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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.
STLR Oct 2016
What is 1 to 1.5

currency to relativity

urgency brings negativity

It's not about new tools

it withers your tools bring productivity

The way you slap that old guitar, the way you drive that beat up car

How fast does it run? How long does it last? How fast does it charge?

New can only take you so far

Let that distance your reach be derived from a skill, not from how rich or famous your are.

I often walk, even though I own a car...I prefer feeling the wind, the open-air, it makes me feel like I'm apart of something

The emotions I feel are driven from an organic substance, the dirt that I see the wind that I feel..these constant conflicts between what is man-made and what was here.

The stare of a deer, the tree was its friend, it's now been destroyed to make a path of cement.

That path of cement created a state of solidarity, urban prosperity, violence numbified by media regularities.

Civilizations become the norm, even though we all barely speak to each other physically

Digital formats become our literal floor mats, every result you leave results in a digital footprint, cataloged for the marketing lab rats

Too complex to understand like a physical labyrinth, Let me elaborate

So let me ask you ?! What is 1 to 1.5

Can you live without your social media vices, multimedia devices, tell me the definition of what "like" is

Currency, urgency, thumbs up if you feel like every part of your life is an emergency, if so then share it,
so the world can see

Then watch your conversations about fashion turn into a targeted ad about a jacket that is burgundy

Invasion of privacy? Not if your privacy is for the world to see.

Coincidently that jacket is on sale, so if you buy it this theory will not fail, and if you don't the media will still prevail, it's presence is an entire quarter, meaning it's heads or tails.

That's urgency hiding behind a veil.
Alex McQuate May 2018
Great tragedy suffered,
Impossible circumstances conquered,
The warrior walks upon the field flanked path.

The wanderer's armor tells a tale,
Battle scarred and partially rent asunder,
A face of stoicism that hides the haggardness underneath,
Peeking out beneath the mask of a hardened soldier.

The clouds clap ahead, preceded by flashes of light brightly illuminating the world,
Accompanied shortly after by the rainfall.

A trickle becomes a downpour,
The battered individual trudging along as the road becomes a bog of mud and slop,
The message firmly planted within their mind.

Coming upon the dark outline of the castle ahead the warrior picks up pace,
Reflecting upon what would happen to those that the Warrior helped.

The pace is now fueled by a different kind of urgency.

The rain is cold upon the faces of those that it falls on,
The torn edges of metal digging in at places,
Some already wounded and tender,
As the final hilltop between them is crested.

The gates are closed,
And this loyal soldier is for the moment shut out,
A fist is raised,
The declaration of allegience given,
An angry detailing of the warriors achievements and adventures shouted,
And a challenge of one's path,
Building in anger and fury as the dam finally breaks and gushes forth,
Threatening to shatter the gate and doors to splinters and twisted metal.

A long ago promised gift to be rewarded,
For all the things endured,
Things that could be considered so cruel,
The storm picks up in force until it's akin to that of a hurricane,
As if brought forth by the warrior's grief and pain finally being released,
For the first and only time.

These things ringing out dispite the storms roaring wind,
Gathering force,
Perhaps in affirmation of the warriors words.

