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Yes I love haikus
A way of expressing your
Feelings in seconds

Five syllables, then
Seven syllables,then five
Syllables again

You can fit so much
Into a few simple lines
Anything you want

Five syllables then
Seven syllables then five
Syllables again

No need to rhyme or
Anything like that, no rules
At all, except for

Five syllables then
Seven syllables then five
Syllables again
Words can convey so much more than most know.
A poet can make someone smile, laugh, or cry, and weep
All in the same collection of syllables forming words

A poet can push a person's mind until the heart bursts with happiness, breaks from deep sadness, and dies down right frightened.  All from words formed into sentences

Poets can create a scene of great disdain or nothing but frivolous faire in one sentence turning it to deep concentration hunting for resolution from sentences creating stanzas.

Poets paint a picture that can't be seen by a passerby or displayed in a window case.   It can be placed in plain site something of ******* nature yet unless looked into deeply will never be seen.  As stanzas form a poem that paints that picture

Poets sometimes can only paint basic emotion with words yet some can pull raw lustful emotion from deep in the soul.  Syllables to words bring excitement and desire.  Excitement, need, and release like two bodies locked together in sweaty heated embraces

Poets bringing syllables to words to sentences can capture ones longing carrying along to paragraphs that feel, hear, taste, smell, and see the burning need that the stanzas envoke the basics of carnal lust to break free like a caged lion whose food lay just outside the cage

Poets bring to close the paragraphs that wrap it all together Can you feel the sunlight against naked flesh so warm reflecting off beads of perspiration?  Can you taste the deliciousness of her desire upon ruby lips?  Or from the moisture that coats his fingers as they glide easily through silken petals?  

Poets continue painting with words, stanzas and paragraphs moving to hearing.  Can you hear the cries and pleas begging as desire builds to uncontrollable heights? Feeling. Hearing. Tasting. What is left the poet thinks. Ahhhhh to see and to smell

Poets syllables to words, stanzas, to paragraphs moving towards the pinnacle of rapture their every desire for the reader to see. Hius tongue lavishes the sweet flesh, tasting the musky desire as hands caress and pull upon tender buds of pleasure, the pants, moans, mews, cries, grunts, screams, mix together to form to a crescendoing of music

Continuing as pools of deep blue suffocate emeralds that look back. A growl followed by a almost hedonistic finale as the beings are rocked to their core. The syllables, words, stanzas, paragraphs almost to the picture seeing as the golden dagger of despair is plunged into the innocent heart.  Mixture of musky sweetness glistening upon flesh as red rivers flow to meet and mingle, swirling against the pale white.  The punget rust mixed with essence of bliss finishes the painting.

Poet started with syllables to words on to stanzas then paragraphs drawing from happiness, love to desire, need, release, slammed into the abyss of pain, despair and a private hell only each person viewing the poet's work can explain to themselves and perhaps share with another.

Bashfulness, Happiness, eagerness, apprehension, desire, need, fire, pleasure, release, pain, excruciating pain, lonely, despair, abysmal sadness, depression

The picture painted yet not with colors on canvas but with words on paper.  The mind fills in the forms, colors, and lives the sentence of taste, touch, sight, noise, and of course the smell.  If the poet is truly good one might find they actually do get a whiff of what is writen caressing their nasal pathways.

Written by Niyahlove.  :-)  All rights reserved please be respectful November 2, 2014
.poet, or philosopher, it doesn't really matter which is which, or whether the two are indistinguishable, notable in the former scenario, when someone has an eclectic bounty of interest is simply not love-scorned or love-nostalgic, love-idealistic, does it really matter? i was once called a philosopher: a teenage girl said in third person (as if she was a puppet and some-thing was moving her tongue): 'talk to this philosopher'... not in that sarcastic way that philosopher is an misnomer or an abused term of: self-gratifying grandeour, it was quiet genuine, but: imagine my shock... i had an ambition in life, it was to perform a service to thinking: without doing as much as hammering a nail into a plank of wood, that's the ambition of any thinking man: to borderline on telekinesis or telepathy... that was Hegel's modus operandi, his categorical imperative... after all: ego is a metaphysical tool, while thought is its metaphysical canvas... the mere suggestion that a copernican inversion can happen in physics "contra" metaphysics... it's already apparent, any word can behave like a hand touching the sacred object / subject of transfiguration and become something else, even a misnomer can find itself given solace to the user... for now i've forged a belief in the ultimate: away from the absolute in relation to omni in unum - one first has to learn to think, before having to learn to feel... mind you, i don't like the current nietzschean inversion of the cartesian equation: (ego) sum ergo (ego) cogito... esp. among the youtube political commentators, too many examples to give: i'm a classical liberal, i'm a progressive, i'm a liberterian... i don't really like seeing: i am, precede i think... i don't even like the origin-argument of this inversion: i exist for the sole purpose of thinking... after all: i think prior to being, since i can also daydream and not be what my thinking suspects as a possible truth-outcome... that's the nature of the freedom of thought: i don't have to be what i think, i can find thinking to be a pleasure, when the senses do not offer me any pleasure derivative, e.g. eating can sometimes be boring, chewing, chewing, *******... i eat because i need to live: i don't live to eat... i really have under-appreciated Hegel, i should really visit my grandparents for two months and read the phenomenology of the spirit: i'm trying to replicate the saying attributed to him (verbatim), but i doubt that i will, i don't have the patience to sift through all the quotes, but it goes along the lines of: beware oh wordly man, to not be a pawn in a thinking man's game... hence my suggestion of philosophy entering into the realms of telekinesis and telepathy: you get to see things play out and people express the origin story, of your own memetic generation of the original idea... how are poets finally alligned to philosophers? good thing that i studied chemistry at edinburgh university: we return to atoms, words are no longer enough, sure, they are, contrary to the statement...  (why did i under-appreciate Hegel? ah... had my head stuck up heidegger's and kant's *****...

integration? great!
but i'll meet you halfway...
i'll eat your fish & chips,
your englush breakfast,
i won't sing your anthem: god save the queen,
****** anthem, too short,
but i will whistle through:
the british grenadiers' fife & drum...
like i might through la marseillaise...
i'll meet you halfway...
i'm not a former colony member,
commonwealth,
i'm not some ****- paying bribes
to the british powers
to join in on a world cup of cricket...
this is what happens when immigration
turns sour...
they either lesrn the host tongue,
or they don't learn it...
or they can't distinguish the two:
speak polonaise at home,
speak the hosts' sprechen outside of it...

if the ******* aren't suspect:
by not being bilingual...
the arab beatles... jihadi john...
ringo star h'ahmed...
george ali...
paul mecca rashid...
oh i'll settle for integration...
but don't you ******* think i'll give
up my mother tongue
for "c.c.t.v." close-ups back home,
home being my private lodge...
like ******* will...
i'll speak your tongue in public...
but i'm not ******* former commonwealth
****- riddled with a need to play
cricket, "forget" my tongue in order
to compensate for olives
and sun-burnt bananas!

a former colony ****-**** is about
to dictate the rules for fellow
europeans, on the tram-ride from
Birmingham to Nottingham?
seriously?
but of course the englishman
will favor the former colony pet bush-monkey
from sri lanka...
since the brit can't really dictate
to a fellow european his superiority
complex... which he can...
with a petted copper skinned
toy-ting...
who brought 'im a korma curry!
nice one, ol' laddy...
right on the plonker...
i'm not finished!
i'm just getting started!

gehirnablassen:

perfectly respected immigration,
given that so many english girls just love
the attention their **** minders,
sexually abused,
not really making it as nurses
or... ahem... karaoke superstars
worth the while of britain's got talent
or voice of britain,
or...whatever the ****** show was
that gave birth to one direction...

so a.... brain-drain? good immigration?
the best!

i can sit awhile by myself and count...
1. the sparrows,
2. the swallow,
3. the starlings,
4. the crows,
5. the magpies,
6. the pigeons,
7. the woodland pigeons
(fatter, with dog collars),
8. kestrels
(one is enough to begin
the count)...
9. the blackbirds....
10. seagulls... seagulls?! 25 miles from
romford to southend! seagulls?!
this far in-land?! fair enough...
11. a robin...
12. goldfinch...
i just sit and watch these birds
in my garden, i sometimes spot
a darting frog in the garden,
i'm more english than the english...
i actually enjoy owning a garden...
the "english" surrounding me
exemplify a bbq. as a luxury parade...
what's so luxury about marinating
some meat, and then grilling it?!
please! enlightend me!

gehirnablassen...
brain-drain immigration,
the type asiatic tiger-mums brag about
at child olympics...
for the required rubric stature...
******* mothers, basically...

)  notes to preserve completing
what remained: pending...

1. χaron χaos - cha-cha-cha       khaos / chaos...
2. theaetetus - so / ma   letters / syllables:
graphemes: sz phi theta
compound syllables (caron s) - Na (sodium)
3. music choice...
brain damage perturbator ft. noir deco
virga iesse floruit, gradual of eleanor of
britanny...
4. pride / stubborness (not equal to) honour,
tolerating islam is not the same
as respceting islam...
german 19th century fascination
with islam...
θought and φilosophy...
greek in warsaw, giving him directions,
talks: sounds so much like spanish...
5. england a nation of singletons,
idiosyncracy... social pressures in poland
and even in h'america missing in england
to marry...                                         (

1. well, let's begin...
        it has taken me two days to complete
my utterances... i've just spent 40 or so minutes
listening to the last of the youtube
stronghold (dangerfield -
               from hash to ******) -
i can relate on the literature,
i can't relate in taking steps of replica...
i started smoking marijuana
aged 21... i think you should start later...
drinking while being a teenager, fine...
i hanged around with some irish in my teens,
we used to have sleepovers at youth clubs
play pool, buy ***** mags and drink
white lightning: bumb cider...
but given that i was sold chemically
enchanced (negatively, i might add) marijuana
that turned me psychotic...
ah... psychiatric terms, used by the mainstream
like some casual metaphors...
     recently i was at a health scrutiny hour...
yes: my psychosis was made stable in
a schizophrenia: which is a new word to describe
bilingualism... oh the english natives!
what competent people...
  no, it didn't become bipolar: psychotic depression...
lucky me... lucky in that:
           bukowski: isolation is the gift...
the rest are a test of your endurance...
no **** sherlock!

  i just look at all the particular instances
when english (the language) breaks rules...
    heidegger merely pointed out
that there's a difference between chaos
and χαoς: well cheap and cha-cha-cha...
but when it comes to the ferryman?
some would say: χαρoν...
otherwise? do the raj bidding of inserting
a surd H... nibble at the tetragrammaton...
   and call the ferryman κ - αρoν
                                            (h)...
this isn't the only example: cheap, chisel...
        chemistry... it's not chem-ístree...
      it's kem-ístree!

2. poor *******, the english,
   they can't discuss orthoraphy...
hardly, to begin with:
what with i (ι) and j (ȷ) -
you have already cut the diacritical heads
of come the CAPITALS: I & J...
what a simple hydra to vanquish...

