still don't know you that well yet.
And I think we both could cool it down on the unnecessary judgement.
I'd really like to know you well, so I won't try to sell you anything that you're not buying.
And call me out if you think I'm lying, but I promise to be as honest as you want.

But it's a two way street
and I know you're probably tired from running down it so long
in which case I would gladly rub your feet
or your shoulders if you'd like to be a bit more discrete.

However, it still may be too soon for that
in which case I'll take a couple steps back.

Do you like music?
How bout dancing?
It doesn't have to be romantic
I just enjoy the feeling when I'm moving to the rhythm in time with other bodies.

Does you mind maybe feel clearer now that your body's moving free
or
are you holding back because you falsely feel that you lack the ability to let the music move

Your soul's of you feet.

Let go
and hold on to me.
I won't let you fall unless you're ready
but I'll catch you
please don't worry.

We are free
here.

Let's just be
here.

Forget fear
and see where that takes us
in a year.

Or more
Or less
Or until you decide
that your dress
is not
the most comfortable thing
you
could be wearing...

I'm just glad we can share the same air
and not care that our hair's getting messy.

But...
This...
is the best I've felt.

In a loooong while...

Spinning out of control
Lying
With you here next to me.
Nishu Mathur Mar 2017
I foresee a summer of spices
Of a saffron mid day sun
And flowers of anise
On trees of cinnamon
And the aromatic pepper vine
That seasons lands of green
Will find its way into -
A warm summer cuisine.
r Mar 2015
Air
I like old glass
with bubbles

Pockets of breath
of the dead laid to rest

I break and I breathe and I taste

Their spices
and vices

Kisses from wives
Curses and verses

Songs of themselves
Wine of their wrath

Salt from their baths

Smoke from their fires
Sweet tastes of desire

Shared sighs and cries
Dead butterflies

Air.
r ~ 3/16/15
Maybe I should save it in a bottle and put a cork in it. :)
SøułSurvivør Sep 2015
---

I've done some research
On cancer's cause
Western medicine, Dr Oz.

They don't have answers, I'm afraid.
And the cure is in what GOD made.

Cancer's vector? A simple virus.
A parasite and a fungus.

Candida overgrowth.
Radiation. Stress.
We all face this in the West.

So are there answers? Well. Let's see.
Tell me if you don't agree.

Sodas should go down the drain
They have sugar or aspertame.

Sugar feeds cancer. Cut it out!
I KNOW that this will make you pout
But you can find nuts a tasty treat
Find some that you like to eat!

Say NO to coffee. All caffeine.
Eat kale and other leafy greens.

If you want nutrition saved
Cut the cord on your microwave!
They watered plants
with water nuked
They died. Nutrition down the tubes.
So no TV dinners. Processed foods.

No fruits or veggies grown GMOs.
WHEAT is bad! And on it goes.

So it may cost a little more?
Shop your local health food store!

What does it matter?
What's cancer's cost?
And your life will not be lost!

If you tire of reading this
There may be important
things you miss... READ ON!

NATURAL REMEDIES FOR CANCER

Blackstrap molasses. 1 tablespoon
Baking soda. 1 teaspoon
Mix with a glass of water and drink.
(Baking soda should be found at
a health food store)
Blackstrap molasses can also be used
topically for skin cancer.

Tincture of the husk of the
Black walnut nut. 2 drops
Tincture of clove. 2 drops
Tincture of wormwood. 2 drops
Mix in a glass of water and drink. Add lemon and honey.
It'll taste better.

IMPORTANT!
DO NOT USE TAP
OR BOTTLED WATER!
Get distilled water and add
Minerals in liquid form.
Your health food store will have this.

There are many herbs and spices
Which help.
There's iodine in common kelp.
Turmeric
Cucumin
etc.

VERY POWERFUL
Soursop tea. Green tea sans caffeine
Fresh vegetables of the rainbow...
Colors are viamins!

Vitamin supplements
Especially B-17

If you can't find these in your
Health food store ask them to order.
Or go on Amazon and order.
I spent a lot of time researching this.
If you have any questions please contact me via the site message system.

I know that there are some who
Can use this information.

There is a Talkshoe program that
Discusses natural remedies.
724 444 7444
Wednesday 9pm eastern time
43503#  1#
Host: BadBaby
mariamme May 2018
all that my eyes can see are reflected
in crystal decanters on window sills
distorted and splintered by spheres
of the light, fading softly into greys
beyond the treeline and the horizon
meeting the earth with an embrace
slowly rolling hills of deep green moss
under roadways of gravel and tarmac
snaking swiftly into the dusky night

over in the corner there's a blanket
it belonged to her mother's mother
years of patches for every life lost
and gained in the birthing rooms
of antiseptic hospitals, quickly
remedied by the wrinkled hands
stained by tobacco and spices
that look rough to an outsider
but are gentler than any doctor's
friends' grandmothers in old cottage cellars
Sarah Richards Aug 2016
My brush is full of
fall-in-love hues.
cinnamons and cardamom,
   rich garnets buried inside rocks
     that have yet-to-be cracked
   open.

my hand is full of
tiny thoughts,
  the color leather & lapis
lazuli,
where the south is leaning up her chin
to give the north a kiss.

I'm going to
present you with the colors
like a row of
exotic spices-
expensive, condensed, the palate,
this palette,
of every world I can see you
in.
Robyn Dec 2012
Of your tounge, and the words you speak
Of your hair, and the light that glints off it
Of your eyes, and the sun warmed memories of the sea
Of your chin, and the knife that cannot cut as sharp
Of your neck, and the swan that has snapped its own
Of your laugh, and its hue, dusty and callous
Of your hands, and the work they've yet to do
Of your heart, and the love it has yet to give
There’s I place I go to
When you cross my mind
It’s almost as if your still there
By my side
Whispering in my ear
Caressing my palm

We called it the bridge to nowhere

I remember meeting you there
Sitting near the end
Staring out towards the water
You approaching me

I remember looking up
At your perfect tanned face
Your messy dark hair
Your mesmerizing gold eyes
Casually wearing your football jersey.

I remember your simple hello
Your nervous chuckle
Your silly smile.

I remember smiling back
And inviting you to sit.

Our first meeting on the bridge to nowhere

I remember sneaking out after dark
To meet you there
Just to lay on the bare wooden boards
Staring at the moon

I remember the smell of flowers that spring
branches blooming nearby
The smell of smoke and spices
Forever embedded in your clothes.