After a pause the gate begins to lift,
It's metal screeching,
The doors groaning as they begin to swing outward, and the embattered soldier is bathed in light,
Taking the weight from the warrior's shoulders,
As the threshold is finally crossed.
Nat Lipstadt Jan 2017
Yom Kippur this year was celebrated on Oct. 12th 2016.
Leonard Cohen passed away on November 7, 2016.


~~~

faint knocking at the door to the Tower of Song

the ministering angels, hearing a rhythmic, lyrical rapping,
sigh, thinking the atonement day,
the holiday/holy days, are supposedly over,
the human balancing act, the rush to judgement period,
all tallies totaled, the busy sale season for souls,
at last completed, each fate inscribed & sealed,
in the book of life^

but, always one,
the itinerant straggler, the last reluctant sinner, a judgment resister,
flaunting an expired coupon, trumpeting demands for a recount,
waving it, claiming it, the bearer, entitled to a mercy discount and
an extra 30 days

"who shall we say is calling?"

the Angels are stunned to hear,
a familiar raspy, growling, almost indescribable,
yet, stammeringly, beautiful voice enchanting,
equally asking and answering,  how both,
with a strident humility, "a man in search of answers"

this voice, instantaneous recognizable,
the asking superfluous,
all beating wings now, all in vast excitement,
this psalmist, long awaited, one of His best,
a chosen one, a courtly singer in the Temple of his people,
blessed with the curse of seeing and believing,
the comprehension of beauty of the human superior interior,
never being quiet or quite satisfied,
in capturing, its multifarious variations,
in every language spoken

this is the man who took ten years
to compose just
one song,
one poem,
one word,
Hallelujah,
whose faith was strong,
but still needed proofs,
whose every breath of oxygen inhalation,
brought more questions,
every exhalation, only releasing partial answers,
and yet, still, yes, yes! finding hidden verses inside

a simple, everlasting
hallelujah

the hubbub subsides, the man sings~speaks:
how came I here,
was I one, who by fire?
that fire afeared,  that my finality was spirit consumer?

one voice, answers,
in one voice, the swaying back-up singers answer,
not by fire, not by water, not by stoning or
even drowning
in tea that came from all the way from China

when sing we Angels, the Judgement Day poem,
we alone, on high and above,
we, keepers of the books and records of everyone,
are permitted this to query:

Who by Sufficiency?

you, the sidekick of the creator,
special commissioned by him, anointed to live a life of research,
record in word and song the mysteries of musical gene strings,
that intertwine the skin cells of man and woman,
man and his fellow us-human,
your soul commandeered, ordered, delve deeper,
into the consolable chasm tween divine and mortals,
all those who are poorly constructed
in his image

he, who has earned his place, his best rest,
his works adjudged sufficient,
he, who best answered
this judging,
this calling out,
calling in
incantation,

Who by Sufficiency?

now forward on, write only of answers,
wade in the troubled waters no more,
no more passports, or borders to cross,
no more measuring the days,
the last road trip finale
finished & feted,
fate meted

no more changing thy name, changeling priest,^^
sing songs of solution, salvation,
for the questioning hours of confusion,
the urgency of revolution,
no longer need a hallelujah resolution


                                                    ­| | |
Who By Fire                             Who By Fire, Who By Water:^
(lyrics by Leonard Cohen)     (A Yom Kippur Hebrew Prayer)

who by fire                             How many shall die and      

who by water,                                how many shall born,
Who in the sunshine,                 Who shall live      
who in the night time,                   who shall die,                      
Who by high                                Who at the measure of days,
who by common trial,                    and who before,
Who in your merry                            
                                                          Who by fire
month of May,                                 and who by water
Who by very                                 Who by sword,
slow decay,                                       and who by wild beasts,
And who shall I                      Who by hunger,
say is calling?                              and who by thirst,

And who in her,                           Who by earthquake
lonely slip,                                         and who by plague
who by barbiturate,                      Who by strangling,
Who in these                                    and who by stoning
realms of love,                               Who shall have rest,

who by,                                             and who shall go wandering,
something blunt,                            Who will be tranquil,
And who by avalanche,                  and who shall be harassed,
who by powder,                            Who shall be at ease,
Who for his greed,                           and who shall be afflicted,
who for his hunger,                      Who shall become rich,
And who shall I,                             and who shall become poor,
say is calling?                                Who will be raised high,
                                                         ­     and who will be brought low
And who by brave assent,                  
who by accident,
Who in solitude,
who in this mirror,
Who by,
his lady's command,
who by his own hand,
Who in mortal chains,
who in power,
And who shall I,
say is calling?




^From the liturgy of Rosh Hasanah, the Jewish New Year and Yom Kippur, the  Day of Atonement, there is this truly stunning prayer (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unetanneh_Tokef) in the Jewish liturgy. The Book of Life contents the fate of every sinner. From the first day of the new year, until ten days later, on Yom Kippur, depending on whether the sinner repents or not, his fate is sealed.
Yom Kippur this year was celebrated on Oct. 12th 2016.

Leonard Cohen passed away on November 7, 2016.

^^"A Kohens ancestors were priests in the Temple of Jerusalem. A single such priest was known as a Kohen, and the hereditary caste descending from these priests is collectively known as the Kohanim.[2] As multiple languages were acquired through the Jewish diaspora, the surname acquired many variations." Today, with no temple, the limited role of the Kohanim is to bless the Jewish people on the high holy days with a  special prayer with abeloved tune,  instantly evocative (see wikipedia.org/wiki/Priestly_Blessing) The Kohanim are still revered, honored, and always called up first to the Sabbath reading of the weekly portion of the Old Testament

A thank you to Bex for proofing and encouragement.
Part I of a trilogy
For a  more detailed analysis of the roots of the song, "Who By Fire," and its origins, see:
_____________________________________________
http://www.leonardcohen-prologues.com/who_by_fire.htm

He worked on the song Hallelujah, arguably his most famous composition, for ten years.
Robin Carretti Aug 2018
The star* everybody needs
somebody_
But what needs pulling
out weeds, don't rush her
Just pamper her what!!!
"Seducing the Queen"

The curves the hot raves
The super satellite
 greeting her
bottom caves
That body fit curve appeal
How to ****** his
"King" water
He was born with
Sword dish spoon
**** shades and fifty
deeper gray's
That old black magic prays

In her young hand
became a restless pair
What was sexless
Ageless the silvery moon*

Something came way
too soon he says
"Smile you're on candid camera"

Something snaps did not
make the cut
So reducing
A spin Star Trek
Voyager of words

So time-consuming
"Seducing"
   Mixing
More producing the camera
tells the truth *******

From here on could be fatal
But the mortal life of eternity
But she is losing her waistline
Of energy

No God became swampland
Of biting men tough skin
alligators

I am the "Satellite Lady"
The winter gets hazy
But I am the Aphrodite
No touch-up "Eyes Seducing"
Our sunset the time we met
the stars

The fitting ring square hot sparks cushion
Mrs. Futurama* She knows her mission
          
High **** sigh
The best creation of
women's sexuality
Such high maintenance
Something in her voice
A powerful moment in
time business

There's no business like
Seducing the world
so ingenious
Perfect plan the genius
More space human race

What you decide at
your own pace
Wild West the
Wicked Witch

Scrooged the green
Alien money
Temptation meets
the surrender
The Oz Balloon pretender
Those pins go
Singing Pop Satellite

The high tech drama
Spaceship to the Ferrari cars
Is there fault in our stars?

Or we girls having fun
Out with the old
The new Navy
**** hot army of ladies
The New Orleans
Red Chanel lip district

A hot item everything is finer
in Carolina, she got the
special treatment
Kicking her heels off
The best southern comfort
**** Gina Lollobrigida instant
******* Jacks pops instant replay

Her voice controls her sexuality singing

Let me show you
But in all honesty, it's the
*
Satellite

Website
The king love me tender
The kiss to render
Infinite not so tender
Hot wings of butterflies
Nothing in life is free
So sure of the gravity I see
  
Aphrodite brings the pleasure  
seduction of love treasure

Being late the satellite
The bold dark hot brew
Using your smile wisely

Before you  
The Crazy Horse
burlesque show
French spy lady with her
**** trench after you
Precisely
So genuinely

Creation in unequivocal
**** creature primal
Seducing lips passed through
Whats truly fate or innate
Seducing a stranger that was
once an inmate

The stars shine so brightly
But you cannot get him
out of your headway
too painful highway
To here to eternity
expressing yourself

Going International*

Feeling sultry lovely
and swinging
On the top of the satellite
Being the fireball in the
restaurant he got a stroke
at midnight coaching her

You're the Princess, the
feast is ready
Keep your outlook steady
He spies on you his
heart flies your passionate
stars
The feeling stays and
Your heart plays the
"Satellite"

So soothing the silk guitar strings
Strumming to his lips
Your the best thing
that happened in his life

Climbing her wilderness mountain
So energetic the movie cutthroat site
The satellite became my bite of the
most passionate fruit
The lady in blue in her
highcut boots

Lord of the rings the urgency
"The Wanting" self-determined
Caring but slaving over love
Giving your heart for
emergency
You're whole undivided
attention the facts

Her highness such kindness
She loves to read get the
bright star the wish
The lush the knowledge
Like the ledger of awareness

The hot dish pleasures
His and her reaction
The perception and
The physical attraction
"The Seducing Show"
Seducing can have a lot of meaning it can be playful and fun or getting so out of touch that  had enough people use their sexuality in lots of ways make it a special Satellite to the star of his moon day
Mateuš Conrad Jul 2018
.wow, i never thought it would ever be possible,
i'm sorry, i have no empathy for these youtuber "creators",
any idiot can regurgitate the news,
venture into vulture journalism,
  then again: gone are the days of closely associated
with people like Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein...
they are really gone: what the hell was gamer-gate
compared to watergate? gate after gate,
and all i'm hearing is response videos,
it should have never come to this,
whereby journalists are as untrustworthy as politicians,
and of what remains, come the saturday and
the sunday editions, when the petty bourgeoisie
come out of the woodworks of a week,
album reviews, book reviews, t.v. reviews,
restaurant reviews: real, real journalism,
all the grit you'd expect from a warzone...
           journalists forgot they were not kindred spirits
of politicians: but immediacy historians...
the front-line history chroniclers...
i find... these days, esp. these days...
    you know why i like heidegger so much,
and forget the fact that he joined the **** party?
in 1938 he was already disillusioned by it...
so the ad homine fallacy bites the dust...
   even a **** deservers a redemption...
but i find that these days, of all days...
   man, as a historiological creature has to bow
before the unshakeable facets of the biological man,
esp. in the english speaking world...
    in terms of history and biology:
     history has all the fun stories,
and a sensible "concern" for time,
   well... if not "concern" then at least a bearbable
time-frame...
                  after all, i am the one who said:
all the great deserts of the world,
akin to sahara? they were once great
mountain ranges... you already know where
to look between a mountain range akin to the alps
and a desert... bound to h'america...
   monument valley: utah...
  a mountain becomes a rock after a while...
while the desert expands...
    ayers rock (uluru)... but monument valley (utah)
is a transition period between a mountain range
and a desert, if we're going to stand outside
of all space and time, and look back in...
we have plenty of time to catch-up on...
           just like i believe that black holes
are actually 2-dimensional objects:
   that spin really fast, giving an impression
of them being 3-dimensional objects:
as usually represented by a gravity dip associated
with them pulling matter into themselves...
i think that black holes are paradoxes...
since how can a 2-dimensional object
actually exist in a 3-dimensional space?
   that depends on the size of the "3-dimensional"
object / space... the universe is a medium,
it's defined as a "space" but to me...
      it's beyond space... it's only space on the grounds
of isolated time, 365 days,
the time and space it takes for the earth
to orbit the sun... which is an isolated example,
outside? well: there's atmosphere on earth,
outside? vacuum!
who's going to prove my theory wrong?
               not anyone in my lifetime -
besides the point with these youtube content
"creators": where credit is due, credit is due,
but once might have cared for their vulture
journalism... two old farts akin to felix (black pigeon
speaks) and sargon of akaad talking about how:
the youth are congregating to youtube to listen
to music: that's what i've always done...
  i discovered these youtube "creators" by accident,
i just wanted my jukebox back, man,
i wanted my algorithm back, my imprint back,
now that the devil's dozen scenario took hold
of the platform: 1 video playing, 12 back-ups...
and they're all the same, unrelated, *******...
        talk all you want, please, just give back
my algorithm imprint, where i can discover new music...
again... i never thought i'd see another
compilation video, 173 videos bound to one...
and, mind you... after finding about 6 googlewhacks
(googlewhack? when you use the sort of
language that provides you with only one search
result on the behemoth platform of billions
of results, 1 is grand, but 6? it's becoming too
predictable)...
                        so here's what i found
   (band - song):

wooly mammoth - mammoth bones / kyuss - space cadet,
rainbows are free - last supper / grand magus -
                                                mountain of power,
zed - lies / om - cremation chant I & II,
    smoke - hallucination / weird owl - white hidden fire,
orchid - son of misery / witch - seer,
               unida - you wish / black mountain - old fangs,
b.r.m.c. - ain't no easy way /
              jack daniels overdrive - ****** to death,
shrinebuilder - blind for all to see,
                   datura - mantra / the heavy eyes - voytek,
the machine - infinity / clutch - the regulator,
   colour haze - mountain / maligno - son of tlalocan,
dozer - twilight sleep / gomer pyle - albino rattlesnake,
blockback - dead mans blues / greenleaf - witchcraft tonight,
cactus jumper - right way / borracho - bloodsucker,
alabama thunderpussy - motor ready,
                    earthless - sonic power,
my brother the wind - death and beyond,
   zaphire oktalogue - carrion fly / siena root - reverberations,
unida - slaylina / pothead - toxic / sungrazer - mountain dusk,
   rotor - costa verde / blizaro - it's in the lighthouse,
planet of zeus - woke up dead,
     kongh - pushed beyond / ufomammut - smoke,
high on fire - to cross the bridge,
              the secret - bell of urgency,
      unida - wet pussycat / dozer - big sky theory,
cavity - chloride / brutus - swamp city blues,
the grand astoria - something wicked this way comes,
sasquatch - the judge / pharaoh overlord - skyline,
baby woodrose - love comes down / kamni - **** of satan,
lay with me - the flying eyes / cowboys & aliens  -
                                                out of control,
sons of otis - liquid jam / hainloose - recipe,
    ridge - rancho relaxo / bongripper - ****** sutherland,
skraeckoedland - cactus / grails - satori,
    lo-pan - chicken itza / five horse johnson - people's jam,
blind dog - don't ask me where i stand,
     wiht - orderic vitalis / hisko detria - nothing happens,
liquid sound company - leage for spiritual discovery lives,
   goatsnake - black cat bone / gandhi's gunn - rest of the sun,
the egocentrics - wave / propane propane - it's alright,
heliotropes - ribbons / mother mars - price you pay,
che - the knife / annimal machine - condenado,
   earth - tallahassee / the whirlings - delirio,
orchid - heretic / maeth - horse funeral,
siena root - rasayana / graveyard - longing,
           tia carrera - hell / hainloose - recipe,
      burner - five pills (and a bottle of whiskey),
dala sun - guilty for ****** / vulgaari - lie,
        slo burn - muezli / stonehelm - zombie apocalypse,
smallman - evolution / spiders - fraction,
         shakhtyor - e. jaspers / earthmass - lunar dawn,
evoke the lords - dregs / colour haze - silent,
     sutrah - el septimo viaje...

  

who are "these" people,
who: "supposedly" live for the future...
they always cite it,
as the one motivational
momentum of the present -
it's as if they've never seen
a bull itch the ground
with its front hoofs -
   imitating building up momentum
before a charge...
or how a slingshot,
or how a bow works...
   to these people,
the ******* sideways movement
of a bow against a violin...
sometimes...
      you do not retreat into
the past, to hide, to amount
to nostalgia...
     sometimes
the only reason for the reflexive
affirmation, confined to maxims
and aphorism, nay: even poems!
is to look back...
     to reap what was once
sowed, rather than sow blindly,
and reap: what no one wants
to reap...
    drunk? getting there...
       it felt so relaxing paying off
a 100 / 250 part of a debt
i owe her...
            while buying a russian
standard liter,
   asking for a 100 cash-back
of the supermarket cashier,
- the limit is 50,
   but if you buy something else,
i can give you another 50...
- oh... ok...
   so me went to and took a bottle
of shveedish cider...
   rekorderlig...
   mind you? the swedish,
what they perfected fermenting
better than what the the irish claim
to fame is?
    sorry... magners:
               irish? stick to the guinness...
(it's actually the only cerveza
i'd go into an english pub to
drink from the tap... bottled? canned?
not the same)...
     but with such swedish delights
such as the above mentioned,
  ålska and K  ö   nigsberg
                            *œ
?
no competition... the suede(s) just
do one thing grand...
    cider...
- what was i talking about?
  ah... the "dreaded" past...
     the people who say:
  but you can't live out a life,
   holding onto a private past,
a memory...
    so... these other ******* were
allowed to implant a false
past, unrelated to me,
teaching me whether it was
Newton, or Leibniz who first
invented the infinitesimal calculus
method?
                i'm betting on Leibniz...
after all... he took the position
of a ******* librarian...
   and he wasn't buried with pomp
& circumstance at Westminster Abbey...
sometimes...
         one person can't have it all...
but if the education system
is a system that is indicative for
the erosion of memory, esp. private
matters... and juggernauts in
with these selective rubrics of science
and history...
fair enough the basic
implants: numerical arithmetic,
and lettering arithmetic -
    and then... lessons in mental
entertainment... when applied
           to menial labour...
memory is: supreme...
          i can't give my memory up...
that's what: killer proteins
eating the fat tissue of the brain
like starvation in reverse
        of a case of Alzheimer's?
memory is: cameo cinema -
    however distorted it might be,
although i beg to differ on
whether time per se,
  is not the better psychedelic
component
when coupled with memory -
esp. the cinematic aspect of memory...
there was never a "living" in
the past -
      there was a point about memory
to sharpen the edges of
    "dasein"... all speculation and
questions regarding consciousness,
as championed through
a chimpanzee's *** are somehow
pointless:
    given there's a higher tier of
conceptualization -
   working from dasein...
            hierjetzt -
      or in english?             presence...
- because why would i treat
a personal memory,
like some inorganic entity of
a schooling system,
under Catholic measures,
  that made it necessary to include
Pythagoras... but not Horace?
that's inorganic memory...
and unless i turn into some
inorganic entity -
   the organic aspect of my psyche:
my past, my cameo cinema?
   that's going to be a leech,
attached to me...
  and i'm not going to give it up,
just like... when i walk about
my door, and enter the england
that i know on the peripheries...
i'll speak the lingua franca -
     but with my privacy?
    you'd better cut my tongue off
before i stop speaking
my western slavic heritage...
    and it pains me...
when certain groups of immigrants...
don't know the POINT
where immigration becomes
insensible... self-lacerating...
           i once hated their approach...
now i just pity them...
anyone ****** can juggle
     two oranges rather than three...
p.s. old school cure for a cold?
forget the pills...
   glass of warm milk,
  an egg yolk,
     and a good scratch of butter...
  (on the rare occasion,
  milk infused with garlic)

mixed together...
before bedtime...
  if the ****** won't sweat out
the bacteria during the night...
     well... stick to the synthetics...
i'm pretty sure i know why i drink...
certainly not to: PARTY PARTY PARTY...
i always aim for
the one safety net of "pharmacology"...
ssssssssleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.

p.s. so much for children loving their
parents...
        in vitro and the whole
m.g.m. debacle:
so, sweet little *******,
       no *******, no chance for your
for a quickie satellite launch date from
Tehran, under all the weight of
monotheism turned secular...
christianity: the only "monotheism"
with overt tinged of polytheism,
lutheran, baptist, catholic, orthodox...
just today i opened my door twice...
once to a confused curry house delivery man:
did you order some food:
i too replied with a confused look
and the word: huh?! no.
then a black woman with a a white ol' granny
came by with a leaflet...
the jehovah's witnesses were on my trail...
lucky of my grandfather,
   the profanity brigade of the hebrew name
i will not dare utter came by...

  and if you have lived a good enough life:
memory? memory beats hollywood
technicolour and CGI...
at least in the cinema of memory i always
get to play the cameo (role)...

oh i get the youtube creators:
   living with his parents... still. aged 33...
funny that i don't mind them,
since they're getting older they're settling
into their solispsism,
        annoying as ****, but i stand them,
thank god the protruding caduceus veins
on my phallus protected me from
a circumcision...
  i can ******* like a girl with a web-cam...
no scented candles:
the no. 1, 2 & 3 on the throne of thrones...
the toilet, simultaneously masaging my ****
and prostate...

men were not exactly supposed to derive
pleasure from ***: they were,
supposed to give pleasure,
and in giving pleasure to one outlet,
they were subscribed to finding out what
best pleases them: ergo?
women would always derive more of
the people from *** than men would ever...
*** is not a story of bragging about
a harem... the woman lies flat...
the man pumps her...
after all... she is the one burdened
to carry a child, why wouldn't she be
the one deriving more pleasure from *** than
a man could ever?
72 virgins! ha ha!
   ah ha ha!
             what's the ratio?
   last time i checked... a 3 hole caravan...
of a woman's worth...
   mouth, ******, ****... and man?
only two points of entry, well...
"entry"...
                    seems that the tomatoe,
really is a fruit, but is treated like a vegetable
nontheless!
homosexuality in the 1960s...
william burroughs in Tangiers...
                    when Islam was quiet radical...

well... i cook, i clean...
                what are my other options of continuing
to write and living the ed gein "lifestyle",
i tried getting social housing in england,
but, i'm not a somali with two wives and a dozen
kids...
              rent, in london?
extortion...
                   housing shortage...
                 well there's me hating my parents,
the outside world just needs to see
an ed gein imitation...
               or there's me living off acorns
in the woods, or rummaging on the streets,
making the N25 bus from oxford st. to ilford
my own personal mobile hotel as a homeless
man in london...

   i think it's time to succumb to your
parents prejudices, if only for the jokes,
no point in making ethical high judgements
to fit into a zeitgeist narrative surrounding
yourself with people: you'd never eat a meal with...
that's how i define the highest form of respect:
if i'll eat with you: implies that i respect you...
i drink alone...
a high school fwend once thought he could
bribe me with his company,
that i "had to" drink with him...
      no... not really...
          i much prefer drinking by myself...
these days you're not expected to honour your
mother and your father,
i.e. make them proud...
               honour is a double-edged sword...
just don't be ashamed of having
a mother or a father...
not that hard: given western divorce rates...
i.v.f., frozen eggs... yadda yadda yadda...
lucky me in having went to university...
oh... really? so much cooler in a cosmopolitan
environment with your contemporary
flat-mates?
               get the picture?
                 paying rent while literally living
in a diguised cardboard box?
i can't help the fact that poetry doesn't pay...
that there are economic factors beyond
my control in play...
   maybe if i was the grandson of my parents,
born in england, and not elsewhere,
there would be some sort of + leverage...
for a bricks and mortar start-up...
plus... i hoard...
         books and music...
                     mind you:
neither of my parents spoke english as their
mother tongue...
  neither did i...
they didn't teach me this tongue:
i had to teach this language by myself:
for myself...
           aged 8: thrown into the deep end
of the pool: now swim ******, swim!

i just feel sorry for the immigrant parents
who gave birth to their children into the *****
of the land they immigrated to...

two days ago i found a heartbreak,
a romanian couple, with a child...
the father was stubborn in teach his daughter
his / her native sprechen...
romanian... but she was already speaking
perfect antithesis of accent kindergarten english...
and almost non-responsive to her tongue
alligned to her biology...
    clearly she was born in england,
but her parents were both romanian...
i've had that conundrum in my head
for a long time...
   what if i married an english girl...
and i was unable to teach my offspring
my native language,
what if i had to silence my native tongue,
"forget" it, or only speak it by myself,
via reading a book in western slavic?
what if the woman i married:
wouldn't see the benefits of bilingualism,
outside of the mainstream economic
mantra of ensuring your children
learn either german or mandarin or arabic?
that worried me...
          oh believe me, i enjoy my lapses
into english: since i am providing the groundwork...
but in the case of having offspring...
e.g. teaching them the western slavic tongue
so they could speak to their grandparents
(i.e. my parents)...
       even my grandparents lament
the scenarios when a woman would marry
an austrian... and she wouldn't teach
her children her native tongue,
and when the grandchildren would visit their
grandparents... they'd be speaking
a crude variation of braille, morse,
   sign-language: na migi...
               i know that my mother is alive
in me even under this veil of english...
because she's more than the womb,
the genitals of my conception, the breast fed off...
she's also the Atlas of my vocabulary
of the "hiding" tongue beneath this one...

i already knew the "game" was rigged from
the get-go... i've seen how one hindu woman
suffered being married to a scouser...
she never managed to pass on her language
to her children,
she bought a library, thinking her children
would succumb to learning: however poor
they might end up being...
but she was suffocated by the english
tongue of her husband...
and her children didn't express even the most
vague of desires to learn their mutterzunge...

that's what worried me to begin with,
marrying an english woman i was afraid
of the ignorance that someone bilingualism
was en route toward a psychiatrist disorder
i was diagnosed with: schizophrenia...
this anglophonic ignorance still scares me...
like: everyone is expected to speak the revisionist
globalist lingua franca: this anglo lingua...
if i didn't meet a bilingual / polyglot woman,
i'd return to rearing idiotic children...
anglo lingua was only supposed to be a middle-ground,
a "no man's land"...
             a language of trivial economic transfers...
a language primarily orientated around usage:
rather than an ethno-centric basis for "englishness"...
to **** with: god save the queen...
the british grenadiers' fife & drum...
                 old scot dragoons': auld lang syne...
those where my forever anthems...
see...
        what gave birth to a jihadi john?
his mother "forgot", his father "forgot":
his "mother" forgot, his "father" forgot to speak
the "ancient" tongue...
there's a point to integration of the immigrant,
an immigrant is a forgetful creature,
an ever pleasing creature...
never to mind himself as an ex-pat...
you ****** forget your mutterzunge...
you'll be speaking in cockney accents
with broken affairs of arabic beheading people
for zombified reasons of grandeour!
*******...
          you, you: you are to blame!
you were so ashamed of your parents that you
delved on honoring them to the point
of thinking giving pride unto them was very
much akin as keeping shame away from
their girdle of the wedlock of your own existence!
death has not made your a martyr...
i guess you deserve those 72 mishaps,
those 72 annoying voices...
and i pray to god that you receive your reward!
i hope that among the 72 you will never find
a chance a repose to find your: self!

integration is one thing,
pandering to the "elites": plebs who think they
are kings among the plebs,
is quiet another...
plebs who go places and think english
is a universal tongue: just because
uncle sam says so...
of those i respect:

y cymraeg: pwy dal eu tafod...
an gàidhlig: cò fhathast bruidhinn an cuid teanga...
i nawet moim: co ma mówić
to nawet tyle: co znaczy tak niewiele!

there are boundaries... learn the customs
of the natives, but ensure you retain the customs
you were born with...
a child, born in a foreign land,
ought to ensure his parents teach him
the words to speak to his grand overseers...
complete immersion,
this cultural abortion,
this cutting of the umbilical chord
from: i have never met a people so
content at having been subjugated outside
the indian sub-continent,
cricket... for ****'s sake...
       as to demand other europeans
to treat them as superiors,
when sitting alongside an englishman...
****-bud-bud, the **** are you on about?!
once again: england has become the circus
for the grounding of what began
with engels and marx...
   wasn't communism born from
engels and marx observing english society?
sure... first experimented en masse in
mongolia... but its origins?

   so of course i had problems finding a suitable
mating partner... i was afraid that my nativ-zunge
would die a slow but solemn death...
that an english bridge would not consider
the worth of a bilingual child, or a polyglot,
or that she would repress the chance of my
"biological continuum nuance" to respond outside
of the anglo lingua refrain of: beside the english language?
there are quiet a few one might want to learn...

it's not easy being a first generation immigrant,
esp. if you moved aged 8, mute as a wolf
to a domesticated dog's barking...
but hey, no jihadi john in me...
           jihadi john should have been raised
bilingual... i wouldn't be the one speaking broken
tourist arabic while beheading someone...
jihadi john spoke tourist arabic...
the dichotomy of the mind to the biological
reality, beside the current, western,
"biological relativism" debate...
      clearly darwinism was "wrong"...
man is, these days, left with neither a biological
reality, nor a historical reality...
              but there is a historical reality:
but it's so knit-&-picky...
come on... philip augustus of the capetian
dynasty?
                 casimir III...
                        jeremi wiśniowiecki...
konrad I of masovia...
                           kuno von lichtenstein...
alles ist gott: und gott ist alles -
  gott mit, uns!

              mit eine leben wert leben:
    erinnerung ist die nur kino
             wert sehen eine film beim;

hell... could be worse:
   i might have translated some latin
of horace into pig-trough comfort food.
Bouazizi’s heavy eyelids parted as the Muezzin recited the final call for the first Adhan of the day.

“As-salatu Khayrun Minan-nawm”
Prayer is better than sleep

Rising from the torment of another restless night, Bouazizi wiped the sleep from his droopy eyes as his feet touched the cold stone floor.

Throughout the frigid night, the devilish jinn did their work, eagerly jabbing away at Bouazizi with pointed sticks, tormenting his troubled conscience with the worry of his nagging indebtedness. All night the face of the man Bouazizi owed money to haunted him. Bouazizi could see the man’s greasy lips and brown teeth jawing away, inches from his face. He imagined chubby caffeine stained fingers reaching toward him to grab some dinars from Bouazizi’s money box.

Bouazizi turned all night like he was sleeping on a board of spikes. His prayers for a restful night again went unanswered. The pall of a blue fatigue would shadow Bouazizi for most of the day.

Bouazizi’s weariness was compounded by a gnawing hunger. By force of habit, he grudgingly opened the food cupboard with the foreknowledge that it was almost bare. Bouazizi’s premonition proved correct as he surveyed a meager handful of chickpeas, some eggs and a few sparse loaves. It was just enough to feed his dependant family; younger brothers and sisters, cousins and a terminally disabled uncle. That left nothing for Bouazizi but a quick jab to his empty gut. He would start this day without breakfast.

Bouazizi made a living as a street vendor. He hustles to survive. Bouazizi’s father died in a construction accident in Libya when he was three. Since the age of 10, Bouazizi had pushed a cart through the streets of Sidi Bouzid; selling fruit at the public market just a few blocks from the home that he has lived in for almost his entire life.

At 27 years of age, Bouazizi has wrestled the beast of deprivation since his birth. To date, he has bravely fought it to a standstill; but day after day the multi-headed hydra of life has snapped at him. He has squarely met the eyes of the beast with fortitude and resolve; but the sharp fangs of a hardscrabble life has sunken deep into Bouazizi’s spleen. The unjust rules of society are powerful claws that slash away at his flesh, bleeding him dry: while the spiked tendrils of poverty wrap Bouazizi’s neck, seeking to strangle him.

Bouazizi is a workingman hero; a skilled warrior in the fight for daily bread. He is accustomed to living a life of scarcity. His daily deliverance is the grace of another day of labor and the blessed wages of subsistence.

Though Allah has blessed this man with fortitude the acuteness of terminal want and the constant struggle to survive has its limits for any man; even for strong champions like Bouazizi.

This morning as Bouazizi washed he peered into a mirror, closely examining new wrinkles on his stubble strewn face. He fingered his deep black curls dashed with growing streaks of gray. He studied them through the gaze of heavy bloodshot eyes. He looked upward as if to implore Allah to salve the bruises of daily life.

Bouazizi braced himself with the splash of a cold water slap to his face. He wiped his cheeks clean with the tail of his shirt. He dipped his toothbrush into a box of baking powder and scoured an aching back molar in need of a root canal. Bouazizi should see a dentist but it is a luxury he cannot afford so he packed an aspirin on top of the infected tooth. The dissolving aspirin invaded his mouth coating his tongue with a bitter effervescence.

Bouazizi liked the taste and was grateful for the expectation of a dulled pain. He smiled into the mirror to check his chipped front tooth while pinching a cigarette **** from an ashtray. The roach had one hit left in it. He lit it with a long hard drag that consumed a good part of the filter. Bouazizi’s first smoke of the day was more filter then tobacco but it shocked his lungs into the coughing flow of another day.

Bouazizi put on his jacket, slipped into his knockoff NB sneakers and reached for a green apple on a nearby table. He took a big bite and began to chew away the pain of his toothache.

Bouazizi stepped into the street to catch the sun rising over the rooftops. He believed that seeing the sunrise was a good omen that augured well for that day’s business. A sunbeam braking over a far distant wall bathed Bouazizi in a golden light and illumined the alley where he parked his cart holding his remaining stock of week old apples. He lifted the handles and backed his cart out into the street being extra mindful of the cracks in the cobblestone road. Bouazizi sprained his ankle a week ago and it was still tender. Bouazizi had to be careful not to aggravate it with a careless step. Having successfully navigated his cart into the road, Bouazizi made a skillful U Turn and headed up the street limping toward the market.

A winter chill gripped Bouazizi prompting him to zip his jacket up to his neck. The zipper pinched his Adam’s Apple and a few droplets of blood stained his green corduroy jacket. Though it was cold, Bouazizi sensed that spring would arrive early this year triggering a replay of a recurring daydream. Bouazizi imagined himself behind the wheel of a new van on his way to the market. Fresh air and sunshine pouring through the open windows with the cargo space overflowing with fresh vegetables and fruits.

