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

                                                 GLADE

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

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

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

                                               WORLD

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                              MA­STER

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

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

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

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

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

                                                  BOY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                HERO

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

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

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

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







Copyright 2020 by Ron Sanders.

Contact:  ronsandersartofprose(at)yahoo(dot)com
Sorry about the ghastly copy. This system makes graceful formatting impossible.
Cassandra Watson Apr 2013
Stirring
it seems the ground is stirring
With those who have been long forgotten
By those who are slowly rotting
The blackened sky silent
in mourning for those lost
The crescent moon somber
as it shines down upon the forsaken
Not a sound, only the stirring
The constant movement, the restlessness
No creaking limbs from barren branches
No mellifluous whispers from the wind
Nothing to mask the stirring
That horrid dreaded stirring
A cold blanket shrouds the grounds
Trying to quell those who are abandoned
Trying to silence them
Trying to lay them to rest
But it is a distasteful embrace
A cold and unpleasant embrace
Tomb to tomb
Grave to grave
Each so similar, yet so different in their ways
A different epitaph
A different life story
But it all ends the same way
With a fleeting thought and a relinquishing sigh
Death gives them a subtle kiss
Before they could ever say goodbye
The air has a bitter taste
That of sorrow and tears
Of those who were once remembered
Of the ones that stir
But as death can never be avoided
And time waits for no man
Slowly, the tear stains on the markers faded
And those that stir are left in waiting
A solemn and grimly sight it is
To see what awaits us all
A dark descent into hollow ground
Where we shall turn from something to nothing
It is a fate that is inevitable
a destiny that is unavoidable
To become the stirring that lies beneath
Where we shall, as well, wait restlessly
But there is something that has been unnoticed
An aspect that has been overlooked
The sweetness
There is something sweet in the air
A light-hearted scent obtruding the trepidation
A superfluous aroma cloaking the anguish
What is that wondrous scent?
What is that which makes the dead stir less?
But a vibrant arrangement
A beautiful bouquet
Of exquisite pink carnations
And lovely blue forget-me-nots
The flowers seem to be smiling
Wistfully smiling
Warming that which is cold
And lifting up spirits that were once so low
In full bloom
they seem to be singing
Singing a soft melody of tranquility
Comforting those that stir below
With a reminder that they are not alone
A reminder that we should all heed
That we will never be forgotten
So long as there are flowers for headstones
We shall never be utterly alone.
Shofi Ahmed Mar 2017
I
A flower that smells of pure bliss keeps an ear to the ground
It's a serene one sitting beneath the stars down on earth
The moon, far, far, seven seas away, loves to drop into her lap.

The Bay of Bengal billows, music has gotten beneath the skin.
The leaves furl out off the deep wood with the birds
singing out to the top of the trees, rhyming with the leafy dance.
Heavensent, that was in one sanguine day in the spring.
The Mother’s Language Movement in 1952 sprouted like this
on the eighth of native Falgun month—oh magic did it unleash!

On that day our beloved brothers were shot dead
They could swallow the bullets with smiles but won’t give up
demanding the official status for the Bangla mother tongue.
Angels wrapped round the martyrs amid lamenting mothers
Laid them on Falgun’s perfumed ground bleeding corpses
Seas of roses bloomed and blew them out red, red kisses!

They are gone not the stone wall of consciousness they raised
Ah, at the sprout of the spring what were they echoing?
Ingrained deep in the soil the pre-designing voice in the planning?
Who can tell? The world gels on February 21 in celebrating!

The angels then snapped up our martyrs’ souls off the land,
placed them on a piece of Heaven where they can hear the jingle.
Down on earth, a nation springs up, has gotten its wake up call!
Stepping on the sweetening arc of the mother tongue melody
the stone turns a flower, all in a butterfly moment soaring to victory.
Thanks to the movement - Bangladesh itself later comes to be!

II
The sun comes down to the rose painting on the land
In the heavenly Falgun hues it nibbles some wild summer dreams.
“Serene songs of earth stirring the water,” like it comes into play,
rowing the cloud bubbles singing in southern breeze.
Ah, a walk on the sun-kissed kaleidoscope land is a pure bliss.  
Every blossom spray of the wind is soothing sweet
Hop on and play straight to the ruby heart, as if it's a flute.

Mother tongue means speak free, fearless, in full streaming.
Speak the heart to the world without the fear of losing the cloud
that will listen, bouncing back on the brink of the sky river.
Then what did one say, hear, or was awed by in the blooming Falgun?
Could it have been the spring humming in her native lingua
or King David singing in mother tongue by babbling brooks
what in any other language, even with a silver tongue, isn’t possible?

Allah has listened to our martyrs’ crying mothers and fathers
The martyrs’ souls whisk through the galaxies and starry fair.

Soar high over the clouds, take the rainbow's *** of gold away,
Like a hue turns 360-degree in the colourwheel bask into the colour.
Still, dip the toes in Bangla mother’s soil salted with perfumed art
Like Himalayan water swirling down melting deeper deep down
This magicland is polished for everyone be it you, a fairy, a star
or off the ploughed-out barrow a walked out wonder!

A pristine voice duo’s voiceprint gleans to the spring in muse,
Pops in a beauteous scurry and speaks in the mother tongue!
Hidden within the earthy depth, only emerges with time,
only dances in tangent, that day slipped out with the butterflies.
And finally the blue nymphs take the plunge drop down the sky  
That day the mother’s voice triumphed, whose is the most original!
This is a poem from my book Zero and One available on Amazon.
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.
Yenson Dec 2018
The lames and children of the Lesser minds
  are stirring, stirring, stirring

with paddles and ladles
with brooms and spoons
with knives and forks and slicers
with sticks and wooden mortars
with lean rods, brambles and twigs

Eagerly they stirred the cauldron
in demented exertions they huffed and puffed
Turn to the right turn to the left
one leg in and one leg out, we all turn around
we're stirring, we're stirring the *** they crowed

I looked into the ***
the *** was empty
I see nothing to stir
Nothing but hot air
nothing but hot air

What possesses lesser minds
into dances with the Gemini moons
The emperor's tailor
on yet another jape
Go on my puppets, stir that hotpot
I can sniff that delicious goulash  aroma from 'where'
In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king
Hey, check out that timeless song by the Staple Singers -let's do it again.
It's a George-uos Classic
Night Flyer Jun 2014
In swirling clouds of silver lace
The disk of Luna lies concealed
Across the Autumn skies they race
Over this shadow realm surreal.

On evening shadows now, I gaze
A gentle wind swirls through the trees
From depths of sleep, I watch half-dazed
Thin branches stirring in the breeze.

Lights flickering neath mystic skies
Through gaps in trees, they shine within
Entranced, my mind, I watch surprised
This spectral beauty in the wind.

In these dark shadows, spirits drift
Translucent ghosts and dryads old
From this meadow, I sense their gift
Strange stories from the wood untold.

Oh let me join thy sylvan fest
Pale spirits of this Solstice night
Before the Moon sets in the west
We'll revel neath her misty light.
Wrote this in 2008 while living in Florida. Much of my poetry was inspired by walks beneath the stars.
Staff Sgt. Joseph D'Augustine
a proud Jersey son
whom Thou hast blessed
laid in St. Luke’s ground
for his heavenly rest
April 4, 2012

1.

in a far off province of
God forsaken Helmand,
our dear son Joey
met his untimely end

an explosive crack
a most terrible sound
felled a beloved Jersey son
to the cold cruel ground

working the live wires
of a well placed IED
a deathly burst killed him
it was awful to see  

Staff Sgt. Joseph D’Augustine
in solemn duty fell
fellow brothers in arms
will forever reverently tell

of courage and character
of a dear fallen friend
and how the valiant warrior
met with death at his end

for he was always faithful
to his beloved corps
comrades couldn't ask
a valiant marine for more


2.

details of his death
are not the real story
selflessness and bravery
are but part of his glory

is it brash to
question why he fell?
in a useless bitter war
an embroiled senseless hell

a generation mustered
to fight in the war on terror
serving four tours of duty
in a lost decade of errors

two tours in Afghanistan and Iraq
could a nation ask a man for more?
for he was always faithful to the call
upholding pledges he hath sworn

3.

the burden of war
to a  few confined
it rarely crosses
an American’s mind

incessant war machine
drones on apace
the horror of conflict
so cleverly displaced

with afternoon baseball
and super bowl parties
big disco paychecks
and other selfish priorities

pay hollow tribute
to dear weary troops
when valor is mentioned
we gather in groups

we’ll raise the flag
sing stirring anthems
than its back to the party
pay it no more attention

self styled patriots
wave handfuls of flags
but ask them to contribute
the zeal soon lags

its left to the few
to shoulder burdens of many
fairness is lost
its a democratic calamity

four tours in a decade
an inhumane task
burdens require sharing
its only fair to ask

Joey was always faithful
to the task at hand
willing to step forward
to serve his homeland


4.

in the wake of 9/11
a nation deeply shaken
young patriots stirred
liberty’s call not forsaken

a call to serve answered
to quell the rise of terror
a clear clarion alarm
marks the nature of the era

Joey boldly came forward
to train and learn
the art of warriors
his bright patriotism burned

deployed to Afghanistan
to capture Osama
routing the Taliban
without much problem

but a pacified Afghan
not enough for Bush
he invaded Iraq
another military push

we rolled into Baghdad
adorned with victors garlands
Saddam’s statue toppled
our troops were honored

deposing a dictators
soon turned to occupation
a ****** mission transformed
to build the Iraqi and Afghan nations

once honored liberators
now a conquering force
bestriding broken nations
on a civil war course

military industrialists
stood to profit most
sweet protracted conflict
record earnings to boast

lives bartered for lucre
a region held hostage
the conflict deepened
hostilities hardened

America dipped into
a great recession
the war machine
bled money and
kept on ticking

scooping up contracts
rewarding investors
the dividends of war
heaven sent treasure

continuation of hostilities
preys on a nation's youth
as casualties mount
ill portents forsoothed

a fraction of citizens
bare heartaches of war
gulping measures of despair
to guard a nations door

a nation always faithful
to the holy pursuit of profit
a highest citizens calling
put money into your pocket


5.

our beloved Jersey son
gave a full measure of devotion
in dress blues they shipped him
back across the ocean

on the Dover tarmac
they received his remains
for a last ride northward
to his hometown terrain

repatriated body
bereft of soul saluted
solemn escort knelt
hearts trembled, tears muted

a hearse for a gallant man
flanked by state troop cruisers
to escort the funeral train
assure an honored movement

one last trip up
old thunder road
the storied highway
Joey often trod

the last detail legged up 17
reverent firefighters saluted  
from overpasses
to honor  the woeful scene

as the motorcade passed
the Garden State Malls
frenzied consumers
failed to notice at all

busy window shoppers
didn't to turn an eye
as Joey rolled home
to the sweet by and by

vets interred at the
Old Paramus Church
gently stirred in their graves
reasons for war they search

Channel 12 Chopper
circled its eye in the sky
televised the sad parade
captured many teary eyes

the early spring blooms
colorful petals displayed
maples and forsythias
a royal carpet laid

spring remains always faithful
as the new season turns
offer sunshine and glory
as our sinking hearts burn

6.

motorcycle escort
northbound lane clear
rolling homeward
Waldwick was near

leaves exploding
green shoots budding
****** white maple blooms
natures accolades stunning

the oaks yet bare
just waking from slumber
winters death passing
a sad day put asunder

the motorcade passed
Joey’s home on Prospect Ave
few  envision lifes endings
this woefully sad

red chevy pickup idles
in hoop crowned driveway
never to drain jumpers again
departed children can’t play

the eye in the sky
framed neighbors in mourning
welcoming back a fallen hero
unsettled emotions dawning

neighbors waved Old Glory
from painted stoops and curbs
unsure how this tragedy
visits this blessed suburb

green grass of home
always flush with spirit
tears welled in the eyes
most difficult to bear it

last cruise of the town
sad neighbors stand witness
paying final due respects
and ponder from a distance

what purpose is served
by this man’s passing?
the dead cannot speak
rationale is for the living

the terrible herse
death circles our town
moves through our day
hope of spring drowned

murderer of sunshine
killer of young flowers
budding trees breaking
our hearts an ashen pallor

we remember the beauty
of Joey’s stout face
as it looked on your finest day
exuding pure honor and grace

old vets gather
donning caps and pins
boasting semper fi jackets
jutting tear dripping chins

shaking hands, giving hugs
bearing tattered banners
the hearse ambles onward
we head home in solemn manner

good folks are always faithful
where beloved ones grew
the death of our children
we sadly cannot undo


7.

the bells of St. Lukes
called out from the sky
platoons of limping vets
marched in with pride

pomp and circumstance
requisite dress blues
family, friends, townsfolk
overflowed the pews

doleful bells resound
tolling a mournful reckon
the cost of war mounts
a family’s loss beckons

the casualties of war
falls upon a nation's youth
a seasons page not  turned
a flowing wound not soothed

the wistful cornet calling
floats on the fluted air
the bereaved ***** gently sounds
a congregations somber despair

an unsettling dirge
the parish grows uneasy
nationalist bravado wanes
in the forlorn sanctuary

both church and flag
draped in colors of war
mock stain glass windows
communicants adore

is it a betrayal of the flag
to offer enemies
psalms of reconciliation?
where does true loyalty lay
with God or a warring nation?

afterall this is a sanctuary
where peace and harmony reigns
are we not called to beat swords
into ploughshares as the highest
calling of our Lord?

we are always faithful
to the pathways to war
when the practice of peace
is what we should adore

8.

coughing and whispers
incessant low murmur
a baby cries out
we sit and remember

the crucifers process
in solemnity to greet
subtle ***** notes salute
a coffin draped in Old Glory sheets

the beloved child welcomed
to his eternal repose
priests splash holy water
within the sacred dome

an amazing grace revealed
lifted by marine pallbearers
dearly departed body presented
gently placed at the altar

a grief struck sister
lovingly eulogizes
recalls tonka trucks,
GI Joe’s and cool transformers

a punch in the nose
an approaching wedding
beckoning Eastertide
vacation plans left begging

my second grade class sent
Christmas cookies and cards
to dear Joey and warrior friends
he said it warmed stark winter hearts

he was raised in this church
taught trust and reconciliation
the comfort of the Lords peace
may it surely go with him

for he was always faithful
to sisters, family and faith
his resurrection service
imbues sacredness
to this space

9.

sharp in dress blues
Eddie T USMC Gunny
big 50 caliber smile
offers his eulogy

Bada Bing Jersey Humvee
we called him Joey Calzones
good mood, loved sausages
he tickled the funny bone

always willing to sacrifice
loved the Patriots Tom Brady
a women dominated household
gave him a way with the ladies

his calling explosive ordinances
he said he was livin the dream
March 6th last time we met
knocking frost off cold ones
man whatta scream

a gallant marine,
beloved brother,
a sure friend
he was always faithful
I’m deeply wounded
by his untimely end


10.

the gospel read
the homily offered
Ecclesiastes wisdom
a time for everything
proffered

God never turns
an eye from the beloved
though seasons change
we are not forsaken
never unloved

as loss arrives
surely grief grows
turn away not
wisdom knows

in resignation
love lay dead
diligent intention
banishes dread

our rekindled hope
we rend and sow
our beloved Joey
knew this was so

our favorite son’s
example taught us
now rises on eagle’s wings
to claim his divine justice

Jesus faithfully tramped
the path to an awful death
Joey too fought the good fight
a warrior now gratefully at rest

The Lord holds him close
to the ***** of sure love
a cantors beatific voice incants
Joey’s spirit that forever enchants

The Lord is always faithful
to the bereaved and  beloved
no one ever forsaken
all unconditionally loved

11.

the Holy Eucharistic cup
affirms everlasting giving
tasted to nourish evermore
a libation for the living

singing the Beatitudes
praising peace makers
mercy filled voice and song  
pallbearers lift Joey’s coffin

off to seek his final peace
an earthly occupation ended
he’ll suffer worldly hate no more
down the aisle his coffin wended

the family closely followed
a mother haltingly sobbing
faithful marines came forth
to steady her wobbling

there is no sudden waking
from this terrible dream
the pungent incense rose
to the chapels sacred beams

the stained glass murals depict
the passion of Jesus’s story
illuming a consuming sorrow
in all its grace filled glory

the ***** of death slinks on again
we search for consolation
the recompense of honor blest
leaves a hollow heart wanting
no answers offered to quell the dark
of these terrible life’s moments
only the desperate need to hold onto
beleaguered treasure that sustains us

for we are always faithful
to the things we know
always faithful to the
things we refuse to let go

12.

the color guard and funeral detail
assembled in front of St. Luke’s
the cemetery right next door
the procession a short troop

the living will stumble through
the darkness of separation
seeking elusive answers
of poignant uncertainty;
all gave some, Joey gave all
nothing more required for his
journey through eternity

Joey will always be with us
his stories forever retold
as long as the machinery of
great nations engage
the gears of wasteful war

Joey’s spirit lives
in a peoples desire
for freedom, only if
our hope of peace
is greater than the
need for conflict

Joey’s lifes work
is sure to bear fruit
if those remaining
fight the good fight
by taking up the
task to protect and
expand the values
of liberty we
hold most dear

like our good
friend Jesus
Joey wears a crown
bejeweled with
a ring of thorns
hoisted on a
terrible cross
the sweet
incense of you
meets our nose
we inhale your
earthly presence
beholding beautifully
adorned crucifix,
a reminder of
unjust persecution
and a perfect
resurrection
yet this wretched
coffin remains

pledging allegiance
we rationalize our
stories, articulating
our small parts
in  heroic sagas,
reciting myths of
ourselves, recording
the grim history of
a young marine
surrounded by
a smart color guard,
feasting on todays
eucharist, this
days sweet taste
of  the daily bread
of human sorrow

The priest finishes
his graveside
commendation
of Joey D

Taps conclude
a wind rises
crows take flight
winging over
a stand of budding
Sugar Maples
exploding in white
blooms, reveling
in the glorious
sunshine of this
magnificent day

St. Luke’s stairway to
God Country and Home
smiling portrait of you
forever young

we surround your grave
to bless the earth
you've returned home
to your place of birth

our flowing pride
and salty tears bless
the anointed ground
that you loved best

a proud Jersey son
whom Thou hast blest
laid in St. Luke’s ground
for his heavenly rest

for he was always faithful
to the blessed land
forever at peace
in the soils sure hands

Charles Ives
The Unanswered Question

Oakland
11/10/13
jbm
Destiny Diadem Apr 2013
Steams rose from the red ***
Like angelic dancers
Dressed in gray and white,
Twirling,
And he silently stirred the red ***,
Stirring with that silvery spoon,
Stirring slowly.
Finally she realized he, the devil,
Was stirring her pain,
Stirring her anger,
Just stirring her life
Into a bitter ***.
And she became exhausted
In that heated red ***
That was filled with blazing anger,
Bitter herb, and battered emotions.
He silently stirred her like unseasoned meat
In a steaming ***
Until she lost her flavor.
Then she remembered to pray.
And faith rescued her from the heat,
Imprinting healing in her heart.
Now she is forever flavored with the love of God.

Copyright 2012
Destiny Diadem
Harriet Lucy Apr 2014
Something’s stirring
- hey honey, sweetie, sugar-
Something’s ******* up and in, like their stomachs,
(why don’t I look that flat, mummy?)
Something’s furious and seething, something strong
And stuck and breathing
My bones in. It’s the *** you see, yeah you bet,
All they are is ***; sweaty, oily, wet
With some such suffocating, suffering, surrendering
Desire to please.