I remember your singing
Sweet nothings
in Spanish
Softly in my ear

Entwined together on the bridge to nowhere

I remember your high school graduation
Your mother so proud
Your sister excited
Your father crying

I remember your first game in college
Your running onto the field
Pride and joy in your eyes
Though you didn’t play
Because of that sprained wrist

I remember your sweaty embrace
And your ramblings
of the game
Reviewing every play
Your eyes shimmering with excitement

Racing to the bridge to nowhere

I remember that call
Which changed my life
My heart stopped
I couldn’t think

I remember rushing
to the hospital
Crying with your little sister
Collapsed on the floor

I remember your bloodied face
Wrapped in linen
Tubes bursting from your chest

I wanted to race to the bridge to nowhere

I remember spending my nights
Curled by your side
Willing you to stay
Strong

I remember that endless tone
That said you were gone

I cried at the bridge to nowhere

I remember curling up in your hoodie
Smelling you
Pretending it was you
Your arms surrounding me

I remember lying by the stone
That recalled your name
Talking to you
Burning letters by the small candle

I remember cleaning out your room
With your mother and sister
Finding that little box by your bed
Your final gift to me

I opened it at the bridge to nowhere

I still go there sometimes
With a letter filled
With promises to you
And a flame by which to send it.
Robin Carretti Aug 2018
A special lace-like card
  *
        *        *        *
Three Star points
       *  *  *
Sword-like smile-Bored-Hike pile-
Western Union Man
Money flies like Superman

Spinning wheel fan too guard
Special words have no regard
He's the Adonis-like the
Lazarus lovely-like Venus
Those effects in motion
That special tip above her lips
Steady as they go but motionless
The stars walk across her
sky lifted dress

Heavenly Pillsbury flour
Her hair flower no water
Smile Lift even in debt
Messed her heart so red
White light disaster
Nothing on this earth
we got to lose no control
Here's the *Special Rose

Winter/Sunglow hair
The Flatiron

A spaceship cowardly lion
Your the "Wildcat"
Crazy Oats
Space waves of the neutron
The dream on
Your eyes are blind
A clear day special motif
setting inside your
Word heading leaf
He lifts up your
blinds all
righteous minds

Those special love hands
Nothing was ever
staged starlight and bright
  Never yellow

Winter?Sun
It blocked out
my *Godly
pages
On the good earth leaf
Helen Keller had the
good remedy family
When you are deaf
A green touch of
brown leafs
What you smell and feel
What's truly there
special beliefs

Or at the most
Famous Cemetery,
You got blinded  so
gilded star
you don't
see them

One of a kind that's him
Or the encounters of the
third kind Winter/Sun
The darkness slim-man-run

The cactus desert of my heartlands

Jack of all Trader Joes investments
My E-book and I Phone
best T-bone steak
Spices of theVegetarian Kingdom
Curry in a hurry for Indian Food,
E-T Extra
Terrestrial Space high bill total

ABC Chemical love reaction
A special motif so personnel
"Divine District Attorney"

Taking spiritual love
what lies beneath us
Lotus Tea Panda Bears
Of Journeys
Pyramid or the myriad

A-Special Motif
comes to me
Two Gods surrender me
message
Something you feel but
it's unknown
Never left in the dark
like a treasure
Teeth chatter Gold caps
Chatterbox
Almost happy coffee
almost dark

Too many famous labels
A special romance new leaf
Time change challenging
Winter sun/Wonder fun
Amarous open chorus
Special maid devious
A special Motif delicious
The honest lawyer
Special talent space
of braces
Subsequently or coincidentally

What was special
The board meetings like *Erasers
?
To erase all the special places
in my heart

Dark despair trail parted
Ending up with a trail
of mixed nuts
Cars such a pain with
Synthetic Oil ****** -like Oil

The conjuring or searing
Holding the leaf in spirit
special times remembering
Sapphire September October
Comfort foods November
Thanksgiving
The heartburn living
The Winter/Sun
Special motif holding onto
his one brilliant leaf in
Ancient Egyptian King of Tut
book

*
Yearning the solemn vows
The full moon is
turning a
new leaf
The painted picture leaf
special Motif

Love so committed
The time was omitted
Family poor or rich
Invitation *Winter Sun


Those who are in need
The beacon like a
poem of goodies mend

Heaven that feeling
called my own
Even things that
are special
became unknown
Not always about
being famous

Things that are simple
that's what remains
precious eat sleep Jeep
The fairy came sweet nectar deep
Was so kind humanly rare find
A special note with a motif
I will never forget what was our belief
A special God or Motif a spiritual beauty her leaf but even when you are deaf you can smell the beauty lingering everyone is  work of beauty just living
Ignatius Hosiana Jun 2016
Life's an adventure made of surprises
a journey to places you're never told
one day you're where the sunset's old
the next you're underneath sunrises
Life's a plant that does flower and fade
don't keep cursing the rough you've led
for today you're only seeing the thorns
but with the calm of the April showers
comes the bloom of scented flowers
Life's body and mind, flesh and bones
the emotional are as well instrumental
in the holistic architecture as the mental
Life's humanity's dough, destiny's bake
a tricky big gamble we all must take
Life's salted by fate, but other spices
in the broth are a resultant of choices
Alex Courrier Jun 2015
A tired old man groans
As he hand you some
Asian culture cuisine.

Riddled with spices
It tickles the little thing in the back of your throat
As you swallow the substance.

Face now flushed
Like a cluster of fire ants crawling on the hill
Calling it their home.

Home?
Where was it?
Your memory slips.

Glee storms the man’s face
As he studies your expression.

“Seems like you can’t handle such a simple thing."

Clouding your judgement, you bite your tongue
In desperate attempt to knock back the sense
That gone up and left.

However
It fails.

Numb as the lightbulbs turn into bottle-cap suns
Concealing sight
With the light that it shares.

Count as your heart stops
With eyes bloodshot
His crafted words echo
In your failing ears.
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.
Chelsea Eldridge Mar 2011
Forget the days we shared
Forget the smiles, the tears, the words too coarse to bear.
Forget the blooms in Spring dancing through the air
Forget the garden we abandoned there
Leave thorns of plenty, and roses rare

Forget the voice of a sweet melody
Forget the buzzing bees tending to honey
Forget the notion of you and me
Forget the spices in recipes spoilt
The taste is a bitter sweet result

Forget what weather we braved together
Forget the cliche that everything gets better
Forget what you want to remember
Forget what should be and what doesn't matter
Revoke your thoughts, the hypocrisy they flatter.

