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Chalsey Wilder Apr 2014
Rain water soaks us
Runny mascara, but you still think I'm beautiful
Lips so soft
Lips so sweet
We're pressed up against each other
Bare chest to bare chest
You on top
Me on bottom
Hips locked in place with the other
Warm soft sweet lips slowly caressing my body, my lips and my neck you **** on
Soft gentle hands caress my ******* thoughtfully
Finally, her lips reach my thighs, I, trembling with lust and fear
I was scared and she knew it
Her hands and lips touched me
*So softly, so gently
My first erotica poem. Hope you like it.
It is not about me though. I'm still a ******. Comment what you think about my poem please?
Thank you.
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.
Umi Mar 2018
By my dear angel Sandalphon as he has been lead in my hand, leaving a clear trail of a cursive writing on a transient sheet of paper,
A crimson sight, so black that one would be caught in trance, reflected by unnatural light of a lamp flickering in the dark of the night, as his feather releases a sweet scent of fresh yet unused ink,
Together with Zadkiel's blooming and happy memories I then am capable to write such down, in an attempt to create poetry, focused,
The sound of scratchy, itchy, rasping echos through this room I inhabit, but already left spititually, engaged in the world of fantasy,
Word by word, the paper is penetrated by this pen, pleasantly, thoughtfully, gently sliding over it to not damage it by accident,
There is no need for haste, heartache nor rush, not is there the need to be concerned about this angels work, duty and his mission to accompany me throughout each and every writing which unfurls,
Alike a story from my mind, from my emotions, deepest wishes, cast on the physical realm with his help,
And once his strengh weakens, fades, loses might and goes out alike an dying ember he will be dunked in fresh ongoing determination, so that he can repeat his duties with exuberance, joy
Casting a smile on my face once literature has been created,
As then I lay my dark knight, my servant for the night to rest,
Until another poem has to be written and his duty awakens him,
After all, in this dreamlike tale it is well to remember;
You don't have to die in a dream

~ Umi
Styles Sep 2015
Its, only a matter of time, these thoughts on my mind -
thoughtfully inclined
I minimize the bottom line to the underline --
the truth will set you free by blowing your mind.
but we will discuss that another time
this is positive rap, of a different kind
sick of being stuck in a race against my own race
racing for a place, at the wrong place at the wrong time
looking through the eyes of blind man
will make you see things you cant understand
we keep jogging in place - so we land where we stand
politics is just politics
united we stand
all created equal
until we play our hand
in faith we place our hand.
Ah, Nikolaas, my love for him is not the same, as my love for thee;
My love for thee was once, and may still be, sweeter, purer, more elegant, and free;
But still, how unfortunate! imprisoned in mockery, and liberated not-by destiny;
It still hath to come and go; it cannot stay cheerfully-about thee forever, and within my company.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh, Nikolaas, and perhaps so thereafter, I shall love, and praise thee once more-like I doth my poetry;
For as how my poetry is, thou art rooted in me already; and thus breathe within me.
Thou art somehow a vein in my blood, and although fictitious still-in my everyday bliss;
Thou art worth more than any other lov
CK Baker Mar 2017
were you there
with a passionate heart
when all her world
was falling apart

did you listen
thoughtfully
when all that was
was misery

did you hold her
see her eyes
when desperation
fell from the sky

did you linger
help her cope
when all was lost
without a hope

were you present
conscience clear
to help her face
her darkest fear

did you ardor
deep inside
laugh and cry
build her pride

did you lift her
from her knees
dull the pain
and help her ease

did you question
more than care
were you feelings
raw and bare

did you show her
all your love
deep in spirit
from above
Dev A Jun 2014
Never again,
Never ever again,
Will I ever type my work up!

I'll save myself from computer err
By handwriting my poems.
Then and only then
Will I put them to the computer!

The self hatred,
The hate for technology,
Increases as my rage boils over.

Realizing that all the words,
All my emotions and feelings,
So thoughtfully phrased and typed,
Are lost,
Is a feeling like no other.

Rewriting the words,
Trying to remember exact phrases,
Is just painful!

Never again,
Never ever again,
Will I ever type my work up!
This is after being up for 24hrs. Ramblings are common at this stage of no sleep!
Steve Page May 2017
And when you give
Give like the widow would
Quietly and thoughtfully
Wholeheartedly and consciously
Like you know the value of costly
The value of giving til you laughingly
Really hurt in your fund for a holiday.

And when you give
Keep your other hand wondering
If it's sufficiently
Not knowing if it was slight of handedly
Or open handedly
So you're tempted into giving more
Than you intended previously.

And when you give
Give hilariously
Generously
Be gutsy til angels agree
On the degree
To which you plunge
The depths of your karki jeans

And if in doubt
Just focus on the tree
And the costly sacrifice
He willingly made
For you and me.

Give like the widow would -
Like it's just between you and God
And then you'll be free.
So many ways to give.  And it does the heart good.
There's a certain peace that settles inside you when you hear the wind whip through the forest, the sound soothes you until your muscles quiver with joy and you begin grinning with delight as the cool air runs soft fingers down your spine and sends shivers back through you. That was the feeling going through Fayowin as he stalked his prey, a nimble buck that mindlessly grazed in the snowy glade. Fayowin was a wolf, tall and regal, his fur ran a silver-white with intricate blue lines spiraling and writhing around his muscled body. His eyes glowed pure white in the night and shimmered in the daylight. The fangs lining his jaw were longer than the other wolves'... then again he was also larger than his alpha as well. Fayowin saw everything clearer and faster than the most skilled hunters in his pack, and he was also the swiftest. He should have felt proud of his uniqueness, but he felt outcast instead. The other hunters shunned him and disliked hunting alongside him, leaving Fayowin to hunt alone.

Today was no different. It was his turn to hunt and he had to hunt alone. If he failed, the pack would force him out into the cold. "If the pack starves, the hunter freezes," was the motto of his alpha, Alexei. Fayowin narrowed his white eyes and drew in the scent of the deer. As he did, he caught the hint of a she-wolf nearby, not of his pack. Distracted for an instant, he snapped back and sprinted for the deer, lunging for it and tearing into its throat and ripping out the windpipe and blood vessels all in one bite. As the smell of blood coated his senses, he began to feel uneasy and whirled around to see a silver wolf snarling at him. It was the she-wolf he had sensed earlier. She stood just a little shorter than him and had strange markings of her own: she bore black marks under her eyes and one on her forehead that resembled a paw. What struck him the most was the band around her upper foreleg. His eyes wandered as he observed her and she growled, bringing his attention back to her glaring green eyes.
"That... was my ****!" she growled. "I don't know how you managed to get it before me, and I don't know how you managed to escape my notice. Who are you?!"
Fayowin sneered and raised an eyebrow, "This, my dear, is MY ****. I've had my eyes on it for a while now. And frankly, this is my territory as well, and unless you want to become part of my territory, I'd suggest you treat me with respect."
She edged closer to him, surprised and infuriated at this male's straightforwardness. But there was something about that and his scent that appealed to her though. "I'm not leaving without this deer."
Fayowin chuckled, "It looks like you will be leaving without it, whoever you are."
"My name... is Feiria!" she licked her lips hungrily, "and that is MY deer!"
Fayowin narrowed his eyes thoughtfully as he studied her. Even through her winter coat, he could see the outline of her ribcage and could smell the desperation on her scent. He saw Feiria's muscles contract as she prepared to lunge at him. He sidestepped and she landed face-first in the snow, a mere inch from the warm deer meat. She looked at him hungrily, almost pleading. Fayowin sighed and nodded his head once, after which Feiria voraciously tore into the carcass.

He slowly meandered towards the center of the clearing and flopped down into the snow. He could hear the she-wolf eating ravenously behind him as he thought of his next move. If he returned to the pack, he'd be ridiculed and forced to live in the snow. If he stayed out here he faced the same problem.

Fayowin flattened his ears back and started to doze off, still listening to Feiria eat his ****. He began dreaming of gaping mountain passes, tall forests, and warm valleys. He felt oddly warm, not freezing cold as he had expected. He didn't care though, warmth was a gift in the winter. He slept peacefully until nightfall overtook the forest and the moonlight shone down and illuminated his fur, the lines becoming like blue fire. His eyes would have glowed if they were open, but they remained oblivious to the change in scenery until a cold wind blew through his fur and he shivered awake. He nearly jumped when he realized why he was so warm: the she-wolf lay curled up, pressed against him, sound asleep. He tilted his head slightly as he watched her sleep, probably the most peaceful she'd been in a long time. Fayowin would've hated to ruin his gift to her, albeit an unwilling one.
Feiria woke up soon after midnight, and gazed fearfully into Fayowin's glowing white eyes, taking in his
Cynical stare and his glowing body. She whispered, "I've heard of your kind..."
he looked curiously at her, "my kind?"
"the star wolves.."
he averted his gaze, "Never heard of them.. I'm just a normal wolf.."
Feiria glared at him, "You're glowing, *******.. Not normal. Unless.... Unless your whole pack is made of star wolves!" her face seemed to light up as she said it.
Fayowin whipped his head around, "No! I'm the only one like this..." he looked solemnly down at his feet as he finished.
She blinked, dumbfounded. Clearing her throat, she said, "I really should get back to my pack. They'll be worried about me if I stay out for much longer." she glanced at the massive deer behind them and sighed quietly.
"Your whole pack is starving...aren't they?" said Fayowin quietly.
Feiria nodded and he stood up and walked through the snow silently towards the deer. "you'll need to lead me to your pack if they're to get this meat."
Feiria blinked again, then nodded, getting up and starting off  
Towards the north. Fayowin gripped the deer's neck and drug the carcass behind him as he walked. After a half hour of walking, Feiria howled long and low, signaling her pack that she was near. Fayowin sighed as he heard their howls respond. He thought, there will be no howls for me tonight...
As they neared her pack's clearing, a group of young wolves sprinted towards them, rushing past Feiria and surrounding Fayowin. "Who is this outsider, Feiria? Why did you bring him here?"
there were five of them and they all went into attack mode, growling and circling him.
Feiria attempted to stop them before they got into a fight, but one of them pounced, and in a flash Fayowin had him pinned to the ground with his fangs around the wolf's neck. Fayowin watched the wolves around him react, stepping back and glancing at each other. Feiria shouted at them to stop but they didn't seem to hear her immediately, backing down only as Fayowin's growl tore through the trees, echoing throughout the forest
. They finally heard her, "he's a star wolf!" by now a crowd had gathered around them, Feiria's packmates watching Fayowin closely. He let go of the young wolf beneath his paws, who quickly scampered away, and Fayowin sat up straight and tall, his markings and eyes glowing for all to see. The wolves ooh'd and ahh'd amongst themselves before the alpha stepped forward and looked him up and down. "You killed this deer, yes?"
"I did."
"Why bring it here? We are strangers to you."
Fayowin glanced at Feiria, who shifted, uncomfortable with the silence. "I brought it here because i could tell that this pack needed the meat more than my own." Fayowin looked directly at Feiria and continued, "besides... She saw it first."
[[][][][][][][][][][][]
(End of day one of writing, really enjoyed it, look forward to writing again)
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Fayowin perched high upon an rock outcropping, overlooking the clearing below and the wolves within. The alpha had allowed him to stay, grateful for the meat. Feiria was pressed against him again, but this time Fayowin didn't mind. He enjoyed the warmth that she provided and felt at ease around her. She nuzzled his cheek affectionately, a move that surprised him enough that he turned to face her, brushing her nose in the process. He gazed fondly into her eyes for a moment before standing. "I have to return to my pack."
Feiria looked shocked, "No, stay here with us. We could use a hunter like you. Plus you're a star wolf, and it doesn't seem like your pack appreciates that."
He let the words sink in before replying, "I have to go. I'll return in the morning." Seeing the desperate and doubtful look on her face, he added, "I promise. I will come back."
Fayowin walked to the edge of the forest, the glow of his body soon disappearing from Feiria's view.
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...
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F­ayowin sprinted relentlessly back to his territory, smelling the familiar and not so pleasant scents of his packmates. The smell of blood ran thick in the air as he neared the clearing. The moonlight cast eerie shadows around him and he could feel the eyes of the wolves watching him as he reached the gore pile. The mound of bones and rotting flesh dripped blood into the white snow.
"You're late. And emptypawed. You know what that means, filth." the voice was that of his alpha, Marroy, who stood three feet tall at the shoulder, a whole foot and a half shorter than Fayowin. His fur was a mottled black with a grey underbelly.
Fayowin bared his fangs, the longest being three inches long, and he growled, "My name.. is Fayowin."
Marroy cackled in the darkness, "So straightforward. That's unlike you. No matter, you failed to bring us fresh meat. As punishment, you'll be reminded why we protect you in the first place."
Fayowin heard growls emanating from the trees. The pack of around 25 wolves was massive compared to other packs, and there were enough hunters to go around. Fayowin took a step back and let his eyes adjust so he could see them in the trees.
"You don't protect me, Marroy! You fear me!"
Marroy laughed again, "Not from where I'm standing, Mutt. You look pretty frightened." Fayowin took another step back. "Run! Run! Give us some entertainment!"
The wolves started bounding out of the trees and began chasing Fayowin out of the clearing. They seemed to be pouring from every shadow. He ran faster than ever before, the trees blurring past him as he tried to get away. He ran for what seemed like an eternity before seeing the snowy valley at the edge of the forest. He added a burst of speed and instantly regretted it. A rock beneath the snow tripped him and pain shot up his left foreleg. He tumbled end over end in a heap of blue and white, coming to a stop twenty feet away. Fayowin heard the pack coming for him and he tried to crawl away, but to no avail; the pain was too much. He whimpered as he was surrounded, and shut his eyes tight as he felt them bite and claw at him, retreating only after there was a ****** pool around the star wolf. Marroy walked slowly up to him after they had gone and said, "I hope you die out here. If you aren't, we'll make sure that changes." Then the alpha left him there, cold, ******, broken and alone.
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* (End of Day two/Start of day three of writing and i'm really hooked on this, I believe this may be one of my better stories...)*
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Feiria lay silently on the rock outcropping above the pack and she thought of the star wolf. Something about the breeze brought thoughts to her mind.  
Feiria lifted her nose into the air as the smell of blood became present. She sniffed intently and heard her packmates do the same. She looked in the direction that Fayowin had left in and saw a dark form slowly shambling through the shadowy flora towards her. As it neared her she could see that it was dripping a dark liquid, trailing it through the snow in a scarlet path. "Its Fayowin.." she thought to herself. "Why are his eyes so dark? Why isn't he glowing?"
she rushed to his side and the smell of his blood was almost overwhelming. There were numerous bites and cuts all over him and his left foreleg seemed broken.
Feiria called for the healer, an older female named Sheya, and supported Fayowin as they walked to the glade and waited for the healer. Fayowin collapsed in the center of the clearing, the moonlight hitting him directly, making the blood seem black against his white fur.
Feiria whimpered helplessly, waiting for Fayowin to answer, but his eyes seemed so lifeless that
She felt it was almost a false hope. When Sheya finally arrived, the blood had stopped flowing and his breathing had slowed until he was asleep. When the healer examined him, she looked puzzled.
"what's the matter, Elder?"
Sheya pondered a moment before saying, "His wounds have healed. I'd say its a miracle, seeing as he lost so much blood."
Feiria examined the sleeping wolf herself and found the elders words to be true; there wasn't a scratch left on him. "Leave him here, the sunlight will warm him once daylight comes and his fur is thicker than ours so the cold will not affect him as much." the gathered wolves sat in silence as Feiria washed the blood from his fur with snow and lay down next to him, pressing her body against his. The blue lines on Fayowin dimmed and brightened in tune with his heartbeat, and Feiria listened as her own beat matched it.
[][][][]][][[][][][][][][][][][]
...End of day 3....
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Fayowin felt like he was in another world, this one so much quieter, but at the same time he could sense every noise, every movement, every vibration. His fur was no longer the bright white it once was, but rather a deep black with crimson lines flowing round him. He was lying down, surrounded by a wolf pack, Feiria pressed against him for warmth. He saw, or rather sensed her spirit energy, a type of green fire that outlined her entire body as she slept. Fayowin stood up, thinking to wake her and let her know he was alright, but she hadn't moved. And neither had he; his white furred body remained as it was a moment ago, but he was looking at it as if in another body. He took a step back as he realized he was roaming about in his spirit form. He looked around at the pack and none of the gathered wolves seemed to notice him. He exited the circle of onlookers and gazed up at the falling moon, watching it descend into the horizon, chased away by the rays of the sun coming over the mountaintops to the east. As the sun peeked over the ridge, Fayowin caught something out of the corner of his eye, a dark mass that didn't fit right with the rest of the environment. He looked and saw two sets of glowing purple eyes in the shade. He called out to them, hoping they might hear. "Hey! Can you see me?"
The eyes looked at each other and then back at him, staring for a moment before turning and running.
"Hey, wait!!" Fayowin called after them and began to chase them deeper and deeper into the mysterious forest.The beings moved faster than Fayowin had anticipated, disappearing soon after the chase had begun. Fayowin stood there in the middle of the woods, panting and searching for the elusive forms. After a moment he saw them at the very edge of his vision, their eyes glowing brighter, almost as if they were taunting him forward. Snarling, Fayowin bolted towards them and they led him on a winding path marked by a barely discernable scent trail. The smell was that of burnt wood and crushed pine needles and was oddly alluring to Fayowin as he ran. It seeemed as if he were running for ages, the sun and moon rotating numerous times around him as he traveled over mountains and rivers, through forests and valleys. On the thirteenth solar rotation, the figures finally stopped, joined by eleven other figures surrounding a circular rock with vines and overgrowth covering its base.
As he neared the figures, he saw that they all looked like him, long furred and covered in glowing lines. "Star wolves... Like me..."
The wolves all surrounded the dais and watched him with razor sharp eyes, watching his every move. As he gazed back, Fayowin noticed that each of them had some form of a trident mark right below their left eye, the color matching the lines tracing their bodies. He felt the urge to move forward, as if an instinct were telling him to stand in the center of the circle. Fayowin stood, all eyes on him as he waited for whatever was about to come.
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....I have nothing to say to you HP... I dislike you at the moment....
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Nightfall was coming swiftly, the moon and the stars swirling into place above them, reaching their peak and then halting completely. All of time and
One4u2nv Feb 2012

