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Poetic T Jul 2014
Tag your it, as they fall to the ground
They run for cover,
Any place to hide, not to be found,
Tag your it,
Screams heard all around,
Peering slowly around
As but by a hair, a body hits the ground,
Tag your it
They lie motionless tagged.
Blood drips warm from a cold mouth,
The tag still sticking out.
This game of fun, with ****** in mind
Are you the strongest to survive,
Running with tag in hand
You tag those around
Body count rising,
Less and less to tags to be had.
Who will escape the tag, left standing
As all those fall cold to the ground,
Tag your it,
Penetrating my body
Pain,
Anger,
Blood,
You missed, as I tag them in the throat
They die before they hit the floor,
Blood soaked leaves, green now red all around,
Where many stood, now the few
Players of a game where the fun is to survive.
#pain #tag #death #fun #anger #screams
Michael Joseph Nov 2018
Sa tag-init tayo nagkatagpo dala ang uhaw
nais mapawi ang pagkatuyot sa tag-araw
mga lalamunang di nadadaluyan
hanap ay tubig, mga umiibig sa lamig
sa daloy ng awit ng mga Ipil
at sa mga aalalang nabuo
sa bawat paglagok, sa bawat isa
mga alaalang nabuo sa tag-araw.

alaala pa ang pagpalakpak ng mga dahon
minsan lang masiyahan sa pagpapalit-panaog
ng tag-araw at tag-ulan
panga-pangakong binuo sa ilalim ng araw
pinagdarasal ng mga kahapon
di pa rin nalilimot,
mga tuyong ugat ng mga pusong sawi
sa pag-ibig na tubig sa tag-init
minsan lang magkaniig

dahil ikaw at ako ay minsan ng nanirahan dito
bumuo ng mga alaaalang impit na itinago
sa ilalim ng mga punong saksi sa mga uhaw na puso,
sa marahang pag-indayog ng mga dahong maririkit
sa bawat pag-ihip ng hanging mainit
sa katawang binalot ng mga sala
at sa bawat pagbabalik sa alaala
ikaw pa rin ang tanging nakikita
sa bawat paglampas ng liwanag
sa maririkit na butas ng kahapong
sa ilalim ng ipil nakatago

Heto na naman ang tag-init
hudyat ay muling pag-udyok
sa uhaw na pusong may pangangailangan
tuyot ang daloy sa bawat paghinga
sa bawat pag-ihip  kulang ang haplos
bawat hagod ay paos.


Alaala ka sa mga sinag ng araw
umaalpas sa mga dahon ng ipil
mga hapong napawi ang init ng tag-araw
nakakulong pa rin sa mga alaala
sa ilalim ng punong puno ng pagmamahal
sa kahapon at ako na di pa rin nagsasawa

sa ilalim ng mga Ipil
maghihintay sayo

Sa Ilalim ng mga Ipil
Michael Joseph Aguilar Tapit

04/11/2016
Mystery Girl Oct 2018
I guess it's my turn now
Tag, you're it
Hey
I miss you
Our signature phrase
We crossed paths
At the wrong time
Not quite able to handle
The potential we had
Tag, you're it
I ran from you
Instead of being open
Honest about my feelings
An emotional game of hide and seek
Tag, you're it
I'm sorry I didn't
Trust you enough
Or trust what we had
Tag, you're it
My feelings never left me
Light bulbs never went out
I'll always love you
At least I think so
When I read
All the things we
Wrote to each other
Out of love
And spite
Tag, you're it
I wish things were different
But the past is the past
Can't change what's done
Tag, you're it
Now come and get me
butterfly Aug 2017
ikaw parin tinitibok ng puso ko
ikaw parin tanging nasa isip ko
ikaw parin pinapangarap makatabi sa gabi
ikaw parin hinahanap pagkagising sa umaga

ikaw parin kahit malayo na
ikaw parin kahit iba na
ikaw parin hanggat humihinga pa
hindi magbabago pag - ibig ko sayo

tag - init,
tag -ulan,
tag - lamig
tag- lagas

mahalin ka parati
araw at gabi
inaasam palagi
iisipin sa bawat sandali

tag - araw,  tag - ulan
tag - lagas, tag - lamig
pag - ibig ko ay mananatili
sa ilalim ng lihim
ako lamang nakakaalam at ang buwan
Echoes from the Heart
Robert Guerrero Oct 2018
Tag your it
Hey
Four days later
Tag now your it
Hey
A year goes by
Tag
I miss you
A month slips by
Where did we go wrong
From hourly messages
To random replies
Few hour conversations
Random philosophies
Sharing stupid little funnies
Hoping our jokes would chisel a smile
From the same path
Torn in different directions
Tag your it
I really miss you
I shouldn’t have let you go
I made excuses for myself
When my own problems
Got the best of me
There was a level of distrust
Etched into us from the beginning
Why did distance have to be the issue
Tag
I don’t know why
Your stuck in my head
Never touched
Never kissed
Yet I was always blessed
When your voice was the last thing
Whispering sweet dreams
Before we said goodnight
Tag
Always finding myself
Stuck asking questions
Hoping someone will give me answers
Yet I’m the only one asked
And the only researcher looking for clues
As I pass time flipping through pages
Scrapbooks filed in my head
Your voice still an echo
I have conversations with
When I’m lost in a daydream
Wishing this game of tag we play
Wasn’t the only way I could keep you
Forever in my life
Tag your it
Maybe now I’ll either find closure
Or find another step into insanity
Stephanie Lynn Apr 2014
my mother has blue eyes
but I'm still a ******
my mother has blonde hair
but I'm still a ******
my daddy is black as night
but I'm still a *******
my daddy has ***** curls
but I'm still a *******

I call this hash tag the struggle
because to be biracial is nothing
more
because to be biracial is nothing
less
than a struggle
to find who I am
to find who I should be
to find who I'm supposed to be

i really wish they were the same person
i really wish you understood hash tag the struggle
but you don't
and you won't

so stop telling me about my
good hair
and stop telling about my high
yellow skin
and stop telling me my parents have the fever
and stop staring at me when I
walk in
and stop trying to guess which parent is black
and stop trying to guess which parent is spanish

No

I'm not Spanish.

No

I don't speak Spanish.

No

You CANNOT touch my hair

Yes, my nose is in the air
Of course I think I'm the ****
Because I live my life trying to be better than women who are dark skinned ...with something I was born with
...out of my control
Of course I try to flaunt my plush lips around the white girls who get botox
who then become the have nots because I've stolen all the brothas hearts from the city and the boondocks

See you don't even know me
but you think these are my goals

see I call this hash tag the struggle because nobody understands the trouble in being whole
when you're given two halves
that don't match to patch up one soul
and you're born into a ****** up mess still expected to know

and they tell you to ignore them all
be yourself
race should not define you
but I can't even fill out two ******* boxes on a standardized test
because you are only allowed to check ONE to describe you

hash tag
**TheStruggle
Just venting on what it's like being black and white.

(C) Maxwell 2014
SassyJ Mar 2018
As the skies square in perfection
some egos are wiped by a storm
A scent of love forever meander
as my eyes follow your pastels
guided by truthful rights and heights
hand in hand, tag on tag, eyes arise

Let me hunger and thirst at our table
Caressing the gentle breeze of summer
Kissing the utter, priming the matters
Lead me martyr to the shiny grail
where promises are lifelong mists

Let free flow thunder scare the fears
Show me how to root aliveness
racing the twine,mending the torn
For an eternal stroll on valleys strong
where love speaks and rules in truce
as the hymns of adoration and trust   hum

As the moon square in perfection
some egos flow with torrential rain
As my eyes wander to lock on yours
gazing, racing, saying all there is
guided by truthful rights and heights
hand in hand, tag on tag, eyes arise
There was a time.....
SassyJ Jan 2018
As the skies square in perfection
some egos are wiped by a storm
A scent of love forever meander
as my eyes follow your pastels
guided by truthful rights and heights
hand in hand, tag on tag, eyes arise

Let me hunger and thirst at our table
Caressing the gentle breeze of summer
Kissing the utter, priming the matters
Lead me martyr to the shiny grail
where promises are lifelong mists

Let free flow thunder scare the fears
Show me how to root aliveness
racing the twine,mending the torn
For an eternal stroll on valleys strong
where love speaks and rules in truce
as the hymns of adoration and trust   hum

As the moon square in perfection
some egos flow with torrential rain
As my eyes wander to lock on yours
gazing, racing, saying all there is
guided by truthful rights and heights
hand in hand, tag on tag, eyes arise
Umm there was a time
Becky Littmann Aug 2014
"Look Up" by Gary Turk is a poem I've recently watched / read
& it's message was SO powerful, it's now forever in my head
So deep, well spoken & extremely true....
I hope you'll share it, I know it'll be a lasting impression on you
This video poem & it's message has inspired me to write....
.....guess I'm not sleeping tonight....

Kids nowadays
Entertain themselves differently from my childhood ways
This is what we've become to be
Can't go too long 100% electronically free
Fresh air & drinking from the hose
Have been lost & forgotten I suppose
Of course fresh air & hoses still exist
It's their simplicity that's being overlooked & missed
Kids imagination is becoming rare & isn't creative anymore
Far, far less than all the kids in years before
Glued to some form of a screen
Hours in a line they'd rather wait, the newest game they feel
The parks are all much too quiet now
Their fascination no longer fascinates somehow
playground equipment empty & bare
& it's seems like everyone really doesn't care
The weekends are slowly turning into just another day
With marathons of endless video game play
Not even one foot stepped outside
Instead, like a hermit,just staying inside
Sunshine wasted daily & ignored easily
My opinion...it should be enjoyed worry free & regularly
Go play a game of hide-and-go-seek
& try to start a winning streak
Or how about some good old Red Rover, Red Rover
...Who will you decide to "Send Over"
Maybe it'll be on your secret crush
Just be careful not to blush
Another game I loved to play
Cartoon tag, HURRY & SQUAT what character will you say?!
There's so many games of tag you could choose
& fun & laughter you'll never lose
Like freeze tag or how about tunnel tag
NONE of them at all are dull or close to being a drag
Just one rule I think should always apply
Count to ten after tagged so instant "tag backs" won't cause a cry
Or you could play mother may I?
.....also I recommend giving Red Light, Green Light a try
NOW if sports are more your thing
A glove, bats, ***** & bases are something you should bring
Basketball more your style
Then bring a ball & shoot hoops for a while
If you'd rather just enjoy the day & sunshine
That too, is perfectly fine
Take your dog for a little walk
& bring a friend a long & just talk
Outdoors has so much to offer you
There is endless amounts of options for things to do
Maybe enjoy a scenic little bike ride
Or a new adventure you've always wished you've tried
A park isn't the only outdoor place you can enjoy
Your own swimming pool is a great too with an old tire tube toy
There you can play hours of "Marco Polo"
Or see how your splashes go
Just don't forget to wear sunscreen
Or your results will be red & burn, if you get what I mean
& always , always drink lots of water
Especially when the weather gets hotter
Staying hydrated is without a doubt the best
No need for you body's limits to be put to the test
Back when I was young & carefree
Inside was the last place I wanted to be
Sunrise to sunset outdoors running around
There were times where I even rolled on the ground
As day turned to dusk & the sun was almost gone
That's when the street lights came on
Ending my day covered from head to toe in dirt
& a grass stained T-Shirt
I had an abundant amount of fun
& hated having that day already be done
I was one of the boys for a long time
But smart enough to let them commit any crime
No girls lived on my street at first
& I thought that was just the worst
But I could easily keep up with the boys & their plans
Daily, I'd quickly throw on & tie tight my vans
Riding through all the empty fields & dirt mounds used to jump
Houses being newly built & just a wood frame
Look back now, we had so many adventures & no one of them the same
FINALLY a girl moved in, just my age too
I was excited to the max, more than she ever knew
Barbies was mostly our pick for entertainment
Even outside we'd play them, so many hours we spent
Lego forts we're sleep over fun, that's for sure
So many memories & good times I created with her

2014 is the current year
Children's idea for "fun" is something I fear
Technology is always evolving & growing
& its dependency is definitely showing
Instead of coming home when the street lights come on
Sending a text is the new tradition
Actual words are becoming eliminated
& ridiculously being abbreviated
Which is causing normal speaking to sound absurd
Sometimes it's too horrible & unable to decipher what you've heard
Thanks electronics for advancing & inventing a new language
Now we talk like we have severe brain damage
"Dats Cray, Cray she's my bae"
Uuuuuhhhh WHAT THE **** DID YOU SAY?
Translation: "That's crazy, she's my babe" is what they said
Seriously, they are sounding more & more uneducated
Everyone now has a phone glued to their hand
It's a new trend that I'll never understand
Electronically we're being defeated
Not realizing it's not always needed
Like on a beautiful day & the weather is just perfect
Don't close your blinds because the sunshine you're trying to reject
Instead shut off that power ******* device
Fresh air is waiting & the breeze is nice
Computer games & all those gaming console
Are just disguised as good clean fun but actually they're slowly killing souls
One by one
Until the last one is done
We're just slaves to our electronics
No longer needing hooked on phonics
Dictionaries were quickly replaced
"Just google it" is now popularly phrased
As the years continue to progress
Electronics will advance & more will just obsess
It is kind of like when you're scrolling through a social media board
Reading the latest status your friend posted & beautifully poured
& trying to put down your phone for a bit
But it only managed to last a minute
Not a single change, how lame
So you hit refresh over & over but still nothing changed
All the while hoping some things would've rearranged
Desperate for some kind of excitement or some entertainment
Staring at the screen
Which displays nothing new to be seen
You're wasting your day
You don't want to forever live this way
Missing adventures you could've had, but gave them no chances
A screen brightly glowing hypnotized you, not allowing any reality glances
It puts you secretly in a trance that will mesmerized
Forgetting to blink, helpless they become are your eyes
Don't let it get to that part of no return
& remember what, a long the way you did happen to learn
Control your mind & don't let technology completely drain you...
Electronically free let's you experience all the possibilities you can do
All the new things you can try
...As long as you occasionally disconnect from WIFI
Sorry it's so long
Katelyn Arnold Jan 2016
Chloe's POV:

2 Days Before -

“If I find you camping, I swear to god, Chloe ******* Price –“ Rachel challenges, “– I’m drawing blood. Don’t grin at me. I’ll leave you for the vultures to snack on. Maybe for cannibals too.”