2. theaetetus - so / ma   letters / syllables:
graphemes: sz phi theta
compound syllables (caron s) - Na (sodium)

                     i like this one...
   letters, syllables, graphemes,
sodium: Na...
  the key and the door analogy of the keyhole...
feminism: it wants to coagulate...
to group existentialism with
scholastism...
sorry honey... play your footie:
*******!
                    key being inserted:
φought enters θilosoφy....
yes, the graphemes are elevated,
beyond the stature of consonants...
didn't you ask?
oh, you should have asked...
- socrates: can yoy give a rational account
                    of syllables, but not of letters?
- theaetetus: it seems possible.
-socrates: quiet; i think so too. at any rate,
surely you'll have an answer about the first
syllable of 'socrates', if someone asked
'tell me, theaetetus, what is SO'?
- theaetetus: yes, my reply would
be that it is S and O.
- socrates: so there's your account of a syllable,
isn't it?
    - theaetetus: yes.
- socrates: all right then, tell me alao of your account
of S is.

sorry... after this point, for B to be a surd?
bottomless pit... let's ask what is a letter,
what is a syllable... and what is a grapheme...
the greeks bargained on dialectical markers...
which they dind't need, since the latins needed them...
what is a syllable is also: what is a grapheme,
and how to account for "strange" vowels?

the greek thought, they thought,
"thinking" that only the greek language
was correlated to universal thinking...
and that universal thinking was only associated
with greeks speaking... pish-poor choice
if you mind...

         syllables... individual letters...
weren't consonants synonymous to syllables?
esp. with added diacritical markers?
play-tongue-think-tank with the greeks...
sooner or later they fizzle out as
redundant...
         couldn't keep Constantinople...
will not regret or revive the bounties of
reclaiming Istambul...

i once claimed to tolerate islam...
tolerating islam is one thing...
    respecting islam: quiet another...
i can attempt myself at
respecting a cloning device...
which any religion is: a cloning device...
i can tolerate it...
which, doesn't imply i respect it;
i wouldn't eat a meal with a muslim...
and sharing a meal?
is my fullest acknowledgement of
respect, i tolerate islam,
i, tolerate it,
   thank **** i don't respect it.
respect it like some 19th century german
philosopher... hegel or nietzsche....

what is a syllable "compensated" by
a grapheme, esp. with a hidden consonant,
akin to the caron "s"...
      i.e. šeep: look at that...
the first time orthography was introduced
into the englishsprechen...
   hid the H: šeep... sheep...

well we already know where the greek
letter went to: modifying scientific
constants... after all π = 3.14....
    Σ = summation...
            last time i checked...
letter, whether consonant or vowel
orientated,
took up more meaning beyond
translating the optic of encoded
sound into expressed sound...
    they became surds...
          tools to think with,
only secondary sound symbols...
you no longer translated the representation
of the sound,
there was an idea behind the letter...
disguised as a "letter"...
chemistry minded the syllables:
Na: sodium, salt...
   and that was that...
              
  fai(s) çe q'(u)é voudrā(s) -
written, but otherwise a surd...
fwench has the most examples...

3. music choice...
brain damage perturbator ft. noir deco
virga iesse floruit, gradual of eleanor of
britanny...
     mind you, i will gladly whistle about
three songs while walking...
this is the part where i become an arrogant
*******... teaching yourself does
that to a man, there's no pride in being
lectured, ordered to regurgitate...
for all that pomp & circumstance
that makes pride & prejudice shy...
    she should have always been
first choice on the fiver banknote...
jane austen my ***...
            mary shelley was the dog's *******,
through and through...
the three songs i sometimes whistle
while walking, taking a whiskey for a walk
(good thing i don't own a dog)...

a. beethoven's symphony IX
     allegro assai vivace - alla marcia...
b. la marseillaise...
   c. british grenadiers - fife & drum...
shhh...
    (for all the worth of shakespeare's
poetry... robert burn's:
aud lang syne...
        hell... i can't write sing-along poetry...
poetical commentary...
which still beats poetry worthy of
thee theatre...
shakespeare, no shakespeare...
aud lang syne:
   old long gone song, refurbished)...

5. england a nation of singletons,
idiosyncracy... social pressures in poland
and even in h'america missing in england
to marry...

       isn't it obvious? england is a metal
asymlum when you wish to see it as such...
somehow and "suddenly" all the social
pressures disappear when nagging either
a polonaise society or a h'american society...
i'll be critical of applied english,
as a language...
but when it comes to living?
               second to none... when i was younger,
and growing up in poland
the english were know as gaylords...
or the bellybuttons of the world...
now, having grown up among the irish
in the outer east-end of Loondon?
want to talk to a 6ft1 115kg "******" about
his lack of obsession with marital status?
his complete disinterest in dating?
what's a dating app?!
                 the same kind of "******"
obsessed with templar chants?
dabbling in helvegen?

  dating... what a weird concept...
whenever i get a chance, i'll sit with a thai
surprise (bisexual, female)...
manage to take her home, play her some
jazz... **** her in the garden...
                            walk her home...
"date"... when it comes to prostituites...
when it comes to prostitutes...
    britney spears  - criminal,
     rihanna - shut up & drive,
   lady gaga - telephone
                       holly valance - kiss kiss
delta goodrem - innocent eyes.....
gay boy got gay rights...
what a boring time to be alive in...
just when homosexuality was no longer tabooo,
norman stephen "typo" *******...
boring homosexuality...
  antithesis artistic homos...
gays are boring me with their antics,
i'd also love latex love triangles...
but...
  i'm not joining in,
since i haven't been made welcome...
         welcome this:
the rightful pucker of a knuckle count's worth
of a sucker!

    i've experienced only: 3, loves at first sight...
kot... i rememher her surname,
she was the first to kiss me,
aged, roughly 7...
    priya.... my ex-girlfriend's
younger sister...
                          isabella of grenoble...
who took my virginity...
oh, ****...
        there was freckles galore daniella...
at st. augustine's... rabbit to her...
there was... milena...
there was samatha...
                there was jadwiga...
                       there was janina...
i fell in love too many times...
there was ilona of novosibirsk...
   gregoria who licked my face
like a cow...
                 the ukranian *******,
the bulgarian prostitutes who i stole
kisses from,
the serbian strippers...
   packaged boy,
  postcard ****-acto...
                 the australian fling...
half hindu half scouser...
towering beauty with the looks
akin to tweety bird lips (as my irish friend
noted)...

women... ah ha ha...
           i guess 3 months is long enough
for me to be with them...
    last time i checked, she was on her period,
and i was gagging...
last time i checked: ******* a *******
her period alleviates the period pains...
she didn't let me,
instead? i received a week
bound to reading Bulgakov...

           condoms are great when used
to **** a ******* her period...
that's how i started to hate relationships...
*** monopoly..
   and readings from cosmopolitan magazine
about the out-dated
idiosyncracy of relationship statuses...

4. pride / stubborness (not equal to) honour,
tolerating islam is not the same
as respceting islam...
german 19th century fascination
with islam...
θought and φilosophy...
greek in warsaw, giving him directions,
talks: sounds so much like spanish...

     i can tolerate islam,
but, i can't respect it....
    how could i respect it?
           i met a greek in warsaw....
he sounded like a goth,
     how the spanish tongue sounded
much akin to the greek zunge...     

chamaleon tongue,                    shape shifter,
bez akcentu w piśmie - więciej akcentu poza pismem
(trainspotting scottish), welsh, cockney,
east london altogether, pakistani english, etc.
e.g. rather, or raver, i.e. not rayver
(someone who parties at night on an ecstasy pill)
but ra'ver, like verging on a new discovery,
it's not even the = ~v but is actually v...
english is a chamaleon tongue, you say 'nostic
when you write gnostic, i say diagnostic,
therefore say gnostic, you say 'nome, i say gnome,
as cf. with diagnostic;
then there's the case of the per se:
you say chamaleon - no kappa there apperent, eh?
but there's chappie, chap, chuckles,
no kappa in a millionth chance
to also say nough'ledge for knowledge,
a bit like that gnome of yours...
as i said before: a language without
a written insertion of stressors / distinctions
will produce a massive array of diacritical
stressors / distinctions outside the written format,
but it will also become as complex as to
allow adults with learning difficulties e.g. dyslexia,
and that horrid internet slang of shortcuts:
i ate my 8 when i was late for my disco date
with the cha cha cha melon.

          mind you: i always seemed to "mis-pronounce"
words in english... first came puma:
i was laughed at on a primary school bus
heading from st. augustine's (half-way between
gants hill and barkingside) to the barkingside
swimming pool: where i learned to swim
by myself, very much akin to me learning
the english language, by myself,
dropped into the deep end,
i was a complete mute...
my parents were also learning the zunge...
so they couldn't exactly teach me,
i had to learn it myself...
      so it wasn't puma: with that hollowed
out U...
      i.e. pú-mah... it was: pew-mah...
or piu-mah...
           weird...
                   then i found other examples...
i was once more corrected
when it came to the celts...
                       it wasn't cedilla "riddled":
çelts, but Kelts...
    funny that... the football team from glasgow
is dubbed çeltic, not celtic: isn't it?
i loved being corrected about my
pronounciation... get corrected enough times,
and then... light: you get to sprechen such
things as:
   what sort of orthography aesthetic discussion
can i have with an englishman,
when his sole diacritical markers
hover over an ιo: iota: i / ι...
   and that dotless antithesis of java - ȷ -
like in dante's canto XXVIII:
                               Bertrand de Born,
two completely pointless orthographical -
as i would rather call them:
indulgences rather than errors,
otherwise not necessary...
             excess spelling... and particular,
hidden, pronounciation variables...
that's as much of an orthographic debate
you will ever get from an englishman,
given their lack applied diacritical markers...
hey... if the english speaking peoples
love their "reality" chequers...
   their metaphysics...
           i have something as pertinent, ready,
orthography is far more interesting
to me than the grandeour of metaphysics...
so now we have to figure out
the third sister... given the already associated
benzene ring directions of associating
compound groups:
   ortho-,
                      meta-,
                            ­           para-...
  can't just leave it to paranorman / -"normal"...
para- needs to be associated with something
else if we're going to venture
with orthography and metaphysics
and further...

    another decent example?
       gnomes...           gnostics...
why is the g treated as a surd at the beginning
of the word, hence? 'nomes hence 'nostics...
but all the more apparent in a word like
diagnostics?
                               i guess i've found my
new playground: the english vocabulary.

p.s. if there's a hay patch at the beginning, the nasal flute
will ask larry 'the lynx' saxophone to hark it out with rasp
gritting of phlegm... but if it's somewhere else down
the piccadilly line... it will act like a nudist spy and resonate
less than expected; probably mingling with f, i think.
Paul Hansford Aug 2018
The first cold letters, alone on the page.
A quick pencil found them,
and the lively and beautiful syllables blossomed.
The pale book felt the pencil,
and the terrifying, hot words entered.
The lines grew, living and sensitive,
gleaming as never before,
and I knew the unheard lines!

First, a tiny and unselfconscious sound.
A noun struggled to appear among overpowering words.
A strong, golden adjective ran out,
a short, fragrant adjective, beautiful in the early spring.
A young verb grew among tiny blue conjunctions,
and a fortuitous adverb understood, instinctively.

The first sentence dreamed of trees, and a sad cloud.
It dreamed a grey rain,
and the tall trees felt the rain.
There was a first and unknown river,
imagined, inconsequential, like snow in summer.
A red bird glided beyond reach,
as if it had never happened.
The soft sounds fitted the lines,
and the quick bird cried,
Remember the short rain!
Remember the sad poem!
This one was a "collaboration" between myself and an app that I imported to my computer. First I entered lists of nouns, adjectives and adverbs (including adverbial phrases), then clicked to start the process.  The computer didn't "compose" the lines that you see here, but it gave me lots of ideas, and I had to work quite a lot on them. Streams of sentences poured out onto my printer, most of them complete nonsense, and when I had enough I pressed Stop, and started the process of weeding out the *******, editing the more promising lines, and re-arranging the order. My favourite line is "There was a first and unknown river," which I could never have dreamed up by myself.
.how  dignified it is, to simply take a walk at night...