It was a lifelong ambition of Bouazizi to own a van. He dreamed of buying a six cylinder Dodge Caravan. It would be painted red and he would call it The Red Flame. The Red Flame would be fast and powerful and sport chrome spinners. The Red Flame would be filled with music from a Blaupunkt sound system with kick *** speakers. Power windows, air conditioning, leather seats, a moonroof and plenty of space in the back for his produce would complete Bouazizi’s ride.

The Red Flame would be the vehicle Bouazizi required to expand his business beyond the market square. Bouazizi would sell his produce out of the back of the van, moving from neighborhood to neighborhood. No longer would he have to wait for customers to come to his stand in the market. Bouazizi would go to his customers. Bouazizi and the Red Flame would be known in all the neighborhoods throughout the district. Bouazizi shook his head and smiled thinking about all the girls who would like to take rides in the Red Flame. Bouazizi and his Red Flame would be a sight to be noticed and a force to be reckoned with.

“EEEEEYOWWW” a Mercedes horn angrily honked; jarring Bouazizi from the reverie of his daydream. A guy whipping around the corner like a silver streak stuck his head out the window blasting with music yelling, “Hey Mnayek, watch where you push that *******.”

The music faded as the Mercedes roared away. “Barra nikk okhtek” Bouazizi yelled, raising his ******* in the direction of the vanished car. “The big guys in the fancy cars think the road belongs to them”, Bouazizi mumbled to himself.

The insult ****** Bouazizi off, but he was accustomed to them and as he limped along pushing his cart he distracted himself with the amusement of the ascending sun chasing the fleeting shadows of the night, sending them scurrying down narrow alleyways.

Bouazizi imaged himself a character from his favorite movie. He was a giant Transformer, chasing the black shadows of evil away from the city into the desert. After battling evil and conquering the bad guys, he would transform himself back into the regular Bouazizi; selling his produce to the people as he patrolled the highways of Tunisia in the Red Flame, the music blasting out the windows, the chrome spinners flashing in the sunlight. Bouazizi would remain vigilant, always ready to transform the Red Flame to fight the evil doers.

The bumps and potholes in the road jostled Bouazizi’s load of apples. A few fell out of the wooden baskets and were rolling around in the open spaces of the cart. Bouazizi didn’t want to risk bruising them. Damaged merchandise can’t be sold so he was careful to secure his goods and arrange his cart to appeal to women customers. He made sure to display his prized electronic scale in the corner of the cart for all to see.

Bouazizi had a reputation as a fair and generous dealer who always gave good value to his customers. Bouazizi was also known for his kindness. He would give apples to hungry children and families who could not pay. Bouazizi knew the pain of hunger and it brought him great satisfaction to be able to alleviate it in others.

As a man who valued fairness, Bouazizi was particularly proud of his electronic scale. Bouazizi was certain the new measuring device assured all customers that Bouazizi sold just and correct portions. The electronic scale was Bouazizi’s shining lamp. He trusted it. He hung it from the corner post of his cart like it was the beacon of a lighthouse guiding shoppers through the treachery of an unscrupulous market. It would attract all customers who valued fairness to the safe harbor of Bouazizi’s cart.

The electronic scale is Bouazizi’s assurance to his customers that the weights and measures of electronic calculation layed beyond any cloud of doubt. It is a fair, impartial and objective arbiter for any dispute.

Bouazizi believed that the fairness of his scale would distinguish his stand from other produce vendors. Though its purchase put Bouazizi into deep debt, the scale was a source of pride for Bouazizi who believed that it would help his profits to increase and help him to achieve his goal of buying the Red Flame.

As Bouazizi pushed his cart toward the market, he mulled his plan over in his mind for the millionth time. He wasn't great in math but he was able to calculate his financial situation with a degree of precision. His estimations triggered worries that his growing debt to money lenders may be difficult to payoff.

Indebtedness pressed down on Bouazizi’s chest like a mounting pile of stones. It was the source of an ever present fear coercing Bouazizi to live in a constant state of anxiety. His business needed to grow for Bouazizi to get a measure of relief and ultimately prosper from all his hard work. Bouazizi was driven by urgency.

The morning roil of the street was coming alive. Bouazizi quickened his step to secure a good location for his cart at the market. Car horns, the spewing diesel from clunking trucks, the flatulent roar of accelerating buses mixed with the laughs and shrieks of children heading to school composed the rising crescendo of the city square.

As he pushed through the market, Bouazizi inhaled the aromatic eddies of roasting coffee floating on the air. It was a pleasantry Bouazizi looked forward to each morning. The delicious wafts of coffee mingling with the crisp aroma of baking bread instigated a growl from Bouazizi’s empty stomach. He needed to get something to eat. After he got money from his first sale he would by a coffee and some fried dough.

Activity in the market was vigorous, punctuated by the usual arguments of petty territorial disputes between vendors. The disagreements were always amicably resolved, burned away in rising billows of roasting meats and vegetables, the exchange of cigarettes and the plumes of tobacco smoke rising as emanations of peace.

Bouazizi skillfully maneuvered his cart through the market commotion. He slid into his usual space between Aaban and Aameen. His good friend Aaban sold candles, incense, oils and sometimes his wife would make cakes to sell. Aameen was the markets most notorious jokester. He sold hardware and just about anything else he could get his hands on.

Aaban was already burning a few sticks of jasmine incense. It helped to attract customers. The aroma defined the immediate space with the pleasant bouquet of a spring garden. Bouazizi liked the smell and appreciated the increased traffic it brought to his apple cart.

“Hey Basboosa#, do you have any cigarettes?“, Aameen asked as he pulled out a lighter. Bouazizi shook the tip of a Kent from an almost empty pack. Aameen grabbed the cigarette with his lips.

“That's three cartons of Kents you owe me, you cheap *******.” Bouazizi answered half jokingly. Aameen mumbled a laugh through a grin tightly gripping the **** as he exhaled smoke from his nose like a fire breathing dragon. Bouazizi also took out a cigarette for himself.

“Aameem, give me a light”, Bouazizi asked.

Aameen tossed him the lighter.

“Keep it Basboosa. I got others.” Aameen smiled as he showed off a newly opened box of disposable lighters to sell on his stand.

“Made in China, Basboosa. They make everything cheap and colorful. I can make some money with these.”

Bouazizi lit his next to last cigarette. He inhaled deeply. The smoke chased away the cool air in Bouazizi’s lungs with a shot of a hot nicotine rush.

“Merci Aameen” Bouazizi answered. He put the lighter into the almost empty cigarette pack and put it into his hip pocket. The lighter would protect his last cigarette from being crushed.

The laughter and shouts of the bazaar, the harangue of radio voices shouting anxious verses of Imam’s exhorting the masses to submit and the piecing ramble of nondescript AM music flinging piercing unintelligible static surrounded Bouazizi and his cart as he waited for his first customers of the day.

Bouazizi sensed a nervous commotion rise along the line of vendors. A crowd of tourists and locals milling about parted as if to avoid a slithering asp making its way through their midst. The hoots of vendors and the cackle of the crowd made its way to Bouazizi’s knowing ear. He knew what was coming. It was nothing more then another shakedown by city officials acting as bagmen for petty municipal bureaucrats. They claim to be checking vendor licences but they’re just making the rounds collecting protection money from the vendors. Pocketing bribes and payoffs is the municipal authorities idea of good government. They are skilled at using the power of their office to extort tribute from the working poor.

Bouazizi made the mistake of making eye contact with Madame Hamdi. As the municipal authority in charge of vendors and taxis Madame Hamdi held sway over the lives of the street vendors. She relished the power she had over the men who make a meager living selling goods in the square; and this morning she was moving through the market like a bloodhound hot on the trail of an escaped convict. Two burly henchmen lead the way before her. Bouazizi knew Madame Hamdi’s hounds were coming for him.

Bouazizi knew he was ******. Having just made a payment to his money lender, Bouazizi had no extra dinars to grease the palm of Madame Hamdi. He grabbed the handle bars of his cart to make an escape; but Madame Hamdi cut him off and got right into into Bouazizi’s face.

“Ah little Basboosa where are you going? she asked with the tone of playful contempt.

“I suppose you still have no license to sell, ah Basboosa?” Madame Hamdi questioned with the air of a soulless inquisitor.

“You know Madame Hamdi, cart vendors do not need a license.” Bouazizi feebly protested, not daring to look into her eyes.

“Basboosa, you know we can overlook your violations with a small fine for your laxity” a dismissive Madame Hamdi offered.

Bouazizi’s sense of guilt would not permit him to lift his eyes. His head remained bowed. Bouazizi stood convicted of being one of the impoverished.

“I have no spare dinars to offer Madame Hamdi, My pockets are empty, full of holes. My money falls into everyone’s palm but my own. I’m sorry Madame Hamdi. I’ll take my cart home”. He lifted the handlebars in an attempt to escape. One of Madame Hamdi’s henchmen stepped in front of his cart while the other pushed Bouazizi away from it.

“Either you pay me a vendor tax for a license or I will confiscate your goods Basboosa”, Madame Hamdi warned as she lifted Bouazizi’s scale off its hook.

“This will be the first to go”, she said grinning as she examined the scale. “We’ll just keep this.”
Like a mother lion protecting a defenseless cub from the snapping jaws of a pack of ravenous hyenas, Bouazizi lunged to retrieve his prized scale from the clutches of Madame Hamdi. Reaching for it, he touched the scale with his fingertips just as Madame Hamdi delivered a vicious slap to Bouazizi’s cheek. It halted him like a thunderbolt from Zeus.

A henchman overturned Bouazizi’s cart, scatter
Three years ago today Muhammad Bouazizi set himself on fire igniting the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia sparking the Arab Spring Uprisings of 2011.
Victoria Queen May 2014
They say that over time, it dissipates -
it will drain from you, evaporate like smoke.
It will descend upon you, destroy you;
but will soon release you, and fade.

But with time it instead grows stronger,
demanding to be felt.
It knocks on the doors of my soul,
its urgency to be let inside unrelenting and ruthless.

Like an unpredictable storm, it lands and ravages,
leaving just fragments of a heart already rebuilt.
What is gone is the will;
the resiliency dulled, the courage spent.

It's a deep-rooted ****, an unrivaled opponent;
It's a malevolent fire that refuses to be smothered.
The Hurt:
a wound that permeates, and remains.
Sahil Sharma Aug 2018
You are a sailor if life is a vast ocean..
Here sail-n-surf,very thrilling notion..

Heart does trade with silly emotion
Desires ditch reality,if you lack devotion

Trusting too early is not so very wise..
People turn strangers in their uprise...

Be an artist not the tyrant of ur life
Anger at its apogee, cut like a knife

In dejection time,even silence is noise
Enduring other's hatred is a better choice

Speech is razor-sharp,can easily slice
Before making a decision,think twice

Eyes turn coy when the truth is caught
Just keep it simple n filter ur thought

Like weather, experiences are cool n hot
Hardwork is perennial but luck is not

Deeds are examined,so keep the token
Progress is still when hopes are broken

Pain is felt when own soul is shaken
Just believe in God when all is taken

Pearls come out during ebb at the shore..
Money gives gold but manners shine more

Success is urgency,patience is the cure
Nothing stays forever,expiry is for sure

Life has its fragrance,life has its taste
Laughter is healthy, worry is waste

Love is water, dilutes colour n caste
Polish your soul,skin goes ashes at last
Solfadri Jan 2013
12:45 AM
I wait.
I search for anything
to absolve the sense of urgency.
Like Sebastian's deep grey and white tail
Beginning to flick back and forth,
Like the broken second hand
On the oak grandfather clock,
As he stands frozen, deciding whether the leather armrest
Or the hot pink blanket on the tile floor
are suitable places to rest.
I worry about waiting, and searching,
And wait even longer.
Singleton
Reigel
Shepard
Scholarships
Auditions
1:50 AM
I don't do.
Focus
I wonder if there is something watching me in the darkness?
I stare above the light from the laptop into the black
beyond the dining room window.
The lights are all out and everybody is in asleep,
The streetlights are out,
The universe is dark and deep
How can I be the only one awake?
God, this is pathetic!
Why can’t I focus?
2:47 AM
I do.
Finally,
but the clock is ticking,
I wonder why I don't succeed.
‘I am…’ 'Or am I’? Who can say?
‘A posteriori’ leads the way
For the extra and the ordinary
Axiomatic sway,
In the gravity of corollary,
‘A priori’ interplay
Ataraxic overlay of anxious automation,
As the innocence of dissonance delay.
Practicing semantic contemplation,
In willfully prevenient interpolation,
Civilly disobedient in expediently seeming disarray,
Forecasts in vague extrapolation
Contrasts the millennial contagion
Already underway,
Filling nihilistic voids with particles in waves,
To interpret dreams of Freud to free Oedipus’s slaves,
A degreeless scholastic who never misbehaves,
Simulated humanoid dramatic in the affect that he craves,
Inflating linguistics in acrobatic raves,
A thespian who plans conation with legacy engraves.
The probabilistic determiner of cosmogenous debates,
An apperceived inquirer of qualitative states,
Inspiring proprietor of dismality abates.
Challenging aporia as epistemic oscillates,
Stoically, heroically, ‘one’ who amalgamates,
Circling the infinite in hermeneutic calibrates.
An escaped prisoner from depressive disillusion,
Of an introspective extrovert who finds solace in confusion,
The personable recluse fighting an illusion
Breaking down the nuances of every institution.
Calculating consequence as time goes to infinity
Revolutionary commonsense of principal utility,
An opinionated adversary,
to the realist without evidence,
Theorizing in futility,
Stipulating every sense leading to the virility of the pretense that dominates community.
Divergently converging all the efforts we’ve personified,
Inadvertently submerging old traditions that unethically were codified,
Hastening the urgency for purging that which cannot be modified through the merging of the certainty that will no longer coincide,
Stationing the levies to finally stem the tide,
Of periodic enmities disguised to be necessities so blatantly deified.
Observing moral sentiments, perched upon eternity,
As consequential regiments are expounded universally,
To unstratify the residents indiscriminately
And identify quantum elements spiritualistically,
Changing collective behavior individually,
Socializing constructs in joint ventured logo therapy.
This is an edited, expanded, expounded, confounded, reverberation of Linguistic Illusions to Probable Solutions written months back.
Raj Arumugam Oct 2014
so I brought my writer wife
(prominently pregnant)
to the hospital
and on her bed, she screamed:
"weren't" "hasn't" "couldn't" "shan't"
"aint" "hadn't" "you're" "isn't"
"aren't" "didn't" "wasn't"
"who's?" "what's?" "he's" "she's"


The doctors were confounded
and they turned to me and they said:
"What the hell is she doing?"

And I replied with double speed
and a violent sense of urgency:
*"Don't you know?
She's having contractions -
she's a writer"
Joachim Enriquez Nov 2014
There is no sense of urgency anymore.  
Our problems are getting worse
And we keep burying our faces deeper and deeper into a digital stupor.  
Every time we look up, the world looks a little grayer
And our eyes have to strain a little harder to see the beauty that is left.
Warren Gossett Sep 2011
He feels the terrible urgency of aging,
a foreboding, a sense of something
left unaccomplished
which constantly
claws at his thoughts when he should be
enjoying what life he has left.
It's a cautioning
that the time allotted him to find
an answer, to seek fulfillment,
is escaping him.
What has he done with
his life to merit existence on this orb,
to warrant another sunrise,
another soft rainfall?
Such questions go without answer.

--
Simran Sep 2014
and you grip me tight
urgency exchanged among us
to breathe in the words I exhale
yours lips on mine
your hands tracing my skin
undo me with your breath on my neck
Brad Lambert Mar 2012
It is windy.

"This whole day has been turbulent,"
I think as we make our way down the beach.
It is a day so warm you can feel the heat
burning dumbly off of the sand itself.

And yet the day was cold.

The wind whips my bangs into eyes,
an obvious strike of envy at their brilliant blue
or a strike of malice at my incredulous conceit.
I whine on about my needs, my hopes, myself.

And yet you never seemed cold.

The wind does not whip your marinara hair
rather yet the frame of your face floats, glides,
drifting in the colorless jealousy of the wind.
The tide is rising and we are being cut off.

Urgency, urgency. The wind is jealous.

We walk and talk and sing and hold hands
and all seems well for a few moments.
And in those precious seconds where our worries are lost
the dear ravaged wind dies down, then back, then down again.

Urgency, urgency. The wind is dying.
"Sunflower" Response Chain Poem #1
With: Miss Piranha Dawson
Josh Nov 2017
Neatly coating the floor in thin white trails, woven into floorboards like cotton twine, sunbeams snake their way across hardwood.

Books scream to be read & my yellowed pages ache to detail my experience as a widowed reader of time.

Magazines pile, while my simple hands grow a day older.

Heat on my neck.

The driver of time exhales grandiose,
tells me to travel while I'm young,
visit regions on this globe that grow green with age,
listen to honest trumpets before I gray,
wade in pools of clear urgency.

He said:

"Find a walking stick out beyond the ether
laugh with veracity, poking fun at Saturn & the Stars."
What will the future hold? Only Time will tell.
our voices echo silence is the crime
we need the warm assurance of sweet sound
for all our urgency fears empty time

so much is caught between the fall and climb
but haste is needed to bring things around
our voices echo silence is the crime

for which we will be punished now the chime