Please the man, the thick man, with your eyes.
Please him with your deadened stare – glare -
Please him with your chest, your hair,
Feel the way that wind rustles and tousles, as you dance,
As you feel the liberation of a thrusty, *****, pleasing stance,
As they slip money between your legs. As they wrap you up, up,
Up in its crinkles, up in its arms,
Swept from your feet and in love, swept up from harm,
Just as you desired.

Love is the one – but what? Love comes from beauty, right?
Full lips, bright eyes, as dead as the night,
The best thing a girl can be is pretty.
(well that’s what they are on screens)
And that’s why I cried when they drew a picture,
Fourteen and they took all our ‘best features’
Ripped them from our bodies,
Bundled them up into one jigsaw creature
-where’s mine?
They forgot me,
But it’s fine – she’s got your per-son-a-lit-y.
And I cried.

It’s easy to say, I know, and I see
That things are better now, I am almost free.
But oh she’s been in the wars:
She’*****; she’s ripped; she’s cut; she’s lost;
That pleasing object onscreen – she’s yours.
But passion’s no good, gotta be pure, sweet and true
Well she’s gotta be new, and a girl's gotta do
What a girl only can do,
‘Til she’s through,
‘Til she’s cold cold and blue,
So hey lady, lady, lay-dee,
Who are you?

Sorry for the passion, words disordered in a heap.
Didn’t mean to make it bleak. Didn’t mean to make her speak.

But you see this is how she might.

Flocked in furious, in flight,
The little bird - the beast - is heard:
Each word, each word, each bite.
Cynthia Jean Jul 2016
Only ONE RACE
the HUMAN RACE.

The dividers
and conquerors
all trying to convince you
otherwise.

And they are
NEVER
on the frontlines.

They
manipulate
you
stirring up
emotions
hatred.

That people should die
for the mistakes
of the few.

God hates those who stir up strife.

The only
so-called
winners
are the manipulators
the millionaires and billionaires...

those who orchestrate
the mess
who PAY people
TO HATE...

turning them into mercenaries
MERCENARY
HATERS
AND
MURDERERS

and NOT for the reasons
they think.

The ORCHESTRATORS
don't care
ONE WHIT
about the cause

ONLY
about the
POWER and CONTROL
they
HOPE TO GAIN

when they
"HAVE TO"
quell the mess
and put out the fires

Which
THEY CREATED
by
THEIR MANIPULATIONS.

BEWARE
how people
try to use your emotions

for
THEIR GREEDY GAIN

TO CONTROL
YOU.

WE ARE ALL
ONE
RACE

THE HUMAN RACE.

Reach out
try to
LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR

YOUR BLOOD IS ALL THE SAME!

WOUNDED

ONE
DROP OF BLOOD

IT'S
ALL THE SAME.

cj 2016
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth.. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

It's like a magic formula.  Apply it to any situation, and improvement begins almost immediately.  Think of what the world would be like if we all used this as a guideline--never rude, always kind, patient...We would have heaven on earth.---Debbie Macomber
Jennifer Wolfe Sep 2018
MOMENTS OF MOMENTS
LONGING FOR HIS TOUCH
CLOSENESS OF OUR BODIES
FEELINGS WE HUNGER FOR SO MUCH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


                                                            -BY JENNIFER WOLFE
REALLY DON'T KNOW WHAT ANYONE THINKS OF MY WRITING.  IS IT ANY GOOD?
‘Nam Sibyllam quidem Cumis ego ipse oculis meis
vidi in ampulla pendere, et *** illi pueri dicerent:
Sibylla ti theleis; respondebat illa: apothanein thelo.’

                For Ezra Pound
                il miglior fabbro


I. The Burial of the Dead

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.
Bin gar keine Russin, stamm’ aus Litauen, echt deutsch.
And when we were children, staying at the archduke’s,
My cousin’s, he took me out on a sled,
And I was frightened. He said, Marie,
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.
In the mountains, there you feel free.
I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony *******? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
            Frisch weht der Wind
            Der Heimat zu
            Mein Irisch Kind,
            Wo weilest du?
‘You gave me hyacinths first a year ago;
‘They called me the hyacinth girl.’
—Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden,
Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not
Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,
Looking into the heart of light, the silence.
Oed’ und leer das Meer.

Madame Sosostris, famous clairvoyante,
Had a bad cold, nevertheless
Is known to be the wisest woman in Europe,
With a wicked pack of cards. Here, said she,
Is your card, the drowned Phoenician Sailor,
(Those are pearls that were his eyes. Look!)
Here is Belladonna, the Lady of the Rocks,
The lady of situations.
Here is the man with three staves, and here the Wheel,
And here is the one-eyed merchant, and this card,
Which is blank, is something he carries on his back,
Which I am forbidden to see. I do not find
The Hanged Man. Fear death by water.
I see crowds of people, walking round in a ring.
Thank you. If you see dear Mrs. Equitone,
Tell her I bring the horoscope myself:
One must be so careful these days.

Unreal City,
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
I had not thought death had undone so many.
Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.
Flowed up the hill and down King William Street,
To where Saint Mary Woolnoth kept the hours
With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine.
There I saw one I knew, and stopped him, crying ‘Stetson!
‘You who were with me in the ships at Mylae!
‘That corpse you planted last year in your garden,
‘Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?
‘Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed?
‘Oh keep the Dog far hence, that’s friend to men,
‘Or with his nails he’ll dig it up again!
‘You! hypocrite lecteur!—mon semblable,—mon frère!’

II. A Game of Chess

The Chair she sat in, like a burnished throne,
Glowed on the marble, where the glass
Held up by standards wrought with fruited vines
From which a golden Cupidon peeped out
(Another hid his eyes behind his wing)
Doubled the flames of sevenbranched candelabra
Reflecting light upon the table as
The glitter of her jewels rose to meet it,
From satin cases poured in rich profusion;
In vials of ivory and coloured glass
Unstoppered, lurked her strange synthetic perfumes,
Unguent, powdered, or liquid—troubled, confused
And drowned the sense in odours; stirred by the air
That freshened from the window, these ascended
In fattening the prolonged candle-flames,
Flung their smoke into the laquearia,
Stirring the pattern on the coffered ceiling.
Huge sea-wood fed with copper
Burned green and orange, framed by the coloured stone,
In which sad light a carved dolphin swam.
Above the antique mantel was displayed
As though a window gave upon the sylvan scene
The change of Philomel, by the barbarous king
So rudely forced; yet there the nightingale
Filled all the desert with inviolable voice
And still she cried, and still the world pursues,
‘Jug Jug’ to ***** ears.
And other withered stumps of time
Were told upon the walls; staring forms
Leaned out, leaning, hushing the room enclosed.
Footsteps shuffled on the stair.
Under the firelight, under the brush, her hair
Spread out in fiery points
Glowed into words, then would be savagely still.

‘My nerves are bad to-night. Yes, bad. Stay with me.
‘Speak to me. Why do you never speak. Speak.
‘What are you thinking of? What thinking? What?
‘I never know what you are thinking. Think.’

I think we are in rats’ alley
Where the dead men lost their bones.

‘What is that noise?
                          The wind under the door.
‘What is that noise now? What is the wind doing?’
                    Nothing again nothing.
                                                    ‘Do
‘You know nothing? Do you see nothing? Do you remember
‘Nothing?’

    I remember
Those are pearls that were his eyes.
‘Are you alive, or not? Is there nothing in your head?’
                                                     But
O O O O that Shakespeherian Rag—
It’s so elegant
So intelligent
‘What shall I do now? What shall I do?’
I shall rush out as I am, and walk the street
‘With my hair down, so. What shall we do to-morrow?
‘What shall we ever do?’
                             The hot water at ten.
And if it rains, a closed car at four.
And we shall play a game of chess,
Pressing lidless eyes and waiting for a knock upon the door.

When Lil’s husband got demobbed, I said—
I didn’t mince my words, I said to her myself,
hurry up please its time
Now Albert’s coming back, make yourself a bit smart.
He’ll want to know what you done with that money he gave you
To get yourself some teeth. He did, I was there.
You have them all out, Lil, and get a nice set,
He said, I swear, I can’t bear to look at you.
And no more can’t I, I said, and think of poor Albert,
He’s been in the army four years, he wants a good time,
And if you don’t give it him, there’s others will, I said.
Oh is there, she said. Something o’ that, I said.
Then I’ll know who to thank, she said, and give me a straight look.
hurry up please its time
If you don’t like it you can get on with it, I said.
Others can pick and choose if you can’t.
But if Albert makes off, it won’t be for lack of telling.
You ought to be ashamed, I said, to look so antique.
(And her only thirty-one.)
I can’t help it, she said, pulling a long face,
It’s them pills I took, to bring it off, she said.
(She’s had five already, and nearly died of young George.)
The chemist said it would be alright, but I’ve never been the same.
You are a proper fool, I said.
Well, if Albert won’t leave you alone, there it is, I said,
What you get married for if you don’t want children?
hurry up please its time
Well, that Sunday Albert was home, they had a hot gammon,
And they asked me in to dinner, to get the beauty of it hot—
hurry up please its time
hurry up please its time
Goonight Bill. Goonight Lou. Goonight May. Goonight.
Ta ta. Goonight. Goonight.
Good night, ladies, good night, sweet ladies, good night, good night.

III. The Fire Sermon

The river’s tent is broken: the last fingers of leaf
Clutch and sink into the wet bank. The wind
Crosses the brown land, unheard. The nymphs are departed.
Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song.
The river bears no empty bottles, sandwich papers,
Silk handkerchiefs, cardboard boxes, cigarette ends
Or other testimony of summer nights. The nymphs are departed.
And their friends, the loitering heirs of city directors;
Departed, have left no addresses.
By the waters of Leman I sat down and wept . . .
Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my song,
Sweet Thames, run softly, for I speak not loud or long.
But at my back in a cold blast I hear
The rattle of the bones, and chuckle spread from ear to ear.

A rat crept softly through the vegetation
Dragging its slimy belly on the bank
While I was fishing in the dull canal
On a winter evening round behind the gashouse
Musing upon the king my brother’s wreck
And on the king my father’s death before him.
White bodies naked on the low damp ground
And bones cast in a little low dry garret,
Rattled by the rat’s foot only, year to year.
But at my back from time to time I hear
The sound of horns and motors, which shall bring
Sweeney to Mrs. Porter in the spring.
O the moon shone bright on Mrs. Porter
And on her daughter
They wash their feet in soda water
Et O ces voix d’enfants, chantant dans la coupole!

Twit twit twit
Jug jug jug jug jug jug
So rudely forc’d.
Tereu

Unreal City
Under the brown fog of a winter noon
Mr. Eugenides, the Smyrna merchant
Unshaven, with a pocket full of currants
C.i.f. London: documents at sight,
Asked me in demotic French
To luncheon at the Cannon Street Hotel
Followed by a weekend at the Metropole.

At the violet hour, when the eyes and back
Turn upward from the desk, when the human engine waits
Like a taxi throbbing waiting,
I Tiresias, though blind, throbbing between two lives,
Old man with wrinkled female *******, can see
At the violet hour, the evening hour that strives
Homeward, and brings the sailor home from sea,
The typist home at teatime, clears her breakfast, lights
Her stove, and lays out food in tins.
Out of the window perilously spread
Her drying combinations touched by the sun’s last rays,
On the divan are piled (at night her bed)
Stockings, slippers, camisoles, and stays.
I Tiresias, old man with wrinkled dugs
Perceived the scene, and foretold the rest—
I too awaited the expected guest.
He, the young man carbuncular, arrives,
A small house agent’s clerk, with one bold stare,
One of the low on whom assurance sits
As a silk hat on a Bradford millionaire.
The time is now propitious, as he guesses,
The meal is ended, she is bored and tired,
Endeavours to engage her in caresses
Which still are unreproved, if undesired.
Flushed and decided, he assaults at once;
Exploring hands encounter no defence;
His vanity requires no response,
And makes a welcome of indifference.
(And I Tiresias have foresuffered all
Enacted on this same divan or bed;
I who have sat by Thebes below the wall
And walked among the lowest of the dead.)
Bestows one final patronising kiss,
And gropes his way, finding the stairs unlit . . .

She turns and looks a moment in the glass,
Hardly aware of her departed lover;
Her brain allows one half-formed thought to pass:
‘Well now that’s done: and I’m glad it’s over.’
When lovely woman stoops to folly and
Paces about her room again, alone,
She smoothes her hair with automatic hand,
And puts a record on the gramophone.

‘This music crept by me upon the waters’
And along the Strand, up Queen Victoria Street.
O City city, I can sometimes hear
Beside a public bar in Lower Thames Street,
The pleasant whining of a mandoline
And a clatter and a chatter from within
Where fishmen lounge at noon: where the walls
Of Magnus Martyr hold
Inexplicable splendour of Ionian white and gold.

      The river sweats
      Oil and tar
      The barges drift
      With the turning tide
      Red sails
      Wide
      To leeward, swing on the heavy spar.
      The barges wash
      Drifting logs
      Down Greenwich reach
      Past the Isle of Dogs.
                  Weialala leia
                  Wallala leialala

      Elizabeth and Leicester
      Beating oars
      The stern was formed
      A gilded shell
      Red and gold
      The brisk swell
      Rippled both shores
      Southwest wind
      Carried down stream
      The peal of bells
      White towers
                  Weialala leia
                  Wallala leialala

‘Trams and dusty trees.
Highbury bore me. Richmond and Kew
Undid me. By Richmond I raised my knees
Supine on the floor of a narrow canoe.’
‘My feet are at Moorgate, and my heart
Under my feet. After the event
He wept. He promised ‘a new start’.
I made no comment. What should I resent?’
‘On Margate Sands.
I can connect
Nothing with nothing.
The broken fingernails of ***** hands.
My people humble people who expect
Nothing.’
              la la

To Carthage then I came

Burning burning burning burning
O Lord Thou pluckest me out
O Lord Thou pluckest

burning

IV. Death by Water

Phlebas the Phoenician, a fortnight dead,
Forgot the cry of gulls, and the deep sea swell
And the profit and loss.
                                A current under sea
Picked his bones in whispers. As he rose and fell
He passed the stages of his age and youth
Entering the whirlpool.
                               Gentile or Jew
O you who turn the wheel and look to windward,
Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you.

V. What the Thunder Said

After the torchlight red on sweaty faces
After the frosty silence in the gardens
After the agony in stony places
The shouting and the crying
Prison and palace and reverberation
Of thunder of spring over distant mountains
He who was living is now dead
We who were living are now dying
With a little patience

Here is no water but only rock
Rock and no water and the sandy road
The road winding above among the mountains
Which are mountains of rock wi
JR Rhine Jan 2017
I broke up with God
at our favorite eatery
in our favorite booth.

We settled into familiar creases
and asked for the usual.

My eyes lazily staring at fingers
stirring the straw around the ice cubes,
God cautiously spoke up:

“Is something wrong?”

“Nothing.” (Thinking about the dormant phone
concealing behind the lock screen
the open Facebook tab
lingering over the relationship status section.)

They silently mused over the laconic reply,
til the waitress showed up with the food.

“Thank you!” God blurted with agonizing alacrity.

I received the sustenance lifelessly
and aimlessly poked at the burgers and fries.

The waitress eyed me with vague inquisition,
popping a bubble in the gum between
big teeth, refilled my water
and pirouetted hastily.

We ate in ostensible harmony,
the silence gripping like a chokehold,
the visible anxiety and subdued resolve
settling like a stifling blanket
over the child waking
from a nightmare—

Til we couldn’t breathe,
and I ripped back the covers
and looked into the eyes
of my tormentor.

“It’s not you, it’s me.”

God, taken aback by the curt statement,
dropped their burger with shaking hands,
silently begging with wetting eyes
a greater explanation.

So I elaborated:

“It’s not you, it’s me.

For your immaculate conception
was created by human hands,

your adages rendered obsolete
by human words,

your purpose and plan for us
distorted by human nature—

I cannot hate myself any longer.

I cannot pretend to know you at all.

Who my mother and father say you are
is not who my friends think you are,
nor my teachers, my pastor,
the president, Stephen Hawking,
Muhammed, the KKK, Buddha,
the Westboro Baptist Church,
Walt Whitman, Derek Zanetti,
******,
and Billy Graham.

I am told you care who I bring into bed (and when),
and what movies I watch,
and what music I listen to—

I have not heard what you say about
child soldiers, the use of mosquitos,
or the increased destruction of the earth
which you proudly proclaimed your creation,
or the poverty and disease and famine
which has ridden so many of your children—”

God interjected,
“But you’re chosen!”

I snorted,

“You say I’m chosen
to spend eternity with you—
why me?

Why’d you pick me among
thousands, millions, billions?

I’ve been told I’m ‘chosen’
since birth
by others like me—

those with fair complexion,
blue eyes,
blonde hair,
a firm overt ****** attraction towards women,
and a great big house
with immaculate white fences
delineating their Jericho.

I’ve already fabricated eternity
here among the other ‘chosen’
and there is a world of suffering
right outside the fence
and I see them
through the window of my bedroom
every day.

Am I chosen,
if I don’t vote Republican

Am I chosen
if I am Pro-Choice

Am I chosen
if I cohabitate with my girlfriend

Am I chosen
if I never have kids

Am I chosen
if I say ‘Happy Holidays’

Am I chosen
if I don’t want public prayer in schools

Am I chosen
if I don’t want a Christian nation

Am I chosen
if I don’t repost you on my wall
or retweet your adages?

I’m tired
being the ubermensch,
for it has not brought me
happiness
and I blame you.

I will not ignore
the cries of the suffering
believing it is I
who is destined to live
in bliss.

I will not buy
Joel Osteen’s autobiography(ies).

I will not tithe
you my money
for a megachurch
when another homeless shelter
closes down.

I will not tell a woman
what to do with her body,
or a man
that he is a man
if they say they are not.

I am neither Jew nor Gentile,
and I will stand with
my brothers and sisters
of Faith and Faithlessness,

Gay and Straight,
Black and White,

and apart from these extremes
free from absolutes
the ambiguous, amorphous
nature of Humankind
which I praise.

There is much pain and suffering
in this world,
potentially preventable,
but hardly can I believe
it’s part of your plan
to save
me.

I will not be saved
if we are not
all saved—

not one will burn
for my divinity.

The gates will be open to all—
and perhaps you believe that too,
but I’ve gotten you all wrong
and that cannot change,
as long as there is
mortality, and
corruption, and
power, and
lust, and
greed.”

God whined, growing bellicose,

“It is through me that you will find eternity,
I am the one true god!
I am the God of your fallen ancestors,
it is because you have fallen short
that you need me!”

I replied, growing in confidence,

“We have all fallen short,
yes,
but we are also magnificent.

We have evolved,
we have created,
we have adapted,
we have survived.

We have built empires,
and we have destroyed them.

We have cured diseases,
and we have created them.

We have done much in your name.
We’ve done good,
and we’ve done evil—

And unfortunately it’s all about
who you ask.

Your name is a burden on the oppressed
and a weapon of the oppressor.

You are abusive, God.

You tell me you are jealous.

You tell me apart from you I will suffer for an eternity.

I’m scared to die, yet want to die,
because of you.

You have made life a waiting room
that is now my purgatory. It is

Hell On Earth.

So you see,
it’s not you,
it’s me—
a mere mortal
who has tried to put a face
to eternity
and it has left me
empty.