I'm thoughtfully watching joyous pupils viciously coming across girlish phantoms.

Meanwhile you are watching me satanically bounding through fields of flaming stimulations, while riding on hope that depends on productivity. I won't ever find it. Productivity that is. 

Satisfaction might never be prioritized above facts. This is FACT-

The unknown needlessly attracts poetry.

Our reality abraded and unjust can be uncomfortable if it’s entangled with education. 

Moving at your own pace is a fountain of materialism and greedy lusts. 

Psychic ability favors pressure, and a random act of silliness can somehow mold in to self reform. 

Magic has been brought to you by Nikola Tesla and of course Prince...He is the true King, save Bowie of course. 

Sexology turns boring things into The American Dream.

Suggestively inter-dimensional paintings as a punch line to a tasteless joke for tasteless people. ----> See blog for details. Http://www.tasteforthetasteless.tumblr.com

Swiftly opulent inspectors for future generations leave no getaways for past generations. Thank your god for this..I certainly do. 

Feminist eruptions and Malibu Barbie are inexpensive expectations with crazed, maniacal plans for world *******. We fed the Illuminate to the space pirates and now we are the people. 

Enclosed in this excessively long mixture of nonesenical words are meanings of life like surgically altered violins fueled by bitterness and rage are the way to the Sneaker Pimps six-Underground. 

Our politicians are galavanting with over paid under appreciated butchers. 

Comfort is the leading cause of heroism and cancer. 

Electricity is a side-effect of greed. Greed fuels each and every home. 

Activism is another form of stigmata and self-confidence rests upon your soul's desire to be better. 

A perfect moment is ruined by mythology. Throw it away along with your **** of an ego. Learn what bogs you down and what helps to keep you afloat. 

****** tension can trigger an avalanche of vengeance and self loathing destruction 

Your energy can transcend in to a rouge wave larger than life and larger than Jesus Christ fanatics followed by Anti-Christ hopefuls.

Laughter gravitates towards ravenously healthy men and women. Follow that pack and you will find health awaiting your arrival with open arms. 


Nigel Morgan May 2014
She opened the door of the gallery and there it was, there it lay, before her, nearly perfect: her exhibition. The opening was an hour or so away and there were, naturally, a few adjustments to make, but in essence it was right, and as she walked to the middle of the rectangular space (to survey the full effect ) she felt held by the quiet wonder of it all; that she had made all this and with ‘the quality control of nature’s accidents’. He’d written those words some years previous when a solo show was but a dream she would enter between sleep and wakefulness, when she would think of the west coast of Scotland and the poetry of its seashore, the infinite variety in the seashore strand between sand and sea. It was such natural accidents of form and transformation by nature’s hand that had guided her imagination into rightness and towards this exhibition.

At breakfast that morning she had come to the table dressed to greet her audience, and for the first time as a featured artist in a festival of some repute. She had felt the quiet joy of choosing the right combination of clothes to be the public person she had now become. He had loved the new dress she had bought to clothe her gallery persona. She had been conscious of his eyes following the lines this frock so generously drew around her body’s shape and form, the way the material fell across her *******, lay smoothly on her thighs.  It was a very grownup frock and with the jacket and scarf made her look purposeful, confident. His looking made such confidence possible, his admiration and what she could tell was that coming together of love and passion that, her being dressed in this formal way, so often evoked.

In the gallery she had worried over the lighting, climbed up the metal ladder with the fluffy green glove thoughtfully provided to enable those small adjustments of direction to be made on a hot spotlight. There were four large pieces flanking a corner that had embossed lines running across their surfaces, lines that needed oblique light to reveal the shadowing of this effect of swirls and marks of a retreating tide on sand.  Two smaller pieces needed rearranging; she’d placed them, late the evening before, in the wrong sequence. Poster boards were to be filled with her poster and put outside on the pavement by the gallery entrance. She opened the main door, a very green door with its top and bottom bolts and black-painted handle ring. The street outside was a welcoming mix of 18th and 19th C buildings, hardly one the same, the sort of three storey buildings that had simple plaques prominently placed into the brickwork from a distant past when proud builders would describe a structure’s use or ownership with a title and date. By ten o'clock this one-way street was lined with parked cars, but now there was little traffic. It was a quiet sunny morning in a market town.

‘Don’t mind the dog, ‘ he said. ‘He’s used to coming in here.’ It was a long-haired verging on the side of scruffy sort of dog, used to keeping its own counsel, probably used to being taken to exhibitions. ‘Just popping in,’ he said, this man who, and she couldn’t help noticing this, seemed to hold much in common with his dog; the long, but retreating on the forehead, hair, slightly scruffy from the want of a comb or a good brush (like his dog), he had dressed without much thought (because who dressed thoughtfully to walk a dog?), and that’s what he was doing, walking the dog and, seeing the Gallery open, thought he ought to look in.

Giving him her brightest smile, she embarked on performing the artist’s music of conversation, that score holding gentle melodies and welcoming harmonies. Although she had become quite practised in talking to her audience there was always the challenging inquiry that would catch her off guard.

‘Well, are you finished with the seashore now?’ said the man with the look-alike dog. For a moment a half dozen possible answers seemed possible. ‘Could one ever finish with something so extraordinary and various as that hinterland between land and sea?’ No, that was seemed a mite critical and clever. ‘Oh, I’ve hardly started’ was tempting, but rather smug and too confident by half. ‘I just love the seaside’ would probably do, as no one else was listening. ‘Merleau-Ponty says the complexity of the seashore is a metaphor in the search for self-identity’. She did wonder what he’d make of that, but finally decided on ‘It’s such a rich source of ideas and images I’m sure there’s a lot more I want to do with the subject.’

”It’s all the same colour”. She’d had that one a few times. ‘When I’m on the beach I’m fascinated as much by the texture and shape of what I see  and feel than the colour. I like the subtlety of the colours in the sand. I think my pieces – and she waved her hand towards what she had titled her Sand Marks pieces – show so many of the different shades of colours you find on the seashore.’

Those Sand Marks, a collection of variously dyed and marked two metre plus linen-lengths, dominated one wall of the gallery. They floated a few centimetres from the white wall, and when people moved past them the slight shadows cast by the linen lengths seemed to ripple in the human-made breeze. She could never look at them without thinking how their very accidental making – binding a linen cloth with inner placed objects and using the natural dye of tea – could create such absorbing results. She would follow with her gaze one of the linen-lengths from bottom to top (or top to bottom) and find herself walking on the wet sand of a Scottish beach, overwhelmed by the clear light and space with only the sea sound surrounding. He would tell her, had told her often, how moved, how affected he had been when he first saw them hung. To him, these ‘marks’ carried an essence of this aesthetic she now owned and for which had become recognised.

Even on this, her first day, she had been visited by a small number of admirers and supporters, some travelling distances to see her work with the aura of the original, a truer view than that possible on the back-lit screen of their computer monitors. Ladies who loved textiles, the containment and privacy to sew and stitch secured in their busy lives. These friendly and smiley women (the comfortable side of sixty) understood something of what she was doing here, and perhaps imagined themselves as thirty-somethings walking Scottish beaches free from children and the relentless list-making of house and home and occupation, able to create imaginary worlds of marks and folds, pleats and textures. Full of enthusiasm for the medium, what they perhaps didn’t have was the skill of seeing, a skill she had grown up with, had always owned to some degree: found, fostered, honed, developed into a second-nature activity of always looking.

There would be the occasional brief lull when the gallery was empty or close to empty, as though needing the space to come up for breath after being occupied by people and their movement. She would then walk slowly around the long well-lit room viewing her pieces and her arrangements of pieces from different angles. She would look at his poems placed antiphonally between her work, commissioned for her catalogue, her book of images of the sea shore paired with, incorporating even, her made pieces. She’d chosen a favoured few she’d felt caught the essence of being in the sea’s company, in the sand and shore’s domain. Like everything he did it had been undertaken with the utmost intensity of purpose. She saw him now in her mind’s eye with his notebook sitting against rocks, paddling in the great shallow pools, walking head down along the tide line, those bright days on a Scottish island and before, before on that ellipse of beach by the fishing station.