“**** me with a plastic light up gun? How threatening.”

You know when you’re listening to the instructor reciting the rules for the game of laser tag for the nine thousandth time, and there’s the teenager ******* around in the background with guns? That’s me and Rachel, who holds a gun up to my face and makes a reference to the Star Wars Family Guy episode where the storm trooper pretends to shoot down passerby ships by saying, “Pew, pew, gotcha!”

Both team vests, red and blue, are occupied so it’s a full game. Even though we were one of the last people to come in, we managed to get opposite colored vests. Rachel is on the red team, while I’m on the opposing blue team. Only natural since the vest matches my hair color.

When the instructor opens the door, the crowd piles out into the room booming Irresistible by Fall Out Boy. Rachel and I are one of the last ones out, holding our guns up towards the sky as we walk in feeling like we’re walking away from a huge explosion acting like we’re James Bond. As the vocals of the song begin, the red and blue vests come to life beginning the game.

“Pew, pew, gotcha!” Rachel coyly replies, rushing off as my vest dies.

Insert groan here. I roll my eyes, darting quickly after Rachel as my vest comes back to life. Rachel ducks down behind a purple glowing pillar, holding her gun out from behind it to shoot me as I come up the stairs. “Your shooting is so messy, you idiot.”

Someone takes out Rachel’s vest, and my vest is taken out immediately after hers. What a way to start this game. “******* it.”

“Have you even gotten anyone yet?” She yells as she darts off.

A group of kids in red vests come upstairs. I shoot at the vests from the second story, and they glance up angrily at me as their vests die. They invade my hiding space shortly after, and I’m forced to flee over to the other side of the arena into one of the walled-off areas with a hole to shoot out of, specifically for campers and for recharging vests. Immediately, I crash into somebody who drops their gun and grabs my arms instinctively because of how hard I slam into them, pushing me back gently. “Are you okay?”

The short-haired brunette girl I run into is drop-dead gorgeous, freckles peppering her cheeks. As usual, I don’t think before I say the first thing that comes to mind. “Woah.”

“You’re making this too easy for me.” The girl comments, shooting out my glowing blue vest quickly after grabbing her gun and steps around me to find another hiding place. *******, I think, what hierarchy of angels did you come from? Why didn’t I notice you before I walked into this laser tag room?

Right. Because I’m on a date with Rachel. Or at least, I’m trying to convince myself that’s what this is. Five days ago, Rachel kissed me while she was drunk mostly because someone suggested the Pocky game at Dana’s nineteenth birthday party. I can see Rachel’s face coming closer to mine as she chomps down on the chocolate Pocky sticks oblivious to the closeness that I was to her face, and I feel her lips crashing with mine for a split second. It feels like I give her the entire world in that kiss, but she pulls back like it was nothing.

How am I the only one who remembers that?

I have to retreat from my camping spots a few times, but I get enough vests taken out that Rachel is guaranteed to say something like, “Oh, you got a pretty good amount of people in this round.”

Ghost by Halsey starts booming through the arena, and practically everyone must be thinking why a song like this is playing because it's slow at first but it reverberates through the bass.

“You’re camping too? You must be bad at this game.” Brunette-haired princess holds me at gunpoint. "Any last words?"

Again, I don’t think before I speak. "You're hella cute."

The brunette girl's vest dies as I shoot at her immediately after, and she shoots mine out shortly after hers turns on. Her doe-like eyes are staring at me angrily in a playful manner, yet also glistening like stars. There's something about her that makes me feel like she sees a universe inside of me.

The music briskly cuts off, and everyone stops in their tracks and fumbles out. Rachel and that girl get lost in the red and blue blur of lights as the arena starts emptying.

It isn't until I come outside that I find Rachel holding a slip of paper. "What was your name, Chloe? I was Rocket, and I got eighth place."

"Starlight, I'm pretty sure?"

"You got seventeenth. Knew it." Rachel joked. "You were camping."

Focus on the here and now, Chloe. You have to ask Rachel about your relationship with her. Stop procrastinating. Rachel's face drops in confusion as I drop the bomb on her. "Can we talk?"

Max's Journal:

2 Days Before-

Wowser. Felt like just yesterday, I got an email for my acceptance into Blackwell Academy on a scholarship. And now I’m an adult, graduated, with a potential photographer job under my belt.

With events such as graduation, it should feel vaguely melancholic but Blackwell Academy is an eye-catcher in my resume. My dexterity with analog and digital cameras catches the eye of a professional photographer named Jack Rousseau working for Hot Topic, and he asked me for an interview. ME.

When I got the email, I practically leaped into Kate’s room gushing over this rare opportunity to work with a professional. I think Victoria overheard me loudly discussing this to Kate, because she was giving me the stink eye all throughout my ceremony from the other day. Whatever. Victoria will eventually earn her spotlight…in hell. I snorted writing that actually, and blushed furiously remembering I’m on a pretty packed bus. Probably got people looking at me like, “Is she okay?”

The first thing my Mom does when she sees me is give me a bone-crushing hug, and compliment my outfit even though it’s a tank top with a large dream catcher printed on the front with my loose green jacket overlapping the shirt with the sleeves pulled up to my elbows. She asks about Mr. Jefferson, and I think I over emphasize how I’m his star pupil. I’m pretty sure Mom gets it after trying to explain that to her several times.

The house smells like spaghetti, and I’m already drooling like a baby when I walk through the front door.
Then Mom randomly hands me a 50$ bill, and tells me to go hang out with one of my Seattle friends since I must miss the crap out of them.

I accidentally say, “What the hell?” in front of Mom. Funny thing is, she doesn’t wash my mouth out with soap. I must be too old for things like that. Maybe this is what a perk is of growing up, I think.

“Come on, go have fun!” Mom practically pushes me out the door, not before letting me have some of her World-Famous spaghetti. Mmmmm. As I jump into my Mom’s vehicle, I realize I don’t know where the **** to go or who to contact so I head to the first place I can think of: Laser tag.

As I sit out in the parking lot, I text Kristen or Fernando to see if they want to hang out here. Usually, Kristen will text back immediately but there’s no response. Fernando seems to be busy, so I head inside myself and buy myself a wrist band for laser tag alone. Who says you need to be with other people to have fun? I’m an expert at laser tag. They call me the best shooter in the northwest.

The instructor looks overwhelmed at the thirty or so people flooding the room, and attempts to talk at the loudest pitch possible to get everyone in the room to listen to the instructions. Of course, there’s giggles happening somewhere over all of these tall and short bodies so I get the jist of it: No running, pushing, fighting, and yelling. We all know there’s running and yelling going to happen.

As I run in, I immediately head for the stairs as my rest vest turns on. Someone shoots me from behind, and I notice it’s a group of kids. Then I decide to camp out in a corner, at least, until I get caught.

I bring out my gun and shoot out three blue vests on the other side of the laser tag arena. The air gets knocked out of me, plus my gun flies out of my hand as someone falls into me. My hands instinctively grab their arms, pushing them off me when I glance up at her face, suddenly startled.

“Woah.” She says, and I feel like lightning passes through both of us as I let go of her arms.

Immediately, I shoot out her vest, rushing off to find somewhere else to hide. My body is racing with adrenaline, and it’s a little hard to concentrate on the game because I’m trying to look for blue hair. In this packed arena of thirty people, it’s easy to get lost in the blur of red and blue lights. It’s easy to see the lights blend into purple.

It’s ironic when Ghost by Halsey starts playing because the first few lines is literally making me think of blue hair: “I’m searching for something that I can’t reach. I don't like them innocent. I don't want no face fresh. Want them wearing leather begging, let me be your taste test. I like the sad eyes, bad guys, mouth full of white lies…”

****.

I find her tucked in a corner, mimicking me. And she’s gorgeous. I’m not sure why I am looking for her, but I am. “You’re camping too? You must be bad at this game.” I jokingly hold her at gunpoint. “Any last words?"

What comes out of her mouth leaves me off guard. “You're hella cute."

My vest goes out as she shoots me, and I shoot her back giving her a playful glare. And then something happens between us again, and it’s that jolt of lightning passing through both of us. The music cuts out, and I tear my eyes from the stranger and run out of the laser tag room by myself.

Once I get outside, I check my texts from Fernando and Kristen. Since they’re not replying, I decide to head on home, but my heart is still beating rapidly in my chest. And I’m not sure if it’s because of the game or blue hair.
Karl Gerald Saul Sep 2013
Minsan sa buhay natin,
kahit alam natin na tag-araw,
may iilang ambon o ulan na sa buhay nati'y dadalaw.

Sa pagdating at sa pagbuhos ng ulan,
May ilan naghahanap na punong masisilungan,
ngunit di katagalan - sila'y mababasa't tuluyang mauulanan,
pagkat di kaya ng mga sanga't dahon na saluin ang buhos ng ulan.

May mga nakahandang armas na payong naman ang iba,
ngunit mababasa naman ang kanilang mga binti't paa,
na kung minsan sinasabayan ng malakas na hangin,
na ang mga payong nila'y kayang liparin o sirain.

Ang iba nama'y sa pagbuhos ng ulan - nagagalak,
may parang lasenggerong tumitingala, sinasalo, sumashot na parang alak,
may mga batang masayang naglalaro habang naliligo,
na kung minsan nagtatampisaw sa mga inaipong ulan sa estero.

Kung ako ang 'yong tatanungin, ang ulan nakatalaga sa bawat tao,
Na kahit anong iwas mo - darating at darating ito sayo.
ang mga patak nito'y sadyang maliliit -
kapag ito'y patuloy na bumuhos, kung minsan ito'y mabigat at masakit.

Kaya ang tanong ko sayo aking kapatid,
Saan ka dito sa aking mga nabanggit?
Na sa unang pagpatak ng ulan sa iyong bumbunan,
Ano ang iyong gagawin at naiisip na paraan?
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.
Bo Burnham Mar 2015
I want to beat you to death with a blunt object.

I want to grab one of those high-end fashion mannequins by the ankles and bash your ribcage in.

I want to sharpen fifty pencils, bind them with a rubber band, stick the lead ends in your mouth, and punch the erasers.

I want to strap you to a bed of nails and then strap that bed of nails to the hood of my car so I can watch you suffer as we drive over speed bumps in a mall parking lot during an earthquake.

I want to burn your dog in front of you, mix his ashes with gunpowder, melt his bone-shaped name tag into a small metal ball, load it all into a musket, and shoot you in the face with him.

I want you to somehow survive a terrible car crash and then somehow not survive a small fender ****** on the way back from the hospital.
Nigel Obiya Feb 2013
We are a funny lot
As in, seriously… we delve into ‘funny’ a lot
Very rarely does a day go by
That I don’t come across something that cracks my funny bone…
Or as a Kenyan would put it ‘makes me just die!’
Body bag
The Kenyan
This specimen of human is always quick and capable of ridiculing anyone’s apparent "swag"
Everyone gets a turn here… so do not huff when you’re ‘it’
There must be a reason you joined this dissing game… this unique Kenyan version of ‘tag’
Just remember
The rules are simple, really
Keep it above the belt, unless upon exception...
They also clearly allow one to feign concession
Yes, these rules highly encourage strategic deception
Kind of like what our politicians do before the main election
But also if you paint a target on your back… you will get shot at...
By everyone… and I mean everyone
I haven’t seen anyone do that and elude the social media firing squad yet
Computers and phones in this case, acting as the internet's version of the bayonet
And watch closely if you’re ‘it’… for the inevitable, the friends that will stab you in the back
It’s bound to happen, as much as this may ****
The memes will come by the truck load… in what may seem like a self driven truck…
With a life of its own
Just ask Susan Mirfat
The most recently owned!
We’re a funny lot I tell you
Loose cannons almost
Our leaders’ shenanigans, our parents’ semantics and our own clownish antics…
Prove that despite…
How mature as a country we've become…
We’re still all just a bunch of children, inside.
Oh... how I love these clowns I call my brothers and sisters....

Follow this link to get a feel of what I'm talking about... http://www.nairobiwire.com/2013/02/how-kenyans-reacted-after-uhuru.html
Jose Remillan Jan 2014
Sinubukan kong bihisan ng titik at tugma
Ang ilang mga bagay-bagay na iiwan ko
Sa'yo sa oras na pumailanlang na ang diwa
Ng aking mga tula. Ngunit gaya ng dati,

Unos na dumatal ang aking luha, linunod
Nito ang mga kataga, muling nabalot ng
Hiwaga ang bawat saknong  na dapat sana'y
Malaon nang yumabong sa iyong pang-unawa.

Gayun pa man, manatili kang manampalataya
Sa kahulugan ng kawalang kahulugan ng daigdig
Na ito. At nawa, sa pagpagpag mo sa tarangkahan ng
Kahapon, buong pagpupugay **** idambana

Ang paulit-ulit ng siklo at sigwa ng ating pag-ibig.
Para kay Khiwai.