)            that's all i wanted to disclose...
what comes now,
is all the unnecessary details
that would constitute a prose piece...
albeit in cascade - for the ease
of the eyes bunddled up in a
claustrophobia of a paragraph:

i know: the mere word 'dignified'
seems rather obnoxious...
but... how dignified it is,
to take a walk at night...
esp. when one is recycling leftover
bottles of whiskey, whiskey,
beer... whiskey...

after reading Knausgård vol. 1 -
with his father strapped to the house
with his mother drinking himself
to death...
perhaps i'm also akin...

but... there's "****" to do in between...
good god! mein gott!
greta thunberg! run! i said run idiot!
run to the recycling center with
those glass bottles!
success though: cutting the ingestion
by over a half...

current bank balance?
nearing 2 thousand pounds...
and there's the garbage to sort between
the recyclable and the non-recyclable...
there's the tending to keeping
the house clean...

there's a remnant spark about giving
a toss about some sporting event...
there's cooking a dinner...
but... it seems i miss the man who would
find about an hour and a half
to walk the streets at night...

somehow i missed it -
but... i imagine the sight of a week's worth
of empty bottles in the wardrobe...
i've had enough and...
i call the dog that's the dignity to take
a walk at night...
to never overthink anything except
thinking - that i can leave in the basket
of nothing...

sometimes the ego-automaton jumps
in and makes my walking meditation
fuzzy... that's where i find this mythological
ego of psychology -
ego the anti-narrator...

which implies: not myself... reflexive...
not my, self... the reflective circumstance...

and there's no familiar presence
of an mp3 player (broken, ****** lasted
for 3 years, good enough lifespan)
and no headphones...

perhaps i was anti-radio some time ago...
i've amassed a decent personal library
of audio... but now i rarely use it
having made a discovery of the gramaphone
and vinyls...
and being the late 20th century colt...
i should still be ripping c.d.s onto
mp3... but...
i just wanted to check out what i was
missing...
perhaps... the crazed sound of passing
cars, will indeed, never replace
the cobblestones and hooves...
but... there's a right to heave a sigh...
for no apparent reason other than:
i've met myself this very first time
having aged...

this is not a time for west coast
1990s pop punk or punk rock or whatever
they called it... when you would
either run in gallop jumping
in a jonathan edwards style...
or looking down and walking into
a lamp-post... this is no time to be
refreshing the cinema of youth...
with the offspring's ignition...

not when you're walking: and trying not to think...

also of today: my jewish newly converted
to islam neighbour came round
asking about my mother's slight bout
of depression concerning...
her recent hip-replacement...
and what's still in the post...
the aesthetic surgery...
after all: what surgery, proper...
is also a plastic surgery - an aesthetic...
obviously the muscles and the bones
are intact... but there is always a chance
that waste tissue will be removed...
fat... etc. and it hasn't even been 2 weeks
since the surgery...
and she said: your mum should look
at my surgery scars...
i lifted up my t-shirt and turned
to show her my back... namely my
right shoulder-blade...

and i said to her: you know why i didn't
get aesthetic surgery on this mark
of cain? that's the same reason why i don't
have tattoos...
nothing against tattoos...
i have the only tattoo i need:
a mark of cain and some historical tattoos...
dates... that i keep close to me
from my time in the pedagogy meat-mincer
effort... how it began with the romans: per se...
later began with hastings 1066...
but it would never begin with:
the first battle of Tannenberg (1410)...
so you don't know how i think my mother
is exaggerating?
it's a good thing she's my mother...
she can have her ******* pass...
i'd give her the same ******* pass if...
we were married for 35 years and...
she was a woman i could grow with...
otherwise? the ******* pass i reserve for
children...

i subsequently signed her will...
yes... she came round looking for a second
witness for her will being made official...
or ****** bureucratic paper...
but nonetheless official...
i didn't mention the fact that...
the two witnesses that have signed the paper:
need to be present simultaneously...
i asked her... what's my occupation?
oh... right... i'm a scribbler...
a chicken-scratcher... writer of no
guild... a writ pusher...  

but all i wanted to write was...
i'm not a fan of the haiku...
esp. the western haiku... or a maxim:
i abhor maxims...
but if you put Kant into the juicer
and you spit out the congested
categorical imperative...
and it doesn't sound like the original, should:

act only according to that maxim whereby you can,
at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.

id est:

act only according to that haiku whereby you can...
at some distant point of time,
convene for it be a shared experience
in the ratio of a 1:2 point of seperation...
2:4 4:8 8:16...
but that's not really a categorical imperative
to begin with... what sort of "idiot" would strive
for a maxim to become a universal law...
universal laws are maxim spin-offs...
or i'm just blah-blahing too much...
waiting dear god: for the razor's edge (and drowning)...
or a punchline on stage in front of a dumb / mute
audience...

o.k. 5-7-5...
syllables... given the japanese don't use
letter but have syllables instead...
again: i'm not a fan...
if it took my long enough...
i'd find my 5 syllables and my 7 and again
my 5 syllables...
but i am a westerner...
i deal with letters... i don't deal with syllables...
unless they are prefixes akin to trans-...
meta-... anti-... post-...
the western adoption of the haiku implies
the boredom achieved from too many
sonnets... is the haiku the new sonnet?

i'll try... but i'll need to open a dictionary
for this effort...

water knee deep truce (5)
to the drowning man imploring (8)
signature the soul with this last breath (9)

or however many... it's just a passing thought:
i don't know how it would be worthwhile
to think inside a box... standing outside it
to begin with...
a haiku and no punctuation:
if you're going to be puritanical about it...
no punctuation?!
no diacritical markers?!

the Kant reference is just to ease up on:
who the hell would live by a maxim,
a stand-alone maxim at that...
one maxim to make it into the realm
of gravity...

there's the plethora of aphorisms that
are observations that... well...
let's just say it's no an imitation game... (

since how the hell does:
how dignified it is, to simply take a walk at night...
all of the above?
darwinism in images:

stopped climbing trees...
stopped being furry...
stopped dreaming about snakes...
stopped fearing snakes...
stopped wrestling with tigers...
stopped king kong versus tiger gorgon...
jumped into a whale...
came out sonar Jonah with hell'io Job
to boot...
stopped climbing trees...
took toward the complexity
of climbing rocks...
esp. boulders... later desired
the great big button of a cookie i.e.;
desired the moon...
brewed some moonshine...
build the mirror corridor
at Versailles...
dug up lazy dinosaur bones of
that thick glutton splodge and...
retired the horse... drove a car...
etc. etc.: came across
the happy birthday of death by
gregory corso and said:
that be one of the best recitations
of poetry i have ever heard...
in youth and Paris and Paris was
the signature...

all of this but there's still...
how dignified it is, to simply take a walk at night...
more to the point...
how dignified it is, to walk at one's own
leisure...
a bottle of england's finest ale...
theakston's the old peculier in one hand...
a marlboro cigarette in the other...
how dignified it is...
to walk: but to also walk... at one's leisure...
not running a marathon...
not... running the concrete or the tarmac
dry with new year's even resolutions
to loße mass... (yes... since weight involves
gravity blah blah)...

this auto-correct science factoid rubric
around each corner...
i can only admit that walking...
is a sport for gentlemen...
cognitive ping pong ensues...
a solo game... perhaps...
it's not a matter of sport...
or attempting gentlemanly stature...
which could be the case...
say... if i were 75... years old...
but...

that's all fine and dandy... the psychology
behind darwinism 2.0
not even copernicus made it that far
with his "revolutionary discovery"...
or not that Ptolemy was still...
index... bibliography and historical
constipation when attempting to be
democratic and historical...
in a single poo'em... with no rhyme...
and certainly no overt-technique biases
to: "identify with"...

it's still an image burning in my head...
the gorilla that would / could wrestle
a lion to sleep with a ripped-off jaw...
the thumb-king of the jungle
and the savannah...
and of course the donning of the conquered's
mane...

but beside all the discoveries in the past
and the present...
i will find myself smirking...
laughing to myself...
that someone will find this too...
i can't stress it enough:

when i see people driving their cars...
some fast, some slow...
walking onto a bus is not a leisure activity...
it's not even a dignity...
it's a time-warp... a short-cut...
besides the point...

even this brain sometimes allow for
the dignity of walking to be eclipsed...
what its sometimes-odd bursts of egomania /
megalomania or all those other:
traits of the rational man...

perhaps this is the first day i've truly
appreciated the sensibility of walking -
much more in that: it became a dignity...
like the time i found the antithesis of narcissus
in my shadow...
once upon a nightly promenade
in the english outer-suburban labyrinth...
20 minutes walk from the fields,
grazing horses... foxes, badgers and...
no wordsworthian naturalism... i.e. the idyll...

superior intelligence, the fork,
the knife, the screwdriver the *****...
the hammer and the nail...
the scythe, the sickle and the lollipop...
the telephone the radio the television
the soap opera addicts...
the bedsheets the bed the cushion
the shampoo and soap...
all of it... but none of it at the same time...
with what comes a priori and with
what comes a posteriori...
the dignity of walking...
perhaps the only state of grace...

perhaps less "abilism" and more - upon reflection...
a mother strapped to a bed
after a hip-replacement surgery?
i.e. in a personal, very personal,
non-Teheran specific vicinity?!

perhaps the most basic meditation is required...
nothing grandiose...
nothing temporal or non-temporal...
something basic...
i.e. spatial... a meditation on cross the street
like a mindful hedgehog that you are...
and not panic driven like a mother goose
with her nursery...

walk long enough and you can even
experience bouts of spontaneous amnesia...
which is not related to actual memories
and their totality...
more in the immediacy: amnesia ex cogitans...
amnesia out of thinking...
10 minutes apart and you can almost
forget what you were thinking of...
10 minutes more pass... the labyrinth spits
you out and you recover from that temp.
bout of crucible amnesia: to forget what you
were thinking about...
which is a variant to that other escapism
of day-dreaming...
since you're walking... and no day-dreamer
is synonym of the thinker who also walks...

this variant of escapism comes of its own
accord... perhaps it's an ontological built-in-mechanism
that when you couple walking with thinking...
you'll most certainly experience these
bouts of "amnesia"... which of course doesn't
include walking in circles... but in a labyrinth
of your unconscious motives...
that the body is dissociated from a conscious will...

since... what sort of thinking exists
on a treadmill... or during running... to begin with?

how  dignified it is, to simply take a walk at night...
dignified in that: one is not so much able
to come across one's best ideas there...
but that one can simply come across... cogitans per se
-

yes... i.e.: to be free from cogito ergo sum...
to come across the res cogitans medium...
only while walking...
and not like Descartes imagining oneself
sitting at a desk of doubt...

i find no better alternative: walking opens up...
thinking-in-itself... sometimes that's merely translated
as: being... it does not specify / reveal itself
as a: necessity of narration...
thinking is not narration is not thinking...
if you have experienced the ugly spontaneity of
the ego... in that vein of psychology's
three-tier meta-brain dissection of the mind:
subsequently the soul... blah blah...

now i see... this has become a sit-down meditation...
it has to end...
now that the arms have been employed for
a period longer, than the legs were employed
for, prior.
Bo Burnham Mar 2015
Sully suffers from a stutter,
simple syllables will clutter,
stalling speeches up on beaches,
like a sunken sailboat rudder.

Sully strains to say his phrases,
sickened by the sounds he raises,
strings of thoughts come out in knots,
he solves his sentences like mazes.

At night, he writes his thoughts instead
and sighs as they steadily rush from his head.
1016

The Hills in Purple syllables
The Day’s Adventures tell
To little Groups of Continents
Just going Home from School.
Seán Mac Falls Aug 2012
I am syllables,
Proper numbers in wonder,
Am I haiku now?
Ken Pepiton Dec 2018
Taken, gotten, or made, the point of anything
can pierce through everything…

slow
Slow think,
make real

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

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

or the light brigade,
CHARGE?

thunder words from lost generations of
reasonless riddles for children,

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

Know why? They forgot it. In the war.

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

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

War, as a game, has a reason.

Battle, hitting, slapping

stop touch, stop now slap
slap back

or cry
oh no no ma

waddayahsay?  A theist or atheist
who started this war?

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

Kaboom, but with a whump you feel in your teeth

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

ABC to
Michael Jackson to
Howard Bloom because he

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

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

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

like a poem

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

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

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

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

Press your point,

whetted edge,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

the holy place
Here we are…

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

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

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

don't scratch, listen

listen

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

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

can you feel that?