He would tease out an idea formed from a little motif of words, perhaps like the very music that was his private territory: here, alone, apart we are marked by the tide’s turn. Yes, we are marked by being solitary in such unconfining space, the marks at our feet become the lines, the mounts, the fingers, those interruptions, breaks and blockages found in the tridents, chains and crosses of the art of palmistry. We read the seashore as a psychic oracle reads the hand, hoping, as Kathleen Jamie so rightly says, for the marvellous. And marvellous it so often is.

Standing in this gallery was like being gathered about by the seashore. It was a short jump in the imagination’s miracle to hear the soft breathing of the sea, the wind caressing the face, the warmth of the afternoon sun on the freckled cheek.

See how those we love are transformed
when the sea is their only boundary

a figure stands before a sand bar
in a crescent of water left by the tide
an affecting geometry of solitude
. . .


These words had always stopped her in her perambulating tracks. She thought of her son, far distant on the beach, at rest for once, still, motionless within the confluence of the elements of the beach, at the epicentre of her gaze, all things flowing to and from his tiny, far-away figure.
Alyanne Cooper Jun 2014
My nickname for you was "broccoli".
I called you that because
Your hair is so curly
That one of our classmates
Tried to describe it and could only
Come up with "broccoli"
And somehow that name stuck in my heart.
To this day, I can't eat broccoli
Without thinking of you,
Picturing your curly brown hair
And kind green eyes
And strong yet tender fingers
And brilliant ear-to-ear smile
And smirk just for me.

I miss you. A lot.
I never told you I was in love with you,
And I regret that.
So I want to write a book of poems
And promote it far and wide
Just so I'll have the chance
To maybe catch your attention
And see you again.
Then, maybe I can tell you
"Thanks for the collection of Emerson
You so thoughtfully bought me...
That's what made me fall
Head over heels for you."
SassyJ Jan 2016
Sensation, intuition, feeling, and thinking,
Is wrapped inside a ball,
A small pink ball inside our head,
That won't stop till we're dead,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks Tyler for working with me! ;0)
Tyler HP link: http://hellopoetry.com/tyler-james-birabent/
Leigh Mar 2015
Eyebrows like barbed wire,
Skin like leather,
Silver hair always carefully in place,
And a handshake that held your everything.
It's etched into my palm.
Beneath the kindest eyes I knew
Bags were packed for the Winter.
Every item picked thoughtfully for her:
His life
...


A short tribute to my Grandad George who passed away. One of the kindest and most selfless people I've known.

...
I have fallen into the snare of love; whether or not I wish it, I must love; and strugglingly, whether or not my heart desires to taste it, I have to go through it. I have tried, certainly, with beads of weird sweat, to crawl along its muddy channel; a muddy channel adorned only with tears and grievousness, but still I have failed to pass it. I have failed to pass my heart onto it, my poor little heart; and relieve it with comfort love might just ever have.

How I once desired to call thee, hath now ceremoniously gone; my stomach flips and churns itself like a whirling streak of poor butter being invaded by endless chains of ***** charms. My heart is plain, bleak, and can only whisper to me the pain it feels; my heart has beats still, but neither air nor breath. Its air has been radiantly tossed away; and superseded by a chance of madness it had always averted--at least before the very incident took place. It is now, thus, pale and has no shimmer nor glitter on its surface; its tale is as bare as a thin wintry raspberry branch might be. Ah, Immortal, my Friday morning; my Saturday evening; my Sunday afternoon. Immortal; with his faded grey hat strolling comfortably alongside a smiling me; our love was growing mutually on a warm Saturday morning. I told thereof, some minuscule bits of anecdote-like poetry; and his laugh afterwards warmed up all the butterflies that had hitherto laid down lazily around the grounds on their coloured stomachs. Immortal with his arduous bag hoisted onto his sturdy shoulders; and greeted me softly, with a rough morning voice; as he padded down the stairs--smelling like honey and trees and a flying bumblebee. Immortal with his love settling onto his voice; his shaky lips as he uttered a verse he remembered from a novel he had (unsuccessfully) tried to read. Immortal with his reddish lips, and innocent brownish glances--as he walked down the stairs. Immortal with my love encircling every swing of his steps; Immortal with my little heart within him. Immortal my dearest darling; his treasures were always brown--at least twice a week, and the smell of his perfumed blossom-like shampoo clinging all too gently onto the way down his white neck, and waist.

Immortal in his black garments in last year's cold weather; and with a witty smile so meaningful that he was once like a candle to my darkened heart. Immortal and his bored face that always entertained my heart; and his anxiety about immaculate workloads that made everything but funnier than they already were. Ah, Immortal, Immortal, Immortal; my very own Immortal. Though thou might be Immortal no more, in thy mind; thou really art still my Immortal in every sense; and I can still but feel thy presence even from a very far distance. Immortal, thou art my blood; my jugular veins, and the definition of my very heartbeat! Immortal, how I am a fool to have confessed this; thou might remember me no more; but for thou knoweth--thou art my prince still, of whom I feel the humblest streak of pride; and for whom I shall still wipe my showering tears. Ah, Immortal! One day I had just emerged from my room with a jug of warm water, and a flavour of strange poetry in my literary mind; and my Immortal greeted me with a stamp of melancholy smile as he always does when he retreats from work. He looked tired but not submissive; he had a rain of spirit still--for the remaining ingress and egress of the raucous Monday evening. I was, indeed, explosively exhausted from my head all the way to my feet--and a lurid chat with him slowly melted my stern visage and restored its gleams. Ah, Immortal; my lover, my shiny petal; the missing wing of my eastern soul; my European moon. He is from Sofia; as how its chaotic--yet elaborative auras always danced around his face. The charms of Sofia were even better scented in his breath; he was always prophetic about the skies and the red-skinned suns of the summer. He thoughtfully suggested that I write of 'em; he breathed his relief and exhaustion only into my hands, how he trusted me and depended himself on me like a selfish little lad! On other occasions laughed with a pair of red cheeks--is aromatic and handsome my lover, indeed he is! My poor, poor lover; for the world hath now defined its triumph over him; and thus its terrifically evil proses his very regions. Ah, my darling, if only still-I could save, save, and save thee! Ah, 'em--doth thou, by any chance, hold any remembrance of 'em still? Our blessed, blessed offspring--and they but shall be nurtured and overjoyed and delightfully pampered, as the very special fruits of our love. The love that both of our souls enjoy; the love that our sides agree on. Your fatherliness is in our son; and just as how I am, our daughter shall enlighten our home with her poems; ah, dear, dear little giggles t'at would be ours, and verily ours only! Ah, Immortal, if only thou but knew--how panoramic my wifely love would be!

Immortal, my darling; my purplish sun; my picturesque sky; my starlet dream. Even the oceans across our splendid earth are not vacant, and innocent, as thy eyes; thy words are like a calming river whose odour once shrieked gently onto my ears. Every breath thou maketh is my poem; and thus in every single poem, or verse I write--there dwells a vast bulk of thy charms. Thou art alive still--in my lungs; in my humorous soul; thou art the eve to my nights; the leaf to my mornings. Even the only leaf that shall stay firm when autumn finally arrives. But unfortunately shall it arrives with dire terms; for shall it have revenge--due to its savagely desperate needs for reclaiming its once lost freedom. Ah, its freedom, that was consumed away by the compounded fires of the summer. Then, still there shall be no-one to replace thee, even about the adequate hills and valleys outside; I could find thee not this jubilant afternoon. Oh, how unceremonious! And how malicious my love is, for thee! And our song is, for thou knoweth, resembles the one echoing in yon marvelous Raphaelite painting; my hair sings of your love; just as my poetry speaks of thy bounteousness. Thou art not Him; but still--thou art more bountiful to my heart, than to all our frail counterparts may seem!

And by this I am still your little girl; I shall play with my bike and congratulate thee on crafting off the last bits of my poetry. Like in a nursery once, though I doth remember it thoroughly not; I played with my dolls and later created a bride and groom out of them; I shall perhaps play with them again and make the remembrance of our now astray marriage, this time, their illusionary sanctuary. Ah, Immortal, this love might be virtual--and thus not by any chance effectual; but do remember, in thy severed heart, that it was once real; and that it was, long ago, deeply heartfelt and actual. Immortal, the king of my moon; the very last spark of my charms, I hope thou wilt know one day--how I selflessly loved--and love thee still, purely and artistically, just as how I loveth His other creations and my beautiful poetry; and that I shall still supplicate that you be the first, and last mate in my arms-- for my love is sacred, humid, and eternal; and I want thee thus, to be my only immortal.