University of the Philippines---Diliman
Quezon City, Philippines
January 28, 2014
AntRedundAnt Jan 2014
love   apple   like   time   know   feel   heart   bed   little   life   home   red   boy   georgie   sleep   away   left   dear   ruth   gone   just   right   long   mind   hope   hair   mi   parts   say   fear   met   laugh   makes   sailing   make   tell   hands   day   poem   different   small   words   private   wish   legs   child   man   free   te   welcome   easy   apples   meteorite   smile   flower   want   way   arms   look   eyes   better   war   lie   good   thing   truly   teeth   passion   thought   work   seen   letters   friend   talk   brought   future   fingers   knew   imagination   sure   told   space   cold  la   mask   black   big   bite   age   size   shadow   petals   inane   stretchmarks   medic   we've   wouldn't   hear   tap   really   best   goes   face   gray   maybe   things   dream   tongue   forever   hate   set   room   death   need   truth   comes   night   lost   calves   pain   end   years   brings   touch   feet   blades   memories   new   core   times   dead   favorite   finally   minute   brain   hearts   getting   belly   far   rain   blue   knees   filled   stupid   woke   cream   fit   young   brown   se   fat   tan   cough   spoke   says   unlike   footprints   ******   rough   forward   buckle   blues   task   shoulder   grace   *******   reason   nostrils   firm   juice   palms   someday   mis   thumbs   screams   arguments   wobble   *****   elbows   *******   wrists   headaches   amo   pesky   ligaments   one-liners   thoughts   later   ash   clouds   lips   dreams   breath   mouth   hold   sense   taking   world   bit   speak   dance   gave   shall   ready   skin   air   single   breathe   button   peace   choices   hill   wrong   weak   close   use   quite   sky   phrase   darkness   justice   sound   unable   brave   holding   deep   grabbed   ****   try   building   paper   lunch   think   kind   stay   days   smooth   perfect   learned   care   fair   hard   grant   sweet   high   fruit   short   terms   kept   relationship   underneath   presence   water   looking   fool   sorrow   tree   second   delicate   nearly   happy   line   tall   tried   sad   satisfied   point   feels   falling   purpose   game   lazy   que   amor   agree   known   naught   loss   broke   failed   games   limp   grin   final   spring   act   south   flare   race   sake   car   large   wishes   neck   blink   knife   seeing   idea   steve   company   greens   spread   ship   lo   sally   sum   drowned   december   weep   sting   smiles   lessons   promises   successful   whistled   drowns   perfectly   pleasing   failure   brothers   cliche   harder   thirteen   ale   signs   limit   serenity   mundane   origin   chat   sapphires   handshakes   skinny   contagious   succeeding   super   refer   maturity   destination   civil   uncomfortable   collects   clack   liz   beatles   vez   attract   accomplishment   backside   throes   flaccid   audi   oneself   beastie   applesauce   naivete   bungalow   outie   there's   couldn't   isn't   they're   let's   'n   primos   primas   cantuta   fronton   redd's   mott's   innie   phallicly   tiny   fight   yo   para   walk   ****   hello   light   flash   silent   stone   does   forth   conversation   polite   green   minutes   ****   clear   flesh   couple   wake   anger   throw   torn   tangle   play   shattered   soldier   land   victim   carry   battlefield   came   darkest   blood   battle   warm   shine   reminds   lose   eye   dismay   hide   impossible   fast   earth   grab   stand   die   worse   year   people   white   story   hit   god   anxiety   realize   fall   asleep   dark   course   apart   morning   remain   beauty   ****   slowly   start   happen   remember   pray   past   easily   straight   mean   hand   driving   instant   thunder   messages   friends   old   coming   pen   seeds   shape   wasted   word   living   tore   shadows   knowing   bad   class   joy   trust   leaves   path   sun   ways   leave   meet   broken   head   weight   means   mountain   boys   true   stars   learn   sliced   naive   decided   player   actually   reality   ease   music   hood   desperate   promise   wishing   begin   miss   caressing   moan   thighs   heard   pretty   emotion   figure   floor   exotic   sand   hits   angel   awake   dreaming   probably   wins   seek   stretch   loved   tears   heartbreak   punk   walking   piece   furniture   unreachable   roots   near   deserve   simple   cats   tail   precious   lovers   loves   mother   tongues   clueless   share   taken   yesterday   faith   freedom   ripe   cursed   running   yes   unknown   feeling   going   stairs   opposite   wonder   afloat   packed   bones   acting   playing   wind   passions   dismissed   hourglass   reached   stares   mouths   singing   shaped   trapped   toll   dies   rock   trunk   discovered   especially   dull   choice   awful   patient   great   indoors   attached   thread   shoulders   warms   bright   bring   ending   drowning   sadness   winter   baby   looked   cute   beating   tight   kids   crying   ran   intoxicating   growing   saying   opposites   melancholy   gives   follow   clearly   dove   tu   soon   entwined   juicy   drown   laid   took   moved   bear   anyways   shirt   negative   clean   guide   sore   location   faux   nodded   glance   caught   chances   week   started   today   obvious   sweat   ***   quiet   laughed   worry   round   ladies   mama   smack   goodbye   rising   sides   wished   beds   infinite   positive   scared   admittedly   mistakes   meal   common   rises   toes   bullets   bound   suited   birth   clothes   belt   pounds   ground   barren   sitting   table   woe   swimming   stick   deepest   motion   cleared   sing   angry   action   sons   smiled   bedroom   wall   wiped   grins   mad   july   store   road   snow   pulse   important   adventure   exactly   foundation   trap   colors   floors   neon   outside   language   summer   north   fifty   served   wavy   kick   raw   thirty   row   changed   hanging   lied   drenched   companion   begins   strength   flies   direction   okay   stories   inky   stubborn   cloud   track   described   lover   replaced   pit   packs   circling   honest   wage   dinner   slave   paradox   faking   screamed   lightning   exterior   stopping   complete   deal   rifle   dependent   gifts   dancer   vision   students   horror   punch   anymore   pack   sagging   folk   honestly   tearing   prepared   creatures   listening   rhythm   unique   roar   card   glass   stage   desert   offered   fought   suffer   awoke   master   eating   furnace   glad   choir   graceful   *****   treasure   ships   bark   musical   strand   bee   finished   pink   slink   stronger   disclose   gravity   schedule   march   medicine   hates   weird   brush   laughs   helped   june   pitched   dumped   tense   sin   withdrawn   stem   proved   whispered   anew   amazing   louder   english   knocked   chilly   boots   false   mistake   toffee   whistle   smirk   gas   poised   buttons   bet   necks   elate  vi   bleak   decades   intention   plane   swollen   unseemly   en   sir   creeping   tells   success   doth   ***   balance   ant   fourth   fits   matters   pan   shook   tingle   dusty   reaching   thanked   careers   pile   tempt   ix   xi   xii   xiii   moms   hushed   spears   twinkling   works   fairytale   double   fighter   shocked   barriers   boot   thanks   solitary   lesson   owned   systems   groan   weekend   tomatoes   cider   calculating   drawer   partially   handy   stumpy   album   appealing   pet   unfortunately   jokingly   hotel   teacher   tag   eighteen   leg   dash   peep   betwixt   swear   attempt   inescapable   venues   worker   suit   coughed   remembers   rhyme   listed   chatter   stuff   assist   blocks   sheen   stanzas   jobs   cleaned   handshake   natural   moi   fantasy   cheers   smaller   curl   nay   leaning   frequent   eggs   cuando   el   desayuno   tus   beige   imperfections   difficult   darlings   overcome   oranges   keys   newfound   fairly   occasions   stats   ponder   pools   ablaze   rushes   fret   quell   breads   progress   comfortable   settling   desks   tile   trails   rainy   homemade   stunned   cemetery   plus   ideas   avocados   bananas   apply   latch   rocky   digress   experiences   vacation   sanctuary   earlier   rocket   precise   various   author   pie   explosions   *******   lighter   matched   plunged   isaac   jefferson   abe   measured   saturday   claw   welcoming   gear   trained   suffocation   leapt   gap   lee   disturbed   es   thrill   alarming   grill   frankly   importantly   una   fray   candied   amalgamation   nasty   american   optimism   guns   craters   contracted   rampant   unattainable   spilled   courts   carrots   shuffled   combined   blonde   forgave   artillery   sandwich   comfier   limitation   personalities   friday   strongly   crude   banana   tennis   limits   quaking   recesses   loot   andromeda   shells   playful   luckily   area   upwards   flail   largest   sappy   freckles   biology   fruition   cases   overtook   pinks   instruments   brownies   birthmark   reinforce   laptop   pirates   blinks   frontier   forwards   resonate   capacity   mumbled   marched   scraping   prompts   multiply   haiku   football   como   function   unfeeling   eighty   backsides   prompt   raced   blare   likewise   pro   chrome   gran   pears   puede   corazon   elated   indecisive   basketball   burgundy   synonyms   braced   effeminate   mutually   duties   companies   honeymoon   flailing   patted   mayo   headon   pero   misma   marveled   aforementioned   abhors   forefront   hesitating   identical   creepy   possessive   screeched   gotcha   infidelity   friction   barrage   nonetheless   disparate   itchy   apex   gettysburg   lunchtime   pickup   muchas   then   and   trading   distinguishable   pitches   bunk   ven   ladylike   encompasses   diagrams   underlying   spaghetti   soccer   trashcan   papa   disarming   finalmente   clashed   rosie   smirks   snapshot   pug   songbird   spitfire   yanks   thankfully   mesa   flexing   virginia   effectively   variations   eclipses   tambien   outrun   incident   vitamin   willpower   underdog   hardboiled   miniscule   checkerboard   entrust   siento   heavyweight   davis   thyroid   foreshadowing   frances   heresy   starburst   deficiency   sawing   peruvian   leche   antithesis   villanelle   alliteration   hora   vivir   clacking   droopy   whizzed   britney   futbol   parameters   disney   mangos   disproportionate   orbiting   tanka   stubby   intro   listo   goldilocks   teamwork   pbj   exemplifies   rey   retainer   tenia   triples   espanol   estuvo   castillo   ferrying   suficiente   racecar   dorky   garganta   veo   julio   peripherals   labios   rojos   foreseeable   frito   groggily   venn   macbook   inanely   hubo   goofball   you've   she's   weren't   wasn't   we're   others'   you'll   should've   haven't   what's   you'd   they'd   man's   boys'   god's   woman's   fruit's   orion's   newton's   lincoln's   adam's   momma's   ******   jackson's   audis   dulces   disproportionately   charon's   deseos   avocadoes   hailey   eran   beatles'   ingles   he   she   it   rackets   --   hashtag   sixty-three   duct-tape   joysticks   sherman's   15   6th   32   500   7th   2013   extraño   barenaked   tamales   6-year-old   tierras   derpy   ewell   rom-com   themit's   adan   mudpits   puddlepits   war--hell   culp's   shitpits   completaron   chocolatada   levantanse   duraznos   n'sync   huevo   cholitos   levantaron   manzanas   endurece   wozniak's   dispara   nuez   open-endedness   innies   cankles   dunder-mifflin   tunks   buck-toothed   outies   grief-blown   a-gawking
I uploaded all of my past work onto the site already, so everything from here on out will be new and original. This is sort of an experimental idea of mine: take all the words hellopoetry has tracked for me, put it down as if it were a poem, and see how it flows. It actually kind of works sometimes, but I'm not sure. I'm sure it's mostly terrible, but I wanted to try it. Let me know what you think in the comments below!
zebra Aug 2016
on the first date
she confided in me
i have a chromosomal disorder, disorder, disorder
i need love and pain strangely mixed together
my elixirs
i suffer reality distoooorrtions
a ghastly Vatican of ****** compulsions
my soul is black matter
my **** a seething cauldron of despicable desire
my *** cries for homicidal cruelty

mold me into a *******
fold me like a two dollar beach chair
the wrong way
tear me to bits
unwind my intestine
eat me like a blood ******* ghoul
make me squirm like an anime victim

i thought oh finally a soul mate
with soul

strange as a Dionysian mad hatter on hallucinogenics
hot girl creeping
grimacing at me
meandering conjurations by ****** contortions
stunning impersonations of a Fellini impaling
shes a famous artist
keeps broodish bowels and blood tampons in stainless vitrines
spot lighted
ready for her debut at the
Museum of Modern Art

she blows torrents of snot like ****
her beautiful desperate tongue searching the upper lip
a salty runny viscoses snack
oozy
finding it finally with her frenetic tongue
feeding her gooey ****
with wet fingers
oh yummy yum goo
up her *** too

first smiling then hideous scowls
exposed teeth
posing with a knife
wana see me cut my self bad boy, she taunts
wana see my impersonation of pizza with extra tomato sauce

blood blood *** in the be in the bed
wipe it up with ginger bread

some how she miraculously bulges her eyes out
then performs, ******* lips as if a minnow in a fish jar

pointing to her ***
giving me that **** hurt me twisted look
how about a peanut butter jelly ******* sandwich
with a side of ****** feet
**** and **** on toes
its especially prized this day of the month
as her **** tears like a vampires mouth, a torrent of blood
pouting **** with white red stained thighs that break a mans heart
*** nothing at all she quips
just a little accident
do you like it?
as she glares like an invitation
to play slip and slide bare foot in her puddle of blood

oh she made me *****
my cherry red **** having a nervous breakdown
from apoplectic horror gasms
a dose of heavens hell

i want her
she is voluptuous like a dozen venomous snakes
copulating in warm soup dark water everglades
she is slither theater

curdling screams
then muggling *******
brought on by the first belly stab
falling to her knees
looking up shocked
mouth gaping
eyes wide
grinning
glance steady
holding holding holding
the belly cut
a cacophonous modern dance of agony
followed by rapturous convulsing *******
that went on and on and on

get a bat she implored

she is a real ******* movie star
the Greta Garbo of *****
a dark jewel
a must have
a hell wife
goddess of dread
a ******* *** genius
my best girl ever

fused by desire
we kissed like **** loving catholic priests
in adoration of their savior
young boy *** castrato hitting the high notes


she looked up with desperation
eyes with glittering tears
and said
are you my black knight?
do you know how to hurt a girl
are you my
Vex Mallus
Dr Satan
Marquis De Sick
Nick Nick
Dark Officer
Remus the Werewolf
Dom Sugar Daddy
Pit Bull
Tommy the Tummy Gutter
5 o'clock Shadow
London Cabby
Amputee ******
Uncle Surgery Gone Wrong
King of the Carpathian Vampires
my sweet kissy Kitten

ooohh yes i said
i am all that for loves sake
albeit twisted
i am what you crave.. your no taboo lover boy
your ******* licking foot slave with a razor in hand
a bubble of poison between my legs
your homicidal suicidal cockealiciousness

she said good,
now that we have that settled
can we go out for dinner
ill be dressed in a jiffy
if i can find my dead skirt
of soft white gauze
with that lovely motif of dread red
and my precious toe tag jewelery
My poems remain explorations of the subconscious ******
If i where a film maker or a novelist  you  would see me telling a story, not judge me, although i admit to my paraphilias  
These poems  are lunar anamorphic streams of consciousness from the deep chaotic subterranean glitz of transgressive  impulses we all share
Read them if you dare...You might find that part of yourself that you don't want you to know about and then again  you may feel more complete some how if you do....I always loved that dark thing that sleeps with in me
howard brace Sep 2012
He'd been conceived in Flamborough, so his little sister assured him some eleven summers ago, which was a tad hard for Rocky to swallow, she was a whole eighteen months his junior and then some... and at that age, well... what did she know, she was only a kid, "on this very rock" River insisted, kicking her heels in delight, "next to this very rock pool" they were both sitting beside, "one sunny afternoon eleven years ago..." and that was how he came by the name of Rocky... she taunted as the rest of the colourful story unfolded... and that she had it all on the best possible authority... although the more she thought about it, had she meant concealed... she wasn't quite sure now, it was all so very confusing at her tender age but thought it sounded close enough not to matter too much and that she would just wait and see which way the wind blew.
        