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

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

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

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

Ah,
novelty.

Whose is fear? Who was afraid of Virginia Wolf?

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

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

haps happen, I'm not sure how,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We made it.
I know where this is.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get back on,

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

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

Pay attention, watch, you shall see

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

in a dime coffee at the drug store on the corner

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

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

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

Did that happen the real real?

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

allaye allaye outs in free

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

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

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

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

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

Shall we imagine

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

or agree? Make peace.
Practice, like Eazy-Bake,
the cook must swallow the first bite. May the best cook win.
A continuing examination of opposing forces when good is the goal, who could be against that? The old word war is festering, inflaming evil to start a try, therefore,  I whet the edge and swing wide
Mateuš Conrad Dec 2015
poet, or philosopher, it doesn't really matter which is which, or whether the two are indistinguishable, notable in the former scenario, when someone has an eclectic bounty of interest is simply not love-scorned or love-nostalgic, love-idealistic, does it really matter? i was once called a philosopher: a teenage girl said in third person (as if she was a puppet and some-thing was moving her tongue): 'talk to this philosopher'... not in that sarcastic way that philosopher is an misnomer or an abused term of: self-gratifying grandeour, it was quiet genuine, but: imagine my shock... i had an ambition in life, it was to perform a service to thinking: without doing as much as hammering a nail into a plank of wood, that's the ambition of any thinking man: to borderline on telekinesis or telepathy... that was Hegel's modus operandi, his categorical imperative... after all: ego is a metaphysical tool, while thought is its metaphysical canvas... the mere suggestion that a copernican inversion can happen in physics "contra" metaphysics... it's already apparent, any word can behave like a hand touching the sacred object / subject of transfiguration and become something else, even a misnomer can find itself given solace to the user... for now i've forged a belief in the ultimate: away from the absolute in relation to omni in unum - one first has to learn to think, before having to learn to feel... mind you, i don't like the current nietzschean inversion of the cartesian equation: (ego) sum ergo (ego) cogito... esp. among the youtube political commentators, too many examples to give: i'm a classical liberal, i'm a progressive, i'm a liberterian... i don't really like seeing: i am, precede i think... i don't even like the origin-argument of this inversion: i exist for the sole purpose of thinking... after all: i think prior to being, since i can also daydream and not be what my thinking suspects as a possible truth-outcome... that's the nature of the freedom of thought: i don't have to be what i think, i can find thinking to be a pleasure, when the senses do not offer me any pleasure derivative, e.g. eating can sometimes be boring, chewing, chewing, *******... i eat because i need to live: i don't live to eat... i really have under-appreciated Hegel, i should really visit my grandparents for two months and read the phenomenology of the spirit: i'm trying to replicate the saying attributed to him (verbatim), but i doubt that i will, i don't have the patience to sift through all the quotes, but it goes along the lines of: beware oh wordly man, to not be a pawn in a thinking man's game... hence my suggestion of philosophy entering into the realms of telekinesis and telepathy: you get to see things play out and people express the origin story, of your own memetic generation of the original idea... how are poets finally alligned to philosophers? good thing that i studied chemistry at edinburgh university: we return to atoms, words are no longer enough, sure, they are, contrary to the statement...  (why did i under-appreciate Hegel? ah... had my head stuck up heidegger's and kant's *****...

  integration? great!
but i'll meet you halfway...
    i'll eat your fish & chips,
your englush breakfast,
  i won't sing your anthem: god save the queen,
****** anthem, too short,
but i will whistle through:
the british grenadiers' fife & drum...
like i might through la marseillaise...
i'll meet you halfway...
i'm not a former colony member,
commonwealth,
   i'm not some ****- paying bribes
to the british powers
to join in on a world cup of cricket...
this is what happens when immigration
turns sour...
they either lesrn the host tongue,
or they don't learn it...
or they can't distinguish the two:
speak polonaise at home,
speak the hosts' sprechen outside of it...

   if the ******* aren't suspect:
by not being bilingual...
the arab beatles... jihadi john...
          ringo star h'ahmed...
  george ali...
                paul mecca rashid...
oh i'll settle for integration...
but don't you ******* think i'll give
up my mother tongue
for "c.c.t.v." close-ups back home,
home being my private lodge...
like ******* will...
  i'll speak your tongue in public...
but i'm not ******* former commonwealth
****- riddled with a need to play
cricket, "forget" my tongue in order
to compensate for olives
              and sun-burnt bananas!

a former colony ****-**** is about
to dictate the rules for fellow
europeans, on the tram-ride from
Birmingham to Nottingham?
seriously?
        but of course the englishman
will favor the former colony pet bush-monkey
from sri lanka...
since the brit can't really dictate
to a fellow european his superiority
complex... which he can...
with a petted copper skinned
toy-ting...
who brought 'im a korma curry!
nice one, ol' laddy...
        right on the plonker...
                 i'm not finished!
                        i'm just getting started!

gehirnablassen:

perfectly respected immigration,
given that so many english girls just love
the attention their **** minders,
sexually abused,
not really making it as nurses
or... ahem... karaoke superstars
worth the while of britain's got talent
or voice of britain,
or...whatever the ****** show was
that gave birth to one direction...

so a.... brain-drain? good immigration?
the best!

i can sit awhile by myself and count...
1. the sparrows,
2. the swallow,
3. the starlings,
   4. the crows,
5. the magpies,
6. the pigeons,
7. the woodland pigeons
(fatter, with dog collars),
8. kestrels
  (one is enough to begin
the count)...
9. the blackbirds....
10. seagulls... seagulls?! 25 miles from
romford to southend! seagulls?!
this far in-land?! fair enough...
11. a robin...
                   12. goldfinch...
i just sit and watch these birds
in my garden, i sometimes spot
a darting frog in the garden,
i'm more english than the english...
i actually enjoy owning a garden...
the "english" surrounding me
exemplify a bbq. as a luxury parade...
what's so luxury about marinating
some meat, and then grilling it?!
please! enlightend me!

    gehirnablassen...
                   brain-drain immigration,
the type asiatic tiger-mums brag about
at child olympics...
   for the required rubric stature...
******* mothers, basically...

1. χaron χaos - cha-cha-cha       khaos
2. theaetetus - so / ma   letters / syllables:
     graphemes: sz phi theta
      compound syllables (caron s) - Na (sodium)
3. music choice...
       brain damage perturbator ft. noir deco
    virga iesse floruit, gradual of eleanor of
britanny...
4. pride / stubborness (not equal to) honour,
tolerating islam is not the same
as respceting islam...
   german 19th century fascination
with islam...
     θought and φilosophy...
   greek in warsaw, giving him directions,
talks: sounds so much like spanish...
5. england a nation of singletons,
idiosyncracy... social pressures in poland
and even in h'america missing in england
to marry...

1.

chamaleon tongue,                    shape shifter,
bez akcentu w piśmie - więciej akcentu poza pismem
(trainspotting scottish), welsh, cockney,
east london altogether, pakistani english, etc.
e.g. rather, or raver, i.e. not rayver
(someone who parties at night on ecstasy pill)
but ra'ver, like verging on a new discovery,
it's not even the = ~v but is actually v...
english is a chamaleon tongue, you say 'nostic
when you write gnostic, i say diagnostic,
therefore say gnostic, you say 'nome, i say gnome,
as cf. with diagnostic;
then there's the case of the per se:
you say chamaleon - no kappa there apperent, eh?
but there's chappie, chap, chuckles,
no kappa in a millionth chance
to also say nough'ledge for knowledge,
a bit like that gnome of yours...
as i said before: a language without
a written insertion of stressors / distinctions
will produce a massive array of diacritical
stressors / distinctions outside the written format,
but it will also become as complex as to
allow adults with learning difficulties e.g. dyslexia,
and that horrid internet slang of shortcuts:
i ate my 8 when i was late for my disco date
with the cha cha cha melon.

p.s. if there's a hay patch at the beginning, the nasal flute
will ask larry 'the lynx' saxophone to hark it out with rasp
gritting of phlegm... but if it's somewhere else down
the piccadilly line... it will act like a nudist spy and resonate
less than expected; probably mingling with f, i think.
Mateuš Conrad Sep 2018
. you're using all the right words: for all the wrong reasons... and let's face it: if women own the monopoly on reproductive avenues... then men hold the ego-key, to slot their presence, through a door, that curbs or gives allowances, to what is thought... *** was nether a transluçent enterprise... oh look... the Roma sigma pops up... dire straits: de profundis - money for nothing riff - boogie boogie... milkshakes from the 1950s 'n' all... you know what my biggest pet peeve is? the englih language imitating ancient Latin, i.e. not applying diacritical "punctuation" markers to close in on syllables and make the language atomic (i.e. H is hydrogen, He is helium)... **** me... the same Brits who lived in the 19th century, are not the same Brits living in the 21st century... no wonder the fertility rate is s ****** low.... try ******* an english bride... no thank you; i'd rather **** a female gorilla.

the milkman passes my house
at, circa, 3am...
see the van skid around the bend
up the hill...
            
i listen to music at volumes
equivalent to my father working
the construction site -
i'll be deaf by the time i'm 50...
     and guess what:
                  for the music i'm listening
to? it'll be worth it...

dittoing out:
   have the criticism of post-modernists
ever suffer?
doubt: doubt, is the modern
relief from existentialist
    negation...
  
why is doubt being attacked?
doubt is half than that outright
******* of denial
proposed by French existentialists...
doubt is good in that it's
tornado of emotions,
you want to imitate Christ on
Golgotha?
  you doubt, and achieve the pinnacle
of the passion...
you start negating?
     you're, nowhere...

    on your own...

came the noun-phobia of philosophers -
the tinkers and tailors
of a.. what seems to be:
a noun-phobia
  guaranteed with fog...
   and thing..

  the term
  "thing" presupposes
the supposition of tree...
     which subsequently serves
the proposition: let's hide in it!

      philosophy and its infamous
noun-phobia -
               thing...
           and it's nihil...
  its nothing...
      
                 a ******* cul de sac -
     epigram -
       of quasi morse encoding -
     braille to boot -
September is coming -
           van Morrison (moondance) -
hiding autumnal chill -
           pan-Europeanism:
proto-"africa": either in Hindustan -
or Siberia;

suppose a moon, suppose a shadow by
candlelight, some edgy urban solo -
as a bricklayer i could raise kids
and crux on a woman -
          chicken / doctoral itching with
a blunt nail are called scratchings -
       hand-writing:
             less digits in the digital
formatting - and more
calligraphy...
                      the rotten handwriting
of general practitioners...
     Hippocrates might have made an oath...
but in terms of a handwritten cipher?
no clue...
               the canvas of a monkey
onomatopoeia within the confines
of a custard of a lexicon...
   a mouth thus opens -
a month begins -
instead of a tongue ejected from
the ivory temple -
  a sludge crescendo of a quasi
                 cascade of sludge gluing the
whole theater into
a replica of a Russian drinking game...

....                 ⠞⠓
          ...     ⠑⠁⠑
     ...           ⠞⠑
    ............                  ⠞
...                      ⠥ ⠎
     : : :           -  ⠎          
   ........ : ....           ⠕?