Forget waking up in warming arms,
Seducing me with your charms
Forget whatever you gave me, though it wasn't much
A breath, A kiss, A touch.
Enough!
Forget all that I've said
These thoughts turning in my head
Filling me with dread
The words I've written and you have read
Forget it!
Those days are over my mind is set
Forget we ever met.
Josh Koepp Oct 2012
Every morning i greet the sun smelling like jasmine and spice
the rays roll through my window
bend nicely and tip their hats only to figure out
that i am a man
and they switch between reaching down to kiss my hand
something they subconsciously planned
ever since that smell of sensual perfume heated up
even the hottest, and the coolest
made them too woozy to stand
they switch to an improvised hand shake
their mother told them not to judge on every
first impression that they make
but they smell my personality
my mannerisms and the way i walk and talk
WAFTED into their nostrils
like some woman dolled up before a date
with no one
to sit alone and say
"** hum"
and wait for the casual wreck of a man to walk in
to punch his time card and clock in
to commit sin upon this woman

but no

their nostrils and their eyes
seem to not agree
on what is
me

i wake up smelling like jasmine and spices
like a woman who spent all night in sin
taking pleasure from her vices
and i waft into every man and womans nostrils

and their eyes say man

their nose says woman so it seems
so they think i must be something in between

when in reality i smell like this because
i spent an entire night in love
with someone i lost the next day
and in our own way she brought her oils
for me to serve and slave her body with
and i wasn't ashamed of it

i spilt the oils all over our bodys they caressed us
and gave every motion an unstoppable velocity
every situation was slippery
and things that shouldnt have been
almost came to be

as we slept the oils clocked out
and slid down our still interlocked bodies and into the bedspread
it opened up its homestead
and buried its dead, started families and grew in number
until the population of the smell was too strong
too strong and the one i shared the smell with
was gone

but i hold that night fondly
i hold it above my head in all its glory
and when i am judged by my scent and called
gay
***
or questioned of my sexuality
i just tell them
i'm being the scent i smelled when i discovered my masculinity
when i tried gender fusion and it didn't quite work
but i covered every other base
i swear my good sir

so ill tell you one thing
i am not an inbetween because i have never joined in the sweet final base
into sweet sexuality
with the opposite *** making man and woman
into man-woman
the in between

what i really mean is i am not what you think of me
i am 100% man until i find the right woman
a beautiful sight in the sunlight
and when night falls and i cant see her at all
i can find even more things i like
to take that from me
and i will give it up gladly

i am a man
as much as any man woman
or man man is
and stereotypes are for those who dont understand
that there IS no difference.
Mateuš Conrad Aug 2018
i couldn't never write a book, sorry, a novel, i'd hate to become a puppeteer, someone who attempts to play chess, a fiddling and bothersome shadow-baron (schattenbaron)... imaginary "friends" is not my thing, plus... i don't have an exact elastic approach to heidegger's compliments concerning poets: i only like heidegger because he likes poets, **** me, he elevates poets to the stature of philosophers when language "things" are made necessary... i.e. (and verbatim) - language - only if speech has acquired the highest univocity of the word does it become strong for the hidden play of its essential multivocity (as withdrawn from all "logic"), of which poets and thinkers alone are capable... welcome! welcome! to plato's republic! Brennus & Alaric welcome you, quiet fondly depicted by Joseph-Noël Sylvestre... and when the Huns pushed the leaders Fritigern and Alavivus into the eastern empire to settle... and emperor Valens... that's history for you: a cascade of: and and and and and and... sometimes a p.s., but mostly the and and and of causality... facts come barging in, you forage... but thanks to heidegger: the poets have earned their graces... and can return to the republic... as wordsmiths... i mean, was i ever to think of myself as a french dada dandy? frivolous and superfulous raconteur / racketeer? poet or philosopher, that's beside the point, the point being: i'm not a novelist... i don't like dealing with language that chokes that i rely on mostly and that mostly being: i like the idea of a raw vocabulary... i'm more of a butcher than an artist... i like the rawness of an inverted crossword puzzle... in my "trade"... there are no clues, whether synonymous or antonymous, in this spaghetti of: ex nihil factum sermo (out of nothing came the word)... poetry, of all places, allows this form of unadulterated nibbling at raw vocabulary... bypassing the standard g.c.s.e.: overt-scrutiny of poetics... i never like that... a 5/ 7/ 5 syllable haiku poem should never be preserved for its essay-worthiness to extend into 2000 words in a school exam... poetry strapped to pedagogy is... less heavily censored, more... over-scrutinized... you're not supposed to think in terms of poetry: you're supposed to, feel... and since when has feeling become so overrated, so despsised? oh... when people "learned" to feel, prior to learning to think... you really have to learn to think, prior to learning how to feel... if you ask someone from the orient, they'd counter the western perception of placing thinking / "reason" on the top of the pyramid with horus' eye as emblem... to learn to feel: is to learn to how to not think, while to think? it's to learn how to not feel... pretty simple, no? not really... neither approaches should be underrated, they should be understood better... who the hell needs, or wants, to be an apathetic brain-in-a-pickle-jar zombie: constantly engaging with a dialectic? then again... who wants to be a heart in an electric chair constantly bamboozled into pointless reactions? so i'm more of a butcher than a "poet", i simply appreciate the raw realism of cutting pieces of the tongue that extends into the brain's fathomability - and that overrated visual ******* of dreaming most people associate themselves with... but that's beside the point... i really appreciate days akin to this one, humid as in the concrete basin of Beijing while europe is frying in the African plume... no thanks, no, me go to Greenland or the Faroes Islands... do i look like a ******* ******* / camel jockey? why do i have limited respect for islam? i once watched a video of a saudi with an european bride... sitting on oil was both a blessing... and a curse... muhammad would whip some of these saudi brats silly... but of all days... when i get to work my magic in the kitchen, and make the most superior food in the whole wide world? blue indian cuisine: i call them blue indians and not red soxs because: come on... the raj... and that polytheism that doesn't want to disappear... h'americans can boast all they want: the steak, the hamburger, the hot dog, the pizza... n'ah... n'ah mate... it's either curry or you're chewing chicken bones, ******* out the marrow... indian cuisine is superior... i love the days when i cook up two curries... it feels like being back in edinburgh, walking into the joseph black building, the perfumes of sulphur and wood, the 12 hour experiments it would take us to conjure up an ester... esters? bases for the perfume industry... that' the grand thing about cooking a curry... you start to feel like a chemist once more... the two curries? a tikka masala: sure, an easy adventure... marinating the chicken what not... the real fun came with the malvani... blitzing the masala up: a bay leaf, half a nutmeg, 4 / 5 cloves, 7 dried chillies, 10 peppercorns, a cinnamon stick, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, chilly powder, turmeric powder... and that's just the malvani masala... the cocunut masala... ****... only two green chillies... how to get the right colour? ah... blitz up some coriander stalks... garlic and ginger... milk to get the whizz-kid on the job... it's superior cuisine, indian cuisine... it reminds me of a being in a chemistry lab at edinburgh... doing organic experiments... mind you: it's more fun, the environment is less sterile... even my mother said: you're stinking up the place, you're worse than the sikhs two doors down... so... why would i visit an indian restaurant, or indulge myself in an indian take-away, if i can mimic? i see no point... there is no other cuisine on the planet as good as what could come from either Goa or New Delhi... the colours, the perfume of the spices... by now a hamburger, pizza or hot-dog are staples or both humble beginnings and even more humbled ends... i've found my 1st to none passion... and with a afghani naan bread... and with rice infused with turmeric... tiresome ponce schemes of duck a l'orange... spaghetti this that and the other... one bias... though... scandinavian treatment of raw herrings... in cream sauce... i'm a sucker for those herrings like i'm a sucker for pop music... the added zing of the herrings' rawness out-competes the bland sushi manifesto... eating one of these herrings in a cream sauce... has the complimentary sensation, very much akin to performing oral *** on a woman... oysters are beyond the marker of metaphor / literal association... well: hello today!