     It was conceivably an ill wind that blew no one any good that day, especially if you were a boy and just happened to be sat by a rock pool next to your little sister...  Having just taken a well earned drink from a neighbouring rock pool, Sockeye the floppiest Springer Spaniel this side of the Pecos decided that he was going to dig a hole and that he would be digging it deep, then changed his mind mid-dig and decided to have a more down to earth back scratching wriggle instead... then promptly flopped over and slid into the hole... life was sweet.  Now covered from nose to tail with every species of deceased shore life usually found frequenting the high water mark Sockeye, in a blinding flash of canine inspiration judged it would be in everyone's best interest were he to have a really good shakedown which always appeared to go down well on these occasions... and give everyone a good peppering, just so they could see exactly what they'd been missing all their lives.  

     "A rock of all places, for goodness sakes..." and what's more, it was this rock, "Yuk..." he jumped up and wiped his palms on the back of his jeans in disgust, then onto his tee-shirt, then sat back down again and began exploring his left nostril in quiet contemplation before finally jambing his hands back into his pockets... what in Heaven's name had his parents been thinking of..? what on earth was his little sister talking about..? and more to the point, what in fact did conceived mean..?  these were the questions that were uppermost in Rocky's mind as he poked an exploratory stick into the rock pool...  a baby crab marooned by the tide scampered sideways beneath a large pebble and stuck one beady eye out at him... Rocky's sister, seemingly in a world of her own, much like the baby crab sat on the edge of the noteworthy rock kicking her heels, an innocent smile curled the corners of her mouth as she quietly hummed a little song of tuneful bliss to herself and considered what further mischief she could possibly pass her brother's way.

     Rocky tossed a piece of driftwood over his sisters shoulder at a nearby flock of seagulls, squabbling over what appeared to be a discarded bag of fish and chips... Sockeye, simply knowing that his little master wanted to play a game of fetch gambolled after the stick, his ears flying courageously in the still Summer air and burst, amid a melee of feathers into their midst, only to romp back moments later, the stick all but forgotten in the excitement but now proudly sporting the derelict bag of leftovers and the odd splash of guano, his tail lolloping magnificently from side to side... and for the moment at least, leaving the fratching seagulls wheeling noisily overhead and to go about their daily business without further interruption... as for Sockeye, it had been a no contest situation.

     After fourteen years of valiant endeavour his father... Red, so named for his vivid shock of wiry hair, was still engaged in man's eternal struggle to win his significant other half's approbation with the manful art of deck-chair assembly, beach barbeque and other significant gentlemanly pursuits, all while strutting his manly stuff, sporting top of the range beach wear in accordance with the social etiquette of the previous decade... his masculine paunch slumping gallantly atop his waistband...  

     After the same fourteen terms of domestic servitude and the same thirteen identically overlooked anniversary cards a certain someone had no intention of allowing another certain someone to forget so much as one of them... his better half, so she insisted would ride rough shod, administering her own brand of justice at every given opportunity, in much the same way you'd brandish a royal-flush on poker night... or better still, a loaded revolver... and that she personally carried the burden of every ill-fated card that Lady Luck had dealt strung about her neck like Adam's original sin on Judgement Day.  

     Red much preferred the shorter, more condensed name of Rock for his son, rather than the longer more protracted Rocky, as he struggled with the wood and canvas lounger badly trapping the mound of his thumb in the process, "Aaargh...!!!" plunging his throbbing hand deep into the cold, soothing rock-pool "aaah...!!!"   Still marooned by the tide, the baby crab stood poised and ready for action as it considered giving this latest intrusion a good offensive nip, then hang on spitefully as it gave Red the final withering once over with the same baleful eye it had successfully used earlier.

     Acknowledging her husbands misfortune with a perfunctory grunt as she rummaged in her beach-bag for the thermos, she refused to be drawn in where thumbs were concerned right now, after all with his DNA sequencing she was convinced he could probably grow a new one within the month... whilst Tina, well... she was just plain worn-out... but still rejoiced in telling anyone who cared to lend a sympathetic ear in her direction... and who in turn was more than happy to listen to the woes of others and went somewhere along the lines of... 'and had she heard any more of poor Mrs Dorey's lingering martyrdom recently..? you know, the downtrodden lady who lives in the next street but one... and how they would all miss her when she was gone... and how she couldn't wait...' and as rumour had it, neither could her husband...

      Feigning to be otherwise engaged, Tina... as her husband, now blowing frantically on his mangled thumb, stumbled backwards over the half erected lounger and with a spine jarring "Ooomph...!!!" landed squarely in Sockeye's subsiding earthworks... professed total disassociation with the entire fiasco as she plunged her nose even deeper into the overdue library book she'd purposely brought on holiday for just such an occasion, making it perfectly clear that she was a tourist and furthermore, planned to stick with the same itinerary once they returned home... and that while she was here, she did not under any circumstances wish to be disturbed, the notice was clearly displayed hanging from the door handle... but if anyone should, then whoever it was did so at their own peril... and she was keeping score... although a mangled thumb she luxuriated, with the same roguish smile curling the corners of her mouth as the one normally found playing around her daughter's... was equally as heart warming.

      All Tina wanted was one week of uninterrupted peace and quiet in Flamborough, preferably with a certain someone out from under her feet then spend what might pass for several undisturbed hours sitting quietly by the rock pool comparing notes on eye makeup and the feminine merits of pedicure with the little crab who, still marooned by the tide was now sat busily knitting four pairs of matching leg warmers in the cool, still water but that was only if that certain someone... a shrill  "AAaargh...!!!" somewhat more desperate than the first, ****** itself upon the as yet unaggressive afternoon as it gyrated across the warm Jurrasic rock and recoiled out to sea... "now where was I", twisting her book uppermost "oh yes..! someone was going to pay..." only now it was going to be sooner rather than later, but only if that certain someone didn't finish the seating arrangements before the Sun disappeared and drift into some backstreet tea-room before all the lemon cheesecake sold out, or was that she reflected, simply too much to ask.

     It was his Surname that Rock found so objectionable, or it had been right up until his little sister's enlightening disclosure, now it was both names Rocky disliked, it would have been far kinder had Rock Salmon been sandwiched between sliced bread and given to Sockeye... who's solemn duty, from the first mouthful to the very last, was to gaze up beseechingly from beneath the kitchen table  and devour anything that passed his way, even the postman had to be quick about his business or have his arm follow the mail through the letter box... then Sockeye would just smack his lips and help himself to seconds.  

     All Rocky's mum had thought about for the last fourteen years was seconds... every last solitary one of them since she'd suffered with an infection of matrimonial neurosis which had deprived her of common sense and her maiden name, from Chovey to that of Salmon and how with hindsight she should have taken an Aspirin instead, wedlock she asserted was everything the name claimed to be and was without doubt the worst move she'd ever made... and what's more was seen as a bad move in whoever's wedding album you just happened to be paying your condolences to.

     Rocky would never be so fortunate on that score, unlike his sister he was stuck with Salmon for good, his grandma-Ann by all accounts had been dead set against the union from word Go and saw his father as someone who would always be out of his depth in whatever rock pool he found himself in, swimming against the tide as it were, rather than going with the flow... and it appeared that Rocky, almost eleven years into a life sentence, was about to flounder in the same murky undertow as the rest of the Salmon family... only he couldn't swim.

     "There"! her husband exclaimed "all finished... better late than never eh', who fancies trying it"? his wife luxuriated over the words 'better late' and wondered whether her new earrings, her latest acquisition would complement formal mourning attire.  Red dusted off the palms of his hands with the certain knowledge of a job well done and cautiously took one step back, looking with justifiable pride at the outcome of his manly exertions of the last two hours, this was what holidays were all about he declared, one man pitted against insurmountable odds...  His wife meanwhile was getting to grips with more odds of her own than you could safely expect to shake a stick at... her husband being one of them.  

     Having gathered her offspring with the promise of verbal earache if they didn't... and finished packing the beach-bag, Tina finally located Sockeye peering out from the shade of an adjacent rock, wisps of feathers poked tellingly from the corners of his mouth, his tail beating mischievously on the shingle decided in one further blaze of canine brainstorming, as Tina attempted to slip his collar on that a game of tag would just about round the day off nicely... Tina then devoted the next ten minutes chasing him amid unrestrained salvo's of cheering from the rest of the family... then bid goodbye to the little crab who, still marooned by the tide waved a friendly pincer in return... and trusted that she wouldn't have too long to wait for the next rising tide back home, then she slid off the rock with a corrosive... "the deck-chair attendant would have shown you" she snapped "and don't forget the deposit when you take them back" then double checking that she landed squarely on his foot she marched past, her floral sun hat jammed resolutely on her head at what she considered a jaunty angle with her equally jaunty, angular children scrambling in hot pursuit, back in the direction of their lodgings.  

     "Woof "..? said a bewildered Sockeye, bringing everyone to an abrupt halt... and with paws the size of place-mats, he wasn't going anywhere he didn't want to... he hunkered down with a look of hurtful accusation on his face, "oh yes you are my lad"! said his mistress "I've met your sort before" and knew exactly where to place the toe of her dainty size-5 as Sockeye, digging his heals in even further created swathes of canine furrows up the beach, leaving her husband the unwitting holder and in sole possession of the overlooked guest-house keys... and somewhat resigned to clean up his own masculinity and dismantle the recently assembled, now redundant deck-chairs by himself... as for Tina, well... she'd had quite enough excitement for one day thank you very much.

     Morning register was always the worst he thought, as they trooped back along the shingle beach, Rocky making surprisingly good furrows of his own... but the rest of the class loved it and saw it as the highlight of each day... Rocky's form teacher, despite showing a brave face was always hard pressed to avoid bursting into hysterics every time she worked her way down the register to the letter 'S' and would attempt to bypass it altogether, jumping from 'R' to 'T' and just prayed that no one else had noticed, but it hadn't taken the class very long to point out her oversight and... "please Miss" they'd all chant "we haven't had Salmon all week" and while the rest of the class were having convulsive fits, Rocky would elbow the lad sat at the next desk in the ribs... and promptly get one hundred lines for his trouble... thank goodness it was school holidays.  Why couldn't they have been given respectable names like Seymour Legge, Rock wondered, who sat over by the window or perhaps the teachers pet, Anna Prentice or even, Robyn Banks at a pinch, but definitely not what they'd been given and certainly not Salmon, they were the most hilarious names he could imagine and if someone was looking down on them right now he thought... then they had a very unique sense of humour indeed and Rock said so... "why" his little sister asked sweetly, "what's wrong with River Salmon".

                                                      ­                         ...   ...   ...*

a work in progress*                                                        ­                                                              240­6
John AD Nov 2017
Malapit na ang aking kaarawan , Subalit puno parin nang lungkot ang aking sistema,
Ako nga ba ay nababahala sa nangyayari sa eksena , o sadyang di ko lang mapigilan ang naririnig sa aking mga tainga,
Nakarinig ako ng isang malungkot na kanta , tugmang-tugma sa tema,
Dala ang lungkot at sakit sa aking mga nadarama, titigil pa kaya ang pagiisip na patuloy lumalala , o magkukunwari nalang sa bawat araw na gusto ko nalang matapos na .