I love thee; and thee only, querida. Obicham te, obicham te, obicham te.
Mymai Yuan Sep 2010
It all began when someone left the window open.
The love bird cocked its bright green head at the shut door of Woodren’s third floor bedroom, perched on her bedpost. Its bright black eyes glittered, listening for the sounds of Woodren’s footsteps. None came. It ruffled its feathers impatiently; waiting for Woodren to come back with some water for its thirsty beak.
The love bird’s first memory was of Woodren: her clear gray eyes expressing her great happiness through them and not through the tiny curve of a smile on her thin pale lips. Her small white fingers pressed on the syringe gently, and a hot, mushy substance that tasted of apples and bananas went down its throat. The tiny black beak clattered against the plastic syringe greedily. “Aw, you poor baby. You’re hungry aren’t you, my Hoopsie-girl?” she murmured.
She then later taught her baby lovebird to fly with the patience of a mother. As soon as its wings started flapping feebly, she lifted Hoopsie up on the palm of her hand above her head and drew her hand away quickly, teaching the lovebird to fly and landing on Woodren’s soft bed. On cold nights, Woodren would wrap her favorite emerald green scarf around Hoopsie and place her behind the television where it was always warm and sellotape the electric sockets and wires so that Hoopsie was safe.
Woodren never even considered snipping the feathers of Hoopsie’s wings; she would never hurt her darling creature, and snip of its greatest glory. She would comb the feathers with a miniature pink Barbie brush, noticing how blue feathers had started to appear on Hoopsie’s wings and red ones slowly layered beneath the blue as time went by.
Showering Hoopsie was the hardest of all. Aunt and Uncle Palmer had no idea that Hoopsie even existed and revealing her presence would leave both Hoopsie and Woodren with no home. Late at night, Woodren would have to sneak out to the bathroom on the first floor (not on the second floor because that one was right next to Aunt and Uncle Palmer’s bedroom), down the stairs (taking care to step over the thirteenth stair that groaned so loudly), turn on the taps quietly and wash a sleepy Hoopsie with warm water.
Her two youngest cousins often made fun of her for the funny smell that stuck on her clothes sometimes. Linda and Lucy, her bratty twin cousins, asked in their scornful sing-song voices, “Why do you lock your room Woodren? Scared we’ll find all your old ***** clothes under the bed that you wouldn’t let Ma throw away?”
“No, maybe she’s scared we’ll find naughty magazines? If we do, we’ll tell Pa and you’ll have nowhere to stay ‘cause Pa says that type of behavior is sinful and he won’t tolerate it in his house!”
Woodren found it in her heart to look upon her silly cousins as childish entertainment. What did they know of the love she had for Hoopsie? “No, I’m scared you’ll find the monster under my bed and start crying for your Ma”
Linda narrowed her blue eyes, “I’m telling Ma you mentioned Lucy’s fear of the monster under the bed to her face! Besides, you don’t have anywhere else to go. You live on Pa’s charity. Ma said so.”
It was the lowest of insults based on a harsh truth. Woodren’s mother had died of cancer when Woodren was very young and her father followed her mother not a year after with heart grief. Her mother had asked her younger sister to take in Woodren; they were her only relatives and had stopped being fond of her once their own two twin daughters arrived and Mr. Palmer started to have to work harder to feed the six bellies at his dinner table. She just became another mouth to feed.
The only person Woodren got along well with in the household was her eldest cousin, Max. Max rarely spoke in anything but grunts, thought of his two little sisters as annoying brats, refused to say more than two sentences at a time to his simpering mother and loudly obnoxious father and often came and sat in Woodren’s room with his large feet against the wall, stroking Hoopsie’s head in silence. She really was fond of Max sometimes. He could be so thoughtful. Just two weeks before, for her birthday, Max had bought her maroon silk curtains with white birds imprinted upon them. He had even gone further than that and stitched in white thread, “Happy birthday. I love you” a red wonky heart followed and then “From Hoopsie.” Simply imagining him sitting there with a huge, thick curtain holding a tiny needle in his bear-like paws, cursing as he stabbed his rough fingertips and fumbling clumsily made her shout with laughter.
It was Max’s idea to buy Hoopsie a big metal cage and attach it to a branch on the big tree in their garden with a piece of shoelace, hidden among all the green leaves. That way, when Hoopsie sang Woodren wouldn’t have to blast her music and radio at the same time or pinch Hoopsie’s beaks shut when her Aunt or Uncle come to  yell at her if she was deaf or crazy or both. And that way, Woodren’s room wouldn’t have its twangy smell of bird **** and Woodren wouldn’t have to be paranoid all day long at school, wondering if nosy Aunt Palmer had broken into her room and found Hoopsie. And that way, she could leave her window open during the day, trying to rid her room off the nutty, sugary smell.
Max’s room was on the same floor as Woodren, the third floor. Every morning, bright and early before school, Woodren would run with a small lump in her sweater and the keys to her locked room jingling on her wrists to Max’s room. Max would barely acknowledge her as she ran across his room, opened his window and climbed out like a monkey to the branch that pushed against his window sill. She crawled along it with speed and sat there, with her legs hanging down and the branch between her legs, fumbled for the cage door above her head, made sure there was enough water and food to last Hoopsie for the day, popped Hoopsie inside with a quick kiss, arranged the fan-like fresh morning-smell leaves to cover the cage completely and skate back towards Max’s window.
Hoopsie mourned with a few high whistling notes. She hated being away from Woodren during the day- waiting for the moment when the sun was getting hot, and Hoopsie was tired of chatting to the birds in the nearby trees, when Woodren’s sharp little white face with its explosion of frizzy black hair would appear in between the leaves with her happy grey eyes and let her fly around the tree before calling, “Hoopsie” followed by her signature tilting whistle. But for now, and for every morning till noon, Hoopsie would have to wait.
“You don’t think they’ll find her do you?” Woodren would ask Max as she clambered back into his window. It was their daily morning ritual.
“No. Pa told Ma that it’s all about privacy now that I’m a growing-up boy. I’ll lock my door; promise.” He would reply back, completing their ritual.
“Are you still eating lunch with that Ed kid?” he asked, completely breaking their ritual this morning.
“Yes.” She was completely surprised. Not only was Max breaking a routine, Max of all people, he was doing so by asking her a question about her personal life.
Woodren eyed Max strangely. To her, Max was her huge cousin that somehow managed to communicate with a variety of different grunts and hated cutting his hair because of his fear of sharp objects; but to the rest of the school and neighborhood, she knew Max was the “strong and silent” handsome tall boy, every girl’s dream, with his shaggy blonde hair.
“Why?” her gray eyes grew rounder when suspicious instead of narrowing.  
“You don’t have many friends at school.”
“You know I don’t get along with any of them but Ed. I don’t like being friends with people unless I actually like them… unlike all the other girls at school.”
“I don’t like you staying around the Ed kid too much.”
Woodren felt a little glow of affection for Max in her heart. She understood why Max was worried. Ed was unstable with the rest of the world. He did what he wanted to, he said exactly what he wanted to and he wasn’t afraid of anything because he didn’t care what anyone said. He was the kid that the no parents wanted their children to stay near. There wasn’t anything Ed hadn’t done before.
Despite what everyone else thought, Woodren knew that his morals and sense of good and justice were strong in his heart. And when it came to Woodren he was always there for her since he moved to the neighborhood more than half a year ago. No matter how many offending remarks he made, she felt he had become the only stable thing in her life in spite of him being so apt to change. She had learned to depend on him.  
At the breakfast table, Woodren’s gray eyes slid over from Linda to Lucy to Aunt Palmer to Uncle Palmer and rested on Max the longest. Until she had come to look at Max, all four of them were identical in their attractive features and identical in their pinched-up, suspicious and petty expressions glazed over with a courteous mask. Max’s blue eyes, though the same shape as Aunt Palmer’s and the same color as Uncle Palmer’s, expressed a good heart and sincerity.
Her first subject of the day was an art lesson. All she had to do was sit comfortably, a palette with swirls of colors, paintbrushes, charcoals and pencils, a *** of water, and a fresh-smelling page. Usually she drew herself as a monster, or Linda as the devil- disturbing pictures that made people believe she was “talented”. But today, it came to her all of a sudden she’d never done a good, worthwhile painting of Hoopsie. Sure, her tables and notebooks were filled with carvings she’d doodled in class but never something she would want to keep.
She started to sketch Hoopsie on her bed post, eyeing the nuts Woodren had stolen from Aunt Palmer’s snack cupboard. She drew Hoopsie in the big tree and painted a metal cage around her. Somehow, the silver cage ruined the picture completely, making Woodren grimace. When the paint dried, she erased Hoopsie from inside the cage and drew her beside it, her small black feet gripping a twig.
Woodren remembered how elegant birds looked when she looked up into the sky, and saw them with their wings spread out and imagined feeling the wind rush through her feathers and ripple down her head and spine, with a heaven of azure blue surrounding her, shooting through clouds cold and refreshing like a sprinkler in the garden. Maybe that’s what freedom tasted like. She tried drawing Hoopsie soaring in the sky before she realized she’d never seen Hoopsie soar like other birds do, because Hoopsie had never done so.
Broodingly, she packed up when class was dismissed, slowly and thoughtfully. Somehow, that small beginning of a painting had darkened her frame of mind completely. Still ruminating, she headed down the hall way to eat lunch.
“Woody!” Hearing the sound of that voice, she momentarily forget her unease and Woodren’s thin, pale lips spread in a smile even before she turned around to him. Ed was the only one who ever called her that. His oval head was covered in small black bristles and one of his black eyebrows rose as he smirked with his pink lips curving down. The diamond earring in his ear glinted like his teeth did. He caught her eyes with his hazel ones; his eyes were warm and lively.  His mouth formed words that were witty and charming and could always make Woodren laugh.
Woodren put a look of amazement on her face. “You came to school today.”
“What are you talking about? I’ve been coming to school nearly all month.”
“That’s why I’m surprised.”
He hit her arm lightly. A few girls nearby turned around and giggled when they caught Ed’s eyes. Woodren remembered when Ed had first come to school. All the prettiest girls at school kept sidling over to him and batting their eyelashes. Ed had taken one look at the curves on their bodies; his eyes flickered over their face, a little bored, and continued his conversation with Woodren as if there had been no interruption.
It was a mark of their friendship three weeks later when she told him about her family. His hazel eyes had burnt hotly. When he was angry, his voice was quieter, but strained as if the passionate anger behind the words were being controlled with the greatest effort, “People who ruin other people’s happiness on purpose and with joy are just plain evil.” He told her that he hated the monsters that kidnapped children, crippled them, not only in body but mind too, and forced them to beg, far away from those that loved them. Here followed a stream of facts, all said in the same tone that both scared and impressed Woodren.
“How do you know so much about it?” she had once asked him.
He looked at her with an odd gleam in his eyes, “Because I care.”
Now he was looking at her without breaking his gaze, the same odd gleam in his eyes, searching her face. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing.” She had still been brooding over Hoopsie in a cage, and why the picture upset her so much.
“Woody, tell me what’s wrong.”
Every time Woodren mentioned Hoopsie, Ed would go silent or make an offending remark about the way that Woodren took care of Hoopsie. Over a very short time, Woodren had learned never to mention Hoopsie’s name and though it drove her crazy with frustration, she knew Ed would never tell her reason the why if she tried to pry it out of him. Knowing not to answer truthfully, “I told you, nothing”
“I can tell when you’re lying. Your eyes grow whopping and your mouth pouts to the right.”
“Shut up.”
He looked at her searchingly before giving up with an irritated sigh.
“Come with me.” The chair scraped as he pulled out and pushed the table away from him. His tall frame dwarfed her.
He brought her to the back of the school where teachers and students never went, leaned against the wall and lit a cigarette. “You want to try one?”
“I don’t smoke, Ed”
“Why won’t you even try it?” The tone he used when he was about to state something that began an argument leaked into his voice smoothly, like oil. Woodren opened her mouth to list the damaging things it did to your lungs and heart but his voice had begun in its rapid, silky tone:
“Because society has brain washed you so that if you smoke when you’re a child, you’re a horrible ungrateful creature that will never go far in life. But when an adult smokes, it’s okay. You don’t smoke because people and teachers tell you not to try it. Well I say, **** them. These are the best years of your life. Do what you want, try everything so you can make the choices of your life later with a rounded experience and knowledge. I’m not saying get addicted. You have to be strong if you’re gonna be a risk-taker…” he inhaled deeply and exhaled in a husky voice, “I just thought you always went on about how you were such a strong risk taker.” He blew a cloud of heavy smoke above her head. “Oh, and of course you won’t try it because Aunt and Uncle Palmer said it’d be sin, isn’t that right?” he asked with a tantalizing grin in a mocking tone. He watched her face contort with anger, his hazel eyes dancing with glee. He knew he had hit at the bull’s eyes. No one ever jeered at Woodren’s inner power and then put her on the same note as her Aunt and Uncle.
A sudden snarling sound flared from her. She didn’t have to listen to anything Aunt and Uncle Palmer said… they never did anything worthy intentionally. She knew that. He was just stupid. She swore at him and knocked the cigarette out of his hand with a smart slap before storming away. An amused laugh from behind her made her ears tingle pink.
As soon as school was over, she pushed pass Ed who was waiting for her and ran back home. Opening the front door of the house, she scurried up the stairs to the third-floor and knocked on Max’s door. When she opened it, Max was already holding Hoopsie in his big hands. Hoopsie sang with joy when she saw Woodren.
“Hoopsie-girl” Woodren whistled with a tilting note that Hoopsie identified instantly. Hoopsie flapped over and landed on her shoulder.
“By the way,” said Max, “she must have knocked over her water because it was wet on the bottom of the cage. She kept trying to drink it. She’s thirsty.”
“Oh you silly Hoopsie! Why did you knock over the water? You know I’m supposed to have 8 cups a day?” she pampered the lovebird with caresses and endearing words before hiding Hoopsie in her shirt and running back to her room.
Woodren placed Hoopsie gently down on the bed post
The concept of a whole person is an enigma that evolves within a culture . Often it is not a transitive concept and can only be conjuncted within it's social setting . In fact the realities of social fragmentation make most all concepts of a whole person universally inapplicable .

Literature is often a good tool for developing an understanding of a culture and it's inclinations . In a cultures folk tales , plays , and fictions you find authors making a deliberate attempt to portray the basic dramas of their society .

Greek myths are a vivid example of this ; they are literally frought with characterizations . In their development these multitudes of characters weave into an elaborate tapestry that depicts the developing Greek moral ethic . The intricasies of the analogous content are brought across in a multitude of forms . Names were very important and a major force in clarifying the concepts being presented . The multitudes of characters portray a multifaceted understanding of the human psyche . The chauvinistic banality of their culture and it's gods is graphically depicted against the backdrop of their developing ethics .

It is difficult for a modern man to construct a vision of a whole person from a strictly ancient Greek point of view . The obvious anachronisms envolved make such an attempt partially ludicrous . Contrarily the bulk of their characterization paints a vivid picture of their primative social state .

Of course while the Greeks were muddling through the multicolored quagmire of human frailty many societies where learning to master the powers they had developed through centuries of strict adherence to religious and social mores . The development of their socially biased realities make many Greek nuances seem decadent anachronism . Rather than deitizing their baser natures as the Greeks had thay had learned to master them and turned to new paths to clarity . Spiritual pragmatism and lack of comunication nullified the social attributes of many of these extrapolations on positive orientation .

Jung preaches that man has an innate need to assimilate all external sensory perceptions . I find this untrue . In fact I find it self abortive . Human beings have a complexity factor that is individual and must be protected from overload ; man's moral ethic is a tender and deludable feeling directed by empathy . In the hectic world of modern mass media this tender individuality can become dwarfed by the percieved need to obtain social acceptance . Whole civilizations have become deluded by the flow of their complexities into an outright denial of their moral ethics .

I find this partially estranged condition prominent throughout social history . Children are brought up to respond to a vast realm of presupposed social ideologies and are not allowed to venerate themselves until much of their conscious matrix has been established . This of course makes self evasion an easily attainable goal . Sometimes politically speaking the actual goal . The mind satiated by it's social framwork is the ideal tool for a socialistic or tyrannical government .

To me the value of social history lies not in it's application as much as it's illumination . All the fragmented pockets of human coalescence should instill an understanding of man's posibility factors . Man's inability to supersede his developing anachronism may well be the cause of his annihilation .

Modern man has learned how to use tact in instilling the acceptable social mores . Solviet psychiatrists have spent years on perfecting these social sublimations ; children learn how to make their personalities conform to the accepted mean . I think that the true nature of a well rounded being lies in an ability to reject the fragmental nature of these instilled mores and develop a more universally acceptable social orientation . Does the son of a ku klux **** member have to hate blacks ? The obvious answer is no ; contrarily socially acceptable orientation is a product of environment . This is the pitfall of man's evolution as a race ; his inability to rise above the quandary of his immediate surroundings with all of their overwhelming complexities and demands to become a cognizant and empathetic being . There in lie the keys to his future .

This does not necessarily define the well rounded person . A well rounded person must be able to cope with his immediate surroundings withoutan abject denial of his empathetic being .