I.

i'm starting to suspect, that one of the...
"supposed" stars...
   is actually a planet - due to its colour -
      it's unlike all the other -
todkompf, metallic white
glitter...
      it's hued in a more orange
spectacle - more fire...
less distance...
                and on the canvas
of the night?
   sits lower than all the other stars,
which are more up -
   rather than on a horizon
to speak off...
   question is... is that *mars
,
or is that venus?

**** it: 'ere i go...
'n' buy me a *******
telescope to investigate further...

II.

did the ancient romans really
distinguish the arithmetic
quantity of I - or IX -
   or XII or...
                with a dot?
       not unless it was inscribed
in stone -
   where even upsilon had
to vacate the more easily chiseled
in:              YOVR POINT?
just wondering
   how only two diacritical marks
were applied to the encryption -
and both... not for orthographic
reasons, but for aesthetics -
    what's the actual difference
when the guillotine digestion
machine (like me) comes in and
says...
    
     ȷokιng around...
        what with the iPod...
   why shouldn't ι,
                    come ιn -
   and give a ȷester's ιnquιsιtιon?
out of... mere... curιosιty?
ιt's not lιke those two-heads
even make a dιfference...
come on! ιt's ιneffectιve,
there are no orthographιc reasons
for ιt!
        why, even, bother?
    and no fancy name eιther,
ιn the dιacrιtιcal famιly...
  dot... when compared to?
cιrcumflex, caron, macron,
      cedιlla,  ͅ (ιota subscrιpt)
...
you name ιt!
can someone, please,
ȷust gιve me, an approprιate reason?

III.

it's not like i can confuse,
i with I - since i have 1, and 2 instead
of II, and 3 instead of III,
and 4, instead of IV,
       and 6 instead of VI...
ah... L(l) -
              and the exodus of handwriting
in the digital age...
any schmuck can write
now... but... i'd love to see
them write with a pen, on paper...

personally - i couldn't write an intact
word with a pen...
   calligraphy: a bit like monkish
Gregorian chants... coming near
to extinction...
          i could sometimes write
out a intra-connectivity of syllables -
but... entire words?
    no chance... the digit system
came in... and i had to learn how
to position my arms before
the keyboard, to write, and not look
down...
   unlike my old G.P.,
who, bless him... nearing his retirement,
pecked, like a crow,
on the keyboard...
   looking down on it...

the ENTER key? right arm pinky finger...
SPACE BAR key? primarily
left hand thumb...
   unlike a piano, you don't actually
use all the fingers on both arms...
e.g.? ring ringer on the left hand?
rarely used... unless doing some
mental hand gymnastics...
  
stream of "consciousness" - no words,
just observations -

(0,0,) LH ******* A
    RH index finger N -
     that's - ah! ring finger of
the right arm is used, quiet a lot,
  notably?  SHIFT + (?/) key -
      *******...
   but for the apostrophe?
    the (@ ') key...
  which, on my machine translates
as the (" ') key...

IV.

     - interlude -
--- -- - - - -  - - - logic  -- - - -  -- - bomb -- - - --  -
- - -- computers -- -- - - & - -- microprocessors -
- - - --- -- - --- -- -(parasense ----- - - remix) -- -- -

V.

it is chiromancy in reverse,
only that i'm reading my hands...
facing down,
rather than staring on the reverse
side of the... where the girdle of venus
is situated,
   or the index finger skin folds
of the chokhmah, chesed,
    netzach
- respectively -
akin to reading mandarin:
   from the the head - to the base
               of a knuckle.
i read my hands - looking at a screen,
how else can you write anything,
distracted by looking down
onto the keyboard -
  no aware of the spacing?
        question: how fast is your typing?
don't know:
what sort of ******* am i to note
down, and how many amendment
will i have to make to the text,
as we plow along to your diatribe
monologue?
                  
VI.

why would anyone sit up all night,
drinking?
     ****** question, esp. given
yesterday's 5 / 6 am carnival of rain...
out of nowhere,
there i was, ready to call it a night
well spent (not working in a Stratford
casino) - dreading the heat of
the sunrise...
  boom!
   thunder, lightning...
    the air turned white from
the ferocity of the rain...
   literally...
                the ground was wriggling
with a meteor shower -
excited gnat fly like puddles
appearing and disappearing -
soon becoming lakes
  within the confines of a supposed
**** of worm parasites...
      probably your typical day
      on the Faroe Islands...
you know... on such occasions...
you really can't help, but stick
your head out of the window,
far enough to drench your head
and hair in regenwasser...
            i should have walked
into the garden and
cleansed my whole body...
   but...
guess all ι needed, was the head...
       god...
  there's nothing more **** than
listening to horror movie soundtracks
while it pours a mini-monsoon
outside your window,
  and there's thunder, and there's
lightning...
   and you're just about to fall asleep...
like a baby might...

VII.

oh god... the one time i don't take
a beer for a walk, coming back
from the supermarket...
and i pick up... this genius:
genius... tortilla wrap...
    falafel + hummus + a hint
of mango chutney (with a tease
of arugula leaves)?
            **** me... who needs
beer... if not a bottle of mineral
water... to accompany
taking a walk?
judy smith Dec 2015
Did you know the East Indian Bottle Masala includes as many as 27 spices, or that an oil-free pickle served at their weddings is actually known as Wedding Pickle?

These and many such authentic East Indian masalas and pickles are available at East Indian Cozinha (Portuguese for kitchen), a food store started by Christina Kinny at Kolovery Village in Kalina, Santacruz. "I started East Indian Cozinha with an attempt to preserve and highlight our cuisine and culture," says the 24-year old, who has studied Masters in Social Work and currently, works with an enterprise that helps tribal farmers.