Magpapasaya parin ba ako ng maraming tao , para lang itago itong nararamdaman ko , o ilalabas ko ito kahit napakahirap at baka pagtawanan nyo pa ko.
Sa bawat ngiti ko na naipamamalas ay isang puntos o paraan para lumigaya ako kahit kaunti ,
Sa pagtahimik ko nagmamasid lang ako sa paligid , dahil takot akong magbigay opinyon , at baka ako'y paulananan ng masasakit na Salita na uukit sa aking kaluluwa hindi lang sa balat , hanggang sa tuluyan na nga akong dalhin ng aking isip ,
Kung saan ang dulo at solusyon ay kamatayan.
Mahirap sa pakiramdam yung simpleng bagay o salita para sayo , ay may kahulugan at di mo na mapigilang di magisip sa mga bagay na ito.
Jon Tobias Apr 2012
In a sea of lost souls
I can’t believe you haven’t found me yet

I mean
I’ve never seen so many people
Get so close to each other without touching

And I want so badly
To tattoo in thick black letters
Over my heart
The word

FOUND

This is for the people who
Are still waiting to be found

For the boys who thought they had her heart
and lost it

This is for the bravery of trying
For the bravery it takes to let someone hurt you
On a chance that they won’t

This is for the bootstraps
Caked in the dirt that you fall in
For how white your knuckles get in the rising

For the ones who have something to give
But think they have nothing to give

For the ones who have nothing to give
And try and give anyway

You will always have something to bring to the table
If you are willing

This is for the ones who’s walls of strength
Are so thick
They can’t feel the touch
So it doesn’t have to hurt when they see you leaving

Press harder
Press until you hit the soft
Find something worth holding

You are worth holding

The game of tag and all its variations
Were just preparation
For the time you spend hiding your heart diligently
Until you see the joy in being found

Know
If you are reading this
I found you

Which means it’s your turn
To find someone else

I know it takes courage
To touch someone
In a world where no one touches

But you did it once when you were a kid

I know you have doubts
I have doubts

I don’t see in me any of the things people see in me
I own a mirror
I mean ****
I shave me
No one knows how ugly this mess gets better than I do

But *******
We have got to be found

Know this is the year you do everything right

Ask someone to dance
Show them how they’ve been swimming all wrong
In this sea of souls where everyone feels so lost

Even Christians have to find Jesus
A man who can only save them
After he is found

I challenge you
To write a letter to a stranger
Telling them you’ve secretly loved them
Remain anonymous
Only send one

Hold a door open for someone

Smile like you do when you read a message
From someone you care about
And don’t realize you’re doing it
Until one of your ******* friends asks why you’re smiling like that

Smiling is ****
I promise

Do stupid things every chance you get
You’ll become a good story teller
It will make you interesting

Shake the dust from your tired shield
Let your walls fall like the crumble was healthy
You do not need walls in wide open places

Know whatever you have been made to believe
You should always love like you’ve never been hurt
You should not be afraid to be hurt

Know
Love is yours
If you want it

Want it
I dare you

Tag

I found you

Now find someone else
First line donated by Kelli
Maxwell Jul 2015
Ngayong nagdaan na ang isang linggong malamig at maulan,
Nagpakita na ang araw, mainit at maliwanag.
Alam kong dapat masaya ako pero
Paano ako sasaya kung ikaw lang lagi ang naaalala ko?

Naiinis ako sa araw, pinapaalala niya ang mga nagdaang linggo,
Mga linggong magkausap tayo tungkol sa kahit ano.
Mga linggong nakakapagod pero napapawi mo.
Mga linggong wala akong maisagot sa papel ko
Pero bigla ka nalang papasok sa isip ko,
Kasama ng mga sagot na hinahanap ko.

Ngunit ngayon, naiisip ko, ano nga ba ang pinagkaiba?
Kahit noong tag-ulan, naaalala pa rin kita.
Naaalala ko kung paano kita sinasabihang mag-iingat ka
At kung paano kita pinaiyak dahil sa isang sala.
Naaalala ko rin kung paano mo ako iniwan
At kung paano kita hinayaan.

Kaya ngayong wala ka na, wala akong magawa
Kundi mainis sa lahat ng bagay na nagpapaalala
Hindi sa'yo, kundi sa aking mga nagawa
Para umalis ka at iwanan mo akong mag-isa.
Masakit mawalan ng kaibigan.
Eugene Mar 2018
Tag-araw na naman at tuwing sasapit ang buwan ng Marso, Abril at Mayo ay malimit pumunta sa isang hindi pamilyar na lugar ang magkakabarkadang sina Potsi, Tapsi, at Seksi.

Ang pagpunta sa baybayin o beach ay nakagawian na nilang gawin taon-taon. Ito rin ang kani-kanilang paraan upang pansamantalang makalayo sa napaka-abalang lugar sa Kamaynilaan.

"Pots, Sek, saan naman ang destinasyon natin ngayong taon? Malapit na ang holy week. Kaya dapat mayroon na tayong napagkasunduan," tanong ni Tapsi.

Tapsi ang palayaw na binigay sa kaniya ng kaniyang magulang dahil paborito niya ang pagkain ng iba't ibang uri ng tapa na may sinangag. Ang totoo niyang pangalan ay Mateo Paulo Sibucay.

Dahil dalawa lang naman silang lalaki, siya ang may pinakaguwapong mukha maliban na lamang kay Seksi na maganda dahil babae ito. Itinuturing din siyang hunk sa kanilang kompanya sa matikas na pangangatawan nito kahit hindi naman siya pumupunta sa gym.

"Perfect ang Laiya, Taps, Pots! Ano agree kayo?" namumungay ang mga mata ni Seksi nang sagutin nito ang tanong ni Tapsi.

Si Seksi, gaya ng palayaw niya ay kakikitaan naman ito ng kakaibang kaseksihan sa katawan. Malakas man itong lumamon ay hindi naman ito tumataba. Mahilig siya sa mga matatamis at paborito niya ang pagkain ng iba't ibang uri ng keyk. Ang tunay naman niyang pangalan ay Katarina Sek Javellana.

"Basta may mabibilhan ng pagkain kapag nagutom ako, okay na okay sa akin ang lugar, Taps at Sek," sagot naman ni Potsi habang may hawak-hawak na dalawang jolly hotdog sa kaniyang mga kamay.

Kulang na lamang ay mabilaukan ito dahil panay ang lamon nang lamon nito kahit may nginunguya pa sa bunganga. Siya ang mataba sa kanila pero ayaw niyang tinatawag niyang tawaging mataba. Mas gusto niya ang salitang chubby dahil cute daw ito sa pandinig niya. Ang tunay naman niyang pangalan ay Pocholo Travis Sigalado.

"Nakakahiya ka talaga, Potsi. Mabilaukan ka oy!" wika ni Tapsi.

"Heto, tissue o! Sahurin mo ang mga nahuhulog. Sayang din iyang pagkain. Alalahanin mo na maraming mga bata ang nagugutom sa kalsada," sabay abot naman ng tissue ni Seksi kay Potsi.

"Kaya nga sinisimot ko ang pagkain kasi sayang 'di ba?" ngunguso-ngusong sagot ni Potsi habang nagpapatuloy sa pagnguya sa kaniyang kinakain.

"Saan ba ang Laiya, Sek?" ani Tapsi.

"Sa Batangas lang naman siya. Mga isa't kalahati hanggang dalawang oras ang biyahe mula sa Maynila. Set na natin?" nakangiting sagot naman ni Sek habang ang dalawang hinlalaki ay naka-senyas ng aprub.

"Sa Black Saturday tayo pumunta para madami tayong makikitang mga tanawin!" gulat naman ang dalawa sa sinabi ni Potsi at pansamantala pang nagkatitigan sina Sek at Tapsi. Pagkatapos no'n ay nagsipagtawanan sila.

"Agree ako diyan sa Sabado de Gloria. Teka, 'di ba sa susunod na linggo na iyon?" ani Tapsi.

"Okay lang iyon, handa na rin naman tayo palagi e. Kaya walang problema. Sasakyan ko na lang ang gagamitin natin para makatipid tayo sa gasolina," si Potsi na ang sumagot matapos uminom ng mountain dew.

Tumango na lamang ang dalawa dahil alam naman nilang sa kanilang tatlo ay si Potsi ang laging handa. Minsan nga ay si Potsi na ang taya sa kanilang summer outing taon-taon e.

"At kung may problema kayo sa budget, ako na rin ang bahala ha? He-he," tatawa-tawang sabi ni Potsi na ikinatawa na rin naman ng dalawa.

"Maasahan ka talaga, Potsi! Gusto mo order pa kami ng pagkain sa iyo?"

Masayang nagtatawanan ang magbarkada sa Jollibee nang mga oras na iyon dahil sa kaibigan nilang si Potsi. Pare-pareho na rin naman silang may mga trabaho. Kaya wala nang problema sa kanila ang pera.

#TravelFriendsGoals ang motto nilang tatlo. Si Tapsi ay isang Real Estate Broker agent habang si Seksi naman ay isang Fashion Model at si Potsi ay isang Food Blogger. Lahat sila ay iisa ang hilig--ang maglakbay at libutin ang mga natatagong lugar sa Pilipinas.

*

Lumipas ang isang linggo, araw ng Sabado ay maagang umalis mula sa Quezon City ang magkakaibigan. Gamit ang sasakyan ni Potsi na Toyota Revo ay bumiyahe na sila. Si Potsi ang nagmamaneho, si Seksi naman ang tumitingin sa mapang dala niya habang si Tapsi ay panay ang kuha ng litrato sa sarili sa likuran ng sasakyan.

"Hindi ka ba nagsasawa sa mukha mo, Taps? Guwapong-guwapo ka sa sarili a!" tanong ni Potsi habang tumitingin-tingin sa rear-view mirror ng sasakyan. Nginitian na lamang siya ni Tapsi.

"Hayaan mo na 'yang broker nating kaibigan. Alam mo namang siya lang ang may magandang mukha sa inyong dalawa. Ha-ha," asar ni Sek kay Potsi.

"Anong guwapo? E kung pumayat ako 'di hamak na mas may hitsura ako kay Taps!" depensa naman ni Potsi.

"Oo na, Pots. Mas guwapo ka naman sa akin ng kalahating paligo lang naman kapag pumayat ka 'di ba? Bakit kasi ayaw mo akong samahan sa gym para makapag-work-out ka na rin at mabawasan ang bilbil mo?" ani Tapsi kay Potsi.

"Gusto mo ibaba kita sa gitna ng kalsada, Taps? At saka, hindi ko na kailangan mag-gym. Food is life. Enjoy life, enjoy goya sabi ng commercial ni Kim Chiu," naiinis na nagpapatwang sagot naman ni Potsi habang nakatuon pa rin ang atensiyon sa kalsada. Lihim na lamang na natawa si Seksi sa dalawang kaibigan.

"Ikaw naman, hindi na mabiro. Alam mo namang love kita e lalo na nang malaman kong love mo abs ko! Ha-ha," pang-aalaska na naman ni Tapsi.

"Mukha mo! Mas marami akong abs sa iyo, tabs nga lang at malalaki pa! Ha-ha," napuno na naman ng tawanan ang loob ng sasakyan. Asaran kung asaran. Iyan ang nakasanayan na nila.

Lumipas ang isang oras na biyahe ay nakatulog na sina Tapsi at Seksi habang si Potsi ay gising na gising ang diwa dahil habang nagmamaneho ay panay ang dukot nito sa baon niyang mga pagkain malapit sa kaniya.

Dumaan pa ang isang oras ay napansin ni Potsi na parang may mali sa direksyong tinatahak nila. Agad niyang kinuha ang mapang dala ni Seksi at tiningnan ito. Dahil hindi niya kabisado ang nakapaloob sa mapa, ginising na lamang niya si Seksi.

"Sek! Sek! SEEKKK!" tulog-mantika ang babae, kaya sumigaw na lamang si Potsi na ikinagulat din ni Tapsi sa back seat.

"Sorry. Naliligaw yata tayo. Tingnan mo ang mapa, Sek," agad namang tiningnan ni Seksi ang mapa at sinipat-sipat ang kinaroroonan nila.

"Ihinto mo nga ang sasakyan muna, Pots," sinunod naman nito si Sek at pansamantalang itinigil ang sasakyan.

"Ano, naliligaw na ba tayo, Sek?" binali-baligtad pa ni Seksi ang mapa para lang siguraduhing tama ang tinatahak nilang lugar patungo sa isang sikat na resort sa Laiya, Batangas. Ngunit, may napansin siyang kakaiba.

"Nasa Laiya na nga tayo, guys pero bakit tila napadpad tayo sa isang gubat na ito?" lahat ay napatingin sa itinuro ni Seksi sa mapa at binasa ang nakasulat doon.

"Satur-Death? Ano iyan? Hindi mo ba nakita ang lugar na iyan diyan sa mapa, Sek?" tila may kung anong kakaibang simoy ng hangin naman ang dumampi sa mga balat ng magkakaibigan ng mga oras na iyon matapos sambitin ang katagang Satur-death.

"Patingin nga? Kinilabutan ako sa pangalan e. Satur-death, tunog saturday o sabado tapos may death? Kamatayan? E 'di ba sabado ngayon? Don't tell me may mangyayaring hindi maganda sa atin?" sabay-sabay na nagkatinginan ang tatlo habang nakatigil ang sasakyan sa gitna ng kalsada na hindi pamilyar na lugar. Tahimik ang lugar na iyon at ni busina, tunog o mga sasakyan ay wala kang maririnig o makikitang napapadaan.  

"Ang mabuti pa, bumalik na lang tayo sa kung saan tayo kanina nanggagaling. Baka mali lang talaga ang napasukan natin. Baka shortcut lang ito, guys," nagtatapang-tapangang wika ni Seksi.

"Ang sabi sa pamahiin, kapag naligaw daw tayo, hubarin natin ang mga damit natin," nagpapatawang wika ni Potsi.

"Anong hubarin? Baka ang ibig **** sabihin, baligtarin!" pagkaklaro ni Tapsi.

"Pareho lang naman silang may 'rin' sa dulo e," dagdag pa ni Potsi. Napailing na lamang sina Tapsi at Seksi at naghubad na lamang upang baligtarin ang kanilang damit.

Matapos baligtarin ang damit ay pinaandar na ni Potsi ang sasakyan. Dahan-dahan na lamang niya itong minamaneho upang makabisado ang kalsadang kanilang tinatahak.