I believe well roundedness lies in thoughtful orientation and a well centered understanding of self . One need not be socially active as long as they are thoughtfully cognizant . Obey the golden rule ; you can not allow your objective orientation to supersede your subjective empathy . You can't allow yourself to be thwarted or overcome by your peers into being something they might want to make you because temptation may overwhelm them and you will become a transient tool in their succession .
Helena B Oct 2013
Lavender tea
Reminds me
Of you
And the time
We ran
Through
A forest
And rolled around
In a meadow
Until
The stars
Broke the silence
Of the night

Lavender tea
Reminds me
Of your eyes
They are green
Your eyes bring me peace
I imagine your sweet
Swimming
Green eyes
I always seem to sink
Deep
Into your sea-green ocean

Lavender tea
Reminds me of you
All those chilly Autumn nights
When we would lay
Outside
Humming along
To our lavender song
A calming memory

We stare at the same stars
Every time
I can feel your bodies heat
Warming up mine

Lavender tea
Reminds me
Of the memories
We keep and will keep
Lying deep
Within our eyes
And thoughtfully
Staring at the stars.
Meh why are you so beautiful. This poem is okay. Blah blah blah. I miss you. Especially your eyes~
Waverly Mar 2012
Hometown girls
are real with you.
If they don't like you,
they'll even make their *****
look ugly;
pulling them in all the way
to the tops of their thighs
through their buttholes
and you can smell the stench
in your brain.

But when they let you in,
when they let you sit on their ears,
it's like warp-drive.

They smoke virginia slims,
because that's what their mom's smoke,
and the bags under their eyes
are filled with nicotine,
but they're pretty bags,
purses of flesh
full with the kinetic beauty of coal.

Hometown girls are mostly black,
mostly white,
fifty-fity,
but nobody's checking
and when they whisper something nice in your ear
it's colored with a microbrew
or a wheel of Jim Beam.

Sometimes they'll take you by the wrist
into the bathrooms;
sometimes they'll take your drink
when you're not looking
and smile when you catch them
with it on their lips.

But that smile is good even,
on par with a supernova
in its ability to crush
and make beautiful.


But most of the time,
they stand around
outside Casbah
and Motorco
--if they're bougie
it'll be West End--
in the middle of the night
under the porch of the sky
looking out with amber
slitted eyes
like cats,
their legs twitching thoughtfully
as they wait for cabs
and pick at the night.

Hometown girls
are ****/beautiful
because they'll watch your every move
from the gallery
out of empathy,
knowing they've been that ***** before,
knowing they've been that lonely,
knowing they just want to get drunk
and want to be around randoms
that aren't so random.
Helen Feb 2012
Fall surrendered, snow fell, and Ruth’s mother bought a blanket for her daughter’s seventeenth Christmas. It wasn’t a very expensive or spectacular blanket; it was extraordinary only in the fact that it hadn’t been picked mindlessly from a Christmas list but had instead been chosen lovingly and thoughtfully. She knew her daughter was forever chilly and would love the blanket’s fleece side, and she laughed to see that it had snaps just like the blanket she herself had spent her evenings cocooned in when she was Ruth’s age. So she wrapped the blanket more beautifully than the other gifts and set it gently under the tree.

The sun stretched, adults yawned, and Ruth opened her mother’s gift on Christmas morning. At the sight of the blanket, her grandmother’s eyes welled with memories of Ruth’s mother, looking almost identical to how Ruth looked now, wrapped up in her own blanket with the snaps. Ruth admired the gentle color of the blanket’s slick side and stroked the fleece side against her check before setting it on top of the rest of her gifts. She thanked her mother enthusiastically (she’d always been acutely aware of her reaction to gifts in front of their givers) and laughed good-naturedly at her grandmother’s hovering tears before hugging them down her face.

Naked trees shivered, frost iced the landscape, and at her mother’s suggestion Ruth spent the winter with the blanket layered beneath her covers. She nestled beneath it every night, but felt guilty when she couldn’t love it any more than anything else she had in her room, and she never snapped it around herself as her mother had done. She’d tried to wear it like that the day she was given the blanket, but it had made her feel uncomfortable and constrained. So instead she slept with the blanket spread flat beneath her sheets through that winter and into the spring.

Spring sprung, flowers bloomed and Ruth bounced for a moment on her toes before diving headfirst into his eyes. The weeks passed for her not in hours and days but in giggles and kisses, and she was surprised when her usually analytical, suspicious mind released her heart and allowed it to love recklessly and entirely. Making her bed one giddy morning, Ruth stroked the soft, fleece side of her blanket and then the slick, smooth side, and she thought of sweet picnics and stargazing from quiet hilltops. She folded the blanket and kept it in her car in preparation for any such spontaneity.

The moon beamed loudly, prom streamers fluttered, and Ruth danced with him wildly. Her classmates all felt just as immortal, and everyone laughed and spun and anticipated together. When they finally left the dance, Ruth’s body was still coursing with the night’s excitement, intoxicated with young love and the bright eternity that stretched before her. He brought her to a small hilltop where she spread the slick side of the blanket against the grass, and the two lay trembling there beneath the stars. Finally, he wrapped his mouth and his heart and his body around hers, and her innocence leaked slowly onto the fleece.

The moon slid drunkenly behind the hills, birds began to wake, and Ruth flew home on her own audacity, leading the dawn behind her. In the dim light, she noticed the garbage can her father had brought to the curb the night before, and she decided to spare her mother the pain of discovering the once soft fleece now stained with rebellion. Quietly, she lifted the lid and dropped the blanket inside. Its snaps scraped loudly against the can for an instant, but then the morning quickly swallowed the noise. By the time the lid banged back down, Ruth was rushing back to the house, her blanket already forgotten.
Never let anyone make you think you're anything less than amazing,
   This is how we fought.

Think thoughtfully about why we're here.
  Why we are.

Here.
   Take me by my most scarred hand and I shall guide you with the lessons that burned me,
So you are spared.

Hello.
   Welcome to my heart,
It is a warm place,
  But rather quite small.

I will guide you with my wounds,
  For reason only so you should not receive in kind.

Be brave,
  But be kind,
I will show you,

That a love is not consuming,
  So breathe easy.

I will teach you the love,

   Of the truest kind.

That,

     Of the heart of a friend.
My stress quivers
as it’s whisked away by the sweet-tempered wind.
The sun’s soothing hands reach out
to brush their fingertips upon my face
And I fulfill their wish again
as my smile thoughtfully reveals itself
from its dingy place.
The kayak propels through the turquoise water
Forced forward by the strength of physical power
With every stroke
Every slap and splash
My mind is freed of its routine thoughts
Leaving them all behind
In waves of pure wind and light
Erin Beer Nov 2018
She stood so thoughtfully,
At the person in front of her,
Yet all she could think of,
Was the fat within her body,
Because opposite the girl,
Stood her reflection,
Because it wasn’t bullying,
If you told yourself the truth.
Suzanne Penn Jun 2013
There is a point in life…
when you get tired of trying to fix everything…
when kindness gets mistaken for weakness
so often…
that it becomes your own fault
for letting it all continue.
Eventually, you start accepting that
you can not make everyone happy
and that no one at all
is trying to make you happy.
This is the moment…
that you reach a crossroad
and make a decision
as to which path to take.
And that decision…
made at a time of
great frustration
and relinquished dreams
can become the filter
through which
your perception of the world
and the motivations of others
will be discerned
from that point on
Choose thoughtfully…
that crossroad is
where character is born
Or
empathy dies

_Suzanne Penn__
Steve Page May 2017
When you walk
Walk through the green
On deep paths
Walk purposefully
In the footsteps
Of pilgrims past

When you walk
Walk each new step
Thoughtfully
Placing your footsteps
Joyfully
With eyes on the holy

And there you'll find
Not just the pleasure
Not just the delight
Not just the feast
But you will find yourself
Released
Your soul
Your spirit
Sustained
Strengthened
Singing
There you'll discover
Your true guide for your path
Your great high priest.
Pilgrimage is a journey to the sacred where you see yourself in a new light.
J Jan 2011
Muscles grip and relax, grip and relax, grip and fight and tighten.
My fingers caress the blown glass between my lips, thoughtfully I stare cross eyed into the flame brought to life by the stroke of my thumb.
Feral beats in the background of this still life pulsing, invigorating the senses;
awakening the monster as it shrieks out for breath.
And so I pull another blow between my teeth, the air tainted and tasting so sweet.
Here stand these false philosophers with me as we shiver against the clawing of a wind so cold,
but we are brought together by our love for the fire.
A network of interlaced fingers keeps the flame alive as we **** out the life-giving tendrils from gaia’s hands,
she sends us spiraling upward until our ankles graze the treetops and we are looking down on city life from the crown of heaven.
My comrades bear their bruises closed and tongue-tied, and as we fly dark hints of the world below materialize on their lips.
The stroke of each errant brush paints their words black and white as I sing color across my broken sanctuary, stubbornly fighting for this bliss that only I exist within,
carrying no burden from the world below, I let my innocence fly me higher in this treetop temple.
I break the surface of a sea of clouds, no comrade to accompany me now;
none would follow anyhow.
The freedom screams from my fingertips like thunder and with every movement I hurl another one of Zeus’s famed bolts down onto the earth, dancing with the electricity; though when you’re so high up here there is no storm.
I watch as the others begin to fall back down into the earth’s open arms, equipping their synthetic smiles, for where they are going there is no joy.
My grin glitters like the stars I greet with open palms, smoothing my fingers across their warm fuzzy forms, gathering them into night-sky pictures for the beings down below.
I place each star carefully in my dark connect-the-dot drawing, swirling stardust in the blank spaces for tonight I paint a masterpiece.
As it takes shape my painting depicts a world so far away from the one I hail from, I almost wonder how I can even picture it.
I soar on ethereal wings to planets and galaxies until homesickness sweeps my winged shoes back toward the blue planet, eyes misted over with nostalgia for those days when I,
the fire and the philosophers would breathe together.
When I touch back down, my wings fold tight against my shoulders; curving firm and solid against my back.
I am a stone gargoyle, now guarding this world that I fought so hard to protect myself from.
and I, the fire and the philosophers break out our synthetic smiles.
For where we are going, there is no joy.
The vague and flimsy memories we have of our treetop haven melt misty smooth across mental palates that still ache for the taste of fire-breath, for the swirls of hazy wonder that alit our dry smiles to burn for real.
But my philosophers have become pharisees and now I quail and quake under the weight of my sky-paintings.
The gravity down here keeps my lips tilted down in the echoes of another man’s sorrow and my sympathy for their morose self-titled melodrama is running thin.
If  I could, I’d be tiptoeing among the stars, hop scotching across constellations, at home in my world of skies and fire.
And I am shocked once more, grounded suddenly by the voice of the pharisees and their stone hearts;

mourning for I,
The fire,
And the philosophers.
written 01/23/2011
Hae Sun Jul 2018
Today I saw Picasso’s self-portraits only to realize that at 14 years of age, he painted a man 5 times as old as him, believing that it was how he looked like or at least how he sees himself. At 15, he painted a woman who, under any circumstances, does not look like him nor his mother. As he grew older, the paintings became more distorted or rather abstract and surreal that some even looked like there was more than just one person in the frame. His last painting, I assume, is a face but if you look closer you will realize that they are pieces from different puzzles, that somehow, although they fit together, they are not from just one thing – but aren’t we all are?

Picasso, consumed his days thoughtfully to paint such masterpiece that reflects who he is – that he is not just any other person, that he is not just one person. He is a combination of many, the past and present, his mother and his father, the anima and the animus – all these are parts of himself, who, when put together become the Picasso who he knows.