100 wolves of the continent...
for, but 1, fox,
of the English isles...
   i'll settle for that ratio...
and then i'll bite to ensure
a signature!

  howl all you want...
but have you ever found seagulls
annoying up the river?
more annoying than magpies
or crows?
             the wolves can howl
all they want..
ever endear the ear
to hear a fox "laughing"?
   no?
  might as well listen to me.
i cradle that sound,
above the chariots
of a human newborn...
        i grieve!
   i am... sombre gsture...
    a past, a passing,
a future, a wicker man within:
torch...
   banquette of souls!

    let's interlude -

   touko "tom" laaksonen -
    how can people "do" sober
           when entertaining such
extravagances....
        is it empathy, or sympathy?
            in the name of the either,
with either being the sum
of what wll never be a sum
allowance,....
     to gain from...
                  why not
       ****-ease up the ****
    for a zeppelin-esque
                            bomb drop -
(minor the Nagasaki) -
                    and hand-piked ****
with the cusp of your hand -
         throne of thrones -
  flagship?
   "king of kings":
  like ****...
  the holy trinity of
       the no. 1, as the no. 2,
   and subsequently the no. 3:
**** (father),
       take a **** (son)...
            ******* (the holy ghosts)...
king of kings,
never sat on the throne
of thrones...
   i always hated "artists"...
    painters -
   plagiarists -
      cheque sketchers...
             plagiarists...
         ******* indentation
from holding a pen to add to having
exposure to a grammatical examination...
       quality cinema:
panorama take on a versus of
heavy editing...
                     and there was a time
frame to encompass dialogue...
      somehow it fits:
the verbal myopic -
            the entire pre-
& post- canvas of a blinking eye...
   always the question of the
pre-industrialißed sketch;
words predating metaphor
akin to  -
  words versus metaphor
in genesis -
   format? anecdotal.

      in writing:
            by one hand alone,
made into two...
        my, my...
  what a ****** self-portrait
"assumption"...
        a self-portrait...
a wish for color,
with nothing to show,
but the relief of encompassed bones;
that become a disembodied
skeleton - minus a purpose
of tendon attachments...

∟          "contra"    Δ          -
equilateral my ***...

            a few days spent within the confines
of a Promethean *****,
     there be, elemental insomnia
of an electric bespoke...
if Prometheus stole fire,
who, in in all for ****'s sake
stole the saber of Zeus,
the thunderbolt -
electricity, who?
who craved the insomnia?!
             this Frankenstein-esque
insomnia-zombification -
             white as is white:
with all the dermatological
copper take on broken shins...
         should ivory coco -
come between piglet *** copper
auburn in terms of autumn...
******...
             *******!

take your ****** *** elsewhere,
and then... start spelling
it with a missing G...
when citing Niger...
  you do the double dip of the NBA...
you count the second dip...
why do i love Batman as the best
superhero?
  not of his superhero powers,
he has none...
          his enemies are
the only interesting
counter-factoids of
having implemented an existence
for.
   there is no exacting of
a superhero,..
   but there is enough
to mind an antithesis...

          tylko wieśniak
by wydział film w tym,
          bo sie nie rusze -
    cegła, kamień -
       pień - mur -
           i by mówił - w tym
co zamarzło -
          to co ostygłe -
    w co z tym samym -
        meine filmisch -
      i skakaniem świec -
   od i na nagim cieniem -
   pytać nad pyche -
       tanz! tanz!
                 moje iskry słów...
   sto! i lat,
    o wielbłąd churem o
grzbiet da, i da,
       iskra; alfabetu!
    bogiem impromptu
o czym warty: -gień.


- suppose a moon, suppose a shadow,
by candlelight - within the confines of
mercury - that quickened silver -
some edgy urban solo -

      as a bricklayer or a cobbler  -
shoes that deviate from ushering
an echo -
          i could raise children and keep
a woman: only if she decided
upon not allowing me
a leash -
            what a saddening affair
of minds and freedom...
           chicken doctoral -
i don't know: vanity of the impossible
mortal gain...

    the monkey onomatopoeia
    within the confines of a custard
of  lexicon....

          that Victorian image proof
source of envisioned Braille in
the confines of a primate...
  
handwriting:
itches, scratches, chicken esque
clucking... which is what
handwriting looks like these days,
what, with the coding...
    semi plumber,
half the electrician...
  and certainly null when it comes
to calligraphic invigoration...

- homosexuality was always a contingency
escapade to release suppressed yearnings -
a sudden but a non-fulfillment questioning
celibacy...

               you can enforce curbing homosexuality,
but then there are two outlets...
the perversity: or the question...
of Ayn and Sophia...
                          
        greeks ****** the hebrews in the hole
without an outlet - zee heed: with a missing A...
      Ayn - Aleph -
                    twin Adam -
          perhaps a Siamese abomination...

mind you... the forbidden fruit?
sounds more like... the forbidden flesh...

thee burdensome walking
the already burdened earth: as the fruit,
somewhere between the flesh of man's last predator,
contained, on land, and his hidden desire
for revenge and introspection,
a denial of commonality and shared purpose -
thou shall not consume
that which also hunts you -
little or no concern with equal
     measure of forbidding, that which you pet...
the forbidden "fruit",
in between the flesh of a sabertooth tiger,
and Cain's fruit of famine and incompetence:
               cannibalism...

   and why would you think about
drinking a ms. amber with pepsi...
pepsi! to coca -
and not slide in a slice of lemon
while you're at it?
  terrible mistake...
       well... one way to get y'er vit amins...

        and why is it that all the best
movies these days are about homosexuals?
the dutch girl for starters...
   me, drinking, watching t.v.?
either **** good drama,
a western,
   or a movie about a *******
homosexual...
          did i mention that i think that
homosexuality is an auxiliary escapade plan?
natural, of course,
    but i'd hate to have to life
a doubled up life -
then again...
     perhaps i would...
           me? i have a new girlfriend -
Sophia - and her ****: Philip -
           so am i expected to make demands
for the child they might end up
called Ayn, or Aleph?
                - the Wahhabi hypocrisy
    concerning music, or rather, censoring it...
but... but i thought the adhan:
the call to prayer: was sung,
rather than abiding by the catholic
credo murmur?
     no?
                         my bad... you know better...
i'll send you a postcard from
the Galapagos Islands,
if i find the time, to find:
    that 4th dimensional concept doing
the trigonometric shoom! elsewhere -
on a tangen "bias": **** knows where -
like a comet - missing a tail -
shoom!                                       gone.

shrapnel:

            not enough thrills for a hard-on...
... images... drawings...
   apparently fine art is not enough
stimulation to ******* to for these Arabs...
****? .....   in general?
cartoons.... cartoons of women....
   ... because?
well... apparently the niqab...
  extends beyond the realm of...
  readily available attire...
            women on the street?
   pornographic "actresses"?
                       you see the cartoon?
it's all ******* ******...
                  oh don't get me wrong...
amy adams?
  buff as an exploding Hindenburg...
    the pale ginger - milchskin...
                - unrelated:
   how about i sneak a skunk into
        a coco chanel perfumery -
while advocating that people will still
call it a: scent just shy of roses and strawberries.

- people have heard of incels -
but have they heard of Vcels?
    huh?!
   yeah, yeah... voluntary celibacy -
i know what a ****** sounds and looks like -
and, to be honest?
   there's hardly any rhetorical ***
involved -
         a bit like jerking off...
              monkish chants -
Byzantine -
     the fear of man,
   when his own inability flourishes:
     in a woman...
                          
these acts have become well trodden...
so well trodden that i'm
authentically surprised that anyone
would still goosestep them into
their mundane plagiarism's existence...
    replica invigoration:
turns out...
    
   zeit ist nicht gerade, aber
kreisförmig
...

                              touko "tom" laaksonen...
i.e. tom of finland...
   question: you think a macron over
one of those As
                     would do the trick in terms
of spelling correction?

  touko "tom" laaksonen...
you seriously can only watch European cinema
while drinking...
    again... invigorating the english language:
one baby step at a time -
a simple grapheme -

    the vater's S Z interchangeability -
   synchronised contra synchronized -
    settled -
    synchronißed -
                       sometimes the slithering S
of a snake -
   otherwise the rigid totem with
a torso of a zebra...
                     hardly a major investment -
but when i see English having moved
from the Elizabethan Shaky Steward of
thou etc. -
       imitating ancient Latin -
    coordinating the Greenwich study of
dyslexia...
            Joyce...
              no diacritical application?
   hell...
                 might as well release a bull
into a China shop...
                 or a rottweiler into chicken shack...
still... why is there an orthographic aesthetic
in practice, hovering over I and J,
  when there's no difference, as suggested
in CAPiTAL letterIng?
                                       ah... i see...
the english "think" they can bypass the para-
frontier, and the orthographic frontier
and race down to the metaphysics...
        first?
   you explain why it's i and not ι,
  and why it's j and not ȷ.
curlygirl Nov 2014
Find a Poet Not a poser, not a "it's just a hobby" poet. Find one who mumbles lines as they scramble for a pen at breakfast; who shakes their head randomly when their thoughts aren't rhyming properly;  who has notebooks stashed around the house that you must never touch.
2. Listen Savor the spoken words, for those are harder to express. Keep in mind that they can't be edited and re-written, and be forgiving when a mistake is made.
3. Read The body speaks as loudly as words on a page do. When their eyes are closed or focused on the ceiling and the fingers are tapping out syllables, recognize the unique process. Respect the need for quiet, because if you look closely, you can read the poem on their face before they write it on the page.
4. Write Write your story together. Grab hold of the pen and hang on as you move across the page of life. Sometimes you will dance across, others you will be dragged. You may have to cross out a word, or a line, or a page, but don't give up. Discouragement is a poet's biggest enemy, inarticulateness their biggest fear. So end each day with a semi-colon, because the story will never end the way you think it will, and there must be room for more. There is always room for more, more words, more laughter, more tears, more love,
When you love a poet.
Joshua Kirby Dec 2014
Nature metaphors
And descriptive similes
All fail to capture
How sweet and lovely and good
And desirable you are
unknown May 2014
******* sprinkled with diamonds
That's life in seven syllables
Can we find the diamonds
They're so minimal
I find them in my shoes when I step on ****
and I always feel like it's not ****
But I suppose I'll keep them in my pocket until I slip off the edge into hell
My friend had a blessing and cursing sort of situation and I replied with "Life is ******* sprinkled with diamonds" and decided I should actually write it down and came up with this.
Julia Oct 2017
If this were a haiku, I'd have
seventeen syllables to explain
why I'm running
out of syllables
to tell you why
the doorknob,
and not between my fingers,
is where your hand shouldn't be.
Message Delivered

If that sounds confusing,
it's because it isn't,
and you're only confused because I
proofread the text messages
and you forget words,
but it's like you forgot "you"
after "I" and "love,"
and you just never thought to put it back.
Message Delivered

I checked the date
and you missed
Monday morning in Lowry
and the morning before that in Farmer Boy,
and we've got a whole calendar
of affections that you're missing
because you opened up
to a month too far back
and now you're in love
with moments that forgot you
Message Delivered

I’m holding out for cycles of goodbye kisses
and I only got them
when you woke up,
and i’m not sure you ever did again
because you’re living
in sweet dreams
that are quietly bitter
and your ideas don’t love you
like you’ve convinced yourself you do.
Message Delivered

If I could go back
i'd give you space,
i’d break my own heart
not listening to the sound
of your breath
as you fall asleep next to me
but you're finding shelter
in broken affection
afraid to be alone
forgetting
who you are in
familiarity,
in Her
Message Delivered

I’ll fall asleep tonight,
and wake up tomorrow,
the same way I did yesterday,
thinking of something that wasn’t,
or maybe really was
and praying I could fall back into that dream
but sleep isn’t quite that easy,
and blissful ignorance
is granted only to the few
Message Delivered
Erika Soerensen Jan 2015
She rebels against the horrors
Of life,
To live life on
Her
Own
Terms.
Riley Ayres Jan 2014
Crystallised syllables.
Words fall from harsh tainted lips,
like a syllable of crystallised black,
Caressed at the touch of fingertips,
encouragement seems to lack.

A heart of steel encased within,
the shattered depicted glass,
I pray that you forgive my sin,
End this forever song fast.

Your life is plainly satisfactory,
demeaning in all you do,
waterfalls of crimson refractory
broken, diminished, by you.