Tatlumpung minuto na ang nakalilipas nang matagpuan nila ang isang karatula sa gilid ng kalasda na nakadikit sa isang puno.

"THIS WAY TO LAIYA!"

Agad na nabuhayan ng loob ang magkakaibigan dahil sa nakitang sign board na nang tingnan nila sa mapa ay nakaukit naman iyon.

"Deretso na lang tayo, Potsi at mararating na natin ang mismong resort sa Laiya," iyan na lamang ang nasabi ni Seksi nang mga oras na iyon.

Nang malampasan nila ang karatula ay bigla na lang naging makulimlim ang kalangitan at biglang bumuhos ang ulan. At hindi nila inasahan ang isang palasong bumutas sa kaliwang gulong ng sinasakyan nilang Toyota Revo.

Gulat na gulat ang mukha ng magkakaibigan nang biglang gumewang-gewang ang sasakyan at nabundol ito sa isang puno. Mabuti na lamang at hindi sila napuruhan. Kaunting galos lamang ang kanilang natamo kaya agad din nilang inayos ang mga sarili.

Nang mga oras na iyon, sa side-mirror ng sasakyan ay may napansin si Seksi na papalapit sa kanilang kinaroroonan. Nang ilang metro na lamang ang layo nito sa kanilang sasakyan ay nakita niyang may hawak itong pana at palaso. Pinakawalan niya ito at tumama kaliwang bahagi ng side-mirror.

"BABA! LABAS! Takbo na tayo! May gustong pumatay sa atin. Labas na!" sa taranta ay isa-isang nagsilabasan sa loob ng sasakyan ang magkakaibigan. Napasubsob pa ang mukha ni Potsi sa damuhan pagkababa nito. Agad na inalalayan siya ni Tapsi upang makatayo habang si Seksi naman ay sumisigaw na.

"Takbo! Takbo na! Bilis!"

Walang lingon-lingon ay agad na silang nagsitakbuhan ngunit hindi pa man sila nakakahakbang ay isang palaso ang tumama sa kaliwang binti ni Potsi dahilan upang mapabitaw ito sa balikat ni Tapsi at natumba.

Napahiyaw sa sakit si Potsi. Gulantang naman ang mukha ni Seksi. Nagmadali siyang balikan ang kaibigan at tinulungang makatayo si Potsi dahil malapit na malapit na ang salarin sa kanila.

"Iwan niyo na ako, Taps, Sek!" kitang-kita na sa mga mata ni Potsi ang panghihinat at takot nang mga oras na iyon. Kahit umuulan ay pansin na pansing naluluha na ang kaibigan.

"Hindi ka namin pwedeng iwan dito, Pots! Sama-sama tayo! Sek, bilis iangat natin si Pots. Isa, dalawa, tatlo!" kahit mabigat ay nagawa pa rin nila itong itayo upang makatakbo at makalayo sa kung sino man ang gustong pumatay sa kanila.

Nang muli na silang hahakbang ay hindi nila napansin ang paglapit ng hindi pamilyar na nilalang at itinarak sa likuran ni Potsi ang matulis na palaso. Agad na lumingon sina Tapsi at Seksi sa salarin nang sumigaw nang malakas si Posti.

Doon ay mulagat silang pareho nang isa na namang palaso sana ang tatama at itatarak kay Sek. Mabuti na lamang ay maagap si Tapsi. Binitawan niya si Potsi at agad na sinugod ang salarin.

Parang torong iniuntog ni Tapsi ang ulo niya sa tiyan nito at pareho silang natumba sa magkabilang direksyon. Nang mga sandaling iyon, habang patuloy sa pagbuhos ang ulan ay naaninag ni Seksi ang mukha ng gustong pumatay sa kanila.

May suot itong maskara sa mukha na ang tanging makikita ay ang mga mata lamang niya. Ang mga balat sa leeg, kamay at paa ay parang bangkay na naagnas. Matatalim din ang mga kuko nito sa mga kamay at paa.

Itinuon ni Sek ang atensiyon sa kaibigang si Potsi na nang mga oras na iyon ay tila nawalan ng malay. Niyugyog-yugyog niya ang kaibigan. Pinakiramdaman niya rin ang pulso nito at pinakinggan ang tibok ng puso. Doon ay napagtanto niyang may pag-asa pa si Potsi.

"Taps! Buhay pa si Potsi!" sigaw niya sa kaibigan.

"Tumakas na kayo, Sek! Ako na ang bahala rito! Alis na!" agad na sinugod si Sek ng kaharap at nahagip ng tulis ng palaso ang kaniyang braso dahilan upang makaramdam siya ng hapdi.

Hinila-hila naman ni Sek si Potsi upang dalhin sa ligtas na lugar. Kahit hindi kaya ng kaniyang mga braso ay pinilit niya pa ring hilahin ito.

Samantala, dinampot ni Tapsi ang palasong nabitawan ng may sa kanibal na nilalang at pinatamaan ito sa pamamagitan ng pagtarak ng palaso. Parang gutom na gutom naman ito dahil naiilagan niya ang bawat pagtarak sa kaniya ng palaso.

Animo ay isang baliw na nakakita ng kaniyang laruan ang kaharap ni Tapsi. Hindi naman nagpatalo ang huli. Nang muling itatarak sa kaniya ang palaso ay napigilan niya ito at sinipa sa gitnang hita ang kaharap. Napahawak naman ito sa kaniyang hinaharap. Hindi na rin sinayang ni Tapsi ang pagkakataon upang makaganti.

Agad niyang kinuha ang palasong nabitawan niya at itinarak iyon sa leeg. Makailang beses niyang hinugot-baon ang palaso at itinarak muli sa iba pang bahagi ng katawan nito. Sa leeg, sa mata, sa butas ng tainga maging sa bunganga at ang panghuli sa puso nito.

Hingal na hingal man si Tapsi ay nagawa pa niyang tanggalin ang nakabalot na maskara sa mukha ng kaniyang kalaban at doon nakita ang inuuod-uod ng mukha. Hindi niya nasikmurang pagmasdan kaya nasuka si Tapsi. Kinalaunan ay pinuntahan na lamang niya si Sek na hindi pa rin nakakalayo sa kakahila sa kaibigang si Potsi.

Punong-puno ng dugo ang mga kamay, mukha at kasuotan ni Tapsi nang makita siya ni Sek. Nahuhugasan lamang iyon sa bawat patak at buhos ng ulan.

"Kailangan na nating makaalis dito, Taps. Kailangan maisugod si Potsi sa ospital!"

"Saan tayo hihingi ng tulong e, nakita mo namang mukhang halimaw ang nakalaban ko, Sek,"

"Si Potsi, Taps. Anong gagawin natin? Marami ng dugo ang nawala sa kaniya,"

"Hindi ko alam pero sana tumila na ang ulan nang makita na natin ang dinadaanan natin para makahingi tayo ng tulong. Tulungan mo na akong buhatin si Potsi. Siguro naman--"

Hindi pa natatapos ni Tapsi ang kaniyang sasabihin nang maramdaman niyang may matulis na bagay ang tumusok sa kaniyang batok na tumagos sa kaniyang lalamunan.

Sigaw naman nang sigaw si Sek at hindi na malaman ang gagawin. Nakita niyang may papalapit naman sa kinaroroonan nila. Kailangan na niyang iwanan ang mga kaibigan at iligtas ang kaniyang sarili para makapagtago.

Sa isang malaking puno sa 'di kalayuan ay doon nagtago si Sek. Tanging mga mata na lamang niya ang nagmamasid sa kung ano ang puwedeng gawin ng mga ito sa kaniyang mga kaibigan.

Katulad ng napatay ni Tapsi ay ganoon din ang mga hitsura ng kani-kanilang balat at mukha. Katulad sila ng mga kanibal na gustong pumatay ng tao. Isang babaeng may mahahabang buhok ang may hawak na tabak ang walang kaabog-abog na tumabas sa leeg ni Tapsi.

Gustuhin mang sumigaw ni Sek ay hindi niya magawa. Tinakpan na lamang niya ang kaniyang bunganga at parang gripong sunod-sunod naman sa pag-agos ang kaniyang mga luha nang makita ang sinapit ng kaibigang sina Tapsi at Potsi.

Gamit ang tabak ay isa-isa naman nilang pinagtataga ang katawan ni Potsi. Pinutulan nila ito ng braso at ibinigay sa isang maliit na batang sabik na sabik na kainin ito habang ang isang may katangkarang lalaki ay panay ang sipsip at dila nito sa ulong-pugot ni Tapsi.

Duwal na duwal na si Sek nang mga oras na iyon at agad na nagsuka. Sa kasamaang palad ay matalas ang pandinig nila at narinig siya ng isang matangkad na lalaki at inamoy-amoy ang paligid upang malaman ang kinaroroonan niya. Pigil-hininga naman si Sek at isiniksik ang sarili sa punong pinagtataguan niya. Takip-takip na rin niyang muli ang kaniyang bibig upang pigilan ang kaniyang paghikbi.

Nakiramdam pa si Sek sa kaniyang paligid kung naroroon pa ang mga halimaw. Tanging ang pintig na lamang ng kaniyang puso ang kaniyang narinig nang mga sandaling iyon kaya naman ay marahan siyang tumingin sa direksyon kung saan naroon ang kaniyang mga kaibigan.

Isang mata pa man lang ang kaniyang nailalabas nang biglang bumulaga sa kaniya ang isang inuuod na mala-demonyo ang mukhang nakangiti sa kaniya at hinawakan siya sa buhok.

Nagpupumiglas si Sek at pilit na tinatanggal ang kamay nito sa buho. Pero isang malakas na suntok sa sikmura ang kaniyang natikman. Agad siyang kinaladkad habang nakahawak pa rin ito sa kaniyang buhok at dinala sa kinaroroonan ng kaniyang mga patay na kaibigan.

Napatakip na lamang sa kaniyang bibig si Sek nang mapagmasdan ang sinapit ng kaniyang mga kaibigan sa kaniyang harapan.

Hawak-hawak pa rin ng lalaki ang kaniyang buhok ay agad na itinutok sa kaniyang leeg ang matulis na tabak. Pigil hininga at lunok-laway na lamang ang nagawa ni Sek nang unti-unting hinihiwa ang balat sa kaniyang leeg hanggang sa maabot ng tabak ang ugat nito. Sabay-saba
Jaimee Michelle May 2013
You came out of no where
I hadn't been searching for someone like your
Nor did it ever cross my mind you'd become such a big part of my life
Because of that I'm forever changed, but it's far from all good

I met you during a dark time
Where liars, thieves and users waited in the wings
I didn't expect much from you, but the more we saw each other the more we started to grow
I'd found a friendship that I wasn't even looking for, of thought existed at this point

You were clean, honest and fun
The stories you shared we're real
In some I could physically feel your pain
But, a smile forever on your face to keep pushing forward
I found it refreshing

I found myself trying to think like you
Seek guidance from you and tell you things but then see them through your eyes
I never thought you could tell a lie
You always seemed so blunt, so real
Honesty that I yearned for after being lied to so many times
Even when things felt shaky I forced myself to believe you told no lies
At least to me
A best friend, my best friend even with my demons...

But, we know that just isn't true
You aren't even honest with yourself
You're everything to everyone
Make promises with no intend to keep, oh and endless excuses falling at my feet
You're a fake
No where near the sophisticated and nature vibe you try to put out there
You may not be as bad as them, but your ability to feel you never need to own anything has taken its toll on me
You've taken you're toll on me

I don't want this to be the outcome
I hate to think of you as one of them
Knowing my heart was fragil but having toyed with anyway
It will break me to lose trust in another friend
Especially, one whose seen me on my darkest of days

Can we fix it?
Are there things I'm not understanding to lead me to feel so betrayed?
Am I over reacting to situations between us?
I know I can be as stubborn as a brick wall
And spiteful on purpose..
But only when I feel threatened do these claws come out
The more I think
The worse it gets...

If we don't talk soon, it'll all explode in my head and there won't be anything left
Just ashes of a bridge burned
Because, you also don't like to budge or admit fault and accept blame, no matter how balatant it is

I found you on accident
A kinda best friend I never thought I'd have
Am I going to lose you with no fight?
Only tears shed??
I can only ask and reach out so many time before it becomes a game

A game of tag
I'm always it
Always chasing love and acceptance
You weren't supposed to be the way
I don't want to play but if we must......

Tag, you're it
s Aug 2018
Hi there.
Sometimes it hurts to think.
I'm driving around in my hometown
I saw this old park that me and my friends would run and laugh and play at all the time.
We played cops and robbers
Lava Monster
Freeze tag
We acted like knights in strong armor and princesses with glittery dresses and we all slayed the dragons
Well now here I am staring at this old swing set that no one swings on anymore.
I used to think that I could touch the clouds with my feet if I swung high enough.
There is something so lively about a group of kids laughing and playing on a playground.
There is something so eerie about an old empty playground where no one goes.
That playground used to be so alive.
Now the swing creaks as it sways in the slight breeze.
You can almost hear faint whispers of the kids laughing from years before.
Now all those kids are adults with lives and responsibilities that are much more important than slaying a dragon.
The wood has splinters that get stuck in your fingers.
It is not shiny and fun anymore.
It used to be new
But I have found that everything changes eventually.
I wish people didn't leave so unexpectedly.
Anyways I am just rambling
but next time you see a playground
just try to look away.
it hurts to think too long
Bye.
I am so sad. So many people keep dying
Jack L Martin Aug 2018
What do you know of war?  
First person shooter
Simulated gun fire
computerized blood splatter

What do you know of war?
Tag team alliance
Kids slaying kids
for virtual dollars

What do i know of war?
I saw the carnage
Devastation, the horrors
The smell of death

What do i know of war?
The pain haunts me
every day
every hour
It NEVER goes away!