Picasso has mastered it ahead of us – that we are more than just a face, we are a parade of many and if we do not recognize it, we might end up painting faces we don’t know, becoming a stranger inside a home.
I am angry, but am not sure if I have a right to be. Between all or rather among all the other emotions I am feeling it is hard to discern and clarify the balance and reasons for my anger. Naturally I want what is best for you, that in itself is a conundrum. Is having what you want best? Or do I actually believe that what I have to offer can ultimately elate you to a higher level of happiness than that of your current situation? Another question comes to light now and that is, is what you currently want what you actually want, or is it merely that it was something which at first appeared to be and has over time slowly dissolved into something far less, into something you thought you had wanted but now see that in it's current form, really is not?
        Suppose one of these speculations takes a solid form and settles as the true idea, then in what way could any of this upset me enough to reveal itself as anger in my mind? Primarily, it would seem my own jealousy or want of you could be a proprietary perpetrator in this matter, but I am sure that the true identity of this perplexed feeling runs much wilder and entangled with a slue of uprooted inner conflicts. So then, what are they? As I reflect on the many faces of this anger, the feeling of pain surfaces, but not the kind you feel for yourself, rather it's more of the selfless type. I am, by all means, a bystander on looking the trials and troubles that lay ridden in your path. I see you struggle to hold on and in turn attempt to stay as composed as a rigid coastline baring the constant battery of each careless and possibly calculated undulation of every crashing wave which from where I stand rises more often than not than the natural course of a waxing and waning tide. And it's as if from a distance I can see and hear bits and pieces of you crumble and crash, slowly receding into the horizon with each unrelenting wave.      
        At times finding myself diving into the chaotic and churning crush of waves to gather and salvage whatever I can mange to and still keep myself afloat so that when the tides recede I, with safe passage, climb ashore to safely return to you whatever it is I managed to cradle from the depths. As I take those sandy steps I now understand the reason for my anger, if but only for a portion of it. Watching as I do from my ship, it hurts to see the waves crash, to see something so paramount in beauty, in life be so carelessly attended to. Yet, the fault is not but of one, but of two. It can hardly be helped, you are who you are, and the beauty in you is as with most, your flaw. The core of you, revealed more and more with each crashing wave, smells damp and sweet of hope. Such a hopeful being, that even after the tempest has risen a tsunami to thunder coldly on your very shores, you merely wince and hope that just maybe a windless day will break through to passing clouds to ease each tide to a lapping kiss upon your now jagged shores that in time, piece by piece, return to you what is rightfully yours.
        Throughout all this though I bare a different caliber of weather, one which strikes at my splintered ship with jagged volts of lightening, searing all aboard until your gentle rain turns its pulsing red embers into a faded glow slowly giving way to smoke and ashes. I watch from this distance angry at everything on this side of the world. Anger towards the carelessness, towards the helplessness, at the one flaw that you and I share, at knowing my selfishness in it all, toward the thought of walking on your shores but only quietly as not to summon another unwelcome tide, and finally and most perplexing of all...for being angry at all. It's what upsets me the most, that I'm even angry. Yet, I am as helpless against it as we are with the sunset of hope we both hold so close to sight and mind, for you, hope of a sleeping tempest and in return a more attentive life by the ocean, and for me, the hope of one day being able to cast my anchor down into the depths so that I may enjoy the warmth of your sand, cool nights against your moonlit caves heated by the warmth of your heart, your hope, and to above all tenderly enjoy and return to your ever-reaching shores of love all that it gives and deserves.
        But at times I see that this endless commotion disorients even the strongest of shores and that in it all , there is no surprise that a mere ship in an open sea can seem to be anything more than a flick of candlelight alongside the heat of a chaotic wild fire. Despite this pulsing surge of discouragement,I angrily, hopefully, caringly, and thoughtfully will continue to cast my net to show you that though right now I quietly wisp each flickering dance of summer light, that I too am relentless in my will, but for a different reason. I see now, that my anger is acceptable because above all else,I am your friend and wish for you only the best, for what would make you happiest. And that despite my wants, yours will always come first, whatever they be or you may think they be. My ship will sail alongside you no matter your choice, and if ever the day comes when I walk up on your shores with candle in hand, you need but kiss the tender tendrilous flame I carry to awaken its unconditional and fervent inferno that lies patiently inside, waiting.
Angrily, your loving friend
natalie Mar 2012
mind stands solemnly in the middle,
with logic and emotion on either side
like devoted sentinels guarding a queen.

"don't think about it,"
emotion says, batting her long lashes.
"just do what feels right
and follow your heart."

"but sometimes,"
logic interjects with his sharp eyebrow cocked,
"what feels right will
hurt us in the long run."

"do you want to try, and know, and fail?"
emotion asks with suprisingly honest conviction.
"or do you want to spend the rest of your
life wondering what could have been?"

"would you rather open your heart,"
logic counters thoughtfully and quickly,
"and have a part of it stolen?
or would you rather protect it all?"

as mind wavers in the middle,
she feels herself rip in two.

half of herself stands upright,
stiffly held under logic's watchful eye.
the other half melts into emotion's warm embrace.

her heart aches and she feels sick.
the idea of following logic's advice
would mean to ignore emotion's advice--
and to follow emotion's advice would
mean ignoring the advice of logic.

she looks back and forth pleadingly.
logic's cadaverous stare seems to tell
mind that only logic will solve this problem.
but emotion smiles softly, and her eyes say
that this way, though it may cause pain,
will be the most rewarding.

"neither choice is the right one,"
mind says finally,
with a little bit of logic and
a little bit of emotion.
"but i must choose now, for soon i will
not be able to make a choice at all.

"then whose advice will you follow?"
emotion questions carefully.
"will you open your heart to love?"

"or will you listen to me and protect
yourself from unnecessary pain?"
logic asks, eyebrow cocked again.

"perhaps you are correct, logic,
and i would do well to seal off my
heart and never let anybody in."

at these words, logic smirks knowingly,
but mind continues anyway.

"as for me, i think i would rather
feel true, burning love and have to
live with the scars than to be
lonely, bitter, angry, and old
and die without ever knowing
how to love myself and somebody else."

emotion does not gloat;
she simply nods softly,
encouraging mind to continue.

"after all, is life not a journey of risks?
how could we ever find peace and
contentment without enduring a
few bad decisions and learning from them?"
Hal Loyd Denton Nov 2011
Happy Trails

The trail with Roy is a long and winding one for the family I was in we were the ones who chased the
Television viewing from friends and family’s house one night Lucy who made your jaw hurt from
Laughing so hard then Saturday night lineup at grandma Denton’s but it was best on Saturday afternoon
When we went to Tower Hill on the egg run the last house in the neighborhood on the south side they
Had the corner house and out the back door you would go right into the field. The way the magic started
Run in set down in the floor the old gentlemen would put it on the right channel and
Then there he would be shooting riding the golden palomino as he rode it was a high point every time I used
to Fantasize That he and Dale would come through Pana in their big blue Cadillac especially after it raced through the Prayer room at our United Pentecostal church that Roy and Dale received the Holy Ghost later is was a
Thrill when Colonel Harland Sanders followed in Roy and Dales steps for Roy it was all of his sheet music
Showed up at our church for the Colonel it was Kentucky Fried chicken buckets at general conference for
Offering collection plates. He wouldn’t come to me so I went to him Tower Hill to Apple Valley took
some years I was on my way to Palm Springs that lies about a hundred and some miles further out in the
Desert first I was doing what I have always loved and it was more thrilling to be going to his house I was
Cutting across the high desert in a brand new car I was breaking it in I ran in excess of a hundred miles
An hour for over an hour just me the desert and the Joshua trees they held their arms skyward as their
Name sake held his arms skyward to Jehovah in bible times while I smoked a streak across that beautiful
Stark landscape I stayed first at Victorville about four miles from Apple Valley where back then Roy had
His museum his house on Tomahawk Lane and the museum were both built by his son Dusty’s
Construction Company the house is round and the stone fence contained wagon wheels with RR as a
Brand inlaid in metal it was kind of funny at the motel I watched Gene and Pat Butrum movies while
They introduced them form a studio made at his museum in LA as the desert wind howled throughout the night I never caught Roy
At the museum on his frequent visits but I did meet Dale at her house and talked to her briefly half a
Dream fulfilled I got a special answer to the other after returning home I sent my writing to Roy it was
The early stuff not the fifty pieces I’ve written here but it included lost friend Disgrace Imposter life force
And about thirty total he and Dale and the Sons of the pioneers were making an appearance at
Marriott’s Great America I stood back off at the side but Dale spoke to Roy he focused on me and held
My gaze for a long time he showed me to him I had value my writing has effected others they stare long
And hard trying to get it and understand some say it’s too deep and hard to understand not if you
Approach it thoughtfully if you want shallow meaningless quick reading you will have to look else where
Trails end we were at the Hilton Suites at Disneyland it was our anniversary I opened the door to get the
Complimentary paper there was Roy rearing on trigger he traded the golden palomino for streets of gold as Iva and Others I’m looking forward to that great waking up morning.
Nae Ayson Nov 2015
(I'm trying to outrun the rain)
(It's so humid.)
It's like the sky is trying to hold something back
and now she's starting to cry.

(Realized how much I missed walking at night.)

She waits until half the world's asleep.
The sky?
And then confides to the earth
Because everyone is fearless in the night.

But they're gentle loving tears,
and the earth catches her.
There is no daylight to mar the distance between them with shadows.

She's not mad.
And quietly, she tells the earth her secrets--
all that she has seen when the sun was by her.
and the earth listens.
intently.
thoughtfully.

Doesn't the earth whisper back?
Doesn't it have its own secrets to share?

No.
but that was always enough.
the sky never needed an answer,
she just needed the clouds to part.
because somehow the sky always knows.
like a sister never needing words.
she cries tears not hers alone.
she mourns for the earth who can never cry.

The sky and the earth have never really been apart,
have they?
But the night is theirs
and theirs alone,
its silence unbroken
by the noise of human minds.
And the few people who walk the night let them.

no, they never were.
nor were they ever together.
what would the sky be if she was the earth?
or the earth the sky?
they were inseparable
and yet
always separate.

infinities between them.
and in each infinity
are the worlds of dreaming children
and for a moment, she stops crying.

and in the silence,
a child continues walking.

Do they have to be the same?
Can they not leave a gap between them
and still stay together?

the child is not alone,
and never was.
he is joined by many others who
walk the night
with him.
some
with open eyes,
others
breathing in rhythm.
and in the boundlessness between the earth and the sky,
they are all connected.

The child does not walk in silence.
He knows the night,
has seen all its faces
of terror
and beauty
and torment
and dreams.

dreams that each the sky has seen.

With the earth and the sky's secrets
woven into each:
a present for a friend.

the sky has ceased crying.
and in the wake,
her tears flow into the heart of the earth.
and the earth collects them,
that the sky may weep them out again.

Then the earth is not silent after all.

quiet, but not silent.

the child thirsts
and finds the tears the sky has wept.
but they are too bitter for him to drink.

They were never meant for him,
The sky carries far greater burdens
than any earthling can bear,
secrets far too powerful for his mind to comprehend.
Not yet, anyway.

silence

and in it
the earth sings to the sky.
the earth [sings] for the earth cannot speak.
and the sky wells up in the beauty of the song.

And the child sits in between them,
absorbing the music.
Selah
Let the universe pause a moment.
Let it breathe.

for a time will be reached
when the child shall share in the cup
of sky's tears.
he too,
shall have no more questions.
but until then,
the child walks.

And until then,
he is a child.

The child walks into a neighborhood of lights.
with hues too numerous
for him to name or even distinguish,
each one desperately tries to outshine his brother.
and the lights see him
and greet him--
an unwelcome visitor.

How so?

for under the lights
are other children:
blinded but seeing,
they have sight with much illumination,
but are lost without a vision.
the child walks among them
but they don't see him,
for he is not their own.
the lights captivate
and held captive
they were.
the child calls out to them
but they cannot hear.

for these are children
who listen with their eyes
and feel with their tongue.
each follows a different light--
the ones that have so rejected the child.
but it changes nothing
for the child
follows a different light,
the light the sky has shown hi,.

They are trapped
in the pretense of day,
in the false promise that everything is within their sight.
And they
somehow
believe
that all they see is theirs.
They know not how to travel in the shadows,
because they
have never befriended the night.

they have never seen
the weeping of the sky, nor
heard the singing of the earth.

It is in the night
that one learns to listen,
to eavesdrop
on the secrets
the sky and the earth
whisper
as the universe sleeps.
Though not without their notice.

they whisper loud enough for those who want to hear.

And for those who have earned their respect.
Some drag them
into the scorching gaze of sunlight,
and cast shadows
large enough
strong enough
to swallow hearts whole.

(Say hello to the night for me. I missed its embrace.)
(the night waits still)
Here's to the few sabaw midnight conversations we have stashed away in places other than our memories.

"So when was the last time you tried something you knew you'd probably regret but did it anyway?
wanderlust + caffeine. bad combination."
You might, but I don't.
I might regret posting this one, though. Sorry not sorry for sharing your art, your heart. Sorry for not asking you beforehand. I know the title doesn't do it justice.

(Your name shouldn't be a footnote, but I don't know if I'd leave it up there. So here: Help, God is my judge. Dreamer. Visionary.)
There is this idea, this feeling you say:
A revelation of profound compassion
Riddled with crippling paramount tribulation
Dribbling with drops of pontification.
Thoughtfully and yet aimlessly kicking
Unctuously vacuous presumptions. Promising,
Eventually, to unveil brick by brick
This facade someday and assure me
The imprisoning edifice, with which you keep
Under lock and key, will be effaced
And naked, soon, someday in front of me.
Yet, here another day passes.
From curbside to manhole, up sidewalks and across gravel grit.
Then a squib toward onlookers window shopping
Glaring down at me as both they and you listen
To my dissonant and hollow caterwaul.
CLING, CLANG, BANG! Look at me I'm just a can!
Crumpled and malleable, a thin sheet of five cent aluminum;
Recyclable, reusable, just a means to a mans end.
Ah! But I am not what you think I am:
Within, a bountiful boisterous bloom, unravels
The arid breath of lies and procrastination you exhume.
Your insipid words fall vapidly in my mind like corroded rust
Gently drifting onto a lapping lake.
They are an erroneous ear infection boring my wits
And dulling my thoughts, a waste of time.
All of it bottled, canned, and manufactured
From within your ******* emporium.
Keep your bricks and mortar, think they retain your unctuous pride
While this time, for once, I kick the can curbside.
RAJ NANDY Jun 2017
Dear Poet Friends, the Sphinx remains shrouded in myth, legend, and History. Modern research by archaeologists and Egyptologists have revealed some of its hidden mysteries. My research has resulted in providing you with a short & a balanced view about the Sphinx, keeping in mind the short attention span of my readers. Unfortunately, I am not able to post the Illustrative photographs here which accompanies my Sphinx story. Hope you like this story, thanks, - Raj Nandy, New Delhi.
            