What’s in store?

Going back 500 years, the East Indian cuisine enjoys influences from Portuguese, British and Maharashtrian fare. The staples include rice, coconut, tamarind, fish and meats, with spices forming an integral part of the cuisine. For instance, Prawn Atola is a dry dish comprising prawns coated only with Vindaloo Masala featuring Kashmiri chilli, cumin and turmeric. "Most people from our community were farmers and would be out on field all day. So, the masalas and lemon would help preserve their food for a longer time," reasons Kinny.

At present, the store stocks six varieties of masala in 100g bottles (R150 onwards). These include Khuddi or Bottle Masala, Chinchoni (fish) Masala, Vindaloo Masala, Roast Rub, Kujit Masala and Tem Che Rose. She also offers Wedding Pickle, an oil-free variety prepared with raw papaya, carrots and dry dates. "All the recipes have been passed on from generations and are homemade," she informs.

However, making the masalas is no cakewalk. "It takes three days to dry spices under the sun. Then, we hand pound them and pack them tightly in bottles with wider openings," says Kinny. She recalls that in her grandmother’s time, the masalas were tightly stuffed in beer bottles. The bottles were darker, and hence, helped preserve the masala for at least a year, at room temperature.

Lugra love

East Indian Cozinha also stocks traditional 10-yard saris known as lugras. These are hand embroidered by Kinny’s mother, Carol. Previously made only from cotton with authentic gold borders, now, lugras are embroidered with sequins and threads. "She has been in the garment industry for the last 30 years. She also makes traditional accessories like kapotas (earrings), karis (hair pins), anklets, etc," informs Kinny.

read more:www.marieaustralia.com/formal-dresses

www.marieaustralia.com/short-formal-dresses
I do not ask for youth, nor for delay
in the rising of time's irreversible river
that takes the jewelled arc of the waterfall
in which I glimpse, minute by glinting minute,
all that I have and all I am always losing
as sunlight lights each drop fast, fast falling.

I do not dream that you, young again,
might come to me darkly in love's green darkness
where the dust of the bracken spices the air
moss, crushed, gives out an astringent sweetness
and water holds our reflections
motionless, as if for ever.

It is enough now to come into a room
and find the kindness we have for each other
— calling it love — in eyes that are shrewd
but trustful still, face chastened by years
of careful judgement; to sit in the afternoons
in mild conversation, without nostalgia.

But when you leave me, with your jauntiness
sinewed by resolution more than strength
— suddenly then I love you with a quick
intensity, remembering that water,
however luminous and grand, falls fast
and only once to the dark pool below.
James M Vines Dec 2015
Mix a little pepper with a little thyme, see a covered dish melt in your mouth. Add some Pumpkin to Ginger and watch cookies come alive. Use a twist of Lemon, with a pinch of lime, bake until golden brown, it works every time. Food is a lot like life, for it to be good it takes the right spices.
Krysel Anson Sep 2018
I am half-Chinese and a half Filipino-Spanish.
I have only learnt to speak Filipino my whole life.

The best advises I have received is that there is no right or wrong,
that labels does not always help.
That no matter what, I should just go
and "Live my life", or "Sing in Full Voice, Until Then".

Attentive to a fault to the work or person at hand.
Because of routine and living demands, sometimes I
only pay attention to what is available or given to me.

Like the quest for the Spices of the East, I could no longer live the same way when the time came. I had to learn preservation and other flavors.

In a Asian Food Show, someone shares
How some later generation Chinese had to study their own native language in secret between 1966 to 1998.  
Stories of how their migrant or refugee heritage have made them scapegoats of many local tensions.
And varieties of words and ingredients also native to Chinese and later generations that lived offshore.

Many of us now in the thrash of our collective songs
towards healing and full living as humanity, continuing
refugees and wanderers in our own ways.

Where we see our indigenous-selves and our oppressor-selves,
is not as difficult as we are usually made to,
in a world of artificial
demands and surpluses.

One old song gently reminds me
in many languages singing,
as another bowl of handmade noodles
breaks open into countless random pieces:

We are only passing through earth.
Made to experience, and let go of our fears
and limitations.To gather our remains so that
it is inanimate buildings and objects that are used
by the living instead, and nothing is left behind.
To not leave a trace. To learn how to love.#
N R Whyte Mar 2014
This is the morning
No this
this is the morning
Where etherized upon a table I will finally sit up and be seen.
No, this is the morning.

Together milling loudly across park(ing lot)s
This! This is the morning!
Perhaps you've seen me undressed, perhaps you've seen me *******.
This is Morse Code these are hieroglyphs these are fingerprints on a frozen window pane. Meaning(fully equipped with the right place for a time) nothing to lose without first finding X.

This is the morning where to stay at home to garden and crow, hooked on the missing airplane lost in spices and exotic tea.
Lyn-Purcell Sep 2018
EᔕᔕᕼI
~ ⚪♫⚪ ~
The kitchen's air is redolent with spices,
peppers and cinnamon, all-spice and star
anise, thyme and curry. The cooks are
shouting orders; taking rose-silver pots
and copper pans; each having the print
of the Lily of Aurelinaea; from the wooden
shelves, plates and bowls from the cup-
boards; some are stirring soups over
coal-fire stoves; others are dicing carrots,
potatoes, fresh poultry and more.

~ ⚪♫⚪ ~
Esshi, in a light-green off-the-shoulder
dress of rose-silk with a triple ruffle trim,
lined with yellow ribbon, a thigh high slit and
white lilies beadery, is speaking to the head-chef
who nods. "Certainly, Lady Esshi." he says
and turns to his busy staff. "Bring out
the paella pans! We have orders for the
Queen Mother!"
"Yes, chef!" a woman says as she pulls
out a rose-silver paella pan and places
it on the stove. The head-chef turns to
Esshi. "You need not worry, Lady Esshi,"
he smiles. "I will make the dishes with
care."

~ ⚪♫⚪ ~
"You always do, Bael," Esshi chuckles as
he washes his hands and she walks to
the corner, sighing. 'My Lady...'
she thinks worried.
"Lady Esshi?" her thoughts are broken
by a woman's voice. She turns to see a  
florist behind her. 'So lost in thought,
that I did not hear the door open.'

She thinks as her eyes fall on the flower
vase.