Wicked and nocturnal eyes,
return your weary gaze,
reflections hard to visualise,
incentives gone for days.

Leave emotion to drown itself,
in this scarlet river abyss,
place your feelings on the shelf,
and give me one last kiss…
Aj Jan 2018
you are words.

you are crashing syllables that drip off of wilting rose petals and each letter is a star. you make up constellations while foreign galaxies drip from your lips. nebulae dance across your angel-shedded skin and particles of the sun hide under the freckles resting on your shoulders.

you are life.

the wonders of the cosmos that swirl in the pit of your lean and golden tummy, finding solace in the way you breathe in and exhale the energy of the universe that you created in the beating passage of my worn-out soul.

you are the universe's child.

and the stars that accumulate under your skin will explode. i'll inhale the stardust and debris, letting the particles of life that you emit pollute my bloodstream.
constellations dedicated to a lover who lost his way.
DJ Thomas May 2010
Hi, below I copy a humorous hiabun, which I shared as an exercise to mentor enquiring and inspired poets to learn, so they might adopt and try different techniques and then give critique together with awesome comments... Yes, I used the words ***, ****** and **** for context the rest was left to an individual imagination as in good poetry!

It included reflective commentary encompasses innocent classification terminology used in the critique, reading, examining, appreciating, understanding and writing of poetry for example: POETIC DEVICES (enjambement, duality, keriji, images, collocation, semantic, oxymoron, repetition, listing etc.), STORY (personification, characterisation, subject, context, voice etc.), IMAGERY (synaesthesia), STRUCTURE ( lineation, breaks, syntactic etc.), SOUNDS (syllables, rhyme, alliteration, pace, musicality, phrasing, beat, assonance, onomatopoeia, mouthed rhythms, patterned) and WORDS (preposition, determiner, verbs, adverbs, lexical, nouns, adjectives) used by poets, critics and academics...

And here it is :

****** tongue-in-cheek haibun - a reflective commentary on writing a popular tanka

Eye lashes flicker
a shared urgent interest
parting - dancing smile


My first inspiration was ***, passionate life squeezing screaming ***, the thumping wall musicality of ***, exhaustingly inventive sweaty and wet.

I wanted to make it a senryu but for duality the female characterisation demanded two more lines each extending to seven syllables.  

Arousing images captured her moaning splashing loneliness in unusual collocation.

I was first excited by the placement of a hovering extended enjambement to give life to my final line, whilst also considering the satisfaction in using noisy mouthed rhythms.  

I believe I easily hid the wet aroused context with a watery semantic field, that suggested she would choke and drown.

So in my last line I had ‘pleasures’ as a cutting keriji to make clear the dominating ****** context, having previously used a preposition and determiner to maintain duality!


Exhausted shivers
in windowed naked currents
unfolding sinking
then surfing vital wavelets
drowning screams - pleasures wet bite




copyright©DJThomas@inbox.com 2010
joe chekanowsky Mar 2010
Temperature raised.
Five bone shiver syllables.
Parent. Haiku-er.

Diarrhea-ing.
Five winter sick syllables.
Parent. Haiku-er.

Projectile *****.
Five flu season  syllables.
Parent. Haiku-er.

Temperature raised.
Five kids splash in backyard pool.
Haiku-er. Parent.
David W Jul 2014
10w Haiku**

Fit a thousand thoughts —
In seventeen syllables —
Behold! My struggle.
Andrèa White Sep 2014
Her hair was long
Down to that place where *** just barely meets back
The place his fingers linger
Every time she says goodbye
The place where two tiny dimples make up for the fact she never smiles
Long like the days he spends
Wondering if she's happy at home
wondering if she's just as good at pretending to be in love
As she is at pretending not to be
Like the time he spends waiting for a sign from her... or of her
Long like her absence in his bed
He hears her laughter in his head
He'd settle for hearing her name

Her hair was thick
Like the way his tongue feels after a midnight pack of camels
She says she doesn't smoke anymore
But she does
Because she says a naked man can't smoke alone
It looks funny
Thick like her thighs
And silky smooth when they graze his stomach
Like his great grandmother's accent
He doesn't understand her but finds comfort in the texture of the syllables

Her hair was strong
Like her conviction
Her determination to stay at home where she belongs
Though she longs to be with him
Strong like the coffee she brews
Because she's too rebellious to measure anything
Coffee grounds or consequences
Like his addiction
His compulsion to reign her in
To keep her in his bed
In his heart
In his head

Her hair is dark
Like her eyes
Black pools that reflect her black heart, rotten soul
Dark like the way she makes love with the lights off
Because then she can make him into anybody
Whoever it is that she wants that day
Dark like that space between waking and dreams
Where everything is mixed up and nothing like it seems
Where he reaches out to touch her and finds only hair
A few strands on his pillowcase to remind him she was there
He finds them everywhere
Last night he found one wrapped around his big toe
He freed himself but found it hard to let it go

She says she hates to wear a ponytail
Like she doesn't want her hair to look like a horse's rear end
And he's just a ******* for letting her go again
Most certainly a work in progress. Kinda how I hope my lover thinks of me.
Tail turned to red sunset on a juniper crown a lone magpie cawks.

Mad at Oryoki in the shrine-room -- Thistles blossomed late afternoon.

Put on my shirt and took it off in the sun walking the path to lunch.

A dandelion seed floats above the marsh grass with the mosquitos.

At 4 A.M. the two middleaged men sleeping together holding hands.

In the half-light of dawn a few birds warble under the Pleiades.

Sky reddens behind fir trees, larks twitter, sparrows cheep cheep cheep
       cheep cheep.
      
                                        July 1983

Caught shoplifting ran out the department store at sunrise and woke up.

                                        August 1983
Ron Sanders Feb 15
(Glade, World, Master, Boy, Hero)

                                                 GLADE

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

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

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

                                               WORLD

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                              MA­STER

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

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

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

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

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

                                                  BOY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                HERO

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

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

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

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







Copyright 2020 by Ron Sanders.

Contact:  ronsandersartofprose(at)yahoo(dot)com
Sorry about the ghastly copy. This system makes graceful formatting impossible.
September Apr 2013
Unspoken syllables still saying the story
that I can't comprehend with an earlobe
and an ear-drum,
with a bass-drop, ego sum, meticulous amour.

Hand dancing
Prancing like Bambi as she creates
assorted laughter and the stars control.

How beautiful,
with a bass-drop, ego sum, meticulous amour,
the language is a mountain of another planet Earth
all spoken in

Sign language
Poetry.
again, written with kyran.
Kate Little Jan 2011
With generosity of time and care
He teaches her about the things he knows.
Such as a couplet is a rhyming pair
And how a sonnet ought to be composed.
Pentameter iambic is the key
With accents, syllables and scansion too.
It seems a huge and baffling mystery
But bit by bit he gives a hint. A clue.
“It helps to tap your fingers on the desk
To count the syllables and hear the beat.
For some this seems bizarre and quite grotesque
But listen hard and count along. It’s sweet!”
          A teacher true who cares for flawless rhyme
          I thank you friend for giving me your time.
A Sonnet

Words by K A Little 2011
All Rights Reserved
Mackenzie Murphy Dec 2012
There once was fellow
Of whom I was rather fond,
But there was such an idiosyncrasy,
That he cheerfully donned.
It was adding this boy was drawn to,
But not just numbers,
Such as two plus two,
But syllables, like bill·a·bles.

His lips would murmur
As mine would speak,
But I'd stand attentive,
Tongue in cheek.
Every syllable I would say
Would be counted
In every single way.
"Could I have a glass of water?"
"That one was eight"
"Come on," I said
"You're ruining our date."

I grew weary of having
To deal with
The incessant word adding;
And so I decided the thing to do,
Was to take it up
With my obnoxious beau.  
"What is it with the counting and computing of all my confab
It's neither dashing nor is it longer dazzling
In fact, It has turned to be rather drab."
His face contorted to the most cruel of expressions,
As his mouth went to conference one of its many confessions:
"You know babe,
Well first order is first,
That was thirty-six,
And nervously dispersed.
And secondly I must say,
When it comes to alliteration,
You tend to get a bit carried away."
"That's preposterous!" I plustered, providently provoked,
I do not choose clusters of complementary chords,
To do so would make me choke!"
As these words left my mouth as I spoke,
My beloved's face grew rather amused,
And my face flushed a fluorescent fuchsia,
When I realized his reckoned ruse.  

And so it may seem that the other
May be wrapped up in some insidious blunder,
Yet please do consider,
That you yourself can be guilty of some other habit,
In which you do plunder.
Mateuš Conrad Sep 2016
the form might be that of a poem, but to be honest,
it has nothing poetic to it -
                  i wanted to feel angry -
to vent anger out,    i drank during the daytime:
daytime and drinking?
                                                       ­         bad idea.
                               daytime drinking
and fasting and smoking
and coffee? a doubled-up bad idea...
         but i wanted to feel
a wrathful voice... i got bored of my otherwise
gentlemanly attire and what not,
i wanted to waste my tongue into
anger... best propeller of the act?
drink during daytime...
                          when night falls,
the lazy one comes out.
                   consider this -
some use language to encrypt, not
to to simply memorise rhyming and
bounce bounce the bubbly pink ball
on stage...
                    Pavlov's lapping tongue
of a dog overheating -
             philosophy deals with
double phonetic encryption,
                  that's a psychological reevaluation
of what language is, from the standard
of the three tier cake:      consciousness,
                                      s­ub-  " and un- "    -
again Christianity plays a great deal with
the point of a trinity -
                               that's the secular version,
a populist version for each individual
regardless of the church's credo -
                    but as i was saying:
philosophy deals with a doubled variation
of phonetic encoding:
                      primarily for one reason:
this is primer for idea forming -
               isn't it?
                             the first level is that of
being able to read the encoding -
   like a music score...
                                   to write a s k
              and then say the word: ask.
but the second tier of encoding sound is
to translate it into optics -
                   the basis of idea forming -
not the basis of making sounds, but to peer
more deeply into any sort of narrative -
sometimes a single word can pull
the gravity of thought
                                 away from the narrator
ego, and into the realm of the id:
        which doesn't narrated, but
    conjures up ideas: to me the source of
all "magic" formulae -
                          here again, a classic plagiarism
working on the basis of a trinity -
          i dare say dualism is so unfashionable
to most people, as is monism -
             people prefer triangles to explain
their psychological life,
          and circles to explain the physical life...
   dualism is out of fashion that
it would seem to be more (dangerously) fashionable
to be of split-mind - but never mind that -
romanticising any medical condition is
a faux pas.
                                i was spurred on
by reading a review of O'Hara's poetry,
namely the poem sardines -
                  the reviewer writes how the poet
'actually writes his poem by breaking down
language into its most basic units - words.'
well... technically this is where the other point
of phonetic encoding comes in, the third tier...
words aren't as basic as you might think -
they reside in the realm of meaning,
but also a realm of being bound to a thesaurus -
(apologies, i'm not trying to be pedantic,
  you might see where this might be going,
in terms of sharpening the point of
               what's language and
the basics of language - yes, a niche topic,
as usual, pedants ahoy)
                          words are components
(or compounds)... letters are units, akin to
mathematical digits...
                          but then again,
kilometres are units -
                                 as are miles and hours...
surely then if worded
                   the representation would be that
of a/z                             rather than
                                   p/o/r/r/i/d/g/e          
      a/z seems like a better basis for unitary
conceptualisation of language
                        using a, b, c... z as the basic
units of language... yes... much more so than words...
            because the third tier of encoding
is based primarily on letters,
                                       yes, we know the
plight of the Palestinians, but the Jews have something
i want, and use, quiet frequently,
although with variation - there's no
              toying about with gematria -
i don't accept this method of investigation -
              i find absolute futility in it -
not that i can't grasp it, but i find it useless -
         it's this third tier where ideas are formed
without any distinct orthodoxy -
                           so:
tier 1. phonetically encoding a s k to say: ask
tier 2. phonetically encoding a s k to think:
                                      what am i going to ask for?
tier 3. phonetically encoding a s k to then
            (primarily) venture into encoding
                                              a s k i n g f o r p a t i e n c e.
we're not dealing with Chinese ideograms,
    we're dealing with a linear juxtaposition encoding
   e.g.
     a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p (q r s t u v w x y z)
the bracket? i first learned the English alphabet
as a sing-along... to my memory i forgot the rhythm
of the song (i was 7 at the time) and subsequently
             the rest of the sequence... but that doesn't
necessarily mean my vocabulary suffered because of it...
still linear juxtaposition encoding, as above, only
         n y m p h  (x y s t)
                             a b c d e f g i j k l o q r s t u v w x z
                   (a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r u v w z)
                                           e x o t i c s (friz)
          a b d f g j k l q r u v w x z
                              (a b c d e g h j k l m n o p q u v w)
                 ...
                                    