         THE MYSTERY OF THE EGYPTIAN SPHINX

INTRODUCTION
Towering over the Giza plateau facing the rising sun over the
River Nile,
The Sphinx stands defiant for over four millennia, braving the
vagaries of weather and marauding time!
With a lion’s body and a human head the Sphinx remains
shrouded in part myth, part legend, and ancient History.
While the date of its construction, and identity of its face
have intrigued scholars for many centuries.
Today I shall tell you about this monumental and magnificent
structure,
Which stands as an iconic symbol of Egyptian architecture!
Man fears Time since he forever remains as it’s bonded
prisoner in captivity.
However, only few hours of freedom are granted to him during
his earthly sojourn, to live and love life with impunity!
But Time fears the Pyramid and the Sphinx, as they stand
defiant with their raised head;
As miniature symbols of eternity which even Time dreads!

MYTHS AND LEGEND ABOUT THE SPHINX
Many controversies and theories abound as to the identity
of its builders during ancient times.
Some say it was built by the people who came from Plato’s
lost ‘Continent of Atlantis’, prior to the Egyptians, way back
in time!
Others say it was the ancient Zulus who had inhabited the
wet and rainy Giza region with its great lake.
Around 8000 BC, during the close of the Great Ice Age!
But with changing weather pattern the Giza region later became
a desolate and a deserted area.
Yet no records or hieroglyphs survive, to make things clear.
The name ‘Sphinx’ is said to have been given 2000 years later  
by the enterprising Greeks.
Since in Greek Mythology there is a Sphinx, but with a woman’s
face, a lion’s body and with eagle’s wings;
Which guarded the entrance to the ancient Greek City of Thebes.
To the Greeks we owe the ‘Riddle of the Sphinx’ which asked all
passing travelers the following question:
“What is it that has one voice, and walks with four legs in the
morning, with two during the day, and with three in the evening
time?”  - about which those travelers had no notion!
The Sphinx devoured all those who had failed to answer, till the
Greek Oedipus confronted the Sphinx and replied,
That the riddle had described the three stages of a Man’s life.  
Since he crawled on all four as a child, grew up to walk on two
legs.
But during old age used a stick which became his third leg.
Hearing the correct answer the Sphinx is said to have jumped
into an abyss killing itself!

THE  SPHINX PROPER  
Modern Egyptologists generally agree, that the Sphinx had been
carved out from a single mass of limestone mound, -
Which dominated the Giza plateau before 2540 BC.
Built by Pharaoh Kufu’s son Khafre of the Fourth Dynasty.
Khafre was the builder of the second largest pyramid standing
next to his father’s Great Pyramid of Giza.  
While the Sphinx stands on the eastern most boundary of the
Desert Sahara;
Six miles west of Cairo, on the edge of Giza plateau.
It is 240 feet in length and almost 70 feet in height, aligned to
the Pyramid of Khafre behind.
The Sphinx lies on its hunches guarding the vast ‘City of the Dead’.
Where pharaohs mummified bodies lie deep within the pyramids;
To facilitate journey of their soul to gain eternal life and be
resurrected,
To join the Happy Fields of Osiris the Egyptian God of after-life
and death.

Great conquerors like Alexander and Napoleon had stood
dwarfed before the mighty Sphinx.
But to Napoleon we remain grateful for our knowledge of
Egyptian civilisation among other things.
For it was his soldiers who had discovered the Rosetta Stone
in Egypt in 1799, with its  bilingual inscription.
Written in Egyptian hieroglyphs and Coptic Greek, resulting in
the decipherment of the Ancient Egyptian pictorial inscriptions!

EXCAVATIONS AND RESEARCH WORK
The Sphinx had been buried by the shifting sands of the desert
many a time during past centuries.
While periodic restoration work continues to preserve it for
posterity.
American archeologist Mark Lehner and his team during the 1970s,
had analysed the bedrock under the mighty Sphinx.
They found natural cracks and fissures, and also narrow passage
ways dug by early treasure seekers!
His team climbed all over the Sphinx like Lilliputians over Gulliver, -  while mapping its structure entire.
It was found the Sphinx had been subjected to five major restoration efforts since 1400 BC .
While Mark’s dedicated efforts earned him a Doctorate in Egyptology at the Yale University.

Mark’s research also concluded that the visage of the Sphinx was
once painted in red.
While traces of blue and golden yellow decorated the ‘nemes’, the
Pharaoh’s brightly stripped head dress.
Controversies rage even to this date, as to whose features the
Sphinx’s Negroid face did actually represent.
While the disfigured nose of the Sphinx has given rise to many
speculations.
Was it the Muslim Arab conquerors, or a fanatical Sufi Turk who had tried to destroyed it as a pagan symbol!
Today I recall that the mighty 1700 years’ old statue of the Bamiyan
Buddha in Central Afghanistan.
Which was destroyed during March 2001 as a pagan statue by the
fanatical Taliban!
  
Mark feels that in all likelihood the Sphinx’s face was that of Khafre, with whose pyramid the Sphinx stands aligned.
While those ancient architects had arranged the location of the three pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx in conformity with solar events, - while choosing their construction site.
A settlement bigger than 10 football fields at this site was excavated,
Where the Sphinx formed an integral part of Pharaoh Khafre’s building complex!
This ‘Lost City’ of Mark Lehner had barracks, workmen’s quarters and kitchenette.
While remnants of diets found suggested workers were perhaps
rendering national service, and were not slaves.
No iron or bronze tools were found, only crude stone hammers and
copper chisels lay buried beneath the ground.
These copper chisels had to be sharpened at the charcoal furnace
frequently, for executing chiseling  work with artistry.

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE GIZA COMPLEX AREA
Mark Lehner and other Egyptologists felt that the pyramids, Sphinx, and the Temples Complex of Khafre was thoughtfully arranged,
For linking solar events and harnessing the power of the Sun God  
to resurrect the soul of the Pharaohs after their death!
This transformation not only guaranteed eternal life for their dead king,
But also sustained the universal national order, passing of seasons, the annual flooding of the Nile, and their people’s well being.
During sunset at March or September equinoxes when the sun appears to sink into the shoulder of the Sphinx, -
“At the very same moment the shadows of the Sphinx and the pyramids
both symbol of the king becomes merged silhouettes.
Sphinx representing Khafre as Horus the revered falcon god, offers with
his two paws to his father Khufu incarnated as Ra the sun god, who rises
and sets in that temple,” – as the ancient Egyptian’s thought.
Unfortunately  Kafre’s dream was not realised, since the Sphinx Temple remained unfinished as now we get to see,
As the Old Kingdom of Egypt finally broke apart around 2130 BC.
The desert sand began to gradually swallow up the Sphinx, till almost a thousand years later,
Thutmosis IV cleared the area, and introduced cult of Sphinx worship during the New Kingdom Era!
Rest is history, which has been already covered by me.

     CONCLUDING THE SPHINX STORY
The ancient Sphinx as Egypt’s iconic art,
Has captured the onlookers mind and heart.
Buried deep within its shifting sand,
Lies many a secret still unknown to man!
The Sphinx still beckons out to me,
Perhaps one day I shall get to see.
Today the Sphinx stares out at a fast food restaurant.
As it now faces a full frontal urban assault!
The rising water level of the Nile, tourism, traffic, and
air pollution, along with many urban constructions;
Make the authorities to worry about its preservation!
The Sphinx beckons out to man from eons past,
What is that secret it wants to share with us?
Perhaps it is about Environmental Degradation;
And the urgent need for Global Preservation!
                                                   ­        -Raj Nandy
ALL COPYRIGHTS WITH THE AUTHOR ONLY
Anonymouse Jane Dec 2013
On a bed of harmony,
   your past lovers mourn.
A foundation of laments,
  waxing and waning.
Burdened by history,
  the future fades.
Control the composure,
keep dark thoughts at bay.
Even the walls of the strongest castles
crack and give way.
harlon rivers Aug 2017
He knew the ache could not be recompensed
they knew it too the moment echoes fell silent
There was already not enough love
in a world grown dark as darkest past

It wasn't the color of his skin nor dialect
or the  journey of a  thousand  miles
Not the place that he'd come from
       back when ―  left behind

             nor a heart of gold,  
      that never became a home

The colour of  unwritten silence
had  eclipsed  the waning  light
On the run from who he'd become;
     ashamed for all he was,  
couldn't erase a lifetime that felt a waste ―
               trying to untie a Gordian knot

He saw his body as an entombing barbwire cage
    imprisoning  a  wellspring  of  love writhing deep therein

Immured at arms length from the outside world
    where  the soul of a teardrop  abides  within
                         its insignificance

Shielding the  inherent  maelstrom
                          from the innocent passersby
Buried thoughtfully for the greater good of all ―
for the unsatiated dream boundless love betides

Written  artifacts  exhumed  like  ***** secrets
a lifetime of stigma's stain swept under the rug;
just whispered words written from an unfinished life
few ever really looked deeply between the twisted lines
arising from the soul of just another passing stranger

The long road begets a suffocating silence
choking out,           extinguished love inhumed
Ashes  of what once had been life aglow of light
               forevermore shrouded
          like the dark side of the moon



rivers
August 20, 2017
Jay Feb 2014
There once was a man whose name was Moonie
He was a very handsome man
His skin was sun kissed, dark like a brown bears fur, soft like a baby's curl
And oh, the way his hair curled
Moonie had hair that grew outward instead of downward
His smile was as white as the snow capped mountains
His heart as warm as the coast of Australia, all year round
He smelled like matches and Dark Horse cigarettes
Like everything warm
He dressed like a professional troublemaker
His laugh came from his stomach when he laughed real good
And I've never heard him laugh bad
He loved like a father
Protected like a brother
Teased like a sister
And worried like a mother
He cursed like a sailor
But only when he was angry
Moonie had a fuse so long that if you lit it in January, it would take a whole 365 days for him to explode
But by the time 365 days past it was a matter that didn't really matter anymore
He had a mind like a turtle
He thought thoughtfully, slow and subtle
But he spoke like he knew every wonder of the world
He kissed babies and broke bottles on the backs of ships carrying soldiers off to war
Even though he was confused about what they were fighting for
Moonie spoke of peace and of hope for future souls
He loved everything from the edges of the universe
To the coral that grows in the deepest of the oceans coves
Moonie met a girl, who brought a whole lot of sunshine to his world
She made the lips of his mouth curl
Upward, it was a beautiful sight, especially with teeth that white
Moonie met a girl, he swears by the stars that she is incredible
Magnificent
Wonderful
Beautiful
Terrific
He says she makes his heart 10 times larger, like it's flowing out so much love that it makes his nose runny,
He calls her Sunny

There once was a girl named Sunny
She was a very beautiful girl
She had curly brown hair that fell just short of her shoulders
Skin that was kissed by the angels themselves
If you believe that kind if thing exists
She dressed like an artist
The kind that like to paint masterpieces
With every curve of the brush
She smelled like summer, like home, like sunshine peaking through rain clouds
She planted roses for those she lost,
In hopes of continuous growth and beauty
She spoke with the authority of an officer
But also with the gentleness of a butterfly
Her personality was layered like a Russian doll
And as you opened up every part of her she grew so very small
But not small in the bad way,
She was wise like an owl
But she was happy like a child at play
She cared like the ocean cares for sea creatures that swim in its depths
She cried like it was always rainy season
She laughed with a sadness in her eyes that was easy to detect
But she was happy
And she loved a man named Moonie
And he made her happy
And she swears on the rings that circle Saturn
That he is the most beautiful man on the planet

Sunny and Moonie lived together in a cozy home by the ocean
Where it was never too hot or too cold
They had a beautiful garden, that sprouted all different kinds of things,
Pumpkins that grew tomatoes
Watermelon that grew on trees
Potatoes that grew above the ground
Flowers with yellow stems and baby blue leaves
Beautiful birds flew around, bluejays with mocking jay wings
Their family was the world around them and they wanted and needed for nothing
Moonie was so happy
Sunny was so lovely
The things that they did, how incredibly they lived
How wonderful life had become
When moonie and sunny both lived as one

Then one day when Moonie was down by the beach
Sunny was in their little green house, fast asleep
Moonie slipped on a snail shell and fell into the pretty sea
When it got late Sunny worried and went to see
She called and she called
Moonie was nowhere to be found
He had fallen asleep forever, in the ocean's underground
The sharks and the octopus found Moonie and buried him deep
The sea urchin said we must bring him back!
But the turtle insisted that we must let him sleep
The flounder found Sunny by the shore and they brought her the news
The look in her eyes was as if her heart had been bruised
She look to the sky as dark clouds rolled in
The raindrops dropped to the rhythm of the tears on her skin
Her Moonie was gone forever in the ocean blue
She threw herself into the ocean saying take me with you
The flounder, the turtles, the mer-people and creatures of the sea
Tried to stop her from suffering the same fate as her dear Moonie
But she would let them save her as she fell into the deep,
Whispering, I love my Moonie and my Moonie loves me
She sank and she sank
She fell and she fell
She floated right next to her love
In the oceans pink sand
The most beautiful death in all of the land
Moonie swore by the stars that his Sunny was magnificent
And Sunny swore by the rings on Saturn that Moonie was the most beautiful man on the planet
They died together but they're souls rose separately
Moonie rose for the night
His love rose for the day
Sunny became the Sun
Moonie became the light that snuffed out the darkness of that day
And as they lived in their respective spots in the sky
They saw each other from time to time
They might have been punished for loving too much
Or they might've loved so much that the universe needed them to take care of us
For the Moon now takes care of the oceans tide
And the Sun takes care of you and I
I think Sunny and Moonie had it right
Even though they no longer see each other everyday,
their love is something you don't have to look so far to find
Maybe that's why you sometimes find the Moon and the Sun in the same sky
They're so close to finding each other, but they have so little time
Jiawen 张 Mar 2018
You’ve been working so hard
To provide more than what we need now
For what we will need in the future.
Because we used to have nothing.