War ain't no game, bro!
These words need no explanation.
Cunning Linguist Nov 2013
Loaded down with swag, you could say I got some baggage
Now tag me in your post - host server overload with traffic
Havoc, I smashed it I'm smokin on that hash **** its magic I'm laughin,
***** where the **** my brain go?
Oh I know **** I got so braindead before I wrote this
I'm monumental, moving boulders
Deport this *****, jumpin borders
Spit my lyrics so hot just like you was sippin Folger's
Burn your tongue? I burned my face,
You in a race?
Huh, ***** don't even try to run

Your nightmares are my fantasy
I make your dreams rip at the seams
Best believe it I'm the reason
You be losing sleep
Unfeasibly
Freddy who? Man **** that dude
This ain't no ****** "Elm Street"
11-12 Better check yourself
**** with me I killed it
You're in my world now *****

And grab your crucifix
Ha! AND PRAY TO GOD *****

Oh ****, break in the beat
I can't be defeated so don't leave your seat
So many drugs my heart feels complete
Lungs replete with the cloud of a thousand burning trees
Smokeapalooza, my brains on vacation
maybe it's a factor, all the inhalation
Snoozing you loser?
Got it going on,
Got more bombs than a marathon in Boston
AND IF YOU THINK THAT **** WASN'T A FALSE FLAG GO BACK TO SLEEP

I'm a self confessed bongaholic by definition
Cro-Magnon, I'm stone-age in terms of cognition
though hopefully I can get some ignition, generate some sparks
My colorful rhymes stand in stark contrast
against this black and white palette
all these so called artists paint with
Oh and blunts are great, ******* Wiz Khalifa
pearl another one and I'm feelin golden
withholding nothin, so I'm puffin til I'm huffin

straight baked like space muffins
something you can't relate or replicate,
so don't defame, or deface my status as
realest ***** in the rap game
no malarkey;
you have a better chance swimming with sharks b

breaking bad
take a line of that Walter White to my head
til my brains are frying like eggs at breakfast
hear just a little sizzling
**** bro I'ma wake up dead

David Banner he don't know swag
Lil' B holla that he own swag
Overflowin with all these newfags
I /b/ like :bitchplease: I ******* made swag

I'm beautiful man super cool
and all all the ******* love me
most popular boy in school
I have everything I want
it seems -
in my dreams,
******* **** me
My ADD is so infuriating
which is at least partially
why my primary hobbies
are screaming rapping and smoking ****
Arlo Disarray Nov 2015
I don't know who I am anymore

I wish I was wearing my name tag
Nat Lipstadt Feb 2015
this is a very important poem to me,
about me, and how Obama slurred my people. and never apologized

<•>

there are mornings when I wake up
in my nativity,
in my born/bred,
these struggling to be happy,
United States,
strangely hebrew-speaking,
Jamaican coffee
morning-thinking,
tallying up
what I am,
who I am,
commanded to be,
on this Earth

the labels that the
outward-looking apply,
the tags,
that you have caused
yourself to be defined,
been staked
to your claim,
in infamy and in fame,
that you have
by action and indeed,

have allow
to be presented
as entries on your
global entry passport,
with visas from the
lows and highs,
places where
your have sinned and saved,
all the acts accumulated,
and those,
in pain,
you have been a witness to

word titles that
tinge and suffuse,
summation of my presentation,
sampler of words
like
father, poet,
American,
even,
a for-real
community organizer,
and of course,
bien sûr,
a
Jew

the quality of all these life's papers,
which I grade myself,
I,
the harshest marker
of all

once a young man,
safely away in college,
under the fresh-air freedom of the
university's in loco parentis,
in the early years
spent quantifying oneself

nearly fifty years ago,
now he,
revealed and recalled
when
his college typed-letter,
lately uncovered amidst his,
recently passed mother's papers

"Don't know what kind of
Jew
I will be, but be assured,
that I will be a
Jew
all my life"

so here I am doing my post-sabbath,
top of the week,
right it down,
qualifying myself,
coffee enraged engaged,
a new Sunday tally

taking all my terms,
reordering,
re-prior-itizing,
what was prior, first,
is no longer

decades decay,
events sway,
simple words change me, stain me

nearing on five decades later,
when this
son of speakers,
son of humanists and 
son of
 writers,
son of proud
Jews
rewrites his list

today I write/substitute,
a new order,
a tag gladly taken,
a marker given,
some what in pride,
some in shame too,
first and foremost,
à la manière d'Lincoln
I am
of, by and for

"a bunch of folks in a deli"

proud member of them
that so identify,
for they are among those
that shall not perish from the Earth

those
happenstance-not,
bunch of folks in a deli,
I claim as
mine own,
as they would
have claimed me

no subtly professed,
a diminishment intended,
and now
an honorific taken,
Medal of Honor provoked and embraced,
proudly inscribed,
visible on my forehead,
in the black ink of mourning,
a Presidential Cain Citation,
a tattoo of letters,
not numbers,
now moves up to
head of the list,
I am
now and forever,
a member of that corps
(appreciate that double entendre)
I am
Je suis
JE JUIF

*"a bunch of folks in a deli"
Just google that phrase

Obama’s slur
Sy Lilang Jul 2016
073016

Tag-ulan
Umuulan ng alaala
Nagpaparamdam ang pag-ibig,
Siyang pag-ibig na naantala,
Pag-ibig na ikaw mismo ang kumitil.

Taglamig
Lumalamig maging mga kamay,
Nais kang basahin,
Sa mga linyang **walang umaagapay.
Wag mo nang simulan ang pag-ibig sa lenggwaheng hindi naman maintindihan. Hayaan **** maging saksi ang sanlibutan sa pag-irog na tunay na pag-asa ang laan; hindi paasang pag-ibig. Napakasakit ng mga alaala.
Susanna Apr 2018
I was too young and too smart
To operate under the illusion that I was capable of love.
But his fingers were so long and slender.
The way they wrapped around the back of my hand.
His palm was soft and smooth.
So cool,
And not at all sweaty
Compared to the rest of the gym.
I never felt butterflies in my stomach.
I never wanted to let go.
Marlo Cabrera Aug 2015
Siya ay parang ulan
Kay tagal **** hinintay
Sa panahon ng tag init,
Na sa pag dating nito
Ay maiibsan ang sakit

Na dala ng sunog
Sa iyong katawan.

Na dala ng init
Na nang gagaling sa kaniyang mga halik.

Tandaan mo, siya din ang sumunog sa iyong dibdib
Pero siya padin ang iyong hinihimig.

Eto ka nanaman, nakatayo sa kalagitnaan ng bagyo.
Nakayuko, sinasalo ang bawat patak ng ulan.
Umaasang na siya'y iyong mahahawakan.
Pero wag kang magpaka tanga.

Siya ay tubig, lumulusot sa mga singit ng iyong mga daliri. At humahaplos sa bawat sulok ng iyong mga sanga. Pinararamdam kung anong piling ng kasama siya.

Sige, pwede kang umiyak, walang makaka halata, sa bawat pag bagsak ng mga luha na nanggagaling sa iyong mga mata. Iyak lang ng iyak. Maghihintay ako sa iyong pagtahan

Pero tandaan mo, wala kang karapatan magselos. Kase hindi mo naman siya pagaari,

Siya ay pangpataba ng lupa.
Wag kang maging hadlang,
Sa pagtubo ng mga bunga ng kanilang pag mamahalan.

Pero wag kang magalala.

Hindi ko ba nasabi sa iyo
Na ikay isang puno,
Na paparating na ang tag sibon.
At ngayon mo lang mapagtatanto
Na sa kabila ng lahat ng ito, siya ay nasa tabi mo lang, patuloy na binubulong sa iyong mga tenga,

"Mahal, nadito lang ako. Akap akap ang iyong mga braso. Hinding hindi ako kailanman maglalaho"

"Halika tayo'y muling mag simula."
Ang ulan ay para sa mga halaman na atin ng nakalimutan, at inakalang patay na, pero mayroong pang tutubong bunga. Parang puno ng kalachuchi.
Mateuš Conrad Apr 2019
.you can never really write any poetry by not covering the "heartbreak" the loss of your own "printed" words: how much different is the internet, from "real" life? just asking... since: internet banking & internet shopping... to lose a poem / pre-scriptum is not exactly the same as losing a person to mind: father's day... i cooked the dinner, i took out the trash, i wrote an invoice... i guess that's much better than leaving a card of greetings... and, come to think of it? why are we the sort of people subjugated to nostalgia, with but also "without" a history? aren't we subjugated to nostalgia and a history as a "fiction"? the beginning of the 21st century, the end of the 20th century... the 19th century germans associated themselves with a nostalgia for ancient greece, we're the only people who have an inbuilt nostalgia "safety-mechanism"... the only people in time who are nostalgic about the life surrounding their own existence slot, which doesn't have a trans-temporal dynamic... i remember times when we would be teenagers... spitting on people from car-parks on imaginary tonsures, buying *****-magazines from indian cornershops, or belgian freebies of non-insinuations, white lightning cider while sleeping over at youth centers playing snooker throughout the night... even at school: attending a catholic school with the irish east enders... uniforms, sure... a chequered shirt: blue, red, white... tag? made in canada... and if only capitalism worked as it once did, made in canada? lifetime of a shirt? 20 years... now? made in china... not exactly real cotton, is it? 2 years... before ironing the shirt *****... once upon in gants hill, st. valentine's park, and the pub, recently closed, decent karaoke... in the park? golf, basketball, rowing boats in the large ponds... when the jews were there... gants hill roundabout... the hanukkah torches... jews scuttling wearing trainers come rosh hashanah: jews can't wear leather on rosh hashanah (judgement day)... shy like rats... when the jews were there (gants hill, ilford)... the park looked great... tennis courts... now, when neo-Bangladesh moved in? ****** place. what else do i remember from my original pre-scriptum that i lost? oh, that once time in gants hill... walking into a kosher bakery with ****** knuckles, having tested them on a canvas of a brick wall, buying some dough-fused-sweets? with the girl selling the sweets bewildered by fear? i like the look of fear in people when tested by uncertainty, and bleeding knuckles? later? climbing over the park fence, taking a **** while squatting in the darkened palace of the park, walking into a brothel, having my wallet stolen, not reacting in what would have been justified... high school... we wore uniforms... so no high school h'american culture trap / culture... school uniforms are the best idea, there's no chance to "shine" in telling apart the rich kids from the poor kids... there's only the standard... walking to a supermarket, past a thai surprise... sports bra, short hair... walking back... she's still there pretending to talk on her mobile to someone... you take her home with a few beers... play her some jazz... take her into the garden, the moon is a beauty... you **** her... hand in her underwear and you're still gambling... before the emergence of the nag hammadi library and the whole androgynous vogue, the thai were already readied with the lady-boys... when i reached in and found nothing but oyster... would i have stopped finding a wink-wink slouching worm? slap a trans in the face? no, not really... a thai surprise is, a thai surprise... i would have considered doing my first ****... "lucky" for me she was a she... a girl... ****** her in the garden under the moonlight... gave her my hoodie, which she drowned in... finally... the level of interaction where the female is not a mantis, i.e. a female larger than the male... she drowned into my hoodie as i walked her home... i like the familiarity with the mammalian, not resorting to insect superiority of females... these days... i find that males are strictly mammalian... while females? they are borrowing insect-esque ontologies... well, darwinism allowed the time-frame... males are mammals... females are insects, behaviour-wise... two time frame i do not appreciate the english for... darwinism is prime.... cultural-marxism my ***... what about cultural-darwinism?! no?! that doesn't exist?! cultural-darwinism is as real as cultural-marxism, and, in the former sense? it really does belong to the conservative right-wing politico spectrum! might i add? isn't psychology merely pop philosophy? i find psychology riddled with rubric cohesion, it's all oh so "self"-evident! i abhor psychologists... these gypsy philosophers... medicine-men with no pharmacological shadow of power... to prescribe drugs... arguments, persuasions, but no dialectics... psychology will forever be, for me, a philosophy primer, short-cut... pop philosophy... psychologists can treat people who have never read a philosophy book... r. d. laing... i remember this one instace... me and a fwend of mine travelled into central london, went into a bookshop shy of trafalgar sq., i spotted an edition of: the scarlet and the black by stendhal... i told him: i will trade you linkin park's debut album, if you buy me this... the transaction was made... the one book i read after seeing a film adaptation starring rachel (rakhel) weisz and ewan mcgregor... ra-kh-el: not ray-chel... we used to be humans once... at high school getting bullied back... putting pins on chairs once we got up, sitting on them... playing bulldog in primary school, slap-ball, tag, playing cards at lunchtime... 16 fatty boy... one summer in poland, comes back aged 17... the irish girls take an interest while eating a pomegranate... what was the success of your diet? don't go to the gym... excess skin, an aesthetic surgeon is not what you need... there are only two ways to lose weight... either via swimming or by cycling... cycling is the best... lose weight by also toning your body... gym is a bad idea... by going to the gym you are straining exclusive parts of your body, either the torso, your hands, etc., jogging? unless on soft ground, bad idea on concrete, arthritis... cycling or swimming... lose weight... tone at the same time, the skin is allowed the required time to adapt to shrink, and forget what propped it up in plump form with all that excess flab... ugh... i hated being attractive to the opposite ***, i never used it to my advantage! imagine... an irish lad comes up to me, on behalf of some girl while i'm donning a french braid: you look just like johnny depp in blow, impersonating george jung... 14 year old girls walk up to you asking what shampoo you're using... herbal essences... i never used my looks... *******... now i'm a heavy drinker... so much for looks... first girlfriend? a fwend had to call me telling me she called him that she felt butterflies when i dropped her at the train platform after a day's worth of dating: tate modern, edward hopper exhibitions, cinema: troy, starring rose byrne (briseis) - honestly, a man can go crazy over curly hair... and then a restaurant date... that **** just flew over my head... i wouldn't have noticed... honestly though... i missed the whole h'american cultural excavation genesis in high school... catholic... uniforms... jesuit army-esque formation... now, i'm ageing... i'm starting to find the company of cats to be: clingy... my shadow included... i once thought that dogs were needy... i'm starting to think that cats are worse, esp. the maine **** breed... "lonely" or "loneliness" doesn't really resonate with me, esp. when thinking something "feels" like a variation of claustrophobia: hence i write... without a dialectic in place, ever since plato wrote his dialogues... what is philosophy, primarily? isn't it an off-shoot of "claustrophobia"? we write because we are seeking escape from congested thinking, a variation of "claustrophobia"... now imagine a schizoid character... having to focus on an imaginary dialectic, actually... having dialectics enforced on him, with no clarifying exodus to posit a gensis with! now, a clingy dog i could understand, given the overpowering status of the leash... but a clingy cat, when there's no leash involved?! shoom! right over my head... gone, somewhere into the distance!