     ...
                         (b c e g
                                                            - interlude -
   well, technically, you could say that diacritical
marks are used for the purpose of dissecting
words into syllables, that's not to say
          latin compound fixations on meaningful
  prefixes, such as: aqua-        or omni-
                   (yes, the etymological section
of the dictionary is the most interesting part
of that book - as counter to Darwinism,
                     or something less intrinsic with
visuals, and focused more on a shorter history
of mankind, the less ridiculous time-frame,
         or history without Alexanders and Socrates -
                  SS... the English hasn't fixed
the notation of pluralism here...
            something akin to ß      or σ          or     ς
                    is begging to come out of this problem...
lets just say the ending variation of sigma denotes
the plural, so, etymology, or history without
       Alexanders and Socrateς / cruder or more
masculine Socrateç... Tess' - as in: it belongs to Theresa)
        as Plato noted, i too, like Socrates
are investigating how my name ought to be written,
by the looks of it, from what i discovered
               i apply diacritics as syllable identifiers,
or: how to cut words up -
   ergo? even though this is not orthodox,
my name, should be written as
                   Máteuš -
                                               the acute a
stresses the cutting up of the word, i.e. the first
syllable is identified, primarily because diacritics
stress non-prefixes, i.e. simpler variations of
what a prefix is (a loan word), or a sound that
has an ancient meaning, for example pre-
or pro-, meaning the word was forced into the shackles
of being accompanied by a hyphen
when the ancient tongue disintegrated and its grammar
was no longer adequate to accommodate
the barbarian tongues of the north...  
so it has come to this: diacritical marks are not
exactly aesthetic concerns where not writing an
acute o but rather u is displeasing to the eyes...
      it's about seeing where the syllable incision has
been made... shame the English never adopted it...
but then again: the Empire blah blah blah, Star Wars
blah blah blah... special relationship with America
blah blah blah... that old chestnut -
                  or can anyone forget their eccentricity
of doth and         all that Canterbury *******?
   or even Shakespeare's English?
                                  i'm on it... well,
apologies... internet encrypting, acronyms and
eight and L8 for late. it was never adopted -
        and never will be... ****-naked Charlie
and ****-floral-naked Angie...
              sitting in a tree, one two, one two three.

  - post-interlude -

              (b c e g...
                                           i really can't be bothered
   trying to finish this little scrabble -
           i mean, looking up words
                       so i'm left with the last possible letter,
or no letter at all...
                                  what with
    the six vowels a, e, i, o, u, (y)
                                                  nymph as a word (though)
is the closest you'll get to the pronunciation of
     y (why)               in                   Polish...
                            ny-                 or -ymph
                                 obviously cut off the μ and φ...
but if you're really bored...
                  you could probably finish that
little game... for no reason, whatsoever -
        as already stated i'm more interested in things
contained in the interlude, but then again games like
this provide the capacity to abstract and return
with actual application of an idea.
I

What new element before us unborn in nature? Is there
        a new thing under the Sun?
At last inquisitive Whitman a modern epic, detonative,
        Scientific theme
First penned unmindful by Doctor Seaborg with poison-
        ous hand, named for Death's planet through the
        sea beyond Uranus
whose chthonic ore fathers this magma-teared Lord of
        Hades, Sire of avenging Furies, billionaire Hell-
        King worshipped once
with black sheep throats cut, priests's face averted from
        underground mysteries in single temple at Eleusis,
Spring-green Persephone nuptialed to his inevitable
        Shade, Demeter mother of asphodel weeping dew,
her daughter stored in salty caverns under white snow,
        black hail, grey winter rain or Polar ice, immemor-
        able seasons before
Fish flew in Heaven, before a Ram died by the starry
        bush, before the Bull stamped sky and earth
or Twins inscribed their memories in clay or Crab'd
        flood
washed memory from the skull, or Lion sniffed the
        lilac breeze in Eden--
Before the Great Year began turning its twelve signs,
        ere constellations wheeled for twenty-four thousand
        sunny years
slowly round their axis in Sagittarius, one hundred
        sixty-seven thousand times returning to this night

Radioactive Nemesis were you there at the beginning
        black dumb tongueless unsmelling blast of Disil-
        lusion?
I manifest your Baptismal Word after four billion years
I guess your birthday in Earthling Night, I salute your
        dreadful presence last majestic as the Gods,
Sabaot, Jehova, Astapheus, Adonaeus, Elohim, Iao,
        Ialdabaoth, Aeon from Aeon born ignorant in an
        Abyss of Light,
Sophia's reflections glittering thoughtful galaxies, whirl-
        pools of starspume silver-thin as hairs of Einstein!
Father Whitman I celebrate a matter that renders Self
        oblivion!
Grand Subject that annihilates inky hands & pages'
        prayers, old orators' inspired Immortalities,
I begin your chant, openmouthed exhaling into spacious
        sky over silent mills at Hanford, Savannah River,
        Rocky Flats, Pantex, Burlington, Albuquerque
I yell thru Washington, South Carolina, Colorado,
        Texas, Iowa, New Mexico,
Where nuclear reactors creat a new Thing under the
        Sun, where Rockwell war-plants fabricate this death
        stuff trigger in nitrogen baths,
Hanger-Silas Mason assembles the terrified weapon
        secret by ten thousands, & where Manzano Moun-
        tain boasts to store
its dreadful decay through two hundred forty millenia
        while our Galaxy spirals around its nebulous core.
I enter your secret places with my mind, I speak with
        your presence, I roar your Lion Roar with mortal
        mouth.
One microgram inspired to one lung, ten pounds of
        heavy metal dust adrift slow motion over grey
        Alps
the breadth of the planet, how long before your radiance
        speeds blight and death to sentient beings?
Enter my body or not I carol my spirit inside you,
        Unnaproachable Weight,
O heavy heavy Element awakened I vocalize your con-
        sciousness to six worlds
I chant your absolute Vanity.  Yeah monster of Anger
        birthed in fear O most
Ignorant matter ever created unnatural to Earth! Delusion
        of metal empires!
Destroyer of lying Scientists! Devourer of covetous
        Generals, Incinerator of Armies & Melter of Wars!
Judgement of judgements, Divine Wind over vengeful
        nations, Molester of Presidents, Death-Scandal of
        Capital politics! Ah civilizations stupidly indus-
        trious!
Canker-Hex on multitudes learned or illiterate! Manu-
        factured Spectre of human reason! O solidified
        imago of practicioner in Black Arts
I dare your reality, I challenge your very being! I
        publish your cause and effect!
I turn the wheel of Mind on your three hundred tons!
        Your name enters mankind's ear! I embody your
        ultimate powers!
My oratory advances on your vaunted Mystery! This
        breath dispels your braggart fears! I sing your
        form at last
behind your concrete & iron walls inside your fortress
        of rubber & translucent silicon shields in filtered
        cabinets and baths of lathe oil,
My voice resounds through robot glove boxes & ignot
        cans and echoes in electric vaults inert of atmo-
        sphere,
I enter with spirit out loud into your fuel rod drums
        underground on soundless thrones and beds of
        lead
O density! This weightless anthem trumpets transcendent
        through hidden chambers and breaks through
        iron doors into the Infernal Room!
Over your dreadful vibration this measured harmony        
        floats audible, these jubilant tones are honey and
        milk and wine-sweet water
Poured on the stone black floor, these syllables are
        barley groats I scatter on the Reactor's core,
I call your name with hollow vowels, I psalm your Fate
        close by, my breath near deathless ever at your
        side
to Spell your destiny, I set this verse prophetic on your
        mausoleum walls to seal you up Eternally with
        Diamond Truth!  O doomed Plutonium.

                        II

The Bar surveys Plutonian history from midnight
        lit with Mercury Vapor streetlamps till in dawn's
        early light
he contemplates a tranquil politic spaced out between
        Nations' thought-forms proliferating bureaucratic
& horrific arm'd, Satanic industries projected sudden
        with Five Hundred Billion Dollar Strength
around the world same time this text is set in Boulder,
        Colorado before front range of Rocky Mountains
twelve miles north of Rocky Flats Nuclear Facility in
        United States of North America, Western Hemi-
        sphere
of planet Earth six months and fourteen days around
        our Solar System in a Spiral Galaxy
the local year after Dominion of the last God nineteen
        hundred seventy eight
Completed as yellow hazed dawn clouds brighten East,
        Denver city white below
Blue sky transparent rising empty deep & spacious to a
        morning star high over the balcony
above some autos sat with wheels to curb downhill
        from Flatiron's jagged pine ridge,
sunlit mountain meadows sloped to rust-red sandstone
        cliffs above brick townhouse roofs
as sparrows waked whistling through Marine Street's
        summer green leafed trees.

                        III
                        
This ode to you O Poets and Orators to come, you
        father Whitman as I join your side, you Congress
        and American people,
you present meditators, spiritual friends & teachers,
        you O Master of the Diamond Arts,
Take this wheel of syllables in hand, these vowels and
        consonants to breath's end
take this inhalation of black poison to your heart, breath
        out this blessing from your breast on our creation
forests cities oceans deserts rocky flats and mountains
        in the Ten Directions pacify with exhalation,
enrich this Plutonian Ode to explode its empty thunder
        through earthen thought-worlds
Magnetize this howl with heartless compassion, destroy
        this mountain of Plutonium with ordinary mind
        and body speech,
thus empower this Mind-guard spirit gone out, gone
        out, gone beyond, gone beyond me, Wake space,
        so Ah!
        
                                        July 14, 1978
Tom Leveille Mar 2014
2002:
today i kicked the door
to history off it's hinges
my jealous frame:
still too proud to say a word
it seems my folks forgot
to pencil in growth marks
cause they thought their boy
would never grow out of small breath
******* dead, years now buried
and i bare his name
too many syllables
for my father to go back
fish & play football
to stand in the yard and play catch

1994:
my mom, the bombshell in retrospect
broke her back in her sleep
a thousand times
since the stairwell in 87'
she still sits for spills
post nuclear about settling
now from the couch
she's a weather report
spouting nonsense
that makes my father
grow grey, crack remotes
& slam doors to dark rooms
abandoning ship
for "cheers" & "scienfeld"
while my mother
sometimes forgets
and sets his place at the table
and my appetite is abducted
by family photos
my mother says things like
"go see your brother today"
-- Johnny's long gone
don't you remember?
we buried him
the day your smile died

2014:
you are inches from me
******* a stray hair
caught in the fabric of your coat
the last remnants of a dog
we laid to rest last week
and here we are
in the hospital again
people don't shake like dogs
finality is found
in the eyes of humans
passing archways
into shallow rooms
where plague and prayer
are the only songs sung
round the stagnant clocks
it makes me wonder
if the clipboards cry
over being the last thing
someone ever writes on
take a number, have a seat
stay a while
i am back, 7 years old
& there are different doors now
they buried the ones
you kicked in that night in '92
when my lungs
were filled with holy water
you never stopped smoking
*i never grew out of asthma
Jed Oct 2012
Smoke in the summer Forget
about the winter Ash glows
like sunsets Tried it once
before Coughed till I couldn't
anymore Asthma is the worst

Once bought a soft pack
My cigarettes were soggy Buying
hard packs now What the
**** is that In my
skinny cigarette Change about fifty

Go outside the joint Ask
around for a loosie Bumming
cigs is hard Tender cigarette
After a sucky *** daze
I want you back now
((5-7-5)*2)*3 stanzas/(5 lines^5 words)
Connor K Jul 2014
One, You transform my dreary gray rain clouds into sun scented perfume. So intoxicating it makes my knees tremble. So sweet you could ****.