You’ve been planning so thoughtfully
For the next 20 years,
But you’ve never lived in the current.

You’ve been ignoring what you feel now
And saving your happiness for later.
But you’ve never stopped worrying about the future.

Now he is gone forever for both of us.
You lost your happiness,
Which had never happened.

But I lost my happiness,
Which had been making me feel alive.
It is not just grief of his death.

Now father is gone forever for me.
It is the emptiness in my heart
Constantly consuming me.

When I am nervous on the stage,
Who else will always applaud for me again?
Who else will always love my performance again?

I know you don’t care what I care,
And you only approve what you care.
But can you just look at who I am for one time?

I wish you can live more in the current
And worry less about the future.
Because I treasure every single second in my life,
When you are still with me.
Live in the current.
You never know what will happen next.
MY FROG MASTERS

How thoughtful were the rainfalls
To water our gardens and flowers
The flowers spread wide garments
To celebrate their terminal beauty

The joyful frogs occupied my pond
To orchestrate their vocal prowess
They taught me to take blind leaps
Like lightning bouncing in the skies

Squatted, stretched, beeped down
I was a millstone on the pond floor
My slippery pond mates wondered
How soft I was in the maritime arts

Mortally rescued in a muddy mood
The clouds sent in rescuing showers
To confirm my firm loss to the frogs
Like a grain of salt cast into the seas


673. MONEY BAGS IN THEIR BODY BAGS

The money bags shopping for their body bags
Waggled through the makeshift supermarkets

Their ancestral homes they plotted modernity
Like the general gathering fine forces together

To the villages they made to return with pride
Like pregnant elephants caught up in the mud

Their desolate villages are deep and sickening
Glowing flamingly in the crucibles of local gins

The dusty and gravy pathways are like furnace
Burning the leather off from their frozen souls

Traditional birth attendants cut off their cords
And zipped the money bags in their body bags

674. A GLORIOUS DAY

The new day spoke powerfully
Like a war making superpower
And his voice roared forcefully
Like the skies forced to shower

The sunrays came dynamically
Like love responding to silence
Beauty crawled in submissively
Like the mixed arts and science

One eagle soared energetically
Like lions feuding in the colony
Far clouds relocated peacefully
Like souls betrayed to harmony

The breeze sighed thoughtfully
Like horses galloping on the lea
Inspiration unfolded thankfully
Crowns monuments with a pea

675.  THE FOG BANK

The sun had gone to pay our bill in the fog bank
The world foggily crawled into the strong rooms
Darkness demonstrated her strong mindfulness
Provided for the strong gale with lurking shrieks

The black paint billers snowballed to our dreams
With the bill of exchange for wild sunny excesses
Ghostly bats emerged with the bill of indictment
In demonstration of our acrophobic dispositions

We packaged the sunrays for our folk memories
To reassure the day of our eternal followerships
We cherish our follow-throughs in our dark beat
To usher the sunlight out of the hollow fog bank

676. THE PROTRACTED INTERNECINE FEUD

These things had happened before we were born
Like sulphur deep into our fresh hearts they burn
Now we stumble on the bumpy terrains in horror
Like one frightened by ghosts in a standing mirror

The internecine feud has razed our men of valour
With their carcasses dumped in their cold parlour
Our community cattle graze in the barren pasture
Like the unrepentant sinners awaiting the rapture

For our plight the once glorious sky is grown pale
Like the ***** fetching territorial waters with pail
The storms have rolled off the catalogues for rain
All our efforts to mop up the mess end up in vain



677. THE AREA LEADERS

They cracked coconuts on the heads for the crown
And embraced our days with their castaway pollen
Sadness and sorrow have dyed our garment brown
With the strongest song sung when night has fallen

These are the blinding dusts from our barn’s grains
They breed cunning serpents in the soft pasturages
They are failed cargoes on our broad societal trains
They dedicate our common committee to outrages

Now our days seek deliverance from their tentacles
Like the colourful fields immersed in gloomy beauty
They play our eyeballs with the stenciled spectacles
With our consciences to sight and found us off duty

To rescue us the colossal clouds were born gadarene
Our communal life was willed to pageants of gaieties
Then moonlight stories held us for a larger gathering
Now all the objects we sight dress up like cold deities

678. THE LAST DESCENDANTS

The rapacious thunderstorms ***** the skies for their tears
The hot embers were born to glow mourning the late forest
The moon crawled out of the blue like a great grandmother
Cuddling her descendants wrapped up in her ancient shawls

The wild waves were weird weavers weaving withering wails
The captioned wigs gyrated on stunning shoes upon auctions
The little creatures crouched in primeval baskets of the night
To gnaw at the generational tubers in the creative farmlands

The dazzling specimens of dentitions relaxed in water basins
Like bright red artistic architectures on potent ocean boards
Golden hearts glow in the threatening prisms of the furnace
As beautiful sunset defines her beauties in her nightly corset

It had been a sweet pill for the past descendants to swallow
Depending on the colonial masters for loaves, lore and lures
Our creativity had been packaged in their mortal depravities
Like the tranquil days resting sorrowfully upon the dark oars

The centenarian thunders downgraded our minute whispers
We had been kept upon our toes by the eternally sworn foes
At last our worthy artworks have worn their wormy catwalks
The refreshed dawns greet our easting days in their greenery



679. VICTIMS IN THE VALLEY

The victims in the dark rally
Caged, dried and browning
Therein their meanings tally
With waves born drowning

In the depth of a cold valley
Horrible nobles are cultures
Like pilgrims in the dark alley
Willed to ravenous vultures

The victims all robed in tears
With hearts like potter’s clay
For pains they have no fears
Only mimed games they play

For victory awaits the victims
Alien to a blind mimed game
Glorious are eternal rhythms
For death Christ died to tame

680. THE GIANT SCARS

These are our giant threatening scars
Engraved on our demonstrative heads
Our sympathies crawled on superstars
Weeping for us on their moonlit beds

They threatened us with nasal sounds
Like thunderclouds seasoned to burst
For us their galleries are out of bounds
Behind the iron bars plagued with rust

Our patience passed their wildest tests
Like the lions roaring in the thick jungle
On the heart of the Lord our faith rests
Like numbers posted on the right angle

681.  A LADY

In a lady’s handbag
Is her hidden hunchback
Stuffed with her heart ache
For the pains relieving groom

In a lady’s tender smile
Is hidden miles of similitude
Marked with the zebra crossings
For the ever winning marathoner

In a tender lady’s heart
Is hidden her cowboy’s hat
Soaring within the white clouds
To soothe the earth with the latter rains

682. BRING BACK OUR GIRLS

Bring back our homesick girls
Their vacant cradles are bleeding
Bring back our innocent girls
On the chariots of fire descending

Bring back our suckling girls
Their feeding bottles are weeping
Bring back our infant girls
Their mothers’ ******* are heavy

Bring back our harmless girls
The united universe is thundering
Bring back our dewy girls
In the sharp sun rising in the skies

Bring back our beautiful girls
Like light plucked from darkness
Bring back our glorious girls
Aboard the shore-bound waves

Bring back our worthy girls
On their fresh faces our lights seek to glow
Bring back our living girls
Our fountains of joy are bubbling to burst

For our returned girls the skies shall bear
Roaring rivers, singing seas, chiming clouds
With gongs and songs, pianos and praises
Dulcet dulcimers and documentable dances
With healthy hymns and eloquent embraces
All nations shall into a common cathedral flow

683. ****** GENEOLOGIES

They electrify their demonic high tables with old fears
Only their ****** genealogies are bookmarked to reign
The sight of their portables whetted our eyes to tears
We are reinforced by the clouds born to the later rain

Our skins have renovated the sickening cattle wagons
With our dreams flying upon huge smokes in the skies
Beneath their tables we abridge their creaking jargons
Upon their floors with our generational landmark tiles

The dew drops dropped like old crops upon our brows
To soften the veils falling to the flaming edged swords
The flaming hearted sword of the penetrating sunrays
Born to pluck us alive from our hotly bandaged bruises

684. LET US SPEAK UP

The light is climbing downstairs
And danger is sprouting abroad
Our feet are listening for a word
Let us speak up lest they go deaf

The light is melted on the glades
And terror grazing our eyelashes
Our feet are listening for a word
Let us speak up lest they go deaf

The light is late and lately buried
The mourners are on danger list
Our feet are listening for a word
Let us speak up lest they go deaf

The light has divorced the grave
Her grave clothes are dew dyed
Our feet are listening for a word
Let us speak up lest they go deaf

Silence is a forgotten tombstone
Lost in the din of cold morticians
Our feet are listening for a word
Let us speak up lest they go deaf

685.  THE SUN

The sun smiles on all prescriptively
Like the waves spreading on shores
The green grass glows descriptively
Like the full moon upon dark sores

The sun is a tailor fixing the buttons
Preparing the sky for incoming stars
Like the weaverbird weaving cottons
To conceal the day’s damnable scars

The sun is a marker on diurnal pages
Tall grace he bestows on the flowers
The sun retains his graces for all ages
Bees and butterflies are his followers

Our common laughter is endangered
When sun bows down in big setbacks
All mortals have the starlets fingered
When the night comes on drawbacks

686. UNTIL HERE

(For Lou Lenart and his team)

Their floods came seeking Jewish bloods
Like streams they roared for our dreams
They emerged as columns of soldier ants
Like whirlwinds they zoomed towards us

Until here we were crumbs for the reptiles
Until here we were like airborne cloudlets
But here the sudden change unveiled to us
From here the elusive victory embraced us

With skeletal jets we fought like bold lions
Soared like eagles and spoke like thunders
We conquered columns of invading armies
The bleeding armies turned back and blank

From here we turned from victims to victors
From here enemies’ defeat our greatest feat
Upon this memorable bridge it all happened
Victories leapt upon our pool like joyful frogs

687.  JOY UNLIMITED

The fledging sun offers its rays
And the rays offer golden trays
For our joy a platform to spray
Rowdy paratroops like thunder
To scoop roses from pure oasis

Our joy is ripe upon celebrations
Our celebrations with decorations
Decorations with documentations
Documentations for all generations
Generations in our joyful habitations

688. ANOTER RAINING DAY

The dark clouds are wandering river basins
Spiral bounded by breakable outer casings
The rivers and the seas display empty cups
For the swift blessings descending the tops

The rains come as defense troops’ missiles
And the drowning lands look like imbeciles
Now we are groaning in the watered claws
With the liberated scales marking our flaws

The retreating clouds crawl away in a belch
Dumping the missing cargoes on the beach
The winds bow in a state of shock in a cord
Praying and fasting for a visit from the Lord

689. GRANDMOTHER

Grandmother, please wake and get up
The sky is quarreling with her husband
Soon they will spill their freezing sweat
On our bodies for us to catch dead cold

Grandmother, please sneeze not louder
The sky and her husband are quarreling
Soon they will send old floods like gales
To sweep mankind away from the world

Grandmother, you are everything I have
My moon, my sun and my morning stars
Provoke not the couples with your cough
Lest they refill their greasily wraths again

Grandmother, the big reptiles have come
With their lethal grandchildren following
They are laced with secret burial shrouds
With sympathetic tears tearing their eyes

Grandmother, I kiss you a shaky goodbye
With broken pains roaring within my soul
Grandmother, where are your groundnuts
To conduct my solo heart as you sing away

690.  A NIGHT WALK THROUGH THE FOREST

Lured away on an alluring dream by fables
I trudged along the grassy paths with fears
Upon my steps spilling the prevailing dews
The shadows bowed their heads in silence
Like the soul issued with a death sentence

The night crawlers emerged above boards
Throwing light upon contrary communities
In their hearts and eyes were painful tears
Crawling down their exaggerated eye *****
Like a handbag filled with rotten cosmetics

The shadows were bold animators’ shelves
Stage managing the horror motion pictures
In the ghostly commodities I met wild hosts
Lifeworks evaporated from my fresh breath
Like foreign tragedies in common comedies

The sorrowful shadows cast away their veils
Like the candles letting go of the weird wax
Sadly I sat in the sack for conflicting fetuses
Another sun appeared like a serial divorcee
Counting the testicles of another naked day

691.  SUBJECTIVE SUBJECTS

The sad sun descended upon her haunting melodies
Reeling from mysterious layers for electoral riggings
To harden the flowerbed for flower girls born tender
Disenfranchised voters came weeping in barren polls
Dressing the blank nest for the fat electoral parodies
With the mourners the faulty bells they came ringing
Like the angry water castigating a ****** port fender
And the smokes climbed upon their wide aerial poles
Arching over the emptied shelves with liberal singing
They subjected their subjective subjects to all objects

— The End —