And also,
it’s me,
for I have learned to love me,
as I have expelled your self-loathing imbibition,
and the deleterious zeal
I have proclaimed
through ceaseless
trepidation
and self-flagellation—

I have learned to love me
by realizing I am not inherently evil,
that my body is not evil,
that my mind is not evil,
and, ultimately, that
there is no good
and there is no evil.

My body is beautiful,
my mind is beautiful,
this world is beautiful,
and we are destroying it
waiting for you to claim
us.

I leave you
in hopes to see you
again one day,

and perhaps you will look
different than I have
perceived or imagined,

and in fact
I certainly hope so.”

Just then the waitress strolled back up
with a servile smile:
“Dessert?”

“No, thank you,”
I smiled politely.

And with that,
I paid the check,
and took a to-go box—

walked out into the evening rain
to my car,
put on a secular song
that meant something real to me
and drove off
into the night—

feeling for the first time
free
and alive.
Jude kyrie Jan 2017
Windchimes
By
Jude Kyrie


The windchimes lilt in the stirring trees
Sometimes it seems like you are here.
Memories now float in the summer breeze.

Aged Confusion brings me to my knees
That I can't find you my biggest fear
The windchimes lilt in the stirring trees

Then I see you gods have answered my pleas.
The windchimes voices brought you near.
Memories now float in the summer breeze

You say the trellis is choked with sweet peas
But your beautiful voice is all I hear.
The windchimes lilt in the stirring trees

The center of my universe is all I see.
Your beauty abundant soft and clear.
Memories now float in the summer breeze.

Then you fade far away from me.
Just the lilting chimes is all I hear
The windchimes lilt in the stirring trees.
Memories now float in the summer breeze
Another attempt at form poetry bu Jude
I really should not have spent two years
as class clown in English class
but in my own defense
she was awfully cute
Jude
ryn May 2015
I stand at the feet
of this stunning sunset,
The sparks in my eyes,
light each star.

          
Rhythm of each twinkle,
          synced with that of my own.
          Strong and sure,
          albeit few and far.


Nameless wind brings to me,
stories of silky clouds
I pull your smile deep in my heart
and finally can breathe.

          
Familiar words
          without cloaks nor shrouds.
          Just words...
          Yours and mine to reveal what
          our hearts would unsheathe.


What day is this?
Perfect to find
the rebirth of
freshly dewed dreams.

          
It isn't yesterday
          nor is it tomorrow
          It's today...
          Where the sun would see us
          weave our tapestries
          through promise-bound seams.


I feel deep in my heart,
a fluttery stirring,
A hope,
a strength to reach out to you.

          
This hope you speak of...
          Tethered by no thread or string
          Mending my universe
          and making it new.

          So now I stand
          at the end of this set...
          Seeking the beacon
          that I had known.
          I'd again brave through this day
          tomorrow...
          Just so that I could hear your heart
          that beats with my own...



     *Dajena M

     *ryn
Fay Slimm Oct 2016
A Stirring.

Three quivers of boldness coated in fur,
Courage minutely pawed at short grass
As that sunny day shone on a stirring
Of babiest mouse-life near my feet, fast
Yet unable to see, newborns on a spree
Posed for pictures and nibbled on cake
Like little pros, a shuffling trio of family
Shrews busied minikin fingers, quaking
Squeaky-delight as lips met free cuisine.
Whiskers a-twitch munching until Mum
Ushered them fussily holeward between
Sun-warmed granite stones. I had begun
To doubt the sighting encountered when
One tiny snout ducked out for eats again.
The way in which
my stomach stirs
is just as when
I touched your face
where you lay
while you slept
with your head
tilted back
and your eyes
closed-skyward--
where were you looking?
what did you see?
did you behold me?
Oh, something
has touched me--
reached inside
with fingertip
and touched the surface
of my waters;
they spin there,
stirring, stirring,
waking.  Oh,
what is happening?
(c) KEP 2012

for once im posting something that's essentially a draft
it is not a pristine or special piece of poetry i suppose, but there was no other way i wanted to say this...
anyway im looking for mags and anthologies and ezines and etc to submit my stuff for $$ (broke college kid, help me if you have any good publishers) and most markets dont take anything posted online, which counts as "previously published elsewhere."  so i'm gonna have to crank some good stuff and not be able to share it here...but hopefully i'll be promoting some stuff with the good news that i've gotten my writing out into the world soon enough :)
Daniel James Sep 2011
Neil was a nervous boy
Who no one ever noticed
He often knew the answer
But he very rarely spoke it.

He had an older brother, Jim,
Who was big and tall and strong.
He never said a word to Neil
Except – Eargh - “WRONG!”

So Neil took to playing
His own game of hide and seek
How long could he be silent for?
His record was a week.

“Wakey, wakey Neil!”
Said his dad one night at dinner.
“You had a quiz at school today –
I asked who was the winner?”

But just as Neil’s words
Were forming into song,
His brother flicked a pea at him
And said – Eargh – “WRONG!”

All his family laughed at him
But rather than go red,
Neil bit his fingernails
And disappeared upstairs.

He stayed up all night in his room
Plotting his revenge,
Still fiddling with his fingers
Till he’d bitten off the ends.

Morning came – he did not stop
He plotted and he fiddled.
He did not even notice that
His knuckles had been nibbled.

Back at school it carried on
Pinky – Ring – Index – Pointy – Thumb…
It wasn’t till the lunch bell rung
He noticed his two hands were – none!

“How embarrassing!” He sobbed,
“I ate my hands!” But did he stop?
“I can’t go back to class like this
Everyone will take the ****.”

Nails, fingers, knuckles, wrists
Then funny bones and both armpits
Head, shoulders, knees and toes –
That’s how nervous nibbling goes.

By the end of double biology
Neil was half the boy he used to be
And by the time he’d got back home
He was no more than a mouth and a nose.

“Neil’s quite quiet tonight,”
Said Neil’s dad, “Think he’s all right?”
“Oh he’ll be fine,” Said Neil’s mum,
“Probably just lots of homework on.”

That night, Neil’s mouth and nose
Packed a toothbrush and some clothes
And stepped out on to the moonlit road
Their plan: to run away from home.

They wandered round the town all night
And saw a hundred unseen sights
They saw the things most people miss
The shadows of unhappiness.

Till round a corner he found a group
Of kind old ladies making soup
“Oh dear, my dear, what’s up with you?
Has someone been ignoring you?”

Now Neil’s nose was so surprised
He stood there, mouth open wide -
One lady took this as her cue
And poured in some tomato soup.

“There you go dear, see – much better!
Your neck and belly back together.
Now be a dear and lend a hand –
This piece of bread’s for that old man.”

Though Neil was less than a head
He did his best and took the bread
And when the man said “Thank you friend.”
Neil’s face lit up again.

So Neil worked the whole night through
Making, stirring, pouring soup.
“My dear, why don’t you sit down now as
You’ve been on your feet for hours.”

And sure enough, below his head
Were shoulders knees and toes
“Oh!” Said Neil, “Hello, hello…
I missed you lot, where did you go?”

His foot said, “I was in your mouth.”
His knees – “We knocked each other out.”
His gut - "All eaten up with doubt.”
Till his whole being began to shout.

"WE are Neil! Stand up for us!
Or others will just miss us all -
And the boy in each of us
Who eats himself invisible."

So, next morning, back at home,
Neil put on his brightest clothes
And in his loudest voice he spoke
Of that long night that he left home.

And no one interrupted him –
Not mum, not dad, not even Jim,
And when he’d told of the whole night
Jim turned to him and said… “Oh. Awright.”
Nigel Morgan Nov 2012
She said, ‘You are funny, the way you set yourself up the moment we arrive. You look into every room to see if it’s suitable as a place to work. Is there a table? Where are the plugs? Is there a good chair at the right height? If there isn’t, are there cushions to make it so? You are funny.’
 
He countered this, but his excuse didn’t sound very convincing. He knew exactly what she meant, but it hurt him a little that she should think it ‘funny’. There’s nothing funny about trying to compose music, he thought. It’s not ‘radio in the head’ you know – this was a favourite expression he’d once heard an American composer use. You don’t just turn a switch and the music’s playing, waiting for you to write it down. You have to find it – though he believed it was usually there, somewhere, waiting to be found. But it’s elusive. You have to work hard to detect what might be there, there in the silence of your imagination.
 
Later over their first meal in this large cottage she said, ‘How do you stop hearing all those settings of the Mass that you must have heard or sung since childhood?’ She’d been rehearsing Verdi’s Requiem recently and was full of snippets of this stirring piece. He was a) writing a Mass to celebrate a cathedral’s reordering after a year as a building site, and b) he’d been a boy chorister and the form and order of the Mass was deeply engrained in his aural memory. He only had to hear the plainsong introduction Gloria in Excelsis Deo to be back in the Queen’s chapel singing Palestrina, or Byrd or Poulenc.
 
His ‘found’ corner was in the living room. The table wasn’t a table but a long cabinet she’d kindly covered with a tablecloth. You couldn’t get your feet under the thing, but with his little portable drawing board there was space to sit properly because the board jutted out beyond the cabinet’s top. It was the right length and its depth was OK, enough space for the board and, next to it, his laptop computer. On the floor beside his chair he placed a few of his reference scores and a box of necessary ‘bits’.
 
The room had two large sofas, an equally large television, some unexplainable and instantly dismissible items of decoration, a standard lamp, and a wood burning stove. The stove was wonderful, and on their second evening in the cottage, when clear skies and a stiff breeze promised a cold night, she’d lit it and, as the evening progressed, they basked in its warmth, she filling envelopes with her cards, he struggling with sleep over a book.
 
Despite and because this was a new, though temporary, location he had got up at 5.0am. This is a usual time for composers who need their daily fix of absolute quiet. And here, in this cottage set amidst autumn fields, within sight of a river estuary, under vast, panoramic uninterrupted skies, there was the distinct possibility of silence – all day. The double-glazing made doubly sure of that.
 
He had sat with a mug of tea at 5.10 and contemplated the silence, or rather what infiltrated the stillness of the cottage as sound. In the kitchen the clock ticked, the refrigerator seemed to need a period of machine noise once its door had been opened. At 6.0am the central heating fired up for a while. Outside, the small fruit trees in the garden moved vigorously in the wind, but he couldn’t hear either the wind or a rustle of leaves.  A car droned past on the nearby road. The clear sky began to lighten promising a fine day. This would certainly do for silence.
 
His thoughts returned to her question of the previous evening, and his answer. He was about to face up to his explanation. ‘I empty myself of all musical sound’, he’d said, ‘I imagine an empty space into which I might bring a single note, a long held drone of a note, a ‘d’ above middle ‘c’ on a chamber ***** (seeing it’s a Mass I’m writing).  Harrison Birtwistle always starts on an ‘e’. A ‘d’ to me seems older and kinder. An ‘e’ is too modern and progressive, slightly brash and noisy.’
 
He can see she is quizzical with this anecdotal stuff. Is he having me on? But no, he is not having her on. Such choices are important. Without them progress would be difficult when the thinking and planning has to stop and the composing has to begin. His notebook, sitting on his drawing board with some first sketches, plays testament to that. In this book glimpses of music appear in rhythmic abstracts, though rarely any pitches, and there are pages of written description. He likes to imagine what a new work is, and what it is not. This he writes down. Composer Paul Hindemith reckoned you had first to address the ‘conditions of performance’. That meant thinking about the performers, the location, above all the context. A Mass can be, for a composer, so many things. There were certainly requirements and constraints. The commission had to fulfil a number of criteria, some imposed by circumstance, some self-imposed by desire. All this goes into the melting ***, or rather the notebook. And after the notebook, he takes a large piece of A3 paper and clarifies this thinking and planning onto (if possible) a single sheet.
 
And so, to the task in hand. His objective, he had decided, is to focus on the whole rather than the particular. Don’t think about the Kyrie on its own, but consider how it lies with the Gloria. And so with the Sanctus & Benedictus. How do they connect to the Agnus Dei. He begins on the A3 sheet of plain paper ‘making a map of connections’. Kyrie to Gloria, Gloria to Credo and so on. Then what about Agnus Dei and the Gloria? Is there going to be any commonality – in rhythm, pace and tempo (we’ll leave melody and harmony for now)? Steady, he finds himself saying, aren’t we going back over old ground? His notebook has pages of attempts at rhythmizing the text. There are just so many ways to do this. Each rhythmic solution begets a different slant of meaning.
 
This is to be a congregational Mass, but one that has a role for a 4-part choir and ***** and a ‘jazz instrument’. Impatient to see notes on paper, he composes a new introduction to a Kyrie as a rhythmic sketch, then, experimentally, adds pitches. He scores it fully, just 10 bars or so, but it is barely finished before his critical inner voice says, ‘What’s this for? Do you all need this? This is showing off.’ So the filled-out sketch drops to the floor and he examines this element of ‘beginning’ the incipit.
 
He remembers how a meditation on that word inhabits the opening chapter of George Steiner’s great book Grammars of Creation. He sees in his mind’s eye the complex, colourful and ornate letter that begins the Lindesfarne Gospels. His beginnings for each movement, he decides, might be two chords, one overlaying the other: two ‘simple’ diatonic chords when sounded separately, but complex and with a measure of mystery when played together. The Mass is often described as a mystery. It is that ritual of a meal undertaken by a community of people who in the breaking of bread and wine wish to bring God’s presence amongst them. So it is a mystery. And so, he tells himself, his music will aim to hold something of mystery. It should not be a comment on that mystery, but be a mystery itself. It should not be homely and comfortable; it should be as minimal and sparing of musical commentary as possible.
 
When, as a teenager, he first began to set words to music he quickly experienced the need (it seemed) to fashion accompaniments that were commentaries on the text the voice was singing. These accompaniments did not underpin the words so much as add a commentary upon them. What lay beneath the words was his reaction, indeed imaginative extension of the words. He eschewed then both melisma and repetition. He sought an extreme independence between word and music, even though the word became the scenario of the music. Any musical setting was derived from the composition of the vocal line.  It was all about finding the ‘key’ to a song, what unlocked the door to the room of life it occupied. The music was the room where the poem’s utterance lived.
 
With a Mass you were in trouble for the outset. There was a poetry of sorts, but poetry that, in the countless versions of the vernacular, had lost (perhaps had never had) the resonance of the Latin. He thought suddenly of the supposed words of William Byrd, ‘He who sings prays twice’. Yes, such commonplace words are intercessional, but when sung become more than they are. But he knew he had to be careful here.
 
Why do we sing the words of the Mass he asks himself? Do we need to sing these words of the Mass? Are they the words that Christ spoke as he broke bread and poured wine to his friends and disciples at his last supper? The answer is no. Certainly these words of the Mass we usually sing surround the most intimate words of that final meal, words only the priest in Christ’s name may articulate.
 
Write out the words of the Mass that represent its collective worship and what do you have? Rather non-descript poetry? A kind of formula for collective incantation during worship? Can we read these words and not hear a surrounding music? He thinks for a moment of being asked to put new music to words of The Beatles. All you need is love. Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away. Oh bla dee oh bla da life goes on. Now, now this is silliness, his Critical Voice complains. And yet it’s not. When you compose a popular song the gap between some words scribbled on the back of an envelope and the hook of chords and melody developed in an accidental moment (that becomes a way of clothing such words) is often minimal. Apart, words and music seem like orphans in a storm. Together they are home and dry.
 
He realises, and not for the first time, that he is seeking a total musical solution to the whole of the setting of those words collectively given voice to by those participating in the Mass.
 
And so: to the task in hand. His objective: to focus on the whole rather than the particular.  Where had he heard that thought before? - when he had sat down at his drawing board an hour and half previously. He’d gone in a circle of thought, and with his sketch on the floor at his feet, nothing to show for all that effort.
 
Meanwhile the sun had risen. He could hear her moving about in the bathroom. He went to the kitchen and laid out what they would need to breakfast together. As he poured milk into a jug, primed the toaster, filled the kettle, the business of what might constitute a whole solution to this setting of the Mass followed him around the kitchen and breakfast room like a demanding child. He knew all about demanding children. How often had he come home from his studio to prepare breakfast and see small people to school? - more often than he cared to remember. And when he remembered he became sad that it was no more.  His children had so often provided a welcome buffer from sessions of intense thought and activity. He loved the walk to school, the first quarter of a mile through the park, a long avenue of chestnut trees. It was always the end of April and pink and white blossoms were appearing, or it was September and there were conkers everywhere. It was under these trees his daughter would skip and even his sons would hold hands with him; he would feel their warmth, their livingness.
 
But now, preparing breakfast, his Critical Voice was that demanding child and he realised when she appeared in the kitchen he spoke to her with a voice of an artist in conversation with his critics, not the voice of the man who had the previous night lost himself to joy in her dear embrace. And he was ashamed it was so.
 
How he loved her gentle manner as she negotiated his ‘coming too’ after those two hours of concentration and inner dialogue. Gradually, by the second cup of coffee he felt a right person, and the hours ahead did not seem too impossible.
 
When she’d gone off to her work, silence reasserted itself. He played his viola for half an hour, just scales and exercises and a few folk songs he was learning by heart. This gathering habit was, he would say if asked, to reassert his musicianship, the link between his body and making sound musically. That the viola seemed to resonate throughout his whole body gave him pleasure. He liked the ****** movement required to produce a flowing sequence of bow strokes. The trick at the end of this daily practice was to put the instrument in its case and move immediately to his desk. No pause to check email – that blight on a morning’s work. No pause to look at today’s list. Back to the work in hand: the Mass.
 
But instead his mind and intention seemed to slip sideways and almost unconsciously he found himself sketching (on the few remaining staves of a vocal experiment) what appeared to be a piano piece. The rhythmic flow of it seemed to dance across the page to be halted only when the few empty staves were filled. He knew this was one of those pieces that addressed the pianist, not the listener. He sat back in his chair and imagined a scenario of a pianist opening this music and after a few minutes’ reflection and reading through allowing her hands to move very slowly and silently a few millimetres over the keys.  Such imagining led him to hear possible harmonic simultaneities, dynamics and articulations, though he knew such things would probably be lost or reinvented on a second imagined ‘performance’. No matter. Now his make-believe pianist sounded the first bar out. It had a depth and a richness that surprised him – it was a fine piano. He was touched by its affect. He felt the possibilities of extending what he’d written. So he did. And for the next half an hour lived in the pastures of good continuation, those rich luxuriant meadows reached by a rickerty rackerty bridge and guarded by a troll who today was nowhere to be seen.
 
It was a curious piece. It came to a halt on an enigmatic, go-nowhere / go-anywhere chord after what seemed a short declamatory coda (he later added the marking deliberamente). Then, after a few minutes reflection he wrote a rising arpeggio, a broken chord in which the consonant elements gradually acquired a rising sequence of dissonance pitches until halted by a repetition. As he wrote this ending he realised that the repeated note, an ‘a’ flat, was a kind of fulcrum around which the whole of the music moved. It held an enigmatic presence in the harmony, being sometimes a g# sometimes an ‘a’ flat, and its function often different. It made the music take on a wistful quality.
 
At that point he thought of her little artists’ book series she had titled Tide Marks. Many of these were made of a concertina of folded pages revealing - as your eyes moved through its pages - something akin to the tide’s longitudinal mark. This centred on the page and spread away both upwards and downwards, just like those mirror images of coloured glass seen in a child’s kaleidoscope. No moment of view was ever quite the same, but there were commonalities born of the conditions of a certain day and time.  His ‘Tide Mark’ was just like that. He’d followed a mark made in his imagination from one point to another point a little distant. The musical working out also had a reflection mechanism: what started in one hand became mirrored in the other. He had unexpectedly supplied an ending, this arpegiated gesture of finality that wasn’t properly final but faded away. When he thought further about the role of the ending, he added a few more notes to the arpeggio, but notes that were not be sounded but ghosted, the player miming a press of the keys.
 