what, this is the part...
were i cite...
   the weimar ******
critical condition...
       a daft punk troop
of a song,
  end of line....
blow-up a hot air balloon...
worth of blaire whire...
play the tambourine
like a ******* video...
there are,
quiet, simply,
no nazis coming...
fashionista faux pas
examples...
i'm alive,
but i'm dead,
i just forget to don
a strap-on...
  "oops"?
   that **** go down well
with
the "in"-crowd...
usual... metropolitan...
verbiage surge of answers....
   many a fetish after...
we arrive at the sensible
aspect,
"toxic masculinity"...
when guns n roses wasn't,
and nirvana was just plain
gay...
              and then...
whatever that happened,
happened..
                 and people were like:
come to the "new" tomorrow,
there's always a yesterday,
in a dream,
in some phil collins
wannabe
studio...
or... some other random ****
that
excluded peter gabriel.

                 i died:
and just about right:
my harvest had come.

great book reviews...
"toxic masculinity"...
so all masculinity is
about a clockwork orange?
   if it is?
can i be pro abortion
anti mongolian horde?
yes? no?
  which is it?!
neither...
   **** me... that's just bad
luck...

                               sundbeds,
sunflowers,
tulips,
sunglasses,
    plenty of staged
eager nights...
boring political affairs...
and...
         when gaming was
more about the narrative...
and never,
ever, about the microtransactions...

point being...
it's a game within a game...
time, is the prime concern...
you play a game,
by waiting...
you wait: by playing a game...

  microtransactions
are...
you ever move a sim3 avatar
to a computer,
and make it play a computer game?
what's on the macrocosmos spectrum?
you....

               "back in the day"...
you'd spend a saturday morning
engrossed in a gaming narrative...
metal gear solid,
tenchu, final fantasy solid...
20 quid...
and you played the narrative...
and a game became equivalent
to the worth of a book,
resident evil,

            you paid for a month's worth
of gaming,
you exchanged tips,
you sometimes bought a cheat book
because of the homework,
and that was your saturday morning
before hitting the shopping mall
or, whatever...

the current dynamic of
microtransactions in gaming?
i never, ever, do...
i'm an old gamer type...
i see the potential of extending
the life-expectancy
of a game...

   as long as you don't buy into
the microtransactions gambling habit?
as long as you play the "game"
within the game?
the game is an assured classic,
akin to chess...

              you have to play
the waiting "game"...
             time...
                           that's all it is...
whether war robots,
    or dawn of titans...
        comparison...
  you know that the best fruit,
is fruit, allocated
to the geography of it being sourced
seasonally...
you can't actually get better
strawberries,
than english strawberries...
from england, come june / july...
no ******* point sourcing them
from spain in late march / april....

    same thing with gaming...
the modern games haven't made any
elaboration...
apart from dislodging the player
from the concept of narrative...
**** me... that's almost an improvement...
given that now: time is the counter
measure, and the gamer...
   is having to invest,
in a narrative, outside of the confines
of the game,
once upon a time,
games had time-narrative
constraints...
     now: there's time,
and there are gamer narratives,
excluding them from time-narratives,
of a game...
         it's almost a faux pas...
more like a wet-*****...
****** pinky lodged into an ear,
an april fools' day scant...

        if you hacked passed
the microtransactions hype...
and didn't?
and instead took to patience?
it's free...
   where once,
a game would cost you 20 quid,
and a month's worth
of narrative,
back then, when games
resembled books,
when the gaming industry
was heavily influenced
by literature...
and now?
   the game's free...
sure...
it's "unfair", it's biased...
when you don't engage
in imported gambling
of succumbing to what, this is the part...
were i cite...
   the weimar ******
critical condition...
       a daft punk troop
of a song,
  end of line....
blow-up a hot air balloon...
worth of blaire whire...
play the tambourine
like a ******* video...
there are,
quiet, simply,
no nazis coming...
fashionista faux pas
examples...
i'm alive,
but i'm dead,
i just forget to don
a strap-on...
  "oops"?
   that **** go down well
with
the "in"-crowd...
usual... metropolitan...
verbiage surge of answers....
   many a fetish after...
we arrive at the sensible
aspect,
"toxic masculinity"...
when guns n roses wasn't,
and nirvana was just plain
gay...
              and then...
whatever that happened,
happened..
                 and people were like:
come to the "new" tomorrow,
there's always a yesterday,
in a dream,
in some phil collins
wannabe
studio...
or... some other random ****
that
excluded peter gabriel.

                 i died:
and just about right:
my harvest had come.

great book reviews...
"toxic masculinity"...
so all masculinity is
about a clockwork orange?
   if it is?
can i be pro abortion
anti mongolian horde?
yes? no?
  which is it?!
neither...
   **** me... that's just bad
luck...

                               sundbeds,
sunflowers,
tulips,
sunglasses,
    plenty of staged
eager nights...
boring political affairs...
and...
         when gaming was
more about the narrative...
and never,
ever, about the microtransactions...

point being...
it's a game within a game...
time, is the prime concern...
you play a game,
by waiting...
you wait: by playing a game...

  microtransactions
are...
you ever move a sim3 avatar
to a computer,
and make it play a computer game?
what's on the macrocosmos spectrum?
you....

               "back in the day"...
you'd spend a saturday morning
engrossed in a gaming narrative...
metal gear solid,
tenchu, final fantasy solid...
20 quid...
and you played the narrative...
and a game became equivalent
to the worth of a book,
resident evil,

            you paid for a month's worth
of gaming,
you exchanged tips,
you sometimes bought a cheat book
because of the homework,
and that was your saturday morning
before hitting the shopping mall
or, whatever...

the current dynamic of
microtransactions in gaming?
i never, ever, do...
i'm an old gamer type...
i see the potential of extending
the life-expectancy
of a game...

   as long as you don't buy into
the microtransactions gambling habit?
as long as you play the "game"
within the game?
the game is an assured classic,
akin to chess...

              you have to play
the waiting "game"...
             time...
                           that's all it is...
whether war robots,
    or dawn of titans...
        comparison...
  you know that the best fruit,
is fruit, allocated
to the geography of it being sourced
seasonally...
you can't actually get better
strawberries,
than english strawberries...
from england, come june / july...
no ******* point sourcing them
from spain in late march / april....

    same thing with gaming...
the modern games haven't made any
elaboration...
apart from dislodging the player
from the concept of narrative...
**** me... that's almost an improvement...
given that now: time is the counter
measure, and the gamer...
   is having to invest,
in a narrative, outside of the confines
of the game,
once upon a time,
games had time-narrative
constraints...
     now: there's time,
and there are gamer narratives,
excluding them from time-narratives,
of a game...
         it's almost a faux pas...
more like a wet-*****...
****** pinky lodged into an ear,
an april fools' day scant...

        if you hacked passed
the microtransactions...
       and didn't have the chance...
microtransactions are like
the old school cheat hacks...
but not quiet, but somehow quasi-,
       a modern microtransactions,
would be a cheat magazine
thorough-through
a game like final fantasy VII...
you have homework,
but you still want to complete the game...
modern games...
modern games...
there's an "end gole"?
  what modern game is worth
"completing"?
    
   again: tron, ready player one,
back to the future...
star wars just became dead
to me...
   sick people will plague hard-working
people, with a quasi-gambling
addiction,
needing to make microtransactions...
and they will,
my father was plagued by
an impostor, claiming to be a
tax office official:
and what if, that person had
an authentic position at the tax office?!

when gaming was for gamers,
the games were bought...
there was a narrative...
but now... now games don't have a narrative...
why would they?!
   who the hell plays games for
the narrative these days?
i know that on the crapper,
i need a game that allows me
to experience live-stream
interaction with non-bots...

       and these old gamers,
who still invest their money
in literature-esque-games?
so i was the sad one,
investing in vinyl?
   aren't the classic ******* gamers
just as bad,
investing in prepackaged
narrative gaming
experiences?
             a game with a narrative...
yeah... me buying vinyl
is: b'ah b'ah bad...
       what sort of game is alive and well...
when there isn't a crowd pushback
for the currency of microtransaction?

the narrative is time,
   the longer you endure the inadequacy...
the more you realise:
you're basically playing
the same game,
but in your scenario:
it's free...
   in some other ******'s scenario:
it cost him 70 hundred quid...

personally?
   i love this microtransaction dynamic...
concerning the people who
do not engage with it...
it's the perfect antithesis
   of what ruined the music industry
with genesis: napster...

you really are, playing the ultimate
game,
time...
         the one sort of commodity
that games,
without a clear narrative construct,
"forgot" to mention in terms
of them being exploited...
to their full capacity
of the one "commodity"
they "forgot", or rather,
couldn't "sell"...

              a tenchu PS1 game could
have lasted me a month...
now? a free game,
like war robots...
with absolutely no NPC?
hell... i'll be 90 and still be playing it;

what else? applause!
Daylight 4U2C Nov 2014
You know it well,
all life with a price.
A tag to every word that escapes a lip.
That no life is eternal,
or at least far as we know.
You must do,
to have,
then soon we all go.
But rather than fretting,
rather than dark depths.
Take the price tag and pay it,
as it won't rip off.
Take the price tag and pay it,
though it may rip you off.
Take the price tag and pay it,
since there is never a choice.
Take this price tag and pay it,
and work for what you want,
or demolish the store you built,
leaving holes in all you've got,
watching the land beneath you tilt.
PoserPersona Jun 2018
Yes, it's seemingly a nonsensical rhetorical question, but, for that precise reason, it will illustrate a lesson, if you so desire to tag along for this short session.

Per Wikipedia, "The horse (Equus ferus caballus) is one of two extant subspecies of Equus ferus. It is an odd-toed ungulate mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equidae." Hmmm... I much prefer that the horse goes "Nay," eats hay, has a mane, and is ridden by cowboys, cowgirls, Indians, equestrians, knights, jockeys, conquistadors, Mongols, and all. Even better, just point a horse out or otherwise show a picture to a kid and they will never be mistaken again. Even the littlest ones will never be stumped when faced with a rhino, tiger, giraffe, camel, and such.

Admittedly, there is a worry that we could be fooled with that of a donkey or mule. How come no one has taken advantage of this?! What a scam to get us rich! "Duh doy," you say, cause we all know when we see a horse, so why would anyone try to trick us with an ***?! Well I ask you in turn, why does anyone try to trick us with good art versus bad, let alone art versus crap? How could anyone fall for that?!
ju Oct 2011
I don’t usually rate flowers as a gift.
Somehow the words on the tag never match
the message they’re sending.

The tag read "Congratulations on the birth of your beautiful baby boy”
The message was What the hell were you thinking?
A baby at your age! Life as you know it is over.


The tag read “Wishing you luck and happiness in your new home”
The message was I wouldn’t live there if you paid me.
Lock your windows and don‘t make friends with the locals.


You get the idea.

But this time there is no tag.
He’s just given me a good old fashioned, honest, upfront
I wanna get into your knickers bouquet.

And I'm thinking **** it, why not?
leeannejjang Jul 2015
Para lang sa tabi,
Manong, ako'y may nakalimutan,
Pakitabi na lang sa tindahan ni aleng bebang.

Araw araw ikaw'y lagi sinusulyapan.
Sa likod mo ako'y lagi nagaabang.
Isang lingon mo lang araw ko'y nagkakakulay.

Isa kang bituin sa kalawakang walang ningning.
Komersyal sa tV na puro drama ang naririnig.
Hangin malamig sa tag-araw na sobrang init.

kaya para lang sa tabi,
Manong, ako'y may nakalimutan.
Pakitabi na lang sa tindhan ni aleng bebang.

"Iha, ano bang nakalimutan mo?" tanung ni Manong
"Puso ko po 'nong!" sagot ko.

Ako'y bumaba sa jeepney,
Tumakbo at ikaw ay hinanap,
Nakita ka ako'y bigla sumaya.

"Hoy, ikaw ibalik mo ang kinuha mo?" sabi ko.
Ngtaka at napakamot ka sa iyo ulo.
"Miss, nagkakamali ka ata." sagot mo habang ngumingiti sa akin.
"Paano ako magkakamali sa tao kumuha ng puso ko".

Ikaw'y ngumiti at ako'y nsilaw.
Doon ngsimula ang istorya natin dalawa,
na noon'y pinangarap-ngarap ko lamang.
Robyn Jul 2013
Love is a game
A game of tag
Some think it fun
But when I play, it's sad

"I'm it!" I say
But if I tagged them
They would never chase me anyway
I tagged the first
He ran
Away

I've tagged them all
And what's to show
Did they ever chase me down?
The answers
No

Love is a game
My game is sad
I play a one sided
Loveless game of tag
okirsten May 2010
Tag
Love plays tag
between bushes and
pine cones, with
larks and yews
laughing at dewdrops.
Sunshine explains
philosophy to widowed
bees and lonely
gnats in springtime.

— The End —