of teachers' bell is something most profound
for all our urgency fears empty time

which must be filled with order the sublime
decree of trust in which we seek for ground
our voices echo silence is the crime

and we're so guilty yet we have to prime
the rule of virtues so they might abound
for all our urgency fears empty time

while hope for magic is expressed in rhyme
which we desire to ring and to resound
our voices echo silence is the crime
for all our urgency fears empty time
TinaMarie Feb 2012
The sounding alarm starts the frenzy
I hurry myself to shower and dress
Slowing just for a moment
To strategically place fragrant surprises
For later explorations.

Accelerating with all urgency
I weave through the blockade of traffic
Risking it all to preserve
Each second, each minute, every moment of time
For my waiting infatuation

Flushes of excitement consume me
As I near my destination
I am overwhelmed with pulsating urges
As I search for a way to impress you
Show advanced appreciation

Welcomed with a sensual eagerness
Each of us knowing and wanting
I ask "Can I play you a tune?"
A Love song plays to a faintness
As you bring me to satisfaction

Then,

Ascending to kiss me softly
You wish me a good day at work.
Wiping excess from your chin
You smile and say "See you tomorrow."

© Tina Thompson
Grace Pearl Jun 2012
Skin against skin
Lips wrap around mine
Your tongue slips into my mouth
And pushes to the top
A hand creeps down
Rests on my hip
Fingertips dig into my skin
Pulling me closer
Skin to skin
The rush to remove clothes
How to get closer
Hands pull at my hair
Lips brush against my jaw
Teeth graze my neck
Can't move faster
Can't continue
All stops.

The want.
The urgency.
The need.
Won't stop.
onlylovepoetry Apr 2019
don’t leave me!
(the leaving is in the writing)

she whispers in his ear,
after they’ve climbed into bed,
their tiring bodies both embraced,
soft sunken into, by, a familiar mattress,
after a sophisticates city night out seeing stars,
stars, human and astral,
city lights dusk heightened the vocal sparking,
singers singing songs of love from
radio days long ago

don’t leave me

she intones, a prayerful demand,
equally a command and a begging behest,
puzzling what prompted this pressed request,
spoken with urgency born in her breast

don’t leave me
drifting off and into his thin place,
but tugged back by this cri du coeur,
unsponsored and unwarranted,
nothing recalled that justly provoked,
a statement topping of anguish and fear

don’t leave me
he repeats in a rising questioning inflecting
puzzling riddling unbefitting a mellow-toning sleepy ingredient,
whatever do you mean, I leave you only
to dream, to purify, refresh and deep rest reset,
and return come morning with new poems,
what angst comes to stir this asking,
delaying my adventure to nightly restoration?

don’t leave me
repeated and repeated, dressed in urgency,
for I see the little things,
the wavering walk, the slowing of the thinking,
the walls, black n’ blue, whining about your into bumping,
the instant eagerness with which your body accepts
your voyage to dream places where
one goes and gone and must go unaccompanied,
some who are chosen and some who choose, not to return

don’t leave me
for the signs are ample, a certain weariness
dresses your face and crowns thy graying mane,
the slight labored breathing from steps once
bounded and leapt, the seeing and the hearing,
each slightly weakening, two orchestral instruments,
together off key and lessened in their triumphal vigor,
these words of mine, a royal guard,
keep them in your dreams

don’t leave me
minor missteps in the elongated negated of dying gracefully,
my tuning forks are sensitized,
and any slowing motion
both visible and hearable, and filed under inevitable

I will not leave you tonight,
my body warming as per usual,
your cold feet intruders indicate it’s you have left
for your own nightly visitors, occasional terrors,
you’ve woken me from my allotted sleep hours,
many poems now retrieving and in need of scribing,
while the fingertip digit flys across the digital keyboard,

I am more alive than I have ever been;
the leaving is in the writing,
each poem a steppingstone,

but the poems come fast and furious,
sometimes two at a time, the muses are bemused,
the prognosis is for thousands more and warn:

do not wear out your olive oil anointed forefinger,
the lubricated pointer of the way, wherein is contained

through that index
finger,
your body of works in the
“yet to arrive, yet untaxed filling station,”,
must be seen to fruition,
for it is only then that,
only love poetry
is ready for long lasting
eternal realization





5:36am 12th April, two thousand nineteen
1.

From our
safe windows,
we crane our necks,
rubbernecking
past the slow
motion wreckage
unfolding in Homs.

We remain
perfectly
perched
to marvel at
the elegant arc of
a mortar shell
framing tomorrows
deep horizon,
whistling through
the twilight to
find its fruitful
mark.

In the now
we keep
complicit time,
to the arrest
of beating hearts,
snapping fingers
to the pop
of rifle cracks,
swooning to
the delicious
intoxication of
curling smoke
lofting ever
upward;
yet
thankfully
remain
distant
enough to
recuse any
possibility
of an
intimate
nexus
with the
besieged.

2.

From our
safe windows,
we behold the
urgent arrivals of
The Friends of Syria
demanding
clean sheets
and 4 Star
room service at a
Tunisian Palace
recently cleaned
and under new
management
promising a
much needed
refurbishment.

The gathered,
a clique of
this epochs
movers and shakers,
a veritable
rouges gallery of
ambassadorial
prelates, Emirs and
state department
bureaucrats
summoned
with portfolio
from the
darkest corners
of the globe.

They are
eager to
sanctify
the misery
of Homs,
deflect and
lay blame
with realpolitik
rationalizations,
commencing
official commissions
of inquiry,
deliberating
grave considerations,
issuing indictments
of formal charges for
Crimes Against
Humanity
while
remaining
urgently
engrossed
in the fascination
of interviewing
potential
process servers
to deliver the bad news
to Bashar al-Assad
and his soulless
Baathist
confederates,
if papers
are to be
served.

Yes, the diplomats
are busy meeting
in closed rooms.

In hushed circles
they whisper
into aroused ears,
railing against
Russia’s
gun running
intransigence
and China’s
geopolitical
chess moves.

Statesmen
boast of the
intrepid justice
of tipping points
and the moving poetry
of self serving tales,
weighing the impact
of stern sanctions
amidst the historical
confusion of the
asymmetrical
symmetries
of civil war.

Caravans
of Arab League
envoys roll up
in silver Bentleys,
crossing deserts
of contradictory
obfuscations,
navigating the
endless dunes
with hand held
sextants of
hidden agendas.

The heroic
Bedouins are
eager to offload
their baggage
and share
on the ground
intelligence from
their recent soirées
across Syria.

They beg
a quick fix,
the triage of a
critical catharsis
to bleed their
brains dry
of heinous
recollections,
pleading
release from a
troubled conscience
victimized by
the unnerving paradox
of reconciling
discoveries of
perverse voyeurism
with the sanctioned
explanations
of their respective
ruling elites.

The bellies
of these
scopophiliacs
are distended;
grown queasy
from a steady diet
of malfeasance
an ulcerated
world parades
in continuous loop;
spewing the raw feeds
of real time misery;
forcibly fed
the grim
visions of
frantic
fathers
rushing
the mangled
carcases
of mortally
wounded
children
to crumpled
piles of smashed
concrete that were
once hospitals.

We despondently
ask how
much longer
must we
look into
the eyes
of starving
children
emaciated from
the wanton
indifference
of the world?


3.

From our
safe windows
we wonder
how much
longer can
the urgent
burning
ambivalence
continue
before it
consumes
our common
humanity in
a final
conflagration?

My hair already
singed by the
endless firestorms
sweeping the prairies
of the world.

How can we survive
the trampling hoards,
the marauding
plagues of acrimony
fed by a voracious
blood lust aspiring to
victimize the people
of Homs and a
thousand cities
like it?


4.

From my safe
window I stand in witness
to the state execution of
refugees fleeing the
living nightmare
of Baba Amr.

The ****** of innocents,
today's newly minted martyrs,
women and children
cornered, trapped
on treacherous roads,
mercilessly
slaughtered and
defiled in death
to mark the lesson
of a ruthless master
enthralled with the
power of his
sadistic fascist
lordship.

I cannot avert my eyes
marking sights
of pleading women
begging for the
lives of their children
in exchange for
the gratification
of a sadists
lust.

My heart
is impaled
on the sharp
spear of
outrage
beholding
careening
children mowed
down with the
serrated blades
protruding
from marauding
jeeps of laughing
soldiers.

I drop
to my knees
in lakes of
tears
reflecting
a grotesque
horror stricken
image of myself.

My eyes have
murdered my soul.

The ghastly images
of Homs have chased
away my Holy Ghost
to the safety of a child's
sandbox hidden away
in a long forgotten
revered memory.


5.

From my safe window
I seethe with anger
demanding vengeance,
debating how to rise
to meet the obscenity of
the Butcher of Damascus.

The sword of Damocles
dangles so tantalizingly close
to this tyrants throat.  

The covered women
of Homs scream prayers
“may Allah bring Bashar to ruin”

Dare I pray
that Allah trip the
horsehair trigger
that holds the
sword at bay?

Do I pick up
the sword
a wield it
as an
avenging
angel?

Am I the
John Brown
of our time?

Do I organize
a Lincoln Brigade
and join the growing
leagues of jihadists
amassing at the
Gates of Damascus?

Will my righteous
indignation fit well
in a confederacy
with Hamas and
al-Qaeda as my
comrades in arms?

Do I succumb to
the passion of hate
and become just
another murderous
partisan, or do I
commend the power
of love and marshal
truth to speak with
the force of
satyagraha?

I lift a fervent prayer
to claim the justice
of Allah’s ear,
“may the knowing one
lift the veil of foolishness
that covers my heart in
cloaks of resent, cure
my blindness that ignores
my raging disease of
plausible deniability
ravaging the body politic
of humanity.”

6.

Indeed,
physician heal thyself.

I run to embrace my
illness.

I pine to understand it.

I undertake the
difficult regimen
of a cure to eradicate
the terrible affliction.

This
pernicious
plague,
subverting
the notion
of a shared
humanness
is a cunning
sedition that
undermines
the unity of
the holy spirit.  

The bell from
the toppled steeples
still tolls, echoing
across the space of
continents and eons
of temporal time.

The faithful chimes
gently chides us
to remove the wedge
of perception that
separates, divides
and undermines.

Time has come
to liberally
apply the balm
that salves the
open wounds
so common to
our common
human condition.

The power of prayer
is the joining of hands
with others racked
with the common
affliction of humanness.

Allah,  
My eyes are wide open,
my sacred heart revealed,
my sleeves are rolled up,
my memory is stocked,
my soul filled with resolve,
my hand is lifted
extended to all
brothers and sisters.
Lift us,
gather us
into one
loving embrace.

Selah


7.

From the safe
windows of
our palaces
we live within
earshot of
the trilling
zaghroutas
of exasperation
flowing from
the besieged
city smouldering
under Bashar’s
symphony of terror.

Our nostrils
fill with the
acrid plumes
of unrequited
lamentations
lifting from the
the burning
destruction
of shelled
buildings.

Our eyes spark
from the night
tracers
of sleeking
snipers
flitting along
the city’s
rooftops.

The deadly jinn
indiscriminately
inject the
paralysis of
random fear
into the veins
of the city
with each
skillful
head shot.

These
ghoulish
assassins
lavish in their
macabre work;
like vultures
they eagerly
feast on the
corpses of their ****,
the stench of bloated
bodies drying in the
sun is the perfume
that fills their nostrils.


8.

From our
safe window
we discern the
silhouettes of militants
still boldly standing
amidst the
mounting rubble of an
unbowed Homs
shouting;

Allah Akbar!!!
Allah Akbar!!!
Allah Akbar!!!

raising pumped fists,
singing songs
of resistance,
dancing to
the revelation of
freedom,
refusing to
be coward by
the slashing
whips of a
butchers
terrible
sword.


9.

From my
safe window
my tongue laps
the pap
of infants
suckling from
the depleted
teats of mothers
who cannot cry
for their dying
children;
tears fail
to well from
the exhaustion
of dehydrated
pools.

10.

From my
safe window
my heart stirs
to the muezzin
calling the
desperate faithful
from the toppled
rubble of dashed
minarets.

We can
no longer
shut our ears
to the adhan
of screams
the silent
voices that echo
the blatant injustice
of a people under siege.


11.

From my
safe window,
I pay
Homage to Homs
and call brothers
and sisters to rise
with vigilant
insistence
that hostilities
cease and
humanity be
upheld,
respected and
protected.


12.

From my safe
window
I perceive
the zagroutas
of sorrow
manifest as a
whiling hum,
a sweeping
blue mist,
levitating
the coffins
from the rubble
of ravaged streets.

The swirling
chorus of
mourning
joins my
desperate
prayers;
rising in
concert
with the
black billows
of smoke
dancing
away
from the
flaming
embers
of scorched
neighborhoods.


13.

From my
safe window
I heed
the fluttering
wings
of avenging
angels
furiously
batting
as they
climb
the black
plumes,
lifting from
the scattered bricks
of the desecrated
city.

It is the
Jacob’s
Ladder
for our
time;
marking
a new
consecrated
place
where
a New Adam
is destined
to be formed
from the
pulverized
stones of
desolation.

14.

From our
safe windows
we peer into
resplendent
mirrors
beholding
the perfect image of
ourselves
eying
falling tears
dripping blood,
coloring death
onto the
blanched sheets
of disheveled beds.


15.

From our
safe windows
our voices are silenced,
our words mock urgency
our thoughts betray comprehension
our senses fail to illicit empathy
our action is the only worthy prayer


16.

From my
safe window
I hear the
mortar shells
walking toward
my little palace,
the crack
of a ******
shot
precedes
the wiz of a
passing bullet
whispering
its presence
into my
waxen
ear.


17.

From my
safe window,
my palms scoop
the rich soil
of the flower boxes
perched on my sill.
I anoint the tender
green shoots of  the
Arab Spring
with an incessant flow
of bittersweet tears.

Music selection:
John Coltrane
A Love Supreme
Acknowledgment

Oakland
2/28/12
jbm
Nigel Morgan Sep 2013
He had been away. Just a few days, but long enough to feel coming home was necessary. He carried with him so many thoughts and plans, and the inevitable list had already formed itself. But the list was for Monday morning. He would enjoy now what he could of Sunday.

Everything can feel so different on a Sunday. Travel by train had been a relaxed affair for once, a hundred miles cross-country from the open skies of the Fens to the conurbations of South Yorkshire. Today, there was no urgency or deliberation. Passengers were families, groups of friends, sensible singles going home after the weekend away. No suits. He seemed the only one not fixated by a smart phone, tablet or computer. So he got to see the autumn skies, the mountain ranges of clouds, the vast fields, the still-harvesting. But his thoughts were full to the brim of traveling the previous November when together they had made a similar journey (though in reverse) under similar skies. They had escaped for two days one night into a time of being wholly together, inseparably together, joined in that joy of companionship that elated him to recall it. He was overcome with weakness in his body and a jolt of passion combined: to think of her quiet beauty, the tilt of her head, the brush of her hair against his cheek. He longed for her now to be in the seat opposite and to stroke the back of her calf with his foot, hold her small hand across the table, gaze and gaze again at her profile as she, always alert to every flicker of change, took in the passing landscape.

But these thoughts gradually subsided and he found himself recalling a poem he had commissioned. It was a text for a verse anthem, that so very English form beloved by cathedral and collegiate choral directors of the 16th C (and just that weekend he had been in such a building where this music had its home). He had been reading The Five Proofs for the Existence of God from the Summa Theologica by Thomas Aquinas, knowing this scholar to have been a cornerstone of the work of Umberto Eco, an author he admired. He had also set a poem that mentioned these Five Proofs, and had set this poem without knowing exactly what they were. He recalled its ending:

They sit by a lake where dead leaves
Float and apples lie on a table. She
ignores him and his folder of papers

but I found later the picture was called
‘In Love’, which coloured love sepia.
Later still, by the time I sat with you,

Watched your arm on the back of a chair
And your hand at rest while you told me
Of Aquinas and his proofs for the existence

Of God I realised love was not always
Sepia, that these hands held invisible
Keys, were pale because the mind was aflame.

He remembered then the challenge of reading Aquinas, this Dominican friar of the 13C. It had stretched him, and he thought of asking his wordsmith of thirty years, the mother of his daughters, to bring these arguments together in a poetic form for him to set to music. She had delivered such a poem and it took him some while to grasp it wholly. He wondered for a moment if he actually had grasped it. But there was this connection with the landscape he was passing through. She had mentioned this, and now he saw it for his own eyes. She had been to Ely for the day, to walk the length of the great Cathedral, to stare at and be amongst the visible past, the past of Aquinas. He remembered the first verse as only a composer can who has laboured over the scheme of words and rhythms:

The Argument from Motion

Everything in the world changes.
A meadow of skewbald horses grazes
Beneath a pair of flying swans
And the universe is different again.

And no sooner is potency reduced to act,
By a whisker’s twitch or a word,
A word, that potent gobbet of air
Than smiles and tears change places.

And everything has changed. Back
Go the tracks beyond seen convergence
To a great self-sufficient terminus
Which terminus we might call God.

And so it was in such a spirit of reflection that his journey passed. He had joined the Edinburgh express at Peterborough to travel north, and the landscape had subsided into a different caste, still rural, but different, the fields smaller, the horizon closer.

Alighting from the train in his home city on a Sunday afternoon the station and surrounding streets were quiet and the few people about were not walking purposefully, they strolled. He climbed the flights of stairs to his third floor studio, unlocked the door and immediately walked across the room to open the window. Seagulls were swooping and diving below him, feeding off the detritus of the previous night’s partying in the clubs and pubs that occupied the city centre, its main shopping area removed to a mall off kilter with the historic city and its public buildings. What shops there were stood empty, boarded up, permanently lease for sale.

Sitting at his desk he surveyed the paper trail of his work in progress. Once so organised, every sketch and plan properly labelled and paginated, he had regressed it seemed to filling pages of his favoured graph paper in a random fashion. Some idea for the probably distant future would find its way into the midst of present work, only (sometimes) a different ink showing this to be the case. Notes from a radio talk jostled with rhythmic abstracts. He realised this was perhaps indicative of his mental state, a state of transience, of uncertainty, a temporariness even.