He looked at the clock. Nearly five o’clock. The afternoon had all but disappeared. Time had retreated into glorious silence . There had been three whole hours of it. How wonderful that was after months of battling with the incessant and draining turbulence of sound that was ever present in his city life. To be here in this quiet cottage he could now get thoroughly lost – in silence. Even when she was here he could be a few rooms apart, and find silence.
 
A week more of this, a fortnight even . . . but he knew he might only manage a few days before visitors arrived and his long day would be squeezed into the early morning hours and occasional uncertain periods when people were out and about.
 
When she returned, very soon now, she would make tea and cut cake, and they’d sit (like old people they wer
Even as the sun with purple-coloured face
Had ta’en his last leave of the weeping morn,
Rose-cheeked Adonis hied him to the chase;
Hunting he loved, but love he laughed to scorn.
Sick-thoughted Venus makes amain unto him,
And like a bold-faced suitor ‘gins to woo him.

“Thrice fairer than myself,” thus she began
“The fields chief flower, sweet above compare,
Stain to all nymphs, more lovely than a man,
More white and red than doves or roses are;
Nature that made thee with herself at strife
Saith that the world hath ending with thy life.

“Vouchsafe, thou wonder, to alight thy steed,
And rein his proud head to the saddle-bow;
If thou wilt deign this favour, for thy meed
A thousand honey secrets shalt thou know.
Here come and sit where never serpent hisses,
And being set, I’ll smother thee with kisses.

“And yet not cloy thy lips with loathed satiety,
But rather famish them amid their plenty,
Making them red and pale with fresh variety:
Ten kisses short as one, one long as twenty.
A summer’s day will seem an hour but short,
Being wasted in such time-beguiling sport.”

With this she seizeth on his sweating palm,
The precedent of pith and livelihood,
And, trembling in her passion, calls it balm,
Earth’s sovereign salve to do a goddess good.
Being so enraged, desire doth lend her force
Courageously to pluck him from his horse.

Over one arm the ***** courser’s rein,
Under her other was the tender boy,
Who blushed and pouted in a dull disdain,
With leaden appetite, unapt to toy;
She red and hot as coals of glowing fire,
He red for shame, but frosty in desire.

The studded bridle on a ragged bough
Nimbly she fastens—O, how quick is love!
The steed is stalled up, and even now
To tie the rider she begins to prove.
Backward she pushed him, as she would be ******,
And governed him in strength, though not in lust.

So soon was she along as he was down,
Each leaning on their elbows and their hips;
Now doth she stroke his cheek, now doth he frown
And ‘gins to chide, but soon she stops his lips,
And, kissing, speaks with lustful language broken:
“If thou wilt chide, thy lips shall never open”.

He burns with bashful shame; she with her tears
Doth quench the maiden burning of his cheeks;
Then with her windy sighs and golden hairs
To fan and blow them dry again she seeks.
He saith she is immodest, blames her miss;
What follows more she murders with a kiss.

Even as an empty eagle, sharp by fast,
Tires with her beak on feathers, flesh, and bone,
Shaking her wings, devouring all in haste,
Till either gorge be stuffed or prey be gone;
Even so she kissed his brow, his cheek, his chin,
And where she ends she doth anew begin.

Forced to content, but never to obey,
Panting he lies, and breatheth in her face;
She feedeth on the steam as on a prey,
And calls it heavenly moisture, air of grace,
Wishing her cheeks were gardens full of flowers,
So they were dewed with such distilling showers.

Look how a bird lies tangled in a net,
So fastened in her arms Adonis lies;
Pure shame and awed resistance made him fret,
Which bred more beauty in his angry eyes.
Rain added to a river that is rank
Perforce will force it overflow the bank.

Still she entreats, and prettily entreats,
For to a pretty ear she tunes her tale;
Still is he sullen, still he lours and frets,
‘Twixt crimson shame and anger ashy-pale.
Being red, she loves him best; and being white,
Her best is bettered with a more delight.

Look how he can, she cannot choose but love;
And by her fair immortal hand she swears
From his soft ***** never to remove
Till he take truce with her contending tears,
Which long have rained, making her cheeks all wet;
And one sweet kiss shall pay this countless debt.

Upon this promise did he raise his chin,
Like a dive-dapper peering through a wave
Who, being looked on, ducks as quickly in;
So offers he to give what she did crave;
But when her lips were ready for his pay,
He winks, and turns his lips another way.

Never did passenger in summer’s heat
More thirst for drink than she for this good turn.
Her help she sees, but help she cannot get;
She bathes in water, yet her fire must burn.
“O pity,” ‘gan she cry “flint-hearted boy,
’Tis but a kiss I beg; why art thou coy?

“I have been wooed as I entreat thee now
Even by the stern and direful god of war,
Whose sinewy neck in battle ne’er did bow,
Who conquers where he comes in every jar;
Yet hath he been my captive and my slave,
And begged for that which thou unasked shalt have.

“Over my altars hath he hung his lance,
His battered shield, his uncontrolled crest,
And for my sake hath learned to sport and dance,
To toy, to wanton, dally, smile, and jest,
Scorning his churlish drum and ensign red,
Making my arms his field, his tent my bed.

“Thus he that overruled I overswayed,
Leading him prisoner in a red-rose chain;
Strong-tempered steel his stronger strength obeyed,
Yet was he servile to my coy disdain.
O be not proud, nor brag not of thy might,
For mast’ring her that foiled the god of fight.

“Touch but my lips with those fair lips of thine,
—Though mine be not so fair, yet are they red—
The kiss shall be thine own as well as mine.
What seest thou in the ground? Hold up thy head;
Look in mine eyeballs, there thy beauty lies;
Then why not lips on lips, since eyes in eyes?

“Art thou ashamed to kiss? Then wink again,
And I will wink; so shall the day seem night.
Love keeps his revels where there are but twain;
Be bold to play, our sport is not in sight:
These blue-veined violets whereon we lean
Never can blab, nor know not what we mean.

“The tender spring upon thy tempting lip
Shows thee unripe; yet mayst thou well be tasted.
Make use of time, let not advantage slip:
Beauty within itself should not be wasted.
Fair flowers that are not gathered in their prime
Rot and consume themselves in little time.

“Were I hard-favoured, foul, or wrinkled-old,
Ill-nurtured, crooked, churlish, harsh in voice,
O’erworn, despised, rheumatic, and cold,
Thick-sighted, barren, lean, and lacking juice,
Then mightst thou pause, for then I were not for thee;
But having no defects, why dost abhor me?

“Thou canst not see one wrinkle in my brow,
Mine eyes are grey and bright and quick in turning,
My beauty as the spring doth yearly grow,
My flesh is soft and plump, my marrow burning;
My smooth moist hand, were it with thy hand felt,
Would in thy palm dissolve or seem to melt.

“Bid me discourse, I will enchant thine ear,
Or like a fairy trip upon the green,
Or like a nymph, with long dishevelled hair,
Dance on the sands, and yet no footing seen.
Love is a spirit all compact of fire,
Not gross to sink, but light, and will aspire.

“Witness this primrose bank whereon I lie:
These forceless flowers like sturdy trees support me;
Two strengthless doves will draw me through the sky
From morn till night, even where I list to sport me.
Is love so light, sweet boy, and may it be
That thou should think it heavy unto thee?

“Is thine own heart to thine own face affected?
Can thy right hand seize love upon thy left?
Then woo thyself, be of thyself rejected,
Steal thine own freedom, and complain on theft.
Narcissus so himself himself forsook,
And died to kiss his shadow in the brook.

“Torches are made to light, jewels to wear,
Dainties to taste, fresh beauty for the use,
Herbs for their smell, and sappy plants to bear;
Things growing to themselves are growth’s abuse.
Seeds spring from seeds, and beauty breedeth beauty;
Thou wast begot: to get it is thy duty.

“Upon the earth’s increase why shouldst thou feed,
Unless the earth with thy increase be fed?
By law of nature thou art bound to breed,
That thine may live when thou thyself art dead;
And so in spite of death thou dost survive,
In that thy likeness still is left alive.”

By this, the lovesick queen began to sweat,
For where they lay the shadow had forsook them,
And Titan, tired in the midday heat,
With burning eye did hotly overlook them,
Wishing Adonis had his team to guide,
So he were like him, and by Venus’ side.

And now Adonis, with a lazy sprite,
And with a heavy, dark, disliking eye,
His louring brows o’erwhelming his fair sight,
Like misty vapours when they blot the sky,
Souring his cheeks, cries “Fie, no more of love!
The sun doth burn my face; I must remove.”

“Ay me,” quoth Venus “young, and so unkind!
What bare excuses mak’st thou to be gone!
I’ll sigh celestial breath, whose gentle wind
Shall cool the heat of this descending sun.
I’ll make a shadow for thee of my hairs;
If they burn too, I’ll quench them with my tears.

“The sun that shines from heaven shines but warm,
And lo, I lie between that sun and thee;
The heat I have from thence doth little harm:
Thine eye darts forth the fire that burneth me;
And were I not immortal, life were done
Between this heavenly and earthly sun.

“Art thou obdurate, flinty, hard as steel?
Nay, more than flint, for stone at rain relenteth.
Art thou a woman’s son, and canst not feel
What ’tis to love, how want of love tormenteth?
O, had thy mother borne so hard a mind
She had not brought forth thee, but died unkind.

“What am I that thou shouldst contemn me this?
Or what great danger dwells upon my suit?
What were thy lips the worse for one poor kiss?
Speak, fair; but speak fair words, or else be mute.
Give me one kiss, I’ll give it thee again,
And one for int’rest, if thou wilt have twain.

“Fie, lifeless picture, cold and senseless stone,
Well-painted idol, image dull and dead,
Statue contenting but the eye alone,
Thing like a man, but of no woman bred!
Thou art no man, though of a man’s complexion,
For men will kiss even by their own direction.”

This said, impatience chokes her pleading tongue,
And swelling passion doth provoke a pause;
Red cheeks and fiery eyes blaze forth her wrong:
Being judge in love, she cannot right her cause;
And now she weeps, and now she fain would speak,
And now her sobs do her intendments break.

Sometime she shakes her head, and then his hand;
Now gazeth she on him, now on the ground;
Sometime her arms infold him like a band;
She would, he will not in her arms be bound;
And when from thence he struggles to be gone,
She locks her lily fingers one in one.

“Fondling,” she saith “since I have hemmed thee here
Within the circuit of this ivory pale,
I’ll be a park, and thou shalt be my deer:
Feed where thou wilt, on mountain or in dale;
Graze on my lips, and if those hills be dry,
Stray lower, where the pleasant fountains lie.

“Within this limit is relief enough,
Sweet bottom-grass and high delightful plain,
Round rising hillocks, brakes obscure and rough,
To shelter thee from tempest and from rain:
Then be my deer, since I am such a park;
No dog shall rouse thee, though a thousand bark.”

At this Adonis smiles as in disdain,
That in each cheek appears a pretty dimple.
Love made those hollows, if himself were slain,
He might be buried in a tomb so simple,
Foreknowing well, if there he came to lie,
Why, there Love lived, and there he could not die.

These lovely caves, these round enchanting pits,
Opened their mouths to swallow Venus’ liking.
Being mad before, how doth she now for wits?
Struck dead at first, what needs a second striking?
Poor queen of love, in thine own law forlorn,
To love a cheek that smiles at thee in scorn!

Now which way shall she turn? What shall she say?
Her words are done, her woes the more increasing.
The time is spent, her object will away,
And from her twining arms doth urge releasing.
“Pity!” she cries “Some favour, some remorse!”
Away he springs, and hasteth to his horse.

But lo, from forth a copse that neighbours by
A breeding jennet, *****, young, and proud,
Adonis’ trampling courser doth espy,
And forth she rushes, snorts, and neighs aloud.
The strong-necked steed, being tied unto a tree,
Breaketh his rein, and to her straight goes he.

Imperiously he leaps, he neighs, he bounds,
And now his woven girths he breaks asunder;
The bearing earth with his hard hoof he wounds,
Whose hollow womb resounds like heaven’s thunder;
The iron bit he crusheth ‘tween his teeth,
Controlling what he was controlled with.

His ears up-pricked; his braided hanging mane
Upon his compassed crest now stand on end;
His nostrils drink the air, and forth again,
As from a furnace, vapours doth he send;
His eye, which scornfully glisters like fire,
Shows his hot courage and his high desire.

Sometime he trots, as if he told the steps,
With gentle majesty and modest pride;
Anon he rears upright, curvets and leaps,
As who should say ‘Lo, thus my strength is tried,
And this I do to captivate the eye
Of the fair ******* that is standing by.’

What recketh he his rider’s angry stir,
His flattering ‘Holla’ or his ‘Stand, I say’?
What cares he now for curb or pricking spur,
For rich caparisons or trappings gay?
He sees his love, and nothing else he sees,
For nothing else with his proud sight agrees.

Look when a painter would surpass the life
In limning out a well-proportioned steed,
His art with nature’s workmanship at strife,
As if the dead the living should exceed;
So did this horse excel a common one
In shape, in courage, colour, pace, and bone.

Round-hoofed, short-jointed, fetlocks **** and long,
Broad breast, full eye, small head, and nostril wide,
High crest, short ears, straight legs and passing strong,
Thin mane, thick tail, broad buttock, tender hide;
Look what a horse should have he did not lack,
Save a proud rider on so proud a back.

Sometime he scuds far off, and there he stares;
Anon he starts at stirring of a feather;
To bid the wind a base he now prepares,
And whe’er he run or fly they know not whether;
For through his mane and tail the high wind sings,
Fanning the hairs, who wave like feathered wings.

He looks upon his love, and neighs unto her;
She answers him as if she knew his mind:
Being proud, as females are, to see him woo her,
She puts on outward strangeness, seems unkind,
Spurns at his love, and scorns the heat he feels,
Beating his kind embracements with her heels.

Then, like a melancholy malcontent,
He vails his tail that, like a falling plume,
Cool shadow to his melting buttock lent;
He stamps, and bites the poor flies in his fume.
His love, perceiving how he was enraged,
Grew kinder, and his fury was assuaged.

His testy master goeth about to take him,
When, lo, the unbacked *******, full of fear,
Jealous of catching, swiftly doth forsake him,
With her the horse, and left Adonis there.
As they were mad, unto the wood they hie them,
Outstripping crows that strive to overfly them.

All swoll’n with chafing, down Adonis sits,
Banning his boist’rous and unruly beast;
And now the happy season once more fits
That lovesick Love by pleading may be blest;
For lovers say the heart hath treble wrong
When it is barred the aidance of the tongue.

An oven that is stopped, or river stayed,
Burneth more hotly, swelleth with more rage;
So of concealed sorrow may be said.
Free vent of words love’s fire doth assuage;
But when the heart’s attorney once is mute,
The client breaks, as desperate in his suit.

He sees her coming, and begins to glow,
Even as a dying coal revives with wind,
And with his bonnet hides his angry brow,
Looks on the dull earth with disturbed mind,
Taking no notice that she is so nigh,
For all askance he holds her in his eye.

O what a sight it was wistly to view
How she came stealing to the wayward boy!
To note the fighting conflict of her hue,
How white and red each other did destroy!
But now her cheek was pale, and by-and-by
It flashed forth fire, as lightning from the sky.

Now was she just before him as he sat,
And like a lowly lover down she kneels;
With one fair hand she heaveth up his hat,
Her other tender hand his fair cheek feels.
His tend’rer cheek receives her soft hand’s print
As apt as new-fall’n snow takes any dint.

O what a war of looks was then between them,
Her eyes petitioners to his eyes suing!
His eyes saw her eyes as they had not seen them;
Her eyes wooed still, his eyes disdained the wooing;
And all this dumb-play had his acts made plain
With tears which chorus-like her eyes did rain.

Full gently now she takes him by the hand,
A lily prisoned in a gaol of snow,
Or ivory in an alabaster band;
So white a friend engirts so white a foe.
This beauteous combat, wilful and unwilling,
Showed like two silver doves that sit a-billing.

Once more the engine of her thoughts began:
“O fairest mover on this mortal round,
Would t
Mateuš Conrad Nov 2016
before i pull this one out of my *** (again - listen, these words are not coming from either head or heart, it's best to pull them from the bowels, a gut-wrenching-feeling is more potent than that "something" that "something" delusional pulled from a clenched heart... as far as i know, the brain is incapable of emotions, it doesn't understand them, and since it doesn't understand them: it ridicules them)... which brings me to point:

(a) perhaps the idea of a soul is out-dated... why wouldn't it be, 21g worth of breath does not equal a soul... hence the autopsy of man, each detail studied seperately, the cardiologist knows the heart, the neurologist the brain etc., but some items work in a solipsistic mode... the heart is robotic, automaton pump queen (and not the kind of pump you'd get from Shveeden) - thump thump thump! come to think of it, most of our bodies are robotic, automated... lucky for me: i don't have to think about the heart doing what it does, it just per se does it... i'm not even sure i'm gifted with the a.i. brain functions... but there's an underlying principle that governs all of these items... some call it the self... i prefer: the Σ ultimatum... some would call it soul... but there has to be something akin to the Σ ultimatum that allows me to become detached from this body, while at the same time be bound to it: high blood pressure, heart attack on the horizon... take the high blood pressure pills... ****... what was (b)? oh... yes...

(b) i'm sorry, virginity doesn't cut it for me, lucky me that it was isabella of grenoble that allowed me to move aside from: god, prior to losing my virginity.... roxette: do you feel excited, you're still the one (shanaia twain), fade to black - metallica... i was such a romantic before i lost this dreaded curse... i was a romantic... 19th century style romanticism... but you really can see past this sort of romanticism unless you haven't ******... these days the right complains about cultural marxism: plenty of things to complain about... it makes as much sense as a pickle in a dollop of custard... or cooking with pale indian ale to make a stew: bad idea... wine, brandy, cider? fine... beer? terrible idea to cook with... but unless you haven't lost your virginity, you can't see what cultural marxism chose as its opponent: cultural darwinism... you know how little you hear about darwinism outside of the english speaking world? zero to none, yes, it's an accepted fact, but this fact does not permeate outside of the fact per se, the fact contains itself and the whole subsequent narrative because subconsciously stored... no other people than the people who found it ensure there are subplot proof statements of a reconfirmation of the validity... the whole social science bogus trap of rating people on looks... contradicting the meritocracy of that old Socratic saying: let me be as beautiful on the inside as on the outside... if you haven't ******: you're still the same old romantic i was at puberty... once you ****... well... cultural marxism dwarfs... yes yes it's there... so? but at the same time you can at least appreciate seeing the antithesis: cultural darwinism... the romantic needs to die the most carnal death via experience... all my ideals were shattered, this perfection of woman... i very much liked the idea / not even the ideal of a woman... but when the idea fizzled out and there was no ideal to begin with... i saw cultural darwinism for the very first time and... it was as ugly as cultural marxism so heavily criticized by the conservative right of the west... so... i decided to walk the middle ground, ignoring both sides (of the argument).

(c) i wouldn't have come up with a point see, unless my favorite square schematic didn't pop into my mind, Kantian, as ever: the best philosophy is the antithesis of English pragmatism and overt-politicisation, so it has to be German, ergo? i will not explain these terms, i figured: if i nail a decent example to fit each category, that's enough: since you can then visualize the concept via the example:

analytical a priori                           synthetic a priori
there's a need to throw                   learning
a ball at                                                to throw a ball
a target                                                 at a target once
                                                            ­  the need has been
                                                            ­  established...



synthetic a posteriori                    analytical a posteriori
there's a  need to                           perfecting to throw
      throw a ball at                               a ball at a target
a target, in order
to perfect this need...