~ ⚪♫⚪ ~
The vase is art noveau style; a deep emerald
green with a maiden in flowing silks, her
hair bejewelled with lilies. Esshi's eyes then
rise to look at the flower arrangement - white
lilies with lilac kisses, purple roses and
several stems of lavender.
"Lady Ainhara said I should bring this to you."
"It's lovely," Esshi sniffs the fresh flowers.
"Very beautiful! You certainly outdid yourself.
It's for our young Queen, I take it?"
"Yes. And Lady Ainhara said I should bring
you this also."
She sees her place some paper, quill and ink down
and Esshi smiles.
Hard to believe that this is my 800th poem! ^^
Wow!
Anyway, enjoy part 4! ^^
Lyn ***
Larry Potter Jul 2013
I was hungry enough to eat the **** end of a skunk.  I felt like gobbling the whole mound of concrete that is half an hour closer from becoming a part of my room.  Make that a quarter. I guess my tummy has had enough grumbling, like a seething network of volcanoes ready to devour Hawaii.  I am sure as exhausted as a zombie after a “battle of life and death” handling a plethora of carpentry tools which I have managed to rummage from our dismal basement.  I’m quite serious with the phrase “battle of life and death”.  I get to have this Obsessive Compulsive Syndrome which gulps a huge amount of my rhythm compelling me to put things in place especially in my chamber.  At times, a weltered pen could instigate an emotional havoc.  Or perhaps an inappropriate collaboration of curtain hues and mattresses would be ample to spin the color wheel concept out of my brain.  But now, my walls have done it.  Well, it was just a microscopic sight of a divine crevice, but how in the world could that escape my eyes?  Without a second thought, I approved an avid proposal from my subconscious – a full concrete room renovation.  And that’s how it brings me here, smothering the last square inch of the genius blueprint with this porridge of lime and clay, the hell with chemistry!  I have found out that my room has achieved the piquancy of a sizzling summer noon, thanks to the mist of dust and the precipitating drops of sweat that come tingling down my overheating body.  Ah! At least my system tells me that I’m not a promising patient of ****** dysfunction.  When the last patch has been perfectly planed in place, I drew my last ounce of pure strength and plunged into my most formidable bed, congratulating myself for a job well done. Alas! A thirty-minute nap and I’m ready for a superb coffee and doughnut delight.

I woke up from a cat’s screech. I peeped through the window. The nap breaker was a Cheshire, one with a dimmer fur, the stripes of gray suppressing the darker color.  Its tail enjoyed dancing around its rear, connoting either fear or excitement. It sure has a distinctive mischievous grin.  The feline was on the verge of climbing up the roof by jumping from a gutter about five feet away.  It seemed to have slipped but has managed to bring its **** next to the roof tiles. It stared at me with intent, giving me the macabre look from its glaring eyes.  It’s as if I’m being watched, stalked and examined in a way I couldn’t see, bringing me that feeling of guilt, of remorse.  Urgh! That’s why I hate cats.  Though I’m planning to keep one, I’ll reconsider it.  But what pains me more is to discover that my alarm was not able to do the job and so I slept three hours more than planned.  I looked down and saw the city lights flashing one by one, the beams glowing like a barrier of radiance diffusing into the gloom of the night. I guess this was the price I have to pay. I traded my snack with a peaceful hibernation, turning the coffee into a glass of iced tea and the doughnut into a great dinner with me, myself and I.

I have learned to cook since I was ten.  My mother believed that culinary prowess could be inherited from generation to generation.  And so, she put her trust on me and I haven’t failed her ever since.  This gourmet brilliance proves to be very useful at times of solitude when you got bored of ordering other’s recipes and decided to make your own buffet.  I remembered her telling me that all food would taste good if there is the chef’s heart flavored in it.  Cooking is an art, combining the loops and the whoops of seasonings and spices to the medley of meat and herbs.  Tonight, I decided that my dinner would equal breakfast, satisfying the grudge that I got from skipping my  diabetic snack attack.  A beef stew and a side of paella made my stomach die in joy, appeased at last that my gears are energized for my routinely nocturnal bookworming activity.

I normally hide under my sheets at nine but tonight, I shall break the rules. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll fix the rules next time. Just this time to spare for I have gained interest on this book entitled “100 Years of Solitude”, talking about how one could live happily even alone, just by creating the world you have ever dreamed of. Gabriel García Márquez is dumping the “no man is an island” concept which anyway sounds inspiring to me.  Finally, I jumped into bed thanking Him for letting me outrun another day living alone in a comfortable apartment, free from all sorts of vexation.  I wished for a better life at school, which gives me an imagery of dull monochromatic memories.  I am not that famous but I can be someday.

A heavy beam of sunlight pierced through my window, refracting on the ***** white floor and creeping up to the mahogany table just right at the corner.  It intercepted with the glass pyramid and created a beautiful prism that glittered all around my room.  It was a really majestic scenery, one that I luckily happen to see every morning, a good optic background, I guess. Two hours before class time – that’s where my pattern starts.  Take a bath, eat, brush teeth, groom, check the doors and power, then I’m off to go. Everybody follows a certain kind of pattern, that’s for sure. Whether you wear different types of clothes everyday or use competing brands of toothpaste, clothes are clothes and toothpastes are toothpastes.  As humanity finds more and more complexities in life, they become wired to doing the things and involving the events which they think would give happiness to them and simplify their equation of life.

As a proof, there’s Mrs. Lanny Honeycut from the house next door. She usually sprinkles her daisies every ten in the morning, wearing that friendly neighborhood smile. On their patio, you could never miss a day seeing her husband, Mr. Blake Honeycut reading the daily papers with a round of tea, jam and bread spread on his table.  On the busy intersection stands traffic enforcer, Red Mayer, waving his arms to and fro while wearing that aura of valor, never seem to get tired of doing the same thing over and over again. Thousands go out for work and go back to sleep everyday and that's the status quo we're talking about. Even inside the academic arena, you can still hold on to that thought; I mean the size of the population doing the same pattern at the same time – my schoolmates, enemies and… friends? Well, I’m not quite sure with the last one, but it’s this: they all make a fun of me.  They say I’m a dork, a nerd, a geek, a freak, and etc.  I wonder if they mean everything that they say or say everything that they mean.  Either way you put it, I’m not buying it. I am not what they say I am.  I just like being alone and that’s where I do best.

And as always, the school is crowded with busy people rushing through the corridors. Others are beating the deadlines while some are happy they could breathe for another break. But no matter how busy everybody could be, there is always a time spent for “information dissemination” or chitchats. But only this time, the topic discussed is the same.  I could hear it on the entire campus, everywhere in the perimeter. Another student in the university is missing leaving no trace of existence.  It’s been going on like this for over two months now and the university council has taken their best courses of action to unknot this mystery while campaigns have been running on TV’s and vigils were spent. Not that I don’t care but it seems that this is also happening to other places, I mean, this is not the only school where maniacs could exist and become professional serial rapists in the making. By the way, this is already the 12th case on the record. Weren’t people overreacting to the issue? Isn’t the case overrated? Did they reject the possibility that these people ran away because they got pregnant, messed up or something like that? Soon, the university area was covered with security troops roaming around like a swarm of bees, buzzing and sometimes boozing all the time.