Two, The idea of you is my alarm clock, at dawn my eyes snap open each morning, I am petrified to miss a single moment, I want to see your face.

Three, Your laughter is a babbling brook I am fortunate enough to swim through each time I tell a joke. The water is perfect.

Four, The stars prefer your eyes to their celestial abode, I know this because ever since you came around the sky cannot quite compare anymore.

Five, You make me unsure of my words. Sounds I thought could compare to symphonies get caught in the butterfly net of my throat.

Six, There was no Shakespeare until you smiled. No genre defining works, no Romeo and Juliet, No love so true as what our smiles share.

Seven, I pay attention in physics if the question were when you play with your hair how many times does my heart skip a beat. The answer is how many times my heart skips a beat.

Seven, I can't count so well with you around. You see numbers don't feel sufficient next to the abstract art within your eyes..

Eight, I'll fix that later. I don't to abandon this moment here with you.

Nine, They say love is blind but I don't care if I see clearly. You were a sight so bright I should be blind.

Ten, You stretch the silence so thin that my syllables may finally stand next to soliloquies.

Eleven, Nine soft syllables, You are my muse. I think I love you.
Mariya Timkovsky Jul 2012
What’s in a name?
It is what turns heads
It can cause a quiver in your body
Or a smile to curl onto your lips.
A name can be tarnished
Or reborn.
It can make you stand out from the crowd
Or join the masses.
It is more than what society deems
A socially acceptable form of
Introduction.

So let me introduce myself:
I used to feel my name in harsh syllables
Rooted in the language of my people’s history.
MAR or MIR meant bitter.
Like having the wrong taste in your mouth
Reminding me of MARor –
Eaten on Passover to remember how burdensome,
Difficult and bitter the Jews’ slavery in Egypt was.
IAM (YAM) – ocean.
Tumultuous, never still.
Always swirling and scaring children out of it.
MIRIAM – my Hebrew name.
Bitter sea.
I grew into that name resentfully.
I reacted when I was called that by fellow classmates,
For what else could I do?

But time went by
And I began collecting seashells by the seashore.
The ocean became a treasure and my name
Had a new ring to it.
Yet when eighth grade graduation came around I was given the option
Of writing Mariya instead of Miriam.
I was going to high school where I didn’t know anyone.
So no one needed to know my bitter past.
I also learned that a name was not made up of syllables
But of sweet sounds.
Mmm – like the taste of something so delicious your eyes close
And you feel yourself melting.
Aaa – you’ve just finished your meal and on this hot summer day
You find solace in the cool water running down your back in the shower.
Rrr – racing, running, reaching for the sky.
That’s the sound I want my plane to make when I can hold a piece of
Cloud in the palm of my hand and feel its silver lining.
Iii – the sound of “and” in many languages. The sound of something more,
Reminding me that this is not the end.
Ya – the sound of agreement and conclusion. As if that is all I have to say…so yeah.
Lía Sep 2014
They call me Ghetto.
They call me
gunfights and drive-bys,
pregnant teens.
They call me Poverty,
and concrete winter walls
splashed with blood-red
graffiti.
They call me
junior-high druggies
and gang-banging muchachos.
They call me Mexico
like it’s a ***** word.
They call me Ghetto.

But haven’t they seen through
the white-washed walls
of the
“American Dream”?
Don’t they know hurt
and suffering,
imperfections
and neglect,
as well?

So call me Mexico;
call me Poverty;
call me Ghetto.

I am
run-down yards
filled with laughing brown children,
small apartments
bursting with the scent
of tamales,
mingled with joy and the chatter of relatives.
I am home-made tortillas
at Thanksgiving
and wrinkled hands pounding masa
at Christmas.
I am friendly smiles
and shouted jokes
followed by roaring
laughter.
I am the lilting syllables
of a beautiful
culture.
I am comfort.

They call me Ghetto
and so I am.
Juliana Dec 2012
Let’s make vulgarity beautiful
for a couple seconds.
Dwell on the ******* gimmicks of language,
the shock value of mixing syllables together,
the stupidity of poetic “terms”.
I’ll tell you about my hate for
******* clichés,
****** overused poetic devices and word pairings
that ruin the fun for all of us.
I’ll lay down some ground work here:
too many minutes of my life spent
trying to count syllables ,
rhyme words,
analyze and alliterate annoying argumentative articulations.

You know what?
**** alliteration, assonance and consonance,
bastardisations of the brilliance of poetry.
Destroying all appreciation of something so fine
at such early age,
with red pens,
poor introductions,
and misconceptions falling out of every ******* mouth.
Reused and recycled clichés
trivializing the beauty of rain,
that stomach hiccup when you see someone you like
the actual emotions that fundamentally make us human.
The over-judgemental *****
who can’t write for ****,
think they’re high and mighty,
overusing these feelings with the vocabulary of an eight year old,
giving us poets a bad reputation.
**** those *******
with their dark souls
empty hearts and
broken dreams
**** them over cups of cold coffee
in vintage mugs
snapping in a low-lit jazz café.
Sonnets, haikus and ballads aren’t the only forms of poetry,
nothing has to rhyme,
I shouldn’t be graded on my ability to be a thesaurus.
******* teachers narrow-mindedly give us
“creative writing” homework
that's not creative,
like the colour green.
I don’t see how they can judge poetry,
perhaps how it flows and word choice,
but I have an extra syllable
and purple doesn’t rhyme with anything,
**** me right?
Because purple is the only word which
accurately portrays what I mean,
excuse me if I pronounce this differently
rendering my iambic pentameter to ****.
I didn’t deserve a B.
*****.
Poetry isn’t something you can confine to four walls,
it can’t be truly ugly,
it can be the sort of ugly where your mum doesn’t want to put it on the fridge
but she keeps it until you’re satisfied,
and then she trashes it,
but it’s not ugly.
Remember that poetry is supposed to be beautiful,
*******.
Forget about that *****-*****-***** who ******* you over,
that ******* who didn’t say thank you or
that ****-faced ***** who should go digest a bag of *****
and write something worth reading.
Something that will makes eyes wander back to revisit phrases,
admiring the careful craftsmanship
that translates into something universally beautiful.

The moral here is that
poetry is an art to be mastered and
no one has yet to master it.
Some have come close,
and not all of them have used alliteration,
similes about the heart,
metaphors for love,
binding syllable limits
or rhyme schemes.
Whoever told you otherwise is a raging *******
who doesn’t deserve even the lowest paid *******.
Don’t be afraid to use taboo words;
it's your writing and anyone who doesn’t like it can *******.
Despite the irony,
vulgarity can be beautiful.
http://poemsaboutpoetry.blogspot.ca/
Valsa George May 2016
Unexpected…..
So unexpected was the meeting
It was in the dim candle light
of a city restaurant that I saw her
How time had etched its marks on her
The long dark curly hair
has turned all white
The even set of pearly teeth
now discolored with missing gaps.
A weeping willow with gnarled branches!

Did she recognize me?
Her searching eyes registered
a limp awareness
Soon I saw her cataract eyes shining
in unclouded recognition!

My memory like the arm of a crane
lowered to plough up the hard crust of the past
and rose with heaps of broken rubble
I nosedived into the past
to the little village
where, as children we ran round
the long necked shady trees
until our little heads went dizzy

Stealing behind the tall grass
how I would suddenly yell out;
‘The thief is in hide
Come and track me if you can’
forcing on her an arduous search,
all the while giggling at her vain efforts!

How we ran after the ripe mangoes
that fell in ones and twos
when the winds shook the fruit laden boughs
and how we quarreled over the yellow ones
like mongrels over a piece of bone

I remember once when the drizzle
suddenly strengthened into a heavy down pour
with thunder and lightning accompanying,
how we ran dripping and frightened
seeking shelter in the empty cow shed
at the backyard of a house,
clasping tight to each other!
She was then a little girl
with springing feet and dancing steps
naïve and naughty with all mouth and ears

But as time skipped by
she kept a safe distance
No more I saw the former ebullience in her
In its place, a quiet reserve settled in
The chatterbox no more opened her mouth
To my questions, her answers were mono syllables
My efforts to walk by her side
always ended in futility
either she would quicken her gait
or lag behind at snail’s pace
Seeing me somewhere
she would walk away with eyes down cast
But I always noticed a faint smile
lingering on her curved narrow lips

Around it, I built my dream castle
where she reigned as my dazzling queen!
I am not sure how it was with her
One day even without an abrupt goodbye
I had to leave my hometown to an alien soil.

For long, she came, sailing in my dreams!

After a couple of years when I returned
to the land of my childhood
the mute witness to my unuttered passion
I knew from a close friend
that she was forced into a marriage
much to her consternation!
She is reported to have confided to someone
that she hoped the ‘thief who stole her heart
would one day, come out of hiding’

We met again
We heard each other’s cracked voice
and stood unable to recollect all

Much water had flown down
under the bridge
And we floated in the rush of currents!
This poem has to be understood in the light of the highly orthodox milieu of an Indian village of the time between 1960's and 70's when no computer or internet facility was available. There was a lot of segregation between the sexes and no free mingling was allowed. So there was no open expression of love. In a society where arranged marriage was preferred, even falling in love before marriage was seen as a taboo !
Jayantee Khare Aug 2017
A poet was in the closet,
the doors tightly closed.
With the bunch of syllables,
dormant in own world.

Once a fairy gives a knock,
opening the block,
the poet lets her in, and
keeps the syllables in lock.

The fairy sleds
in his heart's depth,
makes the syllables slept,
and the poet swept.

The fairy wants to go high,
takes the wings to fly.
But the poet,
could not rely.


The closet smashed,
she breaks open the door.
The dreams crushed,
the poet lets her go.

The poet, wounded, sad,
leaves the broken closet,
with a bunch of syllables
steps in the poetic world.

The river of emotions flows,
the oars of syllables, he rows.
Frightened by the sharks,
on an island, he embarks.

The land of "Poetry"
with a single giant tree,
Sheltering many castaways,
tired of gloomy days.

Greeting each other
With a warm "Hello!"
Showing each other
a nice way to go!

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

I.

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

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

II.

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

III.

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

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

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

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

IV.

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

V.

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

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

VII.

oh god... the one time i don't take
a beer for a walk, coming back
from the supermarket...
and i pick up... this genius:
genius... tortilla wrap...
    falafel + hummus + a hint
of mango chutney (with a tease
of arugula leaves)?
            **** me... who needs
beer... if not a bottle of mineral
water... to accompany
taking a walk?
Lizzy Apr 2014
I'm very tired
And it's very late at night
My thoughts keep me up
It's getting harder to fight

I think about my failures
And everything I've done wrong
How I **** everything up
It's all a familiar song

My words are getting literal
I can't disguise my guilt
The hatred for myself
In every direction it's built

Well rhyming gets so hard
When I try to write my mind
Because I'm unable to find the words
That could shed light

Even without a rhyme or a rhythm I find it hard to articulate these dangerous thoughts I have. As many writers do, we have this sense of frustration because no combination of syllables can really portray the emptiness and sadness that lives in us. Styron called it "melancholia", but not even that will suffice.

— The End —