                                            baseball..­. cricket...
at least: that's how i define knowledge of something
simple without having to use mathematics
that Kant used to explain... 2 + 2 = 4...
mathematics isn't exactly a man's best friend
at explaining philosophy...
you write philosophy that alligns itself
to mathematics... no wonder: moths in books...
yawns, unfinished works...
i found that sports work just as well
as mathematics... and you have the already
primitive objects to work with...
rather than pseudo-objects: i.e. numbers...
the abstracts of perception: i'm actually 6ft2...
not 6ft1... karolína plíšková is 6ft1...
       as noted when watching her today...

  i'll admit, i'm always a bit shaky when it comes
to this sqaure, whether it's over-simplified,
notably the top left corner: analytical a priori,
i'm always of a mindset that wants to associated
this definition with: analytical a- priori...
  i.e. borrowing from atheism:
    to analyse something without there
being a prior to example...
               analysis without a prior example...
i guess that's the mojo of science... the driving force...
back to sports... bow and arrow...
   tools: target...
       whether a bow and arrow and a deer
to begin with...
or a hand and ball and a wicket to end with...

there's a need to throw                  
a ball at a target...

            and cricket was the precursor of
baseball, but prior to cricket?
   there was archery...
              and prior to archery...
   there was forever a fundamental need,
e.g. to go from point X to point Z...
   see... as much as Kant wanted...
   numbers don't really solve the "problem"
of explaining something: algebra would be
better suited... x + y = z...
                    with numbers either hovering
above, or below (in the instance of chemistry's
subscript)...

talking of squares... sūdoku...
well, if at any time the french were to receive a hard-on
in terms of inventing something,
the english: rugby, cricket, football, tennis...
the french really did read some of the hebrew
qabbalah literature, as i am doing...
magic squares...
       the secular version of this puzzle
first appeared on july 6, 1895 (the modern version)...

it came to us from India and China...
again... why do western cultural darwinists
always tell our genesis from
the perspective of: "out of Africa"?
aren't there elephants in India?
            i will not believe i originated in Africa,
i'm not an "out of Africa" sorry state of
incompetence... i place my origins in
the sub-continent... at least that's where my
current language originates from...
the great migration across the Siberian tundra,
rather than some African savannah...
after all the Bangladeshi and the Sri Lankans
(the tear of India) resemble burnt cinnamon
in tone, some even as dark skinned as
east africans...
   if the germanic people want to stick to
the "out of Africa" narrative (notably the English):
let them have it... i place my origins in
India...

   never mind, now i'll write a name's dropping
history of how july 6th, 1895 happened...
the "magic" squares...

    from either India or China (chess from India)...
moschopulus of contantinople
  introduced them (the "magic" squares)
in the early 1400s... apparently ancient qabbalists
had knowledge of them
  (so... a trip well spent)...
                             rabbi joseph tzayah (1505 - 1573)
magnum opus: responsa...
             rabbi joseph castro: avkat rokhel...
tzayah in jerusalem wrote his major work
Evven HaShoham (the onyx stone) - 1538 -
   a year later the book: tzeror ha-chaim discussing
the Talmud: he never really bothered about
the Zohar...
               the hebrai word for "letters": otiot...
divided into two:
                         tav aleph (a line of aleph)
and tav yod (a line of yod)...
                   one is to never concentrate
upon the keter within the realm of the sefirot...
hence the matisyahu expression:
   king without a crown...
                         one example of a "magic" square
later dictated into a 9 x 9 newspaper puzzle?
      2     9     4
      7     5     3
      6     1     8     (up down across = 15...
my date of birth? 15th may 1986,
no coincidence, just stating an oblivion's
worth of a "point)... 15 x 3 = 45...
   and that's about as significant as any
                               insignificance can be...

album of choice?
    old horn tooth - from the ghost grey depths...

and without even associating the arabs
to the hebrai practice of gamatria,
i once inquired an old pakistani (who tried to convert me)
what: Alif, Lam, Meem
implied in the opening of the al-baqarah sutra
implied?
   he replied: god knew...
        so i thought, you don't know what
alif (letter) what lam (letter) and meem (also a letter)
means? you have to search for god
for the answers? good look making me into
a proselyte... mind you:
if the jews abhor proselytes,
while the muslims are so so oh so *******
welcoming... isn't that a tad bit suspicious?
how can a muslim convert me
when he can't explain to me what
alif lam and meem implies at the opening
of al-baqarah?!
            let's play some hijāʾī order game...
and the three letters...
       28 letters in total...
alif (28), lam (6), meem (5)...
    i'm not even going to go into the gamatria
mental gymnsastics related to any
"significance"...
   point was made upon the question being
asked... if a muslim tries to covert you...
and he can't explain to you
the significance of alif lam meem at the beginning
of al-baqarah... they're letters...
well... how is he going to explain to you
what's bothersome about those letters
to begin with? ALM... does that imply: zakat?!
to give alms? zakat being one of the pillars
of islam?
  **** me... i haven't even converted
and it would appear: i know more than the person
who tried to convert me!

.i. Yuri Gagarin and the yo-yo

if ever the potency of a "keyboard crusader"
existed, it's now -
   i can dangle a mouse above a bear-trap
and tell an elephant of a phobia concerning
mice any day of the week,
          when in fact i'm talking about
a mousetrap: nothing more.
     hence the exaggeration in the imagery
comparison:
        or it begins with a story told in the 20th
century:
             when women put down their mascara
brushes, men put down their swords:
never mind the voice in the wilderness:
       mind the voice in the crowd -
there's absolutely no reason to speculate
urbanity and tribal environments without
addressing, or regressing the crowd,
or as i like to call it: what Nietzsche said,
minus the Wake... but now inclusive of the wake
and the Bacchus cult of fun fun fun.
            the Wake in condor terms?
we congregate praying for something to die...
      i don't pretend to be whatever
that sachet of concrete-Cartesian labels entitles me
too:        for the most part
        people say 'i am' without a thought to
govern the rain shaman telling you what thought
is required to 'be', oh, a very old ontological
stipend: you need people to experience a collectivisation,
a herding, a "bound together" sort of mentality
before the critic arrives and says: well, that's not
what i'm really about.
                    a bit like the **** firs, mouth second
debacle...
                but what heart they had, our predecessors!
what heart!
             they'd wage war over a woman,
a Helen,
                  would you wage a war against
the feminist version of Helen these days?
would you pluck a Scottish thistle over an English rose?
      true: you might be a bishop
and of lesser rank... but would you wage a war
over the women of these days?
my **** is in a pickle jar anyway! we have become
a *** of a species unburdened by an obligation...
             finally! we can become eternal bachelors
sort of ******* that we're here, and hear less and less
of sayings about the "things that matter".
            you know what vile? really really vile?
oh i know my contemporaries when i bother to
hear them talk, oddly enough never bother when they
think, i'm quiet content with a Godot stage of
a park bench and an old man as my company,
      i know Douglas Murray,
               i know the wild-eyed Icke,
but a thing that concerns me is why: the safety room
parallel to the leftist thesis of offensive speech
was put in play when a discussion took off
concerning feminism, between milo yiannopoulus
and julie bindel - that's like saying:
ask a pederast to talk for a heterosexual man
with a woman safe-space...
                                no one wants to hear
the heterosexual side of the argument....
  you'll sooner see heterosexual intellects have their
marriages come undone then get paired with either
side of the argument...
     little richard is in the pickle jar anyway,
and he's not coming out...
                it's a bit like ****** for dummies....
       hence i have to succumb to violence without
the glory, tongue waggling blah blah
when i'd gladly take a weapon and shove it into
a shattered cranium bone: had i the ****** chance to
do so!
           no heterosexual is taken seriously:
and won't be:
    of a woman to be like a rosy cushion on which
i can lay my head after the darkly toils of
    roofing, or laying bricks, or excavating the sewers...
no! let the Chinese do that:
the basic argument of slavery, although imported
therefore ****** ******* fine.
                         cryogenic fathers,
      pickled *****:      where's the middle in all of this?
     a coconut just fell from the Boddhi tree:
money!           and those that defend it,
don't know squat about the tribalism of squatters!
but hey! they have the ****** stage!
         i have a bench when someone approaches me
and talk, doing the best thing possible:
               knitting opinions -
i don't want the truth of opinions: i want a sweater,
or a pair of socks! that's metaphor for something
different altogether.
  keyboard crusader? really? can i ask you for
directions to the high street, in every single town
across the country? i can't find one!
         no one hears a heterosexual argument
on the various topics: because there isn't one -
                     as of the end of the 20th century,
working classes in the west striving to ensure
there is something mundane to do during the day
and kick back with the family in the evening
are the "inferior" neanderthals: who
haven't jacked into discovering a 3D reality
of what's otherwise a 2D computer screen and
aren't hooked on #crack;
honestly, so much debating ought to be opera,
and so much opera ought to be debating -
    ah: that famous tingle of utopian paradoxes
never in duality, but always in dichotomy.
   keyboard crusader?
really? i thought people were always moaning
about how many emails they receive:
   and never a single postcard from, say,
someplace like Venice?
           it's still early days,
                   and already we're brewing enough
cliches to replace all known nouns in
    the surrogate mother that's the dictionary
of our completed version of a soul -
if ever to be experienced upon meeting the omni-vocabulary;
jigsaws, i know my idiosyncratic version
of events, he says photosynthesis within parameters
                            of photon deconstruction of hydrogen;
'cos' it's sub; d'uh! i say god i say this perfected
version of nearing telepathy - you say god i hope you
don't mean satan's clause - great anagram to frighten
children with: the Babushka surprise of a Pumpkin head
laughing it's way toward: how easy life would be
if we had all that time to think it through as being hard,
rather than that mortal fleetingness in both thought
and body.

ii. Macbeth

it really dawned on me, when i was watching the film
Macbeth (2015) -
            there was an eeriness to it, a near perfection
of Shakespeare on screen...
           honestly? i'd rather read Kant early on in life
while i have the vigour, and leave old age to Shakespeare...
but it truly was eerie all over the place.
      i do recall seeing Romeo + Juliet
          and reading the script, and imagining the fallacy
of word for word translation from theatre to cinema
of the script: the narrator a news channel anchor,
and everything said, word, for, word.
that film with DiCaprio as Romeo and Claire Danes
as Juliet - it just felt itchy, uncomfortable -
                            Shakespeare, word for word, on screen?!
     (surprise, then astonishment, not !? or astonishment,
   then the surprise, because: it didn't really work);
and it didn't! you can't adapt Shakespeare to the screen
and put everything in! i noticed it at that ******
generous scene in Macbeth concerning the battle
of Ellon... so i was like like... this isn't typescript...
(and thank **** it isn't) -
you can't depict Shakespeare word for word,
to be honest, Macbeth (2015) is the only worthy
translation of Macbeth (the text) into Macbeth (the movie);
all this scientific exactness in previous examples
like Romeo + Juliet, the Merchant of Venice
and a Midsummer's Night Dream don't work,
it's their precision making,
     a theatre cast can take it, but a cinema going crowd,
with all these cutting and copying and repasting
    succinct moments? it doesn't work!
maybe because there's no actual narrator in the staged
examples? narrator as a necessary character understudy:
surely Puck and the news anchor are there:
don't know about the Shylock scenario...
           but these screen adaptations didn't work for me,
too rigid, too formal... in the case of Macbeth?
finally! the long awaited piquant version of Shakespeare:
all that matters, and the rest is thrown into
poetic technique: imagery, metaphor,
                everything that's necessary can be given grammar
as image and not word!
       want an example? from the text...
the Royal Shakespeare
  from the text of Professor Delius
  and introduction by f. j. Furnivall, ll.d.
         vol. v (special edition)
Cassell & Company, Ltd.

        sure, it feels like a Roman Polanski moment
akin to the 9th Gate scenic affair of a bibliophile
fetishist, and it is:

     ... (the only enemy of enso poetry
is the bladder) ...

well the screen play first:

banquo: what are these?
macbeth: live you? or are you aught
                          that man may question?
       speak if you can - what are you?
1st witch: macbeth! hail to thee
                    thane of Glamis!
2nd witch: macbeth... hail to thee,
       thane of Cawdor!
3rd witch: all hail Macbeth! that shalt be king in-after.

but such disparity, such **** as if once
of Lucretia, then of the authority,
for i have before me the original composition:
which is not worth cinema -
nonetheless, a **** takes place:
an assortment for the abdication of a king:
or as ever suggested: the wrong footed path:
never was tossing a coin in a gamble
that of tossing a crown into the air
for a court jester to appear less amusing
and more scolding.

act i, scene iii: post the battle of ellon...
  if ever the refusal to give up Greek myth,
then Macbeth's witches
      and Perseus' Graeae -
                            or naturalise a myth:
like you might not naturalise a strengthened
economy.... canonise the nation
with Elgin Marbles - Elgin: less than
what's said to be the exfoliation of the Aegean -
a municipality somewhere in Scotland:
west of Aberdeen, on the Northern Sea's
battering of the coast...
but word for word? or how to write Shakespeare
into cinema?
                 herr zensor must come into play -
you have to bypass imagery in poetic tongue
and relay it with actual images, a direly needed
necessity:

just after the three witches arrive,
enter Macbeth and Bonquo...

   Macb. so foul and fair a day i have not seen.
Ban. how far is't call'd to Fores? - what are these,
     so wither'd and so wild in their attire,
that look not like th' inhabitants o' the earth,
   and yet are on 't?
             live you? or are you aught that man may
question?

                  (how word for word, but the words
waggle from a different tongue, namely that of
Macbeth, and not that of Banquo, hence
italicised).
                   continuing:
       you seem to understand me,
by each at once her choppy finger laying upon her
skinny lips: - you should be women, and yet your
beards forbid me to interpret that you are so.
Macb. speak, if you can - what are you?
         the witches. all hail, Macbeth!
     hail to thee, thane of Glamis!
         all hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, thane
of Cawdor!
         all hail, Macbeth! that shalt be king hereafter.
            
so does he really belong on the psychoanalytic
couch? is he really that necessarily wonton of talk?
  Cawdor v. Gondor - it's an ongoing narrative.
but is he in need of a couch?
                 what sort of talk is talk when
in fact the only talk that's need to be said is the talk
of man's sexualised naturalisation for strife,
and here: as if knocking on a door:
you want to simply hear the onomatopoeia of
the Kabbalah in a woman gasping for breath
while puny Jewish boys under strict rabbinical
studies study?

                mama, take this badge from  me,
i can't use it, anymore,
            it's getting dark, too dark to see,
feels like i'm knockin' on heaven's door -
      my big mouth and man as a piston
                                               Ferrari acrobat


(even the soundtrack is a shrill, a strangulation
variant of higher pitch of the bagpipes -
not that braveheart ****** of whisking out
a song like for the love of a princess addition to:
  and can i have a madonna to boot too?
it's piercing, a whale sonar above refrigerator
white noise hum for the new age Buddha -
and that's because all the poetry has been excavated
  to suit cinema: not theatre).

and this is the first adaptation of Shakespeare i actually
could stomach...
     the genius was in how Macbeth spoke the lines
of Bonqua - so the character didn't start smacking
the narrative ****** in terms of solipsism:
even Shakespeare can be attacked on this front...
        if in the movie Banqua said all that was in
the typescript: the film wouldn't have worked...
i don't know what the big deal is with Lady Macbeth:
i thought that in the olden days
Macbeth suggested to King Duncan that:
can i leave the warring if you **** my wife?
i can go on the contract that you **** my wife
and i stop serving you?
      first impressions: strange English.
well, i'm sure she's important as it might be said:
within the programme of Orthodoxy,
            but never catholic (metadoxy) tradition of
saying: way hey! ensnare the mare in a funfair!
       and play the game: pin the tale on the donkey!
heads or tails?      it looks pretty damnable
     in the first place: as all honesty hogs to pout and
***** a hoggish sneeze out of the story.

iii. shaken, not stirred

and indeed, how many a times
did not a neon blossom sprout,
thinking it might rattle an oratory
with an oak in autumn, and behold
a swarm of leaves descend -
not out of passing ease,
but out of wishful thinking
that some indentation might be made:
with whom the hands of will reside,
and yet: to no gratifying effect,
to whatever atomic-centralisation
dream, be that ego or be it hydrogen
(lending hands: so too
electric or thus negative, neutral and
thus proto) - shake foundation
and give a revising repertoire of
              the covering dust humanity
that once made famous: never
again to learn the humility of the start;
        to whatever centric dream that
does not waver in demands of orientation,
be it father (sun), son (shadow)
  or the holy spirit (night) -
  make them earn! be obscure!
            or simply say: in the community
of the stated congregation:
  i find all to be as night,
   and safer that plague the father:
  i am not akin to the shadow:
                   but the shadow in mirror.
so, a centric dream that does not
waver in demands for orientation,
has ever or will be enthroned in man's
heart as the stability of Sabbath's demands
       for less, oh so much less to agitate with!
as too, when the ancient appliances
were adorned by countless demands of
mimic, so too our modern
fibbles are to stage a usurping of
such things demanded and their mimic;
for with such disclosure does all fate
of anewed become burdened in what
history could be: shaken,
rather than simply a stirring of the void,
nothing more than the unburdening
of sweetening a cup of coffee, of that and
the layers: or bitter at the top, drank
through toward the sedimented sweetness -
and all that: hoping i could have retained
that silver spoon lodged in my ***
          when i first met her and thought about
consolidating marriage: so fresh, eager prune
of the flesh embodiment as first
    watered ash, then entombed in marble
and the eternal... ah
               but it was all just the faintest of dreams;
so lumberjack sleep ensued,
                      as did a kindred worth ethic:
we are a long way from Eden...
      there is but the idyll of the absurd fruition of
albreit macht frei... or a redefinement of
such stakes as: what occupies our days?
                    if not war, if not disease,
if not the Chinese... what does, occupy our days?
A warm heart flames the patient wind I wear
As I twist and turn within life’s skies
A wildness touches the smile upon my lips
When all these thoughts of you
Can be seen in the rain that softly falls
From my eyes

So sweet is the curve of time within this love
When I get lost inside of yearning
As it touches each corner of these winds
To remind me why I wear them
To calm the flames of my warm heart’s
Impatient stirring

Once I thought the sun’s heart was crying
For the treasures of the moon
Until I could see the glimmer in his eyes
Was not overshadowed
By the impatience of a yearning
That shined too soon
Copyright *Neva Flores @2011
www.changefulstormpoetry.blogspot.com
www.stumbleupon.com/stumbler/Changefulstorm
Kemy Sep 2018
Can you feel it
Shh, allow the galaxy to pamper your body, blanket the essence of your mind, bit-by-bit
Travel on a higher awareness to understand the galaxy’s gentle gift
Close your eyes and allow your mind to softly drift

Soft Moonlight Dust
Illuminating the night skies, given warmth of its inner trust
Centered in the sky, a star abates for its enlighten ******
Kindred minds to enrapture, as souls physically adjust

So gentle, as a touch to the skin
An inner space to conquer, there an exploring craving begins
Awareness of self stirring into the constellation
Bodies attuned beyond the stretch of imagination
Savoring on the flavor of the alignment sweeten taste
Desires igniting an inferno, the heat of its flames refusing to wait

Overheated friction surrendering without debates
Runaway yearning weakening in the presence of fate
The ecstasy of the moonlight’s dust felt, abiding to the crack of dawn
Emotions of the elixir slowly withdrawn

A Cheshire moonrise
Always a sacred communion given in surprise
Masked feelings hidden behind the stars in our eyes
Sprinkles of pixie dust as the moon becomes full
Paired upon, as lace meets wool
Interwoven and tenderly spun on a galactic spool

Stars In Exile
Twinkling for eyes to glimpse beyond the earth’s smile
Canopus to Antares, oh how you make me shine
Closing my eyes, coveting your point as I’m making you mine

Settled and glittering as small diamonds binding in the sky
A wondrous elopement to experience in the blink of an eye
Soft whispers to the ones that shoot right before they fall
Such a beautiful and breathlessly cadence to wish under them all

The Gift Of The Sun’s Stroke
Umm, shooting stars kept me awoke
Relentless bodies bathing under the moon
Caresses, touches, entwined souls echoing the note of its weakening tunes

Sweeter and sweeter, deeper and deeper
Bodies fueled, hot as a heater, bodies climbing steeper and steeper
Heat consumes the interior of the temple
Sweat of life, as movements come together and then disassemble
Elated, sedated, dipping in a cool blue lagoon
Kisses under the sun on a beautiful afternoon
Temperatures rising not a moment too soon

June slamming into summer’s heat
A merriment of a sun stroke basking in the glorious feast
The galaxy and its spicy passion
A gift to the world to enjoy in any unbridled fashion
She would give them order. She would create constellations.
Thomas Pynchon
Slow sinks, more lovely ere his race be run,
Along Morea’s hills the setting Sun;
Not, as in northern climes, obscurely bright,
But one unclouded blaze of living light;
O’er the hushed deep the yellow beam he throws,
Gilds the green wave that trembles as it glows;
On old ægina’s rock and Hydra’s isle
The God of gladness sheds his parting smile;
O’er his own regions lingering loves to shine,
Though there his altars are no more divine.
Descending fast, the mountain-shadows kiss
Thy glorious Gulf, unconquered Salamis!
Their azure arches through the long expanse,
More deeply purpled, meet his mellowing glance,
And tenderest tints, along their summits driven,
Mark his gay course, and own the hues of Heaven;
Till, darkly shaded from the land and deep,
Behind his Delphian rock he sinks to sleep.