He was probably too tired to work effectively now, just off the train, but the sense and the relative peacefulness that was Sunday was so seductive. He didn’t want to lose the potential this time afforded. This was why for so many years Sunday had often been such a productive day. If he went to meeting, if he cooked the tea, if he ironed the children’s school clothes for the week, there was this still space in the day. It represented a kind of ideal state in which to think and compose. Now these obligations were more flexible and different, Sunday had even more ‘still’ space, and it continued to cast its spell over him.

He put his latest sketches into a sequential form, editing on the computer then printing them out, listening acutely, wholly absorbed. Only a text message from his beloved (picking blackberries) brought him back to the time and day. There was a photo: a cluster of this dark, late summer fruit, ripe for picking framed against a tree and a white sky. Barely a week ago they had picked blackberries together with friends, children and dogs and he had watched her purposely pick this fruit without the awkwardness that so often accompanied bending over brambles. He wondered at her, constantly. How was this so? He imagined her now in her parents’ garden, a garden glowing in the late afternoon light, as she too would glow in that late-afternoon light . . . he bought himself back to the problem in hand. How to make the next move? There was a join to deal with. He was working with the seven metrics of traditional poetry as the basis for a rhythmic scheme. He was being tempted towards committing an idea to paper. He kept reminding himself of the music’s lie of the land, the effectiveness of it so far. It was still early days he thought to commit to something that would mark the piece out, produce a different quality, would declare the movement he was working on to be a certain shape.

And suddenly he was back on the train, looking at the passing landscape and the next verse of that Aquinas poem insisted itself upon him with its apt description and tantalising argument:

The Argument from Efficient Causality

We are crossing managed washlands.
Pochards so carefully coloured swim
Where cows ruminated last summer
In a landscape fruit of human agency.

And I think of the heavenly aboriginal
Agent of all our doings in this material
Playground of earth I can pick up,
Hold and crumble and cultivate

And air that is mine for the breathing
And the inhabited waters that cling
As if by magic to a sphere. What cause
Sustains the effects we live among?

For there is no smoke without fire
And as we sow, thus we reap. Nihil
Ex nihil, therefore something Is,
Some being we might call God.

So ‘nothing out of nothing, therefore something is’.  Outside in the city the Cathedral bells were ringing in Evensong. The sounds only audible on a Sunday when the traffic abated a little and the sounds in the street below were sporadic. He thought of going out into the Cathedral precinct and listening to the bells roll and rhythm their sequences, those Plain-Bob-Majors and Grand-Sire-Triples. But he knew that would further break the spell, the train of thought that lay about him.

He sketched the next section, confidently, and when he had finished felt he could do know more. There it was: a starting point for tomorrow. He could now go towards home, walk for a while in the park and enjoy the movements of the wind-tossed trees, the late roses, the geese on the lake. He would think about his various children in their various lives. He would think about the woman he loved, and would one day assuage what he knew was a loneliness he could not quench with any music, and though he tried daily with words, would not be assuaged.
The poetic quotations are from poems by Margaret Morgan. A collection titled Words for Music by Margaret and Nigel Morgan is now available as an e-book from Amazon http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DY8RAGC
Cné Jun 2018

Laying in bed all day  
with silky thoughts
in a champagne haze  

An empty glass of water
rests barren on the floor
her eyes light up
as he enters
through the door


With every stride
across the room
whispered lyrics
begin to bloom
In an encore
from the night before
in her memories
now begins
a brand new score  

Thrums echo
as the rythmn keeps
time inside each beat
slight murmurs crescendo
and a long symphonic
overture erupts


He draws his notes
in the cream of her curves
Dismantling her inhibitions
soothing her nerves

Tongues in a waltz
senerading to thunderous beats
in a rhythm more shattering
than the rolling waves of the Sea

Lights flicker
as his eyes roll
visions  of grandeur
in tow breathless
they gasp for air
not wanting this moment
to soon disappear


Driving urgency tenderly drizzle
ending one where the other begins
melting in the stillness  
of tangled bodies and limp limbs

Thank you TSP it’s always a pleasure collaborating with you!
https://hellopoetry.com/TS_Poetry/
Noel Irion Mar 2011
Lay down your own bricks in the cobblestone;
Let your motivation shine through creation,
Any man’s hard work is not worth your own.

I’ve passed up jobs, errands and even the unknown,
To reminisce on maybe lost elation;
Lay down your own bricks in the cobblestone.

To hire is to lay desire prone,
Motionless, emotion deviation;
Any man’s hard work is not worth your own.

Thrice I’ll repeat, for urgency was shown,
Like no vacancy for meditation;
Lay down your own bricks in the cobblestone.

If a lesson is to be learned and known;
As Dad says, “Honor. Appreciation.”
Any man’s hard work is not worth your own.

If ever I am lost, misled or thrown
Off my path, I’ll pave with no duration,
Lay down your own bricks in the cobblestone.
Any man’s hard work is not worth your own.
Shirley J Davis Sep 2017
There is a feeling in soul
It plagues my days and nights it seems
A feeling I will not be able to complete
All my longings and dreams

I’m no longer young my body is worn
I’m approaching retirement age now
Yet there are so many things I want to accomplish
To make a difference in the world somehow

The urgency sometimes overwhelms me
I feel I will die too soon
And all my hopes and dreams
Will disappear like a deflated balloon

Will anyone even know I’ve been here
On this earth will anyone remember
There was once a person as myself
I ache inside as I this question ponder

Millions, no billions have come and gone
Down through the eons of time
Most have left nothing but dust
To show they lived, it’s a crime

To know one may pass into eternity
With no one knowing of their passing
Except through a passing obituary
To prove we had lived some day


I feel an urgent need to do something
To leave a legacy behind me
To say to those who come behind
She existed, she was here, a person called Shirley

I understand why the cave men
Left their handprints in the caves on walls
It was to scream down through the eons
I am here, I loved, I answered life’s call

In a hundred years when I am just
A pile of blowing dust
Will anyone remember my passion
For life, my hopes, my trusts

The urgency can be disruptive
I feel like my life will be incomplete
I just don’t want to go down with a whimper
Overcome and in defeat
Harriet Cleve Jun 2019
'Where is he now?'

'Room 35'

'His age?'

'Twenty 29'

'Has he spilled any brain fluid from the eye sockets?"

'He has not yet been placed on the neural cell divider'

'We were instructed to wait upon your arrival'

The two men faced one another. Equal in stature and authority.
Both were ghastly in their features. Sunken eyes that contained the
weary load of a harrowing existence. Intelligent though ravaged eyes that penetrated into the deepest recesses of the psyches of those quarantined in room 35.

Berdensharder walked past Halden.

Will you induce the full cerebral breakdown? said Halden

'I have not yet decided'

'Let me see him first.

Room 35 was secured and access permitted to Berdensharder.

He walked in and breathed the formaldehyde humidity.
His nasal passages recoiled in revulsion at the pungent sting of miserable brain fluid filters in suspension.

Facing him was the sample. A young man with a look of terror in his eyes.

He had been placed in a cranial clamp and was rigid in an upright steel frame. Electrodes hung like tentacles from a deformed squid.
Clouds of medicated bacteria floated in a transparent tube connected to the frame. The tubes had not yet been put in place.

'Your name?' said Berdensharder

'The young man was clamped by the wrists and ankles; naked and ashamed of his fear. His forehead was scarred and an incision led into his prefrontal cortex.

'Radsler Duriyima' came the reply

The voice was broken and clung to a false hope of salvation.
He had awoken in room 35 and had no knowledge of his previous weeks or months. His brain struggled to function.

'Your name! Berdensharder screamed is Gunther Strausse!

Tears flowed freely down Duriyima's face.

'No. My name is Radsler Duriyima'

This was the only lucid thought in his mind. He was sure of it. His life depended on this name.
Instinct was heightened as he said it again.

'Radsler Duriyima!'


Berdensharder switched on the cranium synaptic fluid uptake. He set it for distillation level four. This was normal and a precautionary first step in the cerebral breakdown initiation.

Duriyima's body convulsed and a screen in the room displayed his thought process and an image appeared on a screen.

The synaptic  responder projected the dulled translucent pictures of a face in a mirror. It was Duriyima's and he was shaving in an apartment. A grainy distorted vision interspersed with the sounds of a woman screaming. A gun blasted and then grey dull plastered walls rushing by. More screams. More walls. Blood splashed. Then black.

Suddenly Duriyima's eyes opened and Berdensharder sprayed a saline solution on the eyeballs which kept the eyelids from closing.
He took a surgical precision scalpel handed to him by Halden.
Slowly he slit the eyeball and removed a trace of fluid. Inserting a tube into the eye, his hand was a precision instrument and he gently placed it deeper into the back passage of Duriyima's eye.


Duriyima wanted to scream but was prohibited by a mouth gag soaked in a medicated solution.

His body shook the entire time in rapid convulsions. Only his head remained unmoved.

Tears flowed freely the entire time and the tear duct of the severed eye was gradually made redundant by Berdensharder.

Stepping back from his helpless sample Berdensharder looked upon the apparatus. He removed the gag.

'Now Mr Gunther Strausse!
'Your name!'

'Duriyima wanted to respond but only an animal like sound emitted from his throat.

A scream so horrific it would unnerve the servants of Satan

Halden looked at Berdensharder.

'Well, are you going to induce the full cerebral breakdown?'

'No. We will first get this sample to state his name.
'When Gunther  Strausse is ready to state his name then I shall do so'



Duriyima looked at the pair of them. What was going on?
Where was he? What did they want? His mind couldn't function.

The door of room 35 was closed and he was alone

One thought began to emerge. His name he now felt was Gunther Strausse.


He could not be sure. His thoughts ebbed into insanity.

Berdensharder would induce the full cerebral overload the following day.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Duriyima succumbed to massive shock, severe trauma, and paranoia.

He remained plugged into the filtration system for two hours in a semi conscious state. His brain ebbed with seismic brain wave cycles that sheared the integral subconscious of his existence.

One name repeatedly came to his mind, 'Gunther Strausse'
He tried to make sense of all that had happened as the fragility of his sanity took its toll. The face of Berdensharder took on a form in his thoughts. He felt nauseous and violently ill. His eye ached with an unbearable pain; his vision horribly strained and blurred.
The sound of a gunshot deafened his ears. His forehead was an explosion of activity and excruciating pain. Tears flowed from one of his eyes and this confused him. He sobbed and in a gibberish howl begged for deliverance.

He had this stomach churning sense he was in Hell and the torments he had endured were God's retribution.

He found his voice then.

'Sweet Jesus!' he screamed

'Not this! Not this!

'Son of God! Forgive! Forgive!

He begged till his bowels emptied and the stench of anonymity
reeked from his flesh.

Duriyima was very much still a part of the living; in a ghoulish grotesque quarter of a savage place reserved for aggressive science.

His screams and outbursts of terror had triggered an audio camera.

Berdensharder looked at the desperate features of Duriyima.

'No! Gunther Strausse' he said to himself.

'There is no God here'. 'Not for you nor any of us'

'God, Gunther Strausse, you will find has never heard of you'
'Not here'

'For you, only I control your emotions'
'I determine your quality of life'

'Yes! You will find out that betrayal is rewarded with surrealism!'

'I am your God!, Gunther Strausse'

Reaching his hand to a calibrated dial he adjusted the volume of the sound chamber to it's maximum decibel rating.

Duriyima's screams were relayed back to him and his ears bled with the intensity of the sound.

His mind collapsed in the wall of sound as his heart pulsed in rapid sickening beat patterns and it overtook the sound of his own screams.

'Yes!', Gunther Strausse, scream!  It will help you to realise it is all you have left.

Duriyima's body convulsed like a lightning rod for terror.
His brain burst with demented anguish and he collapsed into a nauseating nightmare.

Even in this state, Berdensharder followed him and the labyrinth
of Duriyima's mind became a battle ground for sanity.

Berdensharder's hand reached for the distillation filter system.
He employed the backwash switch and watched as the fluid of Duriyima's brain was circulated into the three micron carbon elements.

Halden looked on and met Berdensharder's eyes.

'It will be of no use' he said

'His mind can not cope with insurgent cells'

'He will never state he is Gunther Strausse'

A third figure looked on as Duriyima's face erupted in an explosion of hideous expressions.

'We shall see' said Gunther Strausse
'We shall see'

Room 35 crashed into an uncanny silence for three minutes'

Then a cacophany of sound hit Duriyims's ears

'Gunther Strausse' it wailed

'You are Gunther Strausse'

The cells in Duriyima's brain formed new synaptic networks forging in clusters around his prefrontal cortex.

Brain fluid started weeping from his sockets.

It was beginning to happen. His memories were being replaced.
His mind reborn. It was excruciating and still the wall of sound echoed and resounded in room 35

Gunther Strausse


Gunther Strausse

Gunther Strausse

Duriyima's eyes stared into an abyss of madness.

His tethered hands could not reach out to touch the face of sanity.
Deep inside his pysche he knew his ordeal was just beginning.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
You took note of the cry for salvation?' Halden said to Berdensharder


'Of course, it is natural in the sample. The Amygdala reflex'

'He still retains a sense of deliverance. His amygdala is primitive and
primed for a search; a Saviour who will redeem him'

'There is no scapegoat here he will find. No burning bush.
No Good News from Christ'

'Still it is a sign of deep resistance' replied Halden

'It is a trivial issue and will be resolved'

'We will remove this superstition and replace it.

'He will question his sense of identity'

'He will becomre as Gunther Strausse and he will witness his own transformation.'

'Has the synopial fluid vat been prepared?

'Yes'

'I will inject his neo-cortex with an anti-aneurism sedation'

'He will beg for death soon but it will be denied'

'Nor shall he fully recover from the full cerebral breakdown'

'We are taking it to level six distillation tonight'

'Has the cryogenic vat been prepared for the body'

'Yes'

Duriyima will soon pray to be Gunther Strausse but prayer will abandon his faculties'

'He will endure and witness the five hour transcendence of terror'

Halden and Berdenschrader looked at one another knowingly.

'Has there been any further visuals  from the synaptic cells of Duriyima'

'Yes, a woman's face made a lucid and highly resonated image on the cerebral scanner last night'

'Only high resolution visuals are deemed important due to the high emotional energy associated with them'


' She has been identified?

'Even now she is being prepared for Room 35'

'Good, good. This will please Gunther Strausse'

'Now, let us immerse Duriyima into his new reality'

Halden and Berdensharder dressed into the rubber robes and secured the brain aprons in place.

Entering Room 35 they looked at the sample. He was under a deep induced coma. Berdensharder took a scalpel to his forehead.
A vacuum switch was enabled and a surgical cutting tool prepared to remove Duriyima's brain for temporary relocation.

Halden and Berdensharder looked at the clock on the clean-room walls. They had a five hour window to take Duriyima into a purged state of cerebral surveillance.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hald­un rolled his sleeve up as Berdensharder prepared injection 19 and prepared to administer the dose.

'You have no need to worry Halden'

'It is routine now at this stage especially for you'

'This will be your seventh full cerebral surveillance of a sample'

'I have brought you back every time'

'You are safe with me. Your brain, your body will be unscathed'

'I hear a citation of merit will soon be yours'

'Gunther Strausse will award it to you personally'

'You are a loyal servant Halden, I will see you in five hours'

Halden looked at Berdensharder. Each man had suffered in their own way since 'the shutdown' took place.
Only their intelligence and guile had ensured their survival.

'Yes, Berdensharder, I know it. You will bring me back.

Then Halden passed into an induced coma.

The rig was in place and Berdensharder lifted Haldens skull like a door on a hinge. The titantium bolts were embedded deep into his skull. Delicately and with great precision twenty five electrodes were inserted into Haldens brain.

Berdensharder switched the spinal column reverse chamber.
A two way valve tripped the automatic pulmonary Gemini blood cell network. Haldens body remained in live peaceful repose.

The clock ticked in time with his heart and his brain was placed into the electrolytic vat.

In the same way and with the same urgency and diligence the brain of Radsler Duriyima was placed along side Haldens.

Level six distillation was in progress. Berdensharder now set about
the procedure which would take Duriyima to the verge of a mental breakdown.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
In room 35 a young woman aged twenty four stared back at her tormentor.

Her hands and feet were restrained in an upright frame.

A cranial brace secured and held her head rigid.

On the screen facing her was an image of Berdensharder

'Your name?'

Hannah Prestovsky's mind was confused. She had no recollection of the last hours or days. Her mind struggled to function.

Only her name surfaced to her mind. The only lucid thought she had. Her name was Hannah Prestovsky. She knew her life depended on this name.