I guess that’s what happens when you hang out too much with friends who are just jesters plotting your own jeopardy. I don’t think it would be good at all to be bothered with things like that because sometimes, it’s also useful not to have any use at all.  Like the king being admired by his kingdom amidst his sloth and compromises.  But that doesn’t mean I’m not friendly anymore. Actually, if it happens that I got company, I would magnanimously offer a treat at my place.  But the thing is, who would likely do that? I’d cross my fingers on it.

Wishes do come true even for a loner like me.  I think I have a fan. No, that would be too sublime. She’s hot and she’s hotter when you’ll know she’s so cool. Quite a paradox, but that’s just reality.  We came to know each other on our lab class. Her name’s Athena, fitting for her twisted logic and good humor. It makes me burn a lot of calories when I talk to her more than a 5-mile marathon could squirt. We were lab partners and we get along well. I just couldn’t figure out where she got the courage to befriend me. I do regard myself as unwelcoming species, but I might work on it when someone tries to knock the door. We juxtapose ideas. Yes, that’s what makes our conversations spin like a merry-go-round. But we enjoy it nevertheless, evident by the crescent smile we both generate out of the craziest topics in store. Once, she interrogated my way of settling wars with enemies. Well, I told her it was my habit of treating them to my house and giving them souvenirs to show how sorry I could be. She snickered and her eyes glowed like the Andromeda and her face shun the whole universe. Oh, I can do this all day long, if only I got hold of time and space.

Today, she asked me if it would be okay if she’ll stay at my place till nine when her dad could be home and she would be able to call her and ask to pick her up. She reasoned out that otherwise, the night would be scary because she’ll be alone in their house, no company, no security. I was puzzled how the thought of being alone could scare her. It is like freedom from any constraints, no ties, and no limits. But I couldn’t blame her. She’s too fragile, too vulnerable to handle it with herself.  With the speed of the light, I accepted the favor.  Well, that goes even without saying.

It was past six thirty when we arrived at my immaculate apartment. It’s great to be an“ OC” sometimes, I said to myself.  I thought of a winner dinner, one that would make her visit worth reminiscing. I preferred Italian.  I cooked her lasagna and drenched the dinner with sherry. We talked a lot until we run out of resorts. I guess she planned it, or I planned it, synergy perhaps.

The clock ticked nine and there’s no sight of her father’s getaway car. But there’s no sign of worry in her countenance either. I surmise it didn’t reach her inkling yet to phone her dad.  She was busy dissecting my kitchen and living room with her very playful eyes. That doesn’t trouble me though. That’s just as instinctive as any other first time guest could get. She grappled her attention on my antique collection of prehistoric movies, like the Scarlet Letter, The count of Monte Cristo and the likes. She happened to love them too. Well, that makes her more beautiful to me, other than the satin white dress she wears. Suddenly, she got the impulse of going to my room. She said there’s nothing more exciting to see than a gentleman’s bedroom. I startled from the request, but before I could say anything, she leaped straight to my chamber with the gestures of an imp. It’s weird to be in this kind of circumstance because I don’t often invite a lot of visitants to my room. I ain’t no hotel crew, bowing down and waving his hand to the chamber’s destination and leading the VIPs to their cabins. Yet this time, it’s the other way around: it’s my cabin.

But now it’s too late to stop her. She molested the **** and I giggled for some reason. Finally, the door opened a crack and a bend of light escaped from inside. She stepped in, and I followed. She was filled with awe not because my room is all made of gold nor did it resemble a royalty’s den. It was the exaggerated neatness and order that greeted her. In some unknown vortex of my deepest imagining, it made me feel like I’ve been through this instance before. The flashback is not so vivid as it appears, but something tells me this isn’t the first time. Deja vu could be working on it, I infer,although I don’t really believe in those forms of conceptualizations. Perhaps it’s the sherry’s spell infiltrating my mental prognosis. But something, I guess, isn’t really right.

I caught her opening a red box that was hidden behind my cabinet. I tried to steal it away from her but she fought back and it came tossing down the floor. Numerous items spilled from the case. A purple head band with the glittering initials ANNE, a ruby embedded bracelet, and a Nokia handy phone exposed the secrecy. This isn’t going to go along well and fine, I guess. A strong surge of desire came from my core. It tried to envelop my entirety and control me like a lifeless puppet. I felt the tip of the pyramid glass in my hand and I succumbed to lose my consciousness.

Morning came and it felt better than ever. It was a ***** Saturday. There she lies beautifully on the deck, like an immortal bud of red rose trapped in golden amber. The cellophane fits her well, and there’s no doubt she’ll be complaining anymore. I already prepared a cozy place for her deep sleep: A 5x2 feet wall engravement which I was busy molding last night. It wasn’t easy making her go to bed but still it ended up smooth and sound. I helped her get up and fitted her in place.I turned on the radio as I reached for my dear carpentry tools. The news was still nailed on it. But this time, the missing case struck for the 13th turn. Ahh, the hell with society! They never really get a way to deal with it.

I was busy patching the last mound of concrete that is half an hour closer from becoming a part of my room. Make that a quarter. I guess there’s no end to this divine crevice issue. It must be following a pattern too. But I can handle it, thanks to this vicarious personality. I wonder if I could get the chance to invite another visitor in my place. But if I do, I would certainly offer the best treatment they could ever have.
Alive, her Tanned Smile mirrors in your Phone
And you smile back. Such Grin spices your Face,
Browning each side completely whenst alone
Fortifying your Moment in good grace
Haply in penance your Innocence bears
Of Blue-and-White Anthems she held the Gold
Which many Fans sigh deeply in Despair
Knowing, in arrest, her Story is told
It's now up to you. Let your Plum-Charm shine
Yet suave must be your poise during your Date
Me? I am the Earth-Hanuman; In thine
Set this Stone Pillar to secure your Fate.
I told you, Athlete: Only you decide
Which Ticket you had your cause to remind.
#tomdaleytv #tomdaley1994
Sensitive to theses foods.
Herbs
Black pepper
Garlic
Spices
Bread
Cheese
Peppers
Cummber.
Bloating wind gas
Diarrhea
I will keep a food daily report
And show to my doctor in 6 ,weeks
Oh the joys of passing smelly wind .. embarrassing
K Balachandran Sep 2014
Eating mushrooms, to her is yet another art
she loves to perfect, in my ear she whispers
with such visible pleasure,"I want to be a connoisseur in this"
Her studio smelled herbs and wild flowers of inner forest,
brought me back to the cardamom and cinnamon garden
I played in my days of boyhood; spices build a  bridge for us.