  On such an eve his palest beam he cast
When, Athens! here thy Wisest looked his last.
How watched thy better sons his farewell ray,
That closed their murdered Sage’s latest day!
Not yet—not yet—Sol pauses on the hill,
The precious hour of parting lingers still;
But sad his light to agonizing eyes,
And dark the mountain’s once delightful dyes;
Gloom o’er the lovely land he seemed to pour,
The land where Phoebus never frowned before;
But ere he sunk below Cithaeron’s head,
The cup of Woe was quaffed—the Spirit fled;
The soul of Him that scorned to fear or fly,
Who lived and died as none can live or die.

  But lo! from high Hymettus to the plain
The Queen of Night asserts her silent reign;
No murky vapour, herald of the storm,
Hides her fair face, or girds her glowing form;
With cornice glimmering as the moonbeams play,
There the white column greets her grateful ray,
And bright around, with quivering beams beset,
Her emblem sparkles o’er the Minaret;
The groves of olive scattered dark and wide,
Where meek Cephisus sheds his scanty tide,
The cypress saddening by the sacred mosque,
The gleaming turret of the gay kiosk,
And sad and sombre ’mid the holy calm,
Near Theseus’ fane, yon solitary palm;
All, tinged with varied hues, arrest the eye;
And dull were his that passed them heedless by.
Again the ægean, heard no more afar,
Lulls his chafed breast from elemental war:
Again his waves in milder tints unfold
Their long expanse of sapphire and of gold,
Mixed with the shades of many a distant isle
That frown, where gentler Ocean deigns to smile.

  As thus, within the walls of Pallas’ fane,
I marked the beauties of the land and main,
Alone, and friendless, on the magic shore,
Whose arts and arms but live in poets’ lore;
Oft as the matchless dome I turned to scan,
Sacred to Gods, but not secure from Man,
The Past returned, the Present seemed to cease,
And Glory knew no clime beyond her Greece!

  Hour rolled along, and Dian’******on high
Had gained the centre of her softest sky;
And yet unwearied still my footsteps trod
O’er the vain shrine of many a vanished God:
But chiefly, Pallas! thine, when Hecate’s glare
Checked by thy columns, fell more sadly fair
O’er the chill marble, where the startling tread
Thrills the lone heart like echoes from the dead.
Long had I mused, and treasured every trace
The wreck of Greece recorded of her race,
When, lo! a giant-form before me strode,
And Pallas hailed me in her own Abode!

  Yes,’twas Minerva’s self; but, ah! how changed,
Since o’er the Dardan field in arms she ranged!
Not such as erst, by her divine command,
Her form appeared from Phidias’ plastic hand:
Gone were the terrors of her awful brow,
Her idle ægis bore no Gorgon now;
Her helm was dinted, and the broken lance
Seemed weak and shaftless e’en to mortal glance;
The Olive Branch, which still she deigned to clasp,
Shrunk from her touch, and withered in her grasp;
And, ah! though still the brightest of the sky,
Celestial tears bedimmed her large blue eye;
Round the rent casque her owlet circled slow,
And mourned his mistress with a shriek of woe!

  “Mortal!”—’twas thus she spake—”that blush of shame
Proclaims thee Briton, once a noble name;
First of the mighty, foremost of the free,
Now honoured ‘less’ by all, and ‘least’ by me:
Chief of thy foes shall Pallas still be found.
Seek’st thou the cause of loathing!—look around.
Lo! here, despite of war and wasting fire,
I saw successive Tyrannies expire;
‘Scaped from the ravage of the Turk and Goth,
Thy country sends a spoiler worse than both.
Survey this vacant, violated fane;
Recount the relics torn that yet remain:
‘These’ Cecrops placed, ‘this’ Pericles adorned,
‘That’ Adrian reared when drooping Science mourned.
What more I owe let Gratitude attest—
Know, Alaric and Elgin did the rest.
That all may learn from whence the plunderer came,
The insulted wall sustains his hated name:
For Elgin’s fame thus grateful Pallas pleads,
Below, his name—above, behold his deeds!
Be ever hailed with equal honour here
The Gothic monarch and the Pictish peer:
Arms gave the first his right, the last had none,
But basely stole what less barbarians won.
So when the Lion quits his fell repast,
Next prowls the Wolf, the filthy Jackal last:
Flesh, limbs, and blood the former make their own,
The last poor brute securely gnaws the bone.
Yet still the Gods are just, and crimes are crossed:
See here what Elgin won, and what he lost!
Another name with his pollutes my shrine:
Behold where Dian’s beams disdain to shine!
Some retribution still might Pallas claim,
When Venus half avenged Minerva’s shame.”

  She ceased awhile, and thus I dared reply,
To soothe the vengeance kindling in her eye:
“Daughter of Jove! in Britain’s injured name,
A true-born Briton may the deed disclaim.
Frown not on England; England owns him not:
Athena, no! thy plunderer was a Scot.
Ask’st thou the difference? From fair Phyles’ towers
Survey Boeotia;—Caledonia’s ours.
And well I know within that ******* land
Hath Wisdom’s goddess never held command;
A barren soil, where Nature’s germs, confined
To stern sterility, can stint the mind;
Whose thistle well betrays the niggard earth,
Emblem of all to whom the Land gives birth;
Each genial influence nurtured to resist;
A land of meanness, sophistry, and mist.
Each breeze from foggy mount and marshy plain
Dilutes with drivel every drizzly brain,
Till, burst at length, each wat’ry head o’erflows,
Foul as their soil, and frigid as their snows:
Then thousand schemes of petulance and pride
Despatch her scheming children far and wide;
Some East, some West, some—everywhere but North!
In quest of lawless gain, they issue forth.
And thus—accursed be the day and year!
She sent a Pict to play the felon here.
Yet Caledonia claims some native worth,
As dull Boeotia gave a Pindar birth;
So may her few, the lettered and the brave,
Bound to no clime, and victors of the grave,
Shake off the sordid dust of such a land,
And shine like children of a happier strand;
As once, of yore, in some obnoxious place,
Ten names (if found) had saved a wretched race.”

  “Mortal!” the blue-eyed maid resumed, “once more
Bear back my mandate to thy native shore.
Though fallen, alas! this vengeance yet is mine,
To turn my counsels far from lands like thine.
Hear then in silence Pallas’ stern behest;
Hear and believe, for Time will tell the rest.

  “First on the head of him who did this deed
My curse shall light,—on him and all his seed:
Without one spark of intellectual fire,
Be all the sons as senseless as the sire:
If one with wit the parent brood disgrace,
Believe him ******* of a brighter race:
Still with his hireling artists let him prate,
And Folly’s praise repay for Wisdom’s hate;
Long of their Patron’s gusto let them tell,
Whose noblest, native gusto is—to sell:
To sell, and make—may shame record the day!—
The State—Receiver of his pilfered prey.
Meantime, the flattering, feeble dotard, West,
Europe’s worst dauber, and poor Britain’s best,
With palsied hand shall turn each model o’er,
And own himself an infant of fourscore.
Be all the Bruisers culled from all St. Giles’,
That Art and Nature may compare their styles;
While brawny brutes in stupid wonder stare,
And marvel at his Lordship’s ’stone shop’ there.
Round the thronged gate shall sauntering coxcombs creep
To lounge and lucubrate, to prate and peep;
While many a languid maid, with longing sigh,
On giant statues casts the curious eye;
The room with transient glance appears to skim,
Yet marks the mighty back and length of limb;
Mourns o’er the difference of now and then;
Exclaims, ‘These Greeks indeed were proper men!’
Draws slight comparisons of ‘these’ with ‘those’,
And envies Laïs all her Attic beaux.
When shall a modern maid have swains like these?
Alas! Sir Harry is no Hercules!
And last of all, amidst the gaping crew,
Some calm spectator, as he takes his view,
In silent indignation mixed with grief,
Admires the plunder, but abhors the thief.
Oh, loathed in life, nor pardoned in the dust,
May Hate pursue his sacrilegious lust!
Linked with the fool that fired the Ephesian dome,
Shall vengeance follow far beyond the tomb,
And Eratostratus and Elgin shine
In many a branding page and burning line;
Alike reserved for aye to stand accursed,
Perchance the second blacker than the first.

  “So let him stand, through ages yet unborn,
Fixed statue on the pedestal of Scorn;
Though not for him alone revenge shall wait,
But fits thy country for her coming fate:
Hers were the deeds that taught her lawless son
To do what oft Britannia’s self had done.
Look to the Baltic—blazing from afar,
Your old Ally yet mourns perfidious war.
Not to such deeds did Pallas lend her aid,
Or break the compact which herself had made;
Far from such counsels, from the faithless field
She fled—but left behind her Gorgon shield;
A fatal gift that turned your friends to stone,
And left lost Albion hated and alone.

“Look to the East, where Ganges’ swarthy race
Shall shake your tyrant empire to its base;
Lo! there Rebellion rears her ghastly head,
And glares the Nemesis of native dead;
Till Indus rolls a deep purpureal flood,
And claims his long arrear of northern blood.
So may ye perish!—Pallas, when she gave
Your free-born rights, forbade ye to enslave.

  “Look on your Spain!—she clasps the hand she hates,
But boldly clasps, and thrusts you from her gates.
Bear witness, bright Barossa! thou canst tell
Whose were the sons that bravely fought and fell.
But Lusitania, kind and dear ally,
Can spare a few to fight, and sometimes fly.
Oh glorious field! by Famine fiercely won,
The Gaul retires for once, and all is done!
But when did Pallas teach, that one retreat
Retrieved three long Olympiads of defeat?

  “Look last at home—ye love not to look there
On the grim smile of comfortless despair:
Your city saddens: loud though Revel howls,
Here Famine faints, and yonder Rapine prowls.
See all alike of more or less bereft;
No misers tremble when there’s nothing left.
‘Blest paper credit;’ who shall dare to sing?
It clogs like lead Corruption’s weary wing.
Yet Pallas pluck’d each Premier by the ear,
Who Gods and men alike disdained to hear;
But one, repentant o’er a bankrupt state,
On Pallas calls,—but calls, alas! too late:
Then raves for’——’; to that Mentor bends,
Though he and Pallas never yet were friends.
Him senates hear, whom never yet they heard,
Contemptuous once, and now no less absurd.
So, once of yore, each reasonable frog,
Swore faith and fealty to his sovereign ‘log.’
Thus hailed your rulers their patrician clod,
As Egypt chose an onion for a God.

  “Now fare ye well! enjoy your little hour;
Go, grasp the shadow of your vanished power;
Gloss o’er the failure of each fondest scheme;
Your strength a name, your bloated wealth a dream.
Gone is that Gold, the marvel of mankind.
And Pirates barter all that’s left behind.
No more the hirelings, purchased near and far,
Crowd to the ranks of mercenary war.
The idle merchant on the useless quay
Droops o’er the bales no bark may bear away;
Or, back returning, sees rejected stores
Rot piecemeal on his own encumbered shores:
The starved mechanic breaks his rusting loom,
And desperate mans him ‘gainst the coming doom.
Then in the Senates of your sinking state
Show me the man whose counsels may have weight.
Vain is each voice where tones could once command;
E’en factions cease to charm a factious land:
Yet jarring sects convulse a sister Isle,
And light with maddening hands the mutual pile.

  “’Tis done, ’tis past—since Pallas warns in vain;
The Furies seize her abdicated reign:
Wide o’er the realm they wave their kindling brands,
And wring her vitals with their fiery hands.
But one convulsive struggle still remains,
And Gaul shall weep ere Albion wear her chains,
The bannered pomp of war, the glittering files,
O’er whose gay trappings stern Bellona smiles;
The brazen trump, the spirit-stirring drum,
That bid the foe defiance ere they come;
The hero bounding at his country’s call,
The glorious death that consecrates his fall,
Swell the young heart with visionary charms.
And bid it antedate the joys of arms.
But know, a lesson you may yet be taught,
With death alone are laurels cheaply bought;
Not in the conflict Havoc seeks delight,
His day of mercy is the day of fight.
But when the field is fought, the battle won,
Though drenched with gore, his woes are but begun:
His deeper deeds as yet ye know by name;
The slaughtered peasant and the ravished dame,
The rifled mansion and the foe-reaped field,
Ill suit with souls at home, untaught to yield.
Say with what eye along the distant down
Would flying burghers mark the blazing town?
How view the column of ascending flames
Shake his red shadow o’er the startled Thames?
Nay, frown not, Albion! for the torch was thine
That lit such pyres from Tagus to the Rhine:
Now should they burst on thy devoted coast,
Go, ask thy ***** who deserves them most?
The law of Heaven and Earth is life for life,
And she who raised, in vain regrets, the strife.”
Claire Howes Apr 2014
Every day is the same; they wake up in the same bed, at the same ungodly hour, to the same monotonous ringing from the alarm clock.

They grumble their ‘good morning’s; whether they believe it is or not, rolling out of opposite sides of the duvet.

They dance around each other in the bathroom, the heat of the shower creating a fog through which neither of them can see; causing him to stub his toe on the toilet or the counter, and steaming up the mirror so she can’t apply her make-up.

They continue their ritual into the kitchen; flicking on the kettle, popping in the bread, pouring the orange juice; stirring the tea, catching the toast and spreading the butter and jam. Crunching and slurping together at the table, mumbling about what their days have in store; tapping texts on their phones, crinkling newspaper in their hands.

They peck each other a kiss goodbye and mutter a ‘see you later’ before going their separate ways.

But then Monday comes...

Mondays are different.

He knows she doesn’t like Monday mornings. It’s the very beginning of a new, long, tiring week. She never looks forward to Mondays.

So he changes that.

He sets the alarm on his watch a little earlier than other days; shutting it off before it can wake her.

He slips silently out of bed and tiptoes quietly into the bathroom to shower; leaving her smiley faces and love messages on the steamy mirrors.

He creates her favourite tea and makes her toast with raspberry jam; just the way she likes it. Picking a flower from the garden; whichever one looks the happiest and brightest, he places it all on a tray and pads back up to the bedroom to wake her.

She no longer sets her alarm on Mondays. She knows he’ll not let her oversleep.

He places the flower in her hair and drops delicate kisses; full of his love and affection for her, to the corner of her mouth, until she stirs gently.

She smiles on Monday mornings.

They eat breakfast in bed, covering the sheets in crumbs and giggling contentedly as the cat licks them up.

She hums in the bathroom while he clears away crockery, and always re-emerges with the flower tucked behind her ear.

It remains there ‘til night fall.

They never once look at their phones or the paper, far too focused on each other to pay anything else mind.