'My name', she stuttered, 'is Hannah Prestovsky'

'No! Your name is Gunther Strausse!

Tears flowed down her face. She was naked and ashamed of her fear.

'No, she said. My name is Hannah Prestovsky!"

She sobbed and emptied her bowls as the stench of terror rose from her body.

'I am a diplomat!' she cried

'I demand immunity! In the name of God who are you?'

'Silence settled broken finally by the image on the screen.
The voice of Berdensharder boomed from the speaker.

' No, you are no longer represented by any government authority'

'God is no longer here to deliver you into his protection'

' Now, your name?'

Hannah Prestovsky screamed till her lungs exploded with exhaustion.
In an area of this room sealed from her screams, the brain of Radsler Duriyima was about to undergo full cerebral surveillance.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
­Duriyima's brain lay pulsating in the neural vat. The electrodes in his brain were connected to those in the brain of Halden.
Berdensharder was engaged in the system flowpath direction.
When he tripped the one -way valves it was essential Halden's brain fluid flowed into Duriyima's.

In this 'full wash surveillance' Halden's consciousness would merge with Duriyima's. If the process was successful then those thoughts held in the synaptic network of Duriyima's would be an open book to Halden. His brain would retain all that was contained within Duriyima's. It was unprecedented technology and had not yet failed.
Each time on relocation of Halden's brain, he was able to give a full account of the life of the sample. It was as if he was the sample.

Every fear, every concern or hope was disclosed to Halden.
No one else in the facility was capable of undergoing a surveillance of this nature. Others had tried it but in all cases both the sample and the invasive consciousness died within minutes.

Halden and Berdensharder were the only team to ever secure consistent trials to unheard of 'five hour' deep cerebral surveillance
and succeed in securing the neural data of the sample. Their method became known as the 'five hour transcendence of terror'.

Berdensharder looked at Halden. His admiration for his associate was deep and he envied him his courage. He was ruthless of course but he had an air of dignity about him. Berdensharder thought too that Halden would escape one day. If that ever happened he shuddered to think of the repercussions.

All these thoughts were fleeting and the flashing instruments alerted him to his first function. He would light up the prefrontal cortex of Duriyima first.

He looked at the calibration settings on the visual imaging screen.
Then  he stared at the live body of Duriyima. The body was an empty vessel although every spinal output was connected to the remote brain of Duriyima. Audio and visual scanners would enable Duriyima to witness his own detachment.

This was the reason for anti-aneurysm injections into the new-cortex of the sample. It always freaked them out.

The worst was the brains response to it's isolation from the body.
The 'language to vocal' response was recorded and displayed to a digital readout. The voice was an algorithm. The screams became white noise.

When the sample recovered from the shock it was then the voice became an artificial sound emanating from the instrumentation panel.

Before Halden could immerse into Duriyima an interrogation was initiated.

Berdensharder turned on the system to awaken Duriyima.
Slowly Duriyima responded. His body responded in simultaneous response to his brain.

He could see the set up on the screen. It dawned on him that he had become an abomination.

Then he went into a full mental breakdown that created a white noise explosion that lasted for ten hideous minute.

'Yes! Scream. It is all you have left. Shortly your mind will open its gates to Halden'.

'Gunther Strausse will be planted in your brain'

'You will soon need your Saviour'

Duriyima knew it then. He must be in Hell. It could not be real.

None of this could be happening.

He didn't know what to do so he screamed.

The scream of the demented.

A smile traced the face of Berdensharder.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Berdensharder waited till the white noise finally stabilised.
He knew the sample was in deep pyschological  trauma.
This was a natural part of the procedure.
Duriyima's brain waves alternated between gamma and alpha rhythms.

A voice suddenly emanated from the speaker. It was monotone and the pitch was low. The sample was ready to communicate.

'Am I in purgatory?'

Berdensharder did not respond. He reached forward and opened an anthrax aerosol.

Reaching into the vat he opened a microscopic funnel into Duriyima's occipital lobe. He squeezed the aerosol which contained enough anthrax to poison a minuscule area of the brain. It went black immediately and the whole brain seemed to shrink in a futile sense of survival.

The white noise monitor went into a frenzy of sound.
It lasted for fifteen minutes. Duriyima was in agony.

When the noise subsided the brain was lifted from the vat.
Berdensharder removed the black tissue for sample analysis.

He watched the screen as he cauterised the area.
Duriyima's body was writhing in intensified terror.
He knew the whole procedure was witnessed by Duriyima as though he were a third party.

The body was in convulsions; at times seemed as though it might break free of it's restraints.

'No, Gunther Strausse, you are going nowhere'
'Now let us listen to some classical music shall we?'

A beautiful piano concerto filled  the air and the vibrations settled into the brain vat. Berdensharder looked at Halden's face as a smile broke out on his features.

This pleased him to see his associate receive some pleasure.
The music always worked. The brain always responded.
He looked then to Duriyima's face. It was contorted in a ghoulish grimace. Even so, the brain wave activity settled to level fifteen.

The body slumped now and the eyes were catatonic.
Berdensharder needed to leave the sample undisturbed for fifteen minutes. If it went into cerbral flatline then he would administer sedative eighty four. This always brought the sample back from the corridors of death.

From experience he expected the sample's next words would be 'my name is Gunther Strausse'

This had to be the way. The brain needed to survive. This was the name it must give. It must give it in no uncertain terms.

It feared the anthrax. The unknown. It feared the interference of nature. It must be placed back in its body. It must co-operate.
It must state 'my name is Gunther Strausse'

Berdensharder was patient. Thirty minutes passed and once again the white noise subsided.

The brain was in active mode once again. The samples vital statistics were stable.

The music was discontinued.

'Now, Gunther Strausse, what is your name?'

The sound monitor responded in a hesitant slow manner.

'My name is Gunther Strausse'

'Did you not tell me your name was Radsler Duriyima?' Berdensharder replied

'My name is Gunther Strausse'

Berdensharder was in full control and raised the terror level.

'No! Your name is Radsler Duriyima!'

'You have never heard of Gunther Strausse'

The White noise from the sound monitor went catastrophic.
Duriyima's brain screamed in agony. Had it not been for the anti-aneurysm injected previously it would have phyically exploded.
The body went into convulsions.

'Who are you?' screamed Duriyima

'Who are you?!'

Berdensharder smiled and replied 'It is who you will be that is the question'

'It is who you shall be!'

It was time now to open the non-return valve and allow Halden to enter the consciousness of Duriyima.

The White noise on the screen indicated that Duriyima was on the verge of the full cerebral breakdown'

'Soon it will be over' said Berdersharder and reached to turn on the valve. Halden would now perform the full wash surveillance.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~­

It was always a beautiful experience. Halden felt as if he were reborn and the world was an unexplored discovery. Here in the neural ocean of Duriyima's synaptic network of young cells he immersed himself deep in the private psyche of another human.
He searched the entire brain map of Duriyima and came to know that neural landscape as though it were his own.

Duriyima resisted of course and became aware of the invasion.
His screams were a peak of White noise on the visual audio scanner.

Berdensharder watched carefully. Halden would soon know every thought and experience that Duriyima ever possessed.
He cared not for the fate of Duriyima once they were finished with the sample. All that mattered was the complete subjugation of a private mind. The private would become public. This forced confession would become the norm. It was exhilarating to be a part of the destruction of the individual. Halden had shown remarkable courage and took great personal risk to achieve this break through in mind control. He had shown it was possible to inhabit another's brain. Once this was done it was a step away from world *******.
Those who control the mind control the future. The secrets of enemy States would be unlocked. One had only to capture the intelligentsia and key figures in an administration. Their minds would be ransacked. Berdensharder turned suddenly as footsteps unexpectedly approached.

It was Dr. Xuaguang Lee from sector 84.
Behind him was a young woman holding a syringe to his throat.

'What the hell is going on!' screamed Berdensharder

'Hannah Prestovsky was sick to the pit of her stomach at the sight she beheld.

'You are going to release Radsler Duriyima' she said venomously

Dr. Lee looked on with rising terror in his eyes.

'She is holding a lethal dose of injection 19!'  he screamed

'Do you think I give a **** about him?!' said Berdersharder

Shoving Dr. Lee away from her she ran to the neural vat.

Holding the syringe above the brain of Halden she lunged it into his brain stem.

'You fool!' Berdensharder screamed

'The body of  Halden went into cardiac arrest.

Halden was now locked into the consciousness of Duriyima.

There was no way back for him. He could now only survive if Duriyima survived.

Seeing her chance at the shock she had given to Berdensharder she siezed the anthrax spray and a chemical solution from the neural vat.

'I swear to God if you don't bring Duriyima back then he will die my way!'

Berdensharder's mind raced. He had to save Duriyima if he was to save Halden. He knew Duriyima and Halden were one now.
Could he do it? What would the result be? Gunther Strausse would ****** him if he did not bring them back.



'Step away from from the neural vat! he shouted

'If you have any thought for Radsler Duriyima then let me work!'

Dr. XuGuang made to run for the door and was shot instantly by Berdensharder.

Hannah screamed as the blood sprayed her face.

'No ! Berdensharder' she screamed

'You will give me that gun or it all ends here!
'She gestured to the neural vat and prepared to dose it with a chemical mix.

Berdensharder looked at her and knew she would do it.
He passed her the gun.
'Now! Let me work!' 'Every minute is vital!'

Hannah Prestovsky was sickened by this filthy abbatoir.
'Where the hell are we ? She thought

Berdensharder turned the one way valve and shut down the pulmonary system for Halden. He needed to work fast and get Duriyima's brain back into its body.

A surge of excitement ran through his veins.
Would Halden be able to communicate from his new mind.
Could Halden dominate Duriyima's brain.
'Step back from the neural vat! Please!

Hannah held the gun and watched the horrible spectacle before her.
There’s a strong urgency in *******.
The longing for there to be another human body
pressed up against your own, so much so you envision
it vividly in your mind, painting hundreds of
thousands of scenarios until you find one just right
for your hand,

for your body.

It's not about pleasure, but about that momentary loss of place and time,
a further commitment to your imagination but
to your loneliness as well.
ejrmaguire Feb 2015
Skin to skin...
Heart to beating heart...
3 o'clock shadow scraping my jaw...
Swollen lips trail up my neck..
Teeth against skin..
The urgency of it all.
And the eyes never waiver...
I drown in them
It's a free fall I've come to love...
It's the semi violence
The uncontained ferventcy...
There's a roughness you barely contain.
Like I save you... We drown together gasping for air...
Our every breath ...each other....

E.J.M
The steam rises
and announce us:
jasmine tea is ready
I will serve you a cup
and keep talking till dawn.

It rises equally
the urgency of the word
steaming me the reason:
words own texture
that poem will save as caresses.
My second poem written in english. Hope it's understandable. Feel free to propose a better version. (octubre 2014)
Mateuš Conrad Jun 2016
preliminary explanation

before i really begin the project i have a few scatterings
of thought that made me do this, without real planning,
a different sort of impromptu that poetry's good at,
less Dionysian spur-of-the-moment with an already
completed poem entwined to a perfect ensō,
as quick as the decapitation of Mary Boleyn with the
executioner fooling her which side the swing would
be cast by taking of his hard-soled-shoes -
i mean this in an Apollonian sense - i know, sharp contrasts
at first, but the need to fuse them - i said these are
preliminary explanations, the rest will not be as haphazardly
composed, after all, i see the triangle i'm interested it
but drawing a triangle without Pythagorean explanation
i'm just writing Δ - i'll unravel what my project is
about, just give me this opportunity to blah blah for a
while like someone from an existential novel;
what beckoned me was the dichotomy of styles,
i mean, **** me, you can read poetry while in an awkward
yoga position, you can read it standing up, sitting down,
eating or whatever you want - obviously on the throne
of thrones taking a **** is preferred - the point being
what's called serious literature is so condensed for
economic reasons, font small, never-ending paragraphs,
you need an easy-chair and a bottle of cognac to get
through a chapter sometimes - or at least freshly mowed
grass in a park in summer - it's really uncomfortable because
of that, and the fact that poets hardly wish upon you
to be myopic - just look at the spacing on the page,
constantly refreshing, open-plan condos, eye-to-eye -
but it's not about that... the different styles of writing,
prose and the novel, the historical essay / encyclopedia
or a work of philosophy - what style of writing can
be best evolutionary and undermine each? only poetry.
poetry is a ballerina mandible entity, plastic skeletons,
but that's beside the point, when journalism writes history
so vehemently... the study of history writes it nonchalantly,
it's the truth, journalism is bombastic, sensationalist
every but what courting history involves -
a journalist will write about the death of a 100 people
more vehemently than a historian writing about the Holocaust...
or am i missing something? i never understood this dichotomy
of prose - it's most apparent between journalism and history...
as far as i am concerned, the most pleasurable style of
prose is involved in the history of philosophy, or learning per se,
but i'll now reveal to you the project at hand -
it's a collage... the parameters?

the subject of the collage

it weighs 1614 grams, or 3 lb. and 8 7/8ths oz.,
it's a single volume edition, published by Pimlico,
it's slightly larger than an A5 format,
3/4 inches more in length, and ~1 centimetre in
width more, it has a depth of 1 and 3/4 inches in depth,
a bicep iron-pumping session with it in bed -
i was lying with this behemoth of a book
in bed soothing out a semi-delirium state
listening to Ola Gjeilo's *northern lights

and flicking through the appendix, and i started thinking,
no would read this giant fully, would they?
the reason it's a one volume edition is because
the only place you'd read such an edition would
be in a library, at a desk, and you'd be taking snippets
out from it, quotes, authentic references points
for an essay, esp. if you were a history student,
such books aren't exactly built for leisure, as my arms
could testify... after the appendix i started flicking
through as to what point of interest would spur me
onto this audacious (and perhaps auspicious)
act of renegading against writing a novel (in the moment,
in the moment, i can't imagine myself rereading plot-lines
after a day or two, adding to it - that's a collage too,
but of a different kind - and no, i won't be plagiarising
as such, after all i'll be citing parallel, but utilising
poetry as the driving revision dynamic compared
to the chronologically stale prose of history) - i'll be
extracting key points that are already referenced and not
using the style of the author - the book in question?
Europe: a history by Norman Davies prof. emeritus
at U.C.L. - the point of entry that made me mad enough
to condense this 1335 page book (excluding the index)?

point of incision

Voltaire (or the man suspected of Guy Fawkes-likes spreading
of volatility in others) -
un polonais - c'est un charmeur; deux polonais - une
bagarre; trois polonais, eh bien, c'est la question polonaise

(one pole - a charmer, two poles - a brawl, three poles -
the polish question) - mind you, the subtler and gentler
precursor of the Jewish question, because the Frenchman
mused, and not a German, or a Russian brute...
and i can testify, two Polish immigrants in a pub,
one senior, the other minor, one with 22 years under
his belt of the integration purpose, one with 12 years,
the minor says to the senior about how Poles bring
the village life to cities, brutish drunkards and what not,
it was almost a brawl, prior to the senior was charming
a Lithuanian girl, before the minor's emphasis on
such a choice of conversation turned into idiotic Lithuanian
nostalgia about the disintegration of the Polish-Lithuanian
commonwealth, primarily due to the Polish nobility.

10,000 b.c.

looking that far back i don't know why you even
bother to celebrate the weekend -
i mean, 10,000 years back Denmark was
still attached to Sweden,
England was attached to France,
and there was a weird looking Aquatic landmass
that would become a myth of Atlantis
in the Chronicles of Norwich,
speedy ******* Gonzales with the equivalent
of south america detaching itself from Africa...
mind you, i'm sure the Carpathian ranges are
mountains. they're noted here are hills or uplands,
by categorising them as such i'm surprised
the majority of Carpathian elevations as scolded
bald rocky faced, a hill i imagine to have some
vegetation on it, not mountain goats with rock and roof
for a blacksmith in a population of one hundred...
at this point Darwinism really becomes a disorientating
pinpoint of whatever history takes your fancy,
Europe - mother of Minos, lord of Crete,
progenitrix / ******* and the leather curtains
of Zeus's harem (jealous? no, just the sarcasm
dominates the immortal museum of attachable
****** to suit the perfect elephant **** of depth
the gods sided with, by choice, excusing the Suez
duct tightening of a prostate gland... to ease the pain
upon ******* rather than *******); mentioned by Homer
the Blind tooth-fairy, the Europe and the bull,
Europoeus and the swan, same father of wisdom to mind,
on the shores of Loch Lomond -
attributes a lover to the bull, Moschus of Syracuse,
who said earring Plato cured him of where the ****
should not enter even if it shines a welcome
in the disguise of Dionysius... revisionists bound to Pompeii