More of a herbalist than a paint smelling artist, she seems,
mounted on the wall on irregular fashion were the mushrooms
she painted with a passion rare, and a precision mirroring life;
the paintings  brought her past in to the studio, only trained eyes
would discern the cryptic symbolism, a consummate artist she certainly is!

 The woman who smoked cigars in succession and untiringly danced,
she said was her favorite, along the lake front we took a long walk
comparing notes;  there were parallels that met, we found soon enough.
"You too knew her so well, I am aware", she said. A room filled with smoke
where we dance, make love, grow tired, fall down and sleep, wasn't it our life?
No one can miss the signature smell of her dense cigar smoke on my dress!"

I loved the smell of cloves she exhaled while eating mushrooms.
though detachment she pretended, eating mushrooms never was that!
I kept looking down at her eyes, a sailor about to sight the land,
any panting moment that rushes with a monsoon song for me and her.
Abigail Primpot,
Abigail Primpot,
              …stirred her iron ***,

Abigail Primpot,
Abigail Primpot,
             …home of death and rot,

Abigail Primpot sewed and stitched a lot.
She produced a sweater that shined like treasure,
                           …and no one else has ever seen much better!

Abigail Primpot learned to cook from old wives’ tales in an old dusty book.

Frog legs, bird gizzard, wolf’s bane, small lizard, one rotten apple and one sharp tooth, …cup of mead, some spices and a bottle of vermouth, a chant and a song and a wizard’s spell, …and a whirlpool in the cauldron that went to Hell! Abigail Primpot likes to stitch ‘cause she is a witch and though she was quite young; she lived with snakes, bees and scorpions and things that stung!

Abigail Primpot would become a Beast when she wrapped herself in her shining fleece!

Abigail Primpot,
              ...her home stunk of death and rot,
Abigail Primpot,
              ...sewed and stitched a lot,
Abigail Primpot,
              ...she had an iron ***,

Abigail Primpot,
Abigail Primpot.
A children's rhyme. The beast, the golden fleece and webbing are all ancient mythological cosmogonical symbols of the rotating stars of heaven. New Mythology
No. It's an impudent falsehood. Men did not
Invariably think the newer way Prosaic
mad, inelegant, or what not.

Was the first pointed arch esteemed a blot
Upon the church? Did anybody say How
modern and how ugly? They did not.

Plate-armour, or windows glazed, or verse fire-hot
With rhymes from France, or spices from Cathay,
Were these at first a horror? They were not.

If, then, our present arts, laws, houses, food
All set us hankering after yesterday,
Need this be only an archaising mood?

Why, any man whose purse has been let blood
By sharpers, when he finds all drained away
Must compare how he stands with how he stood.

If a quack doctor's breezy ineptitude
Has cost me a leg, must I forget straightway
All that I can't do now, all that I could?

So, when our guides unanimously decry
The backward glance, I think we can guess why.
Robin Carretti Jul 2018
F- For being faithful like a forbidden fruit truthful
R- Ruler of fruit so passionately about his love bite
U- Understatement how she layered her
salad love ingredients
Google it
Utmost website take a bite
I- Included in everything We know it the poets
Ring coming like diamond my fruit of the crop
T- Timing, Fruit for thought rhyming tremendous
but tedious fruit-salad love

I- Truly   

S- Strawberries lips of cherries falling from the tree.
Feeling free Robin bob bobbin along loves strawberry pie
A- For such ambiance, Miss Ambrosia
such allure "Pink lady" apple smiles so
animated graphic artist so cool and waves shore
L- For Living eating in good health breathing
the fresh air Earth Baby Bella green lettuce.
Lacy Length of her wedding bodice spiritual rice
he promised her hand in fruit bountiful marriage
A- For a party of love fruit masquerade party
Connoisseur of fruit smarty oranges
vibrant animation fruit forever apples,
I tune's of apples
D- Divine dressed up with layers
of fruit salad
Devilish eggs toppings designs of
dandelions daisies, fusion
with fruit crazies

D-  Digging exploring forbidden fruit
Cranking up the Cranberries
I am dreaming the Blueberries
No Sir, not your Monday blues
Dow Jones way up I Apple phones?
R- Rev it up Robin Recharge, rambling
lucky reds fruits
Italian the lovers of red wine and a salad
avocado smashing up her Money green
Eldorado entering her fruit palace

                      She rules

E- Energy vitamin E for exceptional inviting
fruit salad with everything piling
Elderberry Evergreens Huckleberry
S- Symmetry art salad Palm of hearts
Fruit season
love storm style sophisticated a poem with
the style you're sure to smile
S- Autumn leaves falling on the
sleeves crabapples
Silver smooth skin Kiwifruit sour cherry on the
          " SILKY"
Dogwood in the Sierra Juniper
E- Enlightening some enchanting evening
how his love fruit fell from the tree
His fruit for the soul so enthusiastic you loved
to entertain this is love fusion nothing simple
I am not one to complain

D- Dressed to the fruit nines perfect 10 salad
Mad Alice in Wonderland hair so much hair
obsessions love of fruit blueberries and
she's a bit sour cream
with daisies and dandelion teas all,
please and what else is another
fruit of a pain
To remain in silence but that burst of flavor
is like science fusion of soulful rain

F- food for thought furry but fireplace hot
love frenzy comfort foods A la carte frosting
"Buttercream" food pleasant dream
The freshly brewed coffee I never heard of
fruit your in luck
Blueberry coffee homemade Moms
I  girl scout you brownies and
Saltwater sea fruity buns of a breeze

U- Unique how you utilize passion-fruit
prize music
fruity Pop blend fires out up-tempo
your feeling unbaked
Not the right ingredients of love fruit cake

S- Serendipity New York City the
fruit never sleeps fruit stands love for
keeps or Dorothy surrender spices
of Sage Superfood salads

I- Yes we have bananas wearing paisley
bandanas fruit is ripe to improve a love
how it's written
Inkwell an index of fruit swell

O- Out worked outlived on time for only
fruit about the abundance of love
So soothing the fruit tunes of his music
Overjoyed Silk Organza

N- Gift of fruit not like any other day
Neighborly of kindness just dress
Organza Gown of fruit
So naturally spoken love so near Fruit salad he left a notorious love tear.
This is a fruit all numbered to our soul now we must be focused on only fruit I have ways to make you into a salad

— The End —