Their kiss as they part reminds them of their love for each other and of the good things in life; like strolls along the shore, strawberries dipped in dark chocolate, smiling sunflowers that open to a beautiful summer’s day, and of course, Monday mornings.
The evil witch is after the 11 year olds


Once upon a time there was an evil witch,, and this witch was like no witch i n any fairy tales, no this witch was pure evil, you see she took pride in grabbing 11 year old kids avid locking themselves in the basement to eventually chop them up and put them in an oven, to give herself a feast, the first kid was young a 11 year old boy named Tommy Kinarfis and he was on his way to school and he was just minding his own business when this black car pulled up and before Tommy could run away, the witch grabbed him and shoved him in the boot of his car and being as scared as he was, Tommy really didn't want to die, and tried to bang the the walls of the boot to show that he has been kidnapped but nobody heard him and before he knew it, he found himself locked up in a cage being fattened up, so the witch can eat him up, and after about 12 hours Tommy was dead, and the witch was happy, the next kid was 11 year old daughter of president Frederick Leonardo, you see this president was so conservative and everyone was too scared to do anything bad to his kid, but one day when the presidents daughter, who was named Terri was waiting for her body guard after school when this car turned up and this man got out pretending to be her bodyguard one day, and after 2 hours of driving Terri realised that she has been kidnapped, and then the bodyguard took off his nice disguise and when Terri noticed it was the witch, she tried to escape but soon enough she was locked in her cage being fattened up, so the witch can enjoy her feast, and the presidents daughter Terri was dead and the president had a little burial for her.
The next kid was 11 year old Peter Vernin and he was a kid who loves sport, especially the AFL, because that was a boys sport, and Peter had it in his mind that because he played AFL, he will he invincible but as he was going to footy training, he had to walk because his parents had to work, a ******* car pulled up and this man pulled up and asked Peter if he would like a ride, and Peter, being only 11 said yes thinking he was being treated like a kid that everyone liked, but then he found himself chained up in the witch's basement ready to be slaughtered at any given time, you see because Tommy had muscles, that was enough to make him be nice and tender to eat and when the witch finds out that he had suffered enough, then the witch will cook Tommy up and before he knew it, Tommy was just a corpse and the witch was feeling very happy and this made her feel she can slowly get rid of each child as soon as they reached 11, and she was feeling like nobody will ever stop her from accomplishing this feat.
The FBI are having a hard time trying to find there missing kids because they just vanished without a trace, but they had every officer and forensic investigator in to try to catch the witch and make her pay, mind you the FBI were unaware that the persons responsible is a wicked evil witch.
The next kid was Raymond Terrestal, an 11 year old who was in a broken home and every day he went to the local shops to buy milk for the family but also he would occasionally steal a chocolate bar and also a few flavoured milks, and the witch said to herself that this boy needs to chopped him up and watch his shiny white legs slowly turn to very tasty meat. Even though Raymond put up a fight, saying you can't chop me up, fella, I am a sports boy and I have heaps of muscles, but the witch told him that the muscles make him even more tastier, and she wants to have Raymond to really taste nice so he can really get away from any way of being a sports boy, and as Raymond was cooking, he is yelling and yelling, saying, let me go, I am a big tough sports boy, I like playing footy, I don't wanna die, let me go and leave me alone old witch, but the witch said heh heh heh hen heh, no buddy you ain't a cool kid, all the other kids are tough, but you Raymond, no you are all mine, and Raymond was screaming, please save me from the wicked witch, And he also said why me, why me, why me, and the witch said, no mate your not like us,mate
You are still a little shy boy, and I am just doing what The Lord wants, you see Raymond, The Lord wants me to cook boys up when they turn 11, because then they are even more tender because they are mature enough so I get a good tasty bit of human flesh, and eventually Raymond died and the witch continued on her journey to rid the world of kids right till they turn 11 years of age.
The next kid was 11 years old Naomi Roberts who was a really family and friends type of girl and she very rarely strayed away., but one day she and her friends played outside the witch's house, because it was a pretty good place for kids to play in but unknown to Naomi that her friends were playing a trick on her and had planned to get her stuck in the bushes near the mail box and when the witch went outside to see what the noise was, she saw Naomi stuck in the garden trying to break free, and the witch used her powers to make her look like a nice old lady and brought Naomu inside to keep her safe, then the witch showed her true colours and told Naomi that she will never escape from her, and she also said she is hosting a dinner party and Naomi is the main course and from the moment she said that Naomi started to get scared and screamed and screamed for the witch to let her go, she also said it's not she that the witch wants, it's her friends, who stabbed Naomi in the back and the witch said, no they are young women and I don't want to **** young women, it's you, who I want, little girlie, and you are never going to ever escape from me, and Naomi said no Mrs Witch, you will be with me till my dinner party and then Naomi you will be no more. You will leave this world never to return little baby little girlie, Naomi is very scared and starts to feel like her perfect world is about to end because the wicked witch has her right where she wants her.
Naomi was trying to scream so loud that the witch's neighbour would hear and come and rescue her but nobody can hear her and Naomi starts to get very scared, so scared in fact, she tried to fight her way out of the cage but it is closed so tightly and Naomi is starting to get scared because still the FBI have no leads on the whereabouts of these kids, and despite being bullied by the parents of the missing kids, they feel tempted to give up the search till they get a lead, simply because there is no point in trying to find a needle in a haystack, but the parents wanted them to find their missing kids, even if it means they have to become vigilantes and defy the law and find those kids themselves, meanwhile the next day in the witch's house, the witch was starting to cook Naomi up so they can have their dinner party, a nice tasty little girl for dinner, heh heh heh heh heh heh heh, and when Naomi was slowly dying the witch kept of stirring and stirring to make Naomi really suffer, you see for the witch, well, she took pride in torturing kids as soon as they turn 11, and then Naomi died and the witch was happy and said that is another 11 year old under our belt, heh heh heh heh heh
The next kid was 11 year old Pat Roberts, who was a cool boy who loved to tease so much that he would take people away from their families to do so, unless they do as they do and one day he gave up playing football with the tough boys to tease a boy who he hates very much, and stop him from being a family person and also brainwashing everyone into thinking a family person is supposed to do as they are told, and one day the wicked witch who really wanted to keep taking these boys decided to go after Pat Roberts and cook him up and then she will get rid if this boy from the would once and for all, but getting rid of Pat Roberts will be a hard thing because this boy is so hard to catch, because he is ever so smart, and it will be a battle to get rid of this Pat Roberts because of that, Pat Roberts would say, no mr witch, you can't catch me fella, you can never catch me for as long as you'll alive, and you are going to die soon if you keep catching kids anyway, the next day on the witch's quest to catch Pat Roberts, she decided to use her ***** magic to try and lure him to his house but Pat Roberts is too smart for that as he kept himself inside saying no witch is going to get me, if you are going to catch me, you'll have to get past my father and I can guarantee old witch that my dad has the power to put you right in her place, you are mrs witch, you haven't got the power to overcome me, so come on wicked witch, just you try and catch me, but you won't get me, I can make you suffer of you try and get me ya wicked witch and the wicked witch straight away thought maybe one day I will catch Pat Roberts, I will try and take some other 11 year olds and the next 11 year old was Gordon Gullet and he was a boy who was a bit of a black sheep who went on a mission to **** the wicked witch but when the wicked witch captured him, but she had no plan to cook him  up, actually she planned to try to get him on side to catch Pat Roberts and when Gordon said, I won't tell you where Gordon is, I will never tell you where he is. Just let me go ya old cranky wicked witch, and because Gordon was talking too much the witch put her hand on her mouth, she eventually had to put sticky tape on it and then the wicked witch said, if you don't tell me where Pat Roberts is, you'll suffer, and I mean you'll suffer, mate, suffer forever mate.
The next day when the witch got up and saw Gordon trying up escape and the witch said, mate, you'll never escape from me, no you'll never escape, until you tell me where is your friend Pat Roberts, and Gordon said no, I won't ever tell ya, you will have to **** me first, Pat Roberts is a friend, no, I will never ever tell you, ya wicked witch, and the witch said no I ain't going to **** you, I just want you to tell you where Pat Roberts is, why won't you tell me, I will be your friend forever, and Gordon said, no, I won't tell you anything you old fucken witch, and you can do to me anything you want, I will never ever tell you, you mean nasty old witch.
The witch then said, ok, you will stay there in that cage till you tell me and when you are ready to tell me where your friend Pat Roberts is, I will make you suffer, even if I don't **** you, you will be suffering without anything to make you keep your mojo in tact, you will suffer Gordon, I will make sure of that, so unless you tell me where your mate is, you will suffer, and be kept there until you tell us of the whereabouts of Pat Roberts because I want you and him to cooked together and eaten, and if you don't tell me, I will keep you here for the rest of your life, so Gordon are you going to tell me and Gordon yells out with a loud voice, which went,  NEVER, my mate Pat Roberts wants to tease people who are trying to work to hard and push themselves into breaking point, and I want you to let me go, because I am tougher that you, cause you are a mean nasty witch, who should burn on the planet Mercury and the witch said no, mate, say hell, you see you are still a little Christian boy, and while you have your beliefs that you will die one day, you are like us, but if I find out that you are keeping the whereabouts of Pat Roberts from me, I will hold you at knife point and force you to tell you and Gordon said no, I will never tell you, never, I will prefer to do die myself, rather than tell you where he is mate.
The next day the witch went out to try and catch Pat Roberts and then Pat's dad said to Pat Roberts that he will protect him and when they heard a strange noise outside their house and it was the wicked witch, who was lurking about outside and when Pat Roberts went outside, the witch put a hand over his mouth and said I have you mate and then the FBI came and despite a desperate fight to get herself free, the FBI took off to Salem to get burnt at the stake and Pat Roberts and Gordon was safely going home with his family and the witch was reincarnated as a pig and then a tiger and after that a deer, she suffered, especially when she will be constantly bullied by hunters.
Deep inside,
down in the dark,
they stir.
As if to say,
you can't see us but,
we're here.
You know they are,
but you try to ignore.
The stirring,
the nagging in your mind.
Deep inside,
down in the dark,
they hide.
The demons of my past,
really of my present,                                          
because they're still there,
stirring, nagging,
desperate to escape.
But I keep them locked up tight,
down in the dark,
deep inside.
ryn Jan 2015
.
   Curious minds,
      splashing under
       moonlight
       With
      outstretched kisses
     pulsating yellow,
     Over the awestruck
      magical
       rainbow,
         Feverishly tracking each
         supernova
      on sight.


   Resting the moment
    on a
     cresting knoll,
    With
   an audience of several
   time-worn
     rocks.
      Whilst the
        whistling sirens
        in the winds do call...
          Wasting away
        the ticks of
     worldly
      clocks.


        Evading with class,
       all
       heart's turbulence,
        Craters of sadness
          congeal
           in thin air,
             Glamorous amnesia
             falls
          with cadence,
         Eyes wide shut,
         susurrating
          a
           lost prayer.


             Lifeless gazes
               yield
               only
             abrasive tears.
             As erratum
              catches up
                with its
                 gaping maw.
              Hurling
            its anguish
             in
             rips and shears,
              Bleeding out
                of
               singing wounds
             so raw.

             But...
              time carries confident,
                its stock of
                   soothing balm.
                   Latent doses
                 hidden
                within
                 invisible vials.
                  Welcoming vision
                    with its
                    sunlit palms,
                   Staving the longing
                    for the
                    fear of trials.


                      Now hushed
                         remain the remorseful
                        battle trenches,
                        Deprived of their own
                          victims
                           ­ save gaping wounds,
                            Only
                        ­     faint faith
                                commanding
                ­                   corroded limp
                                   forces,
                                 Stirring
                                light away
                               from
                                all
                        ­         agony
                                    and
                   ­                doom.



                              Moonskittles
           ­                 *ryn
.
This has been an amazing experience!!! Big thanks to Moonskittles for the opportunity to share a page with her captivating style of poetry!!!
.
F White Dec 2015
Sometimes, looking at you in the light of the kitchen  I want
to run a finger
Down the length of your nose but
I know you'd wrinkle it, and shake your head citing a tickle, but kiss behind my shoulder as soon
As I turn away

When my feet make ice pools in the bed
Toes accidentally brushing your ankle and you **** abruptly, but upon hearing
My sigh, trap them back with your ankles til, martyr that you are, I'm engulfed in
Warmth at your
Expense.

Sometimes the last trickle of milk is mine, for the coffee,
Silent with your eyes smiling fondly, you look on as I sip, resolutely stirring powdered
Dead baby souls into mug as substitute.

Even damp smelly socks
Greasy hair
Neurotic tears and
Intellectual rambling epiphanies

Even childish blunders, fudging the
Budget or burning the toast

You still call me fond Things.

And love Me.
The most.
Copyright fhw, 2015
Marian Jul 2013
That Night by the ocean
The waves sung me a lullaby
Of palm tree silhouettes
And tropical sunsets
Of singing waves
And gritty white sand
Of lemonade sipped on the shore
Of nocturnal ukuleles singing a melody
Of sandy flip-flops left on the sand
Of little ocean seashells
And ocean treasures beneath the waves
Of hibiscus blossoms in bloom
Of tropical fruits
Of salty breezes stirring my brown hair
Of tropical Nights
And on and on their lullaby went
And hushed me to sleep*

*~Marian~
Mateuš Conrad May 2016
i don't have a conspiracy theory... i just have an encyclopaedia of adverts... western intelligence is squandered on pub quizzes and trivia knowledge shows... spies are like magicians, although a spy's audience is a bunch of journalists high on tarantula venom, quote: (uh... what's going on?) take any stoner to speak that bracket.*

when my parents were eight, they were still
blossoming in a natural environment,
using the inherited tongue like a hammer:
here's the nail, here's a plank of wood,
now hammer that thought of yours in.
aged eight i was thrown into the deep end,
having to learn a new language, as somehow
unlearn my mother's tongue, i didn't budge,
i kept it scheming, rather than subconscious,
i didn't repress it... thrown into the deep end
i didn't become like most migrants
"assimilated", i.e. losing heritage... i kept it
(just in case)... now the chameleon of me
is about... suit & tie... then tracksuit bottoms...
no little russian kakashka (little ****)
would dare **** me, all the information i have
is useless... it's too personal...
i was supposed to be the rebound guy...
she sort of faked using anti-contraceptives...
i ended up a boomerang after seeing all
the possibilities of education...
that's the thing with the west and education,
it, just, doesn't, work... because all the menial
jobs have been exported, the west is sort
of puzzle-box tied in terms of hands able,
with hands actually disabled...
this excess outpouring of poetry is one sign,
the obvious one, excess poetry as deviation
from a chronology of illiteracy and books left
in the shadows and dust and crematoriums...
you tend to write poetry when you're either
illiterate or haven't read much that's on offer...
read the least number of books, then you get
to write poetry, simple as Victoria sponge or
bechamel sauce for a lasagne, motto being:
just keep stirring that flour into the frying butter,
just keep stirring, then slowly keep adding
onion bay leaf nutmeg infused milk slowly...
just keep on stirring...
western society likes bureaucracy, by way of
exporting the ideal that's democracy,
but it's so ******* n'ah! keep slang as an expression
of encrypted onomatopoeia, keep slang
as disguised nouns in onomatopoeias...
russians love poetry, hence they tend to send poets
into the gulag... in western society they
take poets to be raw meat and send a dozen flies in
to **** sperms into it, to clarify:
pornographic actors get paid, poets don't...
O masters of this glorious sphere, what will
this Eden Project prove? a third eye that's Voyeurism
en masse? when the blow-over fringe was running
for president i just said (no, no hindsight):
i wouldn't laugh... imagine a female pope!
women are not supposed to wear the Kippah...
western society in crisis; today i was watching the
film Cleopatra (1963) and there was so much dialogue!
take a movie from 2015 or 2016 and the dialogue
you get is: TNT BOOM BOOM BOOM!
CGI that's a fake of pixels being arable for the original
intention... the great decline... it only too one hit...
one ******* hit... and it ended up being a K.O.
you'd think they'd be able to take more... but Islam
became a Mike Tyson... *******... take one more hit!
what you're seeing now is what's called
the paradox of treating democracy as Utopia,
democracy isn't Utopia (Churchill said)...
but this is the unravelling, treat democracy as
the sole expression of utopia and then watch when
something alien hits it... one smack and you're out...
treating democracy as utopian politics is false,
too many self interests and too much bureaucracy;
or i can example my father for you...
two Lithuanian labourers employed by a company
****** up his drill... they weren't electrocuted
(the drill was wet), because if they were
the effect of electrocution would be like that of
an electron cloud the glue of keeping the proton
and neutron nucleus intact, the thing electrocuting
would be like a crocodile's jaw snap, you wouldn't
be able to let go... instead they became Lithuanian
vandals... smashed the thing... and what about
being self-employed and having his wages cut
once in a while? self-employment is the norm in western
societies... because the boss of BHS took a big fat
pay-cheque for a yacht with Kate Moss on it
while employee pensions went down the drain or
into Hawking's theory of black holes colliding...
zero hour contracts to match up the statistics...
western powers are mad to export their ideals...
i wouldn't trust them with a water-pistol,
and you know why? they'd just want an Iraqi to
wear Nike trainers and eat a Big Mac.
WS Warner Nov 2013
Part One
Nascent Craving

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

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

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

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

Part Two
Tendered Senses

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

Piercing eyes parallel crystalline waters of Lake Tahoe.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2013 W. S. Warner
To Eileen
Ecstatic bird songs pound
the hollow vastness of the sky
with metallic clinkings—
beating color up into it
at a far edge,—beating it, beating it
with rising, triumphant ardor,—
stirring it into warmth,
quickening in it a spreading change,—
bursting wildly against it as
dividing the horizon, a heavy sun
lifts himself—is lifted—
bit by bit above the edge
of things,—runs free at last
out into the open—!lumbering
glorified in full release upward—
                              songs cease.
Ah, Nikolaas, my love for him is not the same, as my love for thee;
My love for thee was once, and may still be, sweeter, purer, more elegant, and free;
But still, how unfortunate! imprisoned in mockery, and liberated not-by destiny;
It still hath to come and go; it cannot stay cheerfully-about thee forever, and within my company.

And but tonight-shall Amsterdam still be cold?
But to cold temper thou shalt remain unheeded; thou shalt be tough, and bold;
Sadly I am definite about having another nightmare, meanwhile, here;
For thy voice and longings shall be too far; with presumptions and poems, I cannot hear.

Sleep, my loveliest, sleep; for unlike thine, none other temper, or love-is in some ways too fragrant, and sweet;
All of which shall neither tempt me to flirt, nor hasten me to meet;
My love for thee is still undoubted, defined, and unhesitant;
Like all t'is summer weather around; 'tis both imminent, and pleasant.

My love for thee, back then, was but one youthful-and reeking of temporal vitality;
But now 'tis different-for fathom I now-the distinction between sincerity, and affectation.
Ah, Nikolaas, how once we strolled about roads, and nearby spheres-in living vivacity;
With sweets amongst our tongues-wouldst we attend every song, and laugh at an excessively pretentious lamentation.

Again-we wouldst stop in front of every farm of lavender;
As though they wanted to know, and couldst but contribute their breaths, and make our love better.
We were both in blooming youth, and still prevailed on-to keep our chastity;
And t'is we obeyed gladly, and by each ot'er, days passed and every second went even lovelier.

But in one minute thou wert but all gone away;
Leaving me astray; leaving me to utter dismay.
I had no more felicity in me-for all was but, in my mind, a dream of thee;
And every step was thus felt like an irretrievable path of agony.

Ah, yon agony I loathe! The very agony I wanted but to slaughter, to redeem-and to bury!
For at t'at time I had known not the beauty of souls, and poetry;
I thought but the world was wholly insipid and arrogant;
T'at was so far as I had seen, so far as I was concerned.

I hath now, seen thy image-from more a lawful angle-and lucidity;
And duly seen more of which-and all start to fall into place-and more indolent, clarity;
All is fair now, though nothing was once as fair;
And now with peace, I want to be friends; I want to be paired.

Perhaps thou couldst once more be part of my tale;
But beforehand, I entreat thee to see, and listen to it;
A tale t'at once sent into my heart great distrust and sadness, and made it pale;
But from which now my heart hath found a way out, and even satisfactorily flirted with it,

For every tale, the more I approach it, is as genuine as thee;
And in t'is way-and t'is way only, I want thee to witness me, I want thee to see me.
I still twitch with tender madness at every figure, and image-I hath privately, of thine;
They are still so captivatingly clear-and a most fabulous treasure to my mind.

My love for thee might hath now ended; and shall from now on-be dead forever;
It hath been buried as a piece of unimportance, and a dear old, obsolete wonder;
And thus worry not, for in my mind it hath become a shadow, and ceased to exist;
I hath made thee resign, I hath made thee drift rapidly away, and desist.

Ah, but again, I shall deny everything I hath said-'fore betraying myself once more;
Or leading myself into the winds of painful gravity, or dismissive cold tremor;
For nothing couldst stray me so well as having thee not by my side;
An image of having thee just faraway-amidst the fierceness of morns, and the very tightness of nights.

And for seconds-t'ese pains shall want to bury me away, want to make me shout;
And shout thy very name indeed; thy very own aggravated silence, and sins out loud;
Ah, for all t'ese shadows about are too vehement-but eagerly eerie;
Like bursts of outspread vigilance, misunderstood but lasting forever, like eternity.

'Twas thy own mistake-and thus thou ought'a blame anyone not;
Thou wert the one to storm away; thou wert the one who cut our story short.
Thou wert the one who took whole leave, of the kind entity-of my precious time and space;
And for nothingness thou obediently set out; leaving all we had built, to abundant waste.

Thou disappeared all too quickly-and wert never seen again;
Thou disappeared like a column of smoke, to whom t'is virtual world is partial;
And none of thy story, since when-hath stayed nor thoughtfully remained;
Nor any threads of thy voice were left behind, to stir and ring, about yon hall.

Thou gaily sailed back into thy proud former motherland;
Ah, and the stirring noises of thy meticulous Amsterdam;
Invariably as a man of royalty, in thy old arduous way back again;
Amongst the holiness of thy mortality; 'twixt the demure hesitations, of thy royal charms.