named Titian, Rembrandt, Rubens Veronese
and Claude Lorrain revived the bulging bull's *******
and her mm hmm mm, too gracious my kind, hehee...
Phonecians from Tyre and Io - so too the Sibyl of ****** -
and unlike the great river civilisations of the Nile,
the Ganges, soon to be the Danubian civilisations
and gorged-out-eyes-that-once-sore-colour-but-lost-sight-of-
colours-­after-seeing-the-murk-of-the-Thames...
soon the seas overcame civilisations of the rivers,
as Cadmus, brother of the thus stated harlot said:
i bring you orbe pererrato - hieroglyphics of the cage,
but not an owl or a hawk inside it -
so let's perfect speaking to an encoding by first
rummaging into learning how to procure the perfect
forms of counting - i say left, you say I, i say right
you say II, left right left right, what do you say?
VI. bravo! the Hellenic world just crossed the Aegean
and civilisation bore twins within the cult of a lunar-mother,
Islam of Romulus and Remus, a she-wolf
a canine of the night - according to another -
tremulae sinuantur flamine vestes - or so the myth goes -
a cherished phantom of what became the fabled story
of sole Odysseus with his ears open and the remnant
sailor's ears waxed shut - as if the bankers of this world,
revelling in culprit universal fancy than nonetheless
bred the particular oddities - lest we forget,
the once bountiful call of the sirens to the oceanic
is but a fraction of what today's sirens claim to be song,
a fraction of it remains in this world, the onomatopoeia
of the once maddening song, the crude *******
arrangement of vowels bound to the jealous god's
déjà vu of the compounding second H.

from myth to perpetuating a modern sentiment

you can jump from 10,000 b.c. to the Munich Crisis
of 1938 - 9 with a snap of the fingers,
imitating quantum phenomenons like gesticulating
a game of mime with Chinese whispers necessary,
if Europe is a nymph, Naples her azure eyes,
Warsaw her heart, Sebastopol and Azoff,
Petersburg, Mitau, Odessa - these the thorns
in her feet - Paris the head, London the starched collar,
and Rome - the sepulchre
.
or... die handbuch der europaischen geschichte
notably from Charlemagne (the Illiterate)
to the Greek colonels (as apart from Constantine to
Thomas More in eight volumes, via Cambridge mid
1930s)... these and some other books of urgency
e.g. Eugene Weber's H. A. L. Fisher's, Sr. Walter Ralegh,
Jacob Bronowski... elsewhere excavated noun-obscurities
like gattopardo and konarmya had their
circas extended like shelved vegetables in modern
supermarket isles, for one reason or another...
prado, sonata sovkino also... some also mention
Thomas Carlyle (i'd make it sound like carried-away isle,
but never mind); so in this intro much theory,
how to sound politically correct, verifiable to suit
a coercion for a status quo... Europe as a modern idea,
replacing Imperum Romanun came Christendom,
ugly Venetian Pirates at Constantinople,
Barbarossa making it in pickled herring juice
in a barrel to Jerusalem... once called the pinkish-***-fluff
of Saxony, now called the pickled cucumber,
drowning in his armour in some river or Brosphorus...
alchemists, Luther and Copernicus were invited on
the same occasion as the bow-tie was invented,
apparently it was a marriage made for the Noir cinema,
beats me - hence the new concept of Europe,
reviving the idea of Imperium Romanun
meant, somehow including Judea in the Euro
championship of footie gladiator ***** whipped
narcissists, rejecting the already banished Carthage
(Libya / Tunisia by Cato's standards) and encouraging
the Huns, the Goths and the even more distant Slavs and
Vikings to accept not so much the crucifix as
the revised spine of the serpent but as the geometry of
human limbs, well, not so much that, but forgetting
Norse myths of the one-eyed and the runic alphabet
and settling for ah be'h c'eh d'ah.
dissident frenche stink abbe, charles castel de st pierre
(1658 - 1743) aand this work projet d'une paix perpetuelle
(1713) versus Питер Великий who just said:
never mind the city, the Winter Palace... i have aborted
fetus pickles in my bedroom, lava lamps i call them.
the last remaining reference to Christianity?
Nietzsche was late, the public was certain,
it was the Treaty of Utrecht, 1713, with public reference
to the republica christiana / commonwealth was last made.
to Edmund Burke: well, i too wish no exile
upon any European on his continent of birth,
but invigorate a Muslim to give birth on it
and you invigorate an exile nonetheless:
Ezra expatriate Pound / sorry, if born in eastern
europe a ***** Romanian immigrant, pristine
expatriate in western Europe, fascist radio has
my tongue and *****, so let's play a game:
Russian roulette for the Chinese cos there's
a billion of them, and no one would really mind
a missing Chow Mein... chu shoo'ah shaolin moo'n'kah!
or a cappuccino whenever you'd like to watch
classic Italian pornographic cinema with dubbing
with nuns involved... Willaim Blake and his
stark naked prophesy, pope pius II (treatise 1458)
even though Transylvania, Tharce and Hungary
shared the same phonetic encoding with diacritical
distinctions like any Frenchman, German,
or Pole at the Siege of Vienna (1683)
to counter the antagonising Ottoman - i swear historians
do this one purpose, juggle dates and head-of-state figures
prior to entering a chronology - they must first try out
a ******* carousel before playing with the toy-train...
broadcasting to a defeated Germany public, T. S. Eliot
(1945) ****** import to into Western Germany
and talk of the failing moral fabric, China laughing
after the ***** intricacies of warfare of trade,
what was once wool we wished to be silk...
instead of silk we received vegetarian wool, namely
hemp, and Amsterdam is to blame... nuke 'em!
that's how it sounds, how a historian approaches
writing a history from the annals, from circa and
circumstance and actual history, foremost the abbreviations,
the fishing hook standards, the parameters,
the limits, and then the mathematics of history,
one thing culminating into another... contra Lenin
N. S. Trubetskoy, P. N. Savitsky, G. Vernadsky
Russian at the perks of the Urals - steppe Tartar shamans
or salon pranced pretty **** boys? where to put
the intoxicant and where to put the mascara... hmm,
god knows, or by 21st calculations, a meteor;
they say the history of nations is a history of women,
then at least the history of individuation
and of men who succumb to its proliferation
is astoundingly misogynistic.
Seton-Watson, among the the tombstones too reminded
of remarkable esteem and accomplishment
with only one gravedigger to claim as father...
as many death ears as on two giraffe skeletons
stood Guizot, men of many letter and few fortunes,
or v. v., incubators of cousin ***** and none the kippah
before the arrogant saintly diminished to
a justly cause of recession, ha ha,
by nature's grace, and with true advent of her progression
as guard-worthy pre- to each pro-
and suggested courteous of the ****** fibre,
oh hey, the advent of masqueraded woofing,
a Venetian high-brow, and jealousy out of a forgotten
spirit of adventure that once was bound
to hunting and foraging... forever lost to write  history of
a king dubbed Louis the XIV...
crucibles and distastes for the state to be pleased,
once removed from Paris, forever to Angevin womb
accustomed once more, at Versailles released -
as cake be sown so too the aristocratic swan necks
for worth of mock and scorn - and the dampening rain
rattle the blood-thirst of the St. Bartholomew's Day
slaughter, to date, the rebirth of Burgundy,
of Anjou, and with the dead king presiding, to be
of no worth in judging himself a king before god or pauper...
saluer Antoine Quentin Fouquier-Tinville!
that i might too in stead rattle a few bones prior to burial
with the jaw that will laugh and chatter least
had it been to my kingly-stead a birth so lowly.
then at least in satisfactory temperament i procure a
judgement of the noble like of a *****
for an hour's worth of pistons and jarring tongues...
as if from a nobleman then indeed as if from a *****,
for who sold Europe and said: Arabia, if not the
Frenchman, the Englishman, the Spaniard?
the former colonial conquests served you not enough?
i imagine the reinstatement of Israel like
the Frankish states under Philippe-August...
precursors to a cathedral dubbed Urban the 2nd's..
there were only Norwegian motives in the Ukraine
and the black sea... Israel to me is like plagiarism
of the Frankish states of the middle-east, with Europe
slightly... oom'pah loom'pah mongolian harmonica.
some said Rudyard Kipling poems,
some said Mr. Kipling's afternoon tea cakes -
whichever made it first on Coronation St.
some also say the Teutonic barbecues -
it was a matter of example to feed them hog
and cannibalise the peasants for ourselves,
a Prussian standard worth an army standard of
rigour - Ave Maria - letztre abendessen nahrung -
mein besitzen, wenn in die Aden, i'd be the last
talking carcass...
gottes ist der orient!
gottes ist der okzident!
nord - und sudliches gelande
ruht im frieden seiner hande.

germany's lebensraum, inferiority and classification,
inferior slavs and jews, genetics and why my
hatred of Darwinism is persistent, you need
an explanatory noting to make it auto-suggestive
for Queen & Country? diseased elements,
Jewish Bolshevism, Polish patriotism,
Soviets, Teutons, the grand alliances of 1918
or 1945? Wilsonian testimony of national self-determi
Oh, I know not!
I see not, and master not!
Why t'is caprice - t'is tender whim, is unwilling
to unveil my soul, conquering it with
mounds and plates of rapturous
yet canonical attention. How I dread
such falsehood! Strong, strong falsehood!
What an inconsiderate urgency! A matter, matter of the heart -
as mighty as it probably is, of its own accord! How serious
t'is would be! I am suffrage; and akin to its vigour areth my laugh,
and joy - I would be hatred if none cameth to stop my pace;
my frosty haze; and t'is gruesome maze! Yes, I would but be,
in th' length of some furt'er days!
I shalt no more be of t'is delight, and clustered inside my gloom,
pressed to th' walls of dainty loom; from which I shalt never
be comely enough to be granted an escape.
How terrifying t'ose scenes areth, to me! A poet as I am,
unenviable is my littleness, and humility; to t'ose who glare with jealousy
at pangs of my laughter, and childlike demands - as how t'ey always
chastised during t'eir coincidental encounters. But I am blessed!
I am blessed by my words - and t'ese cheerful, yet unending poems -
as unlike t'em I am, ungrateful and vile beings, flocking to th' church
only for th' sake of brand-new dowry, and enforced blessings.
Murderers of peace! Sons and daughters of vice! But I am convinced
t'at virtue shalt forever tower over t'em; and in th' right time t'ey shalt
be pulled off t'eir horses, and unedifying pleasantry. And goodness
shalt t'en win! For truth never bears t'eir unfaithful boasts, just like
it hates t'eir dishonesty; which so insistingly frosts me
with atrocity within 'tis lungs, and so soon as doth it start to cling stronger -
abashed shalt I be! Incarcerated shalt be my front, and dutiful
countenance - in t'at gross conflagration with secular flatness,
hesitations, and worldly doubts, in which yon grotesque salutation, corroborating
'tis assailed countenance, gouty and drained by rightful mockery;
comes but to avenge my love, my wondrous love -
which yesterday was dazzling and dripping fast
but contentiously, like a ripe cherry. Like a small burst of wine
craved by scholarly epicures, t'is feeling but anonymously grips
my lips, trembles my heart, and distracts my limbs;
should I be to think of thee, I shan't but be away
from t'is nauseatedness, of regrets, again! My thee, my thee,
areth thou truly gazing at me from afar? With fascination in thy stares,
wilt thou bestow me such destiny I hath been so desirous of - my dear?
And with thy serene, bulbous eyes - t'at sea of blackness
basked in marred turmoil - ah, a sign but of peace after such fire! - wilt thou
mould thy mind, thy stony mind, like a black-painted rose,
to throw at my being, just one, voluntary glance?
I am but anxious, my love, how I shake all over
with unreturned passion like t'is, my blood is circling
in distorting, yet irrepressible agitation.
How I wish t'at thou could be here, and rendereth me safe, in solely
but thy arms, my love! And shalt thou be my giddy knight - I entreat!
In my unmothered dreams, and t'eir precocious brambles - on t'ose journeys
of loom, doth I fear not, for thou shalt be t'ere to mirthfully comfort me.
And off shalt I fly again, to greet th' thoughtful morning!
But ought I to leaveth my dreams now; for thou canst be here to celebrate
t'is snowy day, and lift me onto triumph! And how I wisheth to cast away
t'is imprisonment, how I longeth for but thee here - just thee, remember t'at,
o but hark to my swift whisper, t'at calls only for thy name, my love!
How aggravated, and corrupted my conscience wilt be -
within th' membranes of my brain; t'eir hardship is severed by thy unpresence.
My love, o my restrained - single love, t'is ode that lights my soul
shalt illuminate thine; and 'tis long words - threads woven along
an abstracted lullaby, and vanquished by silent accusations, from thy, thy mouth!
A well t'at is perilous in its standing - standing like a torch, unruptured
albeit neglected, innocent in 'tis acute forlornness. Poor misery!
Hark, hark, my love - how t'ose dames, irresolute in t'eir volatility, and
charms of miraculous beauty - but tumultous inside, entranced by fear
of losing which, as so graciously raved and ranted all over th' year!
Th' dreary years - which th' above phrase caused me to be well-reminded,
and duly recall how t'eir sickening remorse tossed me around; and decreed
my jests of dread, sickness, and disdain - surges, and waves of animosity
wert but all about me. But how they areth happening again! Amongst th' snow -
running about as t'ey art, t'ose heartless, indignant creatures -
blind to th' tenderness of nature, bland and untouched by its shrieks, and
flickering toil! How I wish to save it, but incapable as I am - a minuscule shadow
of early womanhood t'at I own, I choose to stay distant,
and pray for t'eir impossible atonement, somehow, before t'ey entereth
t'eir silent graves. How t'ose ghosts of malice areth in no way acquainted
with th' woes of th' churchyard, and th' grimness of death - I declare!
How unafraid t'ey are, sacrificing t'is coherent life for such courses
of abomination. Victories upon th' misery of others,
dances to mourning songs, how evil! But I wish for t'eir salvation,
for t'ey art unable to even salve t'eir poor selves. I shalt be fervent
in my generosity, for 'tis th' most rewarding part of humanity;
I shalt be but a faithful servant to my innocuous nature. I adoreth my nature
just the way 'tis, and I shalt build its madly-scarred way back; with tons
of brightness, care, and hearty bliss! Yes, my love, my bliss - which inhabits
th' entire space of my maturity and unmolested passion. Inapprehensible as it is,
I am but to win its grace, and t'erefore thee - just as I hath so ardently dreameth of -
as heretofore, and shalt thou but be saluted and fended for
by my, my sincere and unbinding, affection.
Everybody wants a piece of him,

His stride eats away at my sleeve,

Handsome sickness discounts urgency

And that’s a tough row to *** today.



Everybody wants a piece of him,

You can keep your feelings to yourself,

Handsome sickness discounts urgency

It’s true y’know you’ll spark mouth tomorrow.



Don’t talk, don’t talk back

Don’t talk, don’t talk back



There, there,

Our work is never done

There, there,

Our work is never done

Never done, no



Everybody wants a piece of him,

Can you keep your secrets to yourself?

Fix your gaze, you’re not bleeding

So what side are your urges on?



Everybody wants a piece of him,

His stride eats away at my sleeve,

Handsome sickness discounts urgency

And that’s a tough row to *** today.
Scott A Grant Nov 2009
One nation divided we fall
Many faces, 8 million stories
Look around, watch the news
The people have spoken
The eye of the tiger
Together we shall overcome
We've faced tough times before
Our faith will see us through
(c) 2010- From Born Scripts Others Tell
In the land of
Pharaohs
we are
compelled
to celebrate
a national
holiday to
repression

we refuse to
mark the day
our chains
were forged

we refuse
to partake
in the worship
of penitentiaries

your hand cuffs
are not our
prayer beads

your prisons
are not our
cathedrals

graven images
of a dictator
are not holy
icons

the glorification
of storming fascists

the swoop
of truncheons

the kick of jack boots
firming on our necks
pressing our face
into the sand
covering our eyes
with the dust of lies
coercing us
to adopt
a litany
of shallow boasts
the lying psalms
of repetitive
propaganda
you alone
swear as truth
enforcing fealty
with the blows
of terror

we reject

we have called
for a mash up
meet up
on Facebook

we have
poked
young
comrades
into action

we will
flood the
streets
dancing
in witness
to our
revelation
of freedom

we declare
ourselves
exiles
from your
prisons

the youth
of Egypt yearns
to show our faces
to the faceless fascists
that dominate and bludgeon us

we reject your endless
state of emergency
it has grown old

the ceaseless flux
of perpetual dominance
must be laid to rest

the imposition of
your ridged stasis
stunts our growth

we can no longer suffer
your authoritarian
paternalism

your urgent repression
no longer stills us

your vigilantism
no longer intimidates

your corruption
no longer cowers us

your laws protecting your privilege
we no longer recognize

we rip to pieces the constitution
that guarantees
our serfdom

we burn the books
that immortalize your fictions

your force designed
to immobilize
now stirs us to action

go back to your gulags
in urgency

call an end
to your emergency rule

clasp the handcuffs
of razor blades
around your own wrists

know that the time is now
the trilling grows

we unhide our faces
to the extremists
that dominate us

we offer our cheeks
to the sadists
who live
to bash
away the
innocence
of children
taking perverse
pleasure in
leaving an
indelible
slash
to
mark
lessons
of citizenship

we decline
your gambit
torpid head fakes
of a despots
shell game

secret police
make plans
in the morning
by afternoon
make excuses
covering tracks
begging
ignorance

Mubarak
has entombed
the nation with
non-stop lies
incessantly
droned from his
national broadcast
company

the youth of Egypt
marches to the funeral
of this dictatorship

we carry with us
holy embalming
spices to
fill the vapid
cavity of its
soulless
corpse

the youth
have commenced
a Hajj

clothed in
denim Ihrams
our Umrah
leads to the
presidential
palace

as we circle
we throw stones
at the devils den
unraveling the
bandages
covering
the wounds
you have
inflicted
on the body
of our nation.

We are
determined
to circle
the palace,
wrapping
the threads
of blood
stained
gauze
around
Mubarak
and his
fascist
police
until the threads
completely
bound them.

We promise
not to rest
until they are
laid to rest,
entombed
with fellow
mummies,
lying in state
under the
burning sands
of the Sahara.

Music Selection:
Police, Rehumanize Yourself


2/13/11
Oakland
jbm
(WIP)
Egypt's Arab Spring began on Police Day in 2011.  Students gathered to protest the police state of Hosni Mubarak.  Yesterday a coup d'état overthrew the democratically elected government.  Today mass arrests of Muslim Brotherhood members are taking place.  Police States are very good at arresting its citizens.

— The End —