And thou art strange! For once thou mocked and regarded royalty as *******;
But again, to which itself, as credulous, and soulless victim, thou couldst serenely fall;
Thus thou hath perpetually been loyal not, to thy own pride, and neatly sworn words;
Thou art forever divided in his dilemma; and the unforgiving sweat, of thy frightening two worlds.

Indeed thy godlike eyes once pierced me-and touched my very fleshly happiness;
But with a glory in which I couldst not rejoice; at which I couldst not blush with tenderness.
Thy charms, although didst once burn and throttle me with a ripe vitality;
Still wert not smooth-and ever offered to cuddle me more gallantly; nor kiss my boiling lips, more softly.

Every one of t'ese remembrances shall make me hate thee more;
But thou thyself hath made more forgiving, and excellent-like never before;
'Ah, sweet,' thou wouldst again protested-last night, 'Who in t'is very life wouldst make no sin?'
'Forgiveth every sinned soul thereof; for 'tis unfaithful, for 'tis all inherently mean.'

'Aye, aye,' and thou wouldst assent to my subsequent query,
'I hath changed forever-not for nothingness, but for eternitie.'
'To me love o' gold is now but nothing as succulent',
'I shall offer elegantly myself to not be of any more torment, but as a loyal friend.'

'I shall calleth my former self mad; and be endued with nothing but truths, of rifles and hate;'
'But now I shall attempt to be obedient; and naughty not-towards my fate.'
'Ah, let me amendst thereof-my initial nights, my impetuous mistakes,'
'Let me amendst what was once not dignified; what was once said as false, and fake.'

'So t'at whenst autumn once more findeth its lapse, and in its very grandness arrive,'
'I hopeth thy wealth of love shall hath been restored, and all shall be alive,'
'For nothing hath I attempted to achieve, and for nothing else I hath struggled to strive;'
'But only to propose for thy affection; and thy willingness to be my saluted wife.'

And t'is small confession didst, didst tear my dear heart into pieces!
But canst I say-it was ceremoniously established once more-into settlements of wishes;
I was soon enlivened, and no longer blurred by tumult, nor discourteous-hesitation;
Ah, thee, so sweetly thou hath consoled, and removed from me-the sanctity of any livid strands of my dejection.

For in vain I thought-had I struggled, to solicit merely affection-and genuinity from thee;
For in vain I deemed-thou couldst neither appreciate me-nor thy coral-like eyes, couldst see;
And t'is peril I perched myself in was indeed dangerous to my night and day;
For it robbed me of my mirth; and shrank insolently my pride and conscience, stuffing my wholeness into dismay.

But thou hath now released me from any further embarkation of mineth sorrow;
Thou who hath pleased me yesterday; and shall no more be distant-tomorrow;
Thou who couldst brighten my hours by jokes so fine-and at times, ridiculous;
Thou who canst but, from now on, as satisfactory, irredeemable, and virtuous.

Ah, Nikolaas, farther I shall be no more to calleth thee mad; or render thee insidious;
Thou shall urge me to forget everything, as hating souls is not right, and perilous;
Thou remindeth me of forgiving's glorious, and profound elegance;
And again 'tis the holiest deed we ought to do; the most blessed, and by God-most desired contrivance.

Oh, my sweet, perhaps thou hath sinned about; but amongst the blessed, thou might still be the most blessed;
For nothing else but gratitude and innocence are now seen-in thy chest;
Even when I chastised thee-and called thee but an impediment;
Thou still forgave me, and turned myself back again into elastic merriment.

Thou art now pure-and not by any means meek, but cruel-like thy old self is;
For unlike 'tis now, it couldst never be satisfied, nor satiated, nor pleased;
'Twas far too immersed in his pursuit of bloodied silver, and gold;
And to love it had grown blind, and its greedy woes, healthily too bold.

And just like its bloodied silver-it might be but the evil blood itself;
For it valued, and still doth-every piece with madness, and insatiable hunger;
Its works taint his senses, and hastened thee to want more-of what thou couldst procure-and have,
But it realised not that as time passed by, it made thee but grew worse-and in the most virtuous of truth, no better.

But thou bore it like a piece of godlike, stainless ivory;
Thou showered, and endured it with love; and blessed it with well-established vanity.
Now it hath been purified, and subdued-and any more teaches thee not-how to be impatient, nor imprudent;
As how it prattled only, over crude, limitless delights; and the want of reckless impediments.

Thou nurtured it, and exhorted it to discover love-all day and night;
And now love in whose soul hath been accordingly sought, and found;
And led thee to absorb life like a delicate butterfly-and raiseth thy light;
The light thou hath now secured and refined within me; and duly left me safe, and sound.

Thou hath restored me fully, and made me feel but all charmed, awesome, and way more heavenly;
Thou hath toughened my pride and love; and whispered the loving words he hath never spoken to me.
Ah, I hope thou art now blessed and safely pampered in thy cold, mischievous Amsterdam;
Amsterdam which as thou hath professed-is as windy, and oft' makes thy fingers grow wildly numb.

Amsterdam which is sick with superior lamentations, and fame;
But never adorned with exact, or at least-honest means of scrutiny;
For in every home exists nothing but bursts of madness, and flames;
And in which thereof, lives 'twixt nothing-but meaningless grandeur, and a poorest harmony.

Amsterdam which once placed thee in pallid, dire, and terrible horror;
Amsterdam which gave thy spines thrills of disgust, and infamous tremor;
But from which thou wert once failed, fatefully, neither to flee, nor escape;
Nor out of whose stupor, been able to worm thy way out, or put which, into shape.

But I am sure out of which thou art now delightful-and irresistibly fine;
For t'ere is no more suspicion in thy chest-and all of which hath gone safely to rest;
All in thy very own peace-and the courteous abode of our finest poetry;
Which lulls thee always to sleep-and confer on thee forever, degrees of a warmest, pleasantry.

Ah, Nikolaas-as thou hath always been, a child of night, but born within daylight;
Poor-poor child as well, of the moon, whose life hath been betrayed but by dullness, and fright.
Ah, Nikolaas-but should hath it been otherwise-wouldst thou be able to see thine light?
And be my son of gladness, be my prince of all the more peaceful days; and ratified nights.

And should it be like which-couldst I be the one; the very one idyll-to restore thy grandeur?
As thou art now, everything might be too blasphemous, and in every way obscure;
But perhaps-I couldst turn every of thine nightmare away, and maketh thee secure;
Perhaps I couldst make thee safe and glad and sleep soundly; perfectly ensured.

Ah, Nikolaas! For thy delight is pure-and exceptionally pure, pure, and pure!
And thy innocence is why I shall craft thee again in my mind, and adore thee;
For thy absurdity is as shy, and the same as thy purity;
But in thy hands royalty is unstained, flawless, and just too sure.

For in tales of eternal kingdoms-thou shalt be the dignified king himself;
Thou shalt be blessed with all godly finery, and jewels-which thou thyself deserve;
And not any other tyrant in t'ese worlds-who mock ot'er souls and pretend to be brave;
But trapped within t'eir own discordant souls, and wonders of deceit and curses of reserve.

Oh, sweet-sweet Nikolaas! Please then, help my poetry-and define t'is heart of me!
Listen to its heartbeat-and tellest me, if it might still love thee;
Like how it wants to stretch about, and perhaps touch the moonlight;
The moonlight that does look and seem to far, but means still as much-to our very night.

Ah! Look, my darling-as the moonlight shall smile again, to our resumed story;
If our story is, in unseen future, ever truly resumed-and thus shall cure everything;
As well t'is unperturbed, and still adorably-longing feeling;
The feeling that once grew into remorse-as soon as thou stomped about, and faraway left me.

Again love shall be, in thy purest heart-reincarnated,
For 'tis the only single being t'at is wondrous-and inexhaustible,
To our souls, 'tis but the only salvation-and which is utterly edible,
To console and praise our desperate beings-t'at were once left adrift, and unheartily, infuriated.

Love shall be the cure to all due breathlessness, and trepidations;
Love shall be infallible, and on top of all, indefatigable;
And love shall be our new invite-to the recklessness of our exhausted temptations;
Once more, shall love be our merit, which is sacred and unalterable; and thus unresentful, and infallible.

Love shall fill us once more to the brim-and make our souls eloquent;
Love be the key to a life so full-and lakes of passion so ardent;
Enabling our souls to flit about and lay united hands on every possible distinction;
Which to society is perhaps not free; and barrier as they be, to the gaiety of our destination.

Thus on the rings of union again-shall our dainty hearts feast;
As though the entire world hath torn into a beast;
But above all, they shan't have any more regrets, nor hate;
Or even frets, for every fit of satisfaction hath been reached; and all thus, hath been repaid.

Thus t'is might be thee; t'at after all-shall be worthy of my every single respect;
As once thou once opened my eyes-and show me everything t'at t'is very world might lack.
Whilst thou wert striving to be admirable and strong; t'is world was but too prone and weak;
And whilst have thy words and poetry; everyone was just perhaps too innocent-and had no clue, about what to utter, what to speak.

Thou might just be the very merit I hath prayed for, and always loved;
Thou might hath lifted, and relieved me prettily; like the stars very well doth the moon above.
And among your lips, lie your sweet kisses t'at made me live;
A miracle he still possesses not; a specialty he might be predestined not-to give.

Thou might be the song I hath always wanted to written;
But sadly torn in one day of storm; and thus be secretly left forgotten;
Ah, Nikolaas, but who is to say t'at love is not at all virile, easily deceived, and languid?
For any soul saying t'at might be too delirious, or perhaps very much customary, and insipid.

And in such darkness of death; thou shalt always be the tongue to whom I promise;
One with whom I shall entrust the very care of my poetry; and ot'er words of mouth;
One I shall remember, one I once so frightfully adored, and desired to kiss;
One whose name I wouldst celebrate; as I still shall-and pronounce every day, triumphantly and aggressively, out loud.

For thy name still rings within me with craze, but patterned accusation, of enjoyment;
For thy art still fits me into bliss, and hopeful expectations of one bewitching kiss;
Ah, having thee in my imagination canst turn me idle, and my cordial soul-indolent;
A picture so naughty it snares my whole mind-more than everything, even more than his.

Oh, Nikolaas, and perhaps so thereafter, I shall love, and praise thee once more-like I doth my poetry;
For as how my poetry is, thou art rooted in me already; and thus breathe within me.
Thou art somehow a vein in my blood, and although fictitious still-in my everyday bliss;
Thou art worth more than any other lov
Ryan Jones Apr 2012
Ode to a Sunflower


            I dare not speak against her beauty; beauty which encompasses the spirit of truth, the spirit of faithfulness, the spirit of light.

            I was walking alone in desolation when I encountered the blinding sight of my sunflower. There it was staring at me with its inviting eyes, eyes which seemed a little lost, a little troubled, a little like mine. My hand trembled as it wiped the disbelief from my vision. The seeds which I had planted in an attempt to dispel my restless woes had sprout up in a seemingly un-fertile place, a place where I could not fathom I would find my Sunflower. But there it was in all its beauty: eloquent, mysterious and enchanting. A vivid portrait of heavenly grace. all could witness , yet,  one could  possess.

  I dare not speak against her beauty; beauty which encompasses the spirit of truth, the spirit of faithfulness, the spirit of light.

From the moment I found my sunflower I did my best to nurture it, watering its spirit from sunrise to sunset. The beauty for which it possessed was captivating; stirring my very being like no other flower has prior. I spent days, months and years analyzing this gem. I wondered why this sunflower was so singular in its splendor, why after so long in my possession was it still shining brighter than a summer star painted against a black night. My admiration and love for this sunflower matured uncontrollably, cultivating in a whirlwind of blissful sunshine.

  I dare not speak against her beauty; beauty which encompasses the spirit of truth, the spirit of faithfulness, the spirit of light.
            
Though my sunflower possesses the strength of a thousand armies and the magnificence of a thousand smiles, I sense a feeling of weakness when the wicked birds of prey attempt to uproot it from its rightful plot. I caress its pedals and speak to it softly assuring that there is a purpose for the gloom, and that upon all of us the rain of opposition will fall. I clutch its head into mine as splendid pedals of fluorescent beauty tickle my face, making me blush with joy. I whisper to my sunflower as I drop my seed next to her stalk, and I tell it that no matter what storms may sing, there will be no challenge to our garden as long as we continue to grow together.
Music provides a blanket of background noise,
As you sit, in a velveteen chair, legs parted, hands on your knees,
I stand between them, silhouetted against flashing gold lights,
I stare down into your upturned face & slowly begin to undress.
Piece by piece my clothing drops to the floor at your feet,
Pooling around my clear, stiletto heels.
Your eyes too drop down, lingering on my *******,
My skin, soft & sun kissed, shimmers golden in the soft light.
I turn slowly, allowing every curve of my body to be illuminated,
The arch of my back, the contour of my hip & the arc of my buttocks
Your eyes trace down my thighs, now spread & back up,
As I bend, & reveal my inner most secrets to you.
My sweet opening that promises so much pleasure,
Just inches from your lips & your tongue & your pleasure.
Slowly I slide to my knees, down on all fours, face to the floor,
Inviting you to enter me, visually, take me with your eyes,
I turn to meet your groin & I watch with interest,
As I play with my ******, at the stirring that may come.
I rise up instead, to my knees, cupping my *******, blowing,
On my now ***** ******* & my eyes reach yours,
And time & space hold for us, as we join together, for a second,
Before I lean in, my breath on your cheek & I whisper,
That's £20 please.
Robin Carretti Apr 2018
Those coffee heads
better than
Couch Potato 2 B
wed
One bad chip 3 2 C
Walking dead

Dream chocolate,
Coffee Latte
On the web late
The fourth cup
He knows all the 5 lips
On Live five sips
Her ruffles he's the
fidget spinner whip cream
Sprayed 6 times
Drinking her coffee over the
Brooklyn bridges 7 wishes
Coffee is for brainers
8 sides of the coffee moon


Swinging  Perculator
Streaming all over Adolf
dictator

Like a monkey ***
in cages
High overflowed wages
The pub pix pom girls
Tom like  apud
Coffee like mud with Tod
Eeeee He
  Coffee of God
Two pals I pad


Steaming out mouth
like a hot rod
She is sipping and he is
mouth roaring

Wiped you out
wicker -chair
You mind erased like the
terminator game pair

"I will be back"

Coffee or me__?
That calculator's fingers
Fine pressed coffee
Stirring the Dagar
Superbowl  maneaters
The women coffee lovers
They need another cup

Stocking up Christmas
chimes  ringing
The cafe Jazz chimes

Pazzazz--

6 cups
All gone Girl
666
Not a drop of coffee
Summoned by a spell

Went razzamatazz

The third eye
1-2-3 pouring
The coffee sounds like its
forever snoring 4-5-6

I need a new coffee maker
Lucky 7*
Rock and roll coffee of fame
Tootsie roll truffles

Going Whoopee

Do some French presses or
Roman Cappuccino style
dresses 14 he and he
The Keurig more hugs
She and me

Sugar trail of blackmail
Single served deserved
Party multi-cup you spilled
her beans

Easter feels jumpy
College stud or wimpy
"Humpty Dumpty"
Jitterbugs
Presidential jelly beans
Hot male mugs
Coffee beans

the mountain you can not
top her flavors
He's the hot diver
I will wait to wake him

He fits the"Ferocious Falcon'
Hey pork and beans
The wrong beans stir
Alice, I will fly you too
the moon
They have better coffee
Jackie Gleason
looks worried

He's cupping away from
the lagoon never on a
Sunday to be married

Bring the coffee truly
love flavor
website
streaming
He's the
hothead the chimes
beaming
The boiling bold brave
How it intensified
The heart melting
microwave lucifer

Please wave Sir
The bubbling brew
Chimes R streaming
But Robin's coffee
is steaming classified
What's to be justified

His pacemaker,
she did a whole
new makeover went
snorkeling what the heck
Ringing his neck
The multi-cup  she is
seated
He's the single cup
every morning
Chimes and coffee never boring


Swish swatch stir and spoon
He was born like streaming ***
way too soon
Coffee is a part of our life having a single cup or multi-cup it keeps our secrets quiet so relax enjoy the chimes ringing I will bring your coffee steaming
Something Simple Oct 2014
Her heart pounds, a thunder in he veins
Pulsing bright and red and deep within
Courage took farflung flight long ago
Before the journey was to be made

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


There was silence before this, quiet as a grave
And the streets were filled with happy feet
It slept alone then, on all it found to keep
No overlap or closeness to be feared.

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


And then life wasn't what she'd been promised
He threated a hell on earth should she think even of what she knew
Blows came when the words stopped coming
Maybe there wasn't anything in the big white clouds up there

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


So she left alone, running away from it all
Nowhere to go and none to care what happened out there
Feet chased a path along a clif's side
Found another path hidden inside

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


Came upon the sleeping one
Belly deep in shining rings, golden plates, precious stones
All of the leavings of those that had gone before
It earned them all fairly

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


Surely they wouldn't notice just one cup?
One cup for freedom, one cup for a new life
One for the time she spent running from no escape
So she took it and fled

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


A stirring spread thourgh that scaly pile
Orange orbs snapping open, knowing something was gone
That cup the mother'd drank from at the king's court
When magic was still thick and the world thought less of monsters

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


Wings unfirled and death came that night on quiet wings
Fire broke the night, people died, fleeing anyway they could
Those earth riches where all that's left
Before men came and took what they thought they owned

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


Day rose to a ruined place
Choacked grey black, shifting with winds
Villages left that day for the reasons where not known
But she knew and it did as well

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


Journey came with baited breath
She knew it would come again with hot breath and burning eyes
Maybe there would be nothing left again
Death would come again

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


Head raises, hissing scales of ash, long strong neck
Those eyes shine brighter now
Tips of wings touch staggered points of topside
Ready to reclaim a life

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


Quick and slow she bends, quicker hands holding out
Uncurling fingers flex apart and the cup is placed
Once more in its rightful place
Them or her, chosen to make right

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


Thin wings settle again to the strong sides
Ribs show their ridges against the jeweled belly
What's this human who would give back what it took?
Dangerous points part in black stone gums

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


You'd give thisss for them and what you ssstole?
Hissing air breath, a volcano's hiss
Wide eyes and hesitant hands reply
"Many more here that you don't deserve but they don't either."

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


Slow shifting seething motion
Tail like rope unwinding from the center
Weak legs bend and don't break
Eggshells lay safe in the last grey curl

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


Small bones, little skull and empty eyes
Young mother happy once then
Men broke the home with sharp points
Young mother no longer

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


She sees broken bones, human heads burned
Nothing could bring the hatchling back, piece the pierced back
It had stayed to die in silence no reason left
No food to be found, no water to drink

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


The girl leaves and goes
A secret to keep for the old mother
Until the body lies forgotten and the earth takes back
No one to touch the shining seas
Arlene Bozich Jul 2012
Tell your gods we call for blood
We're stirring hurricanes in your teacups.
It's an instant headache cure at the end of a barrel,
Though a worthwhile gauntlet to continue to breathe.

We’re stirring hurricanes in your teacups
It might be easier to crash and burn.
Though a worthwhile gauntlet to continue to breathe,
We should never measure our breaths to our steps

It might be easier to crash and burn.
Children die from the painful things they learn.
We should never measure our breaths to our steps,
But the dignity in life is too beautiful to regret.

Children die from the painful things they learn
It’s an instant headache cure at the end of a barrel
But the dignity in life is too beautiful to regret.
Tell your gods we call for blood
My attempt at a pantoum. Trying a new form of poetry each time I write now!

— The End —