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My BELOVEDz is hiding
Behind LOVE's veil
For how long you will play
The game of LOVE's hide and seek?

We are each other's LOVERS & BELOVEDz
Now there is no hiding behind LOVE veils

You sparkle me with your moon-shine
Now YOU hide behind clouds of LOVE-veil

Sometimes, I can only see silver-linings
Let me see YOUR full LOVE moon bright

After lighting my SOUL with your LOVE
why you are wearing this LOVE-veil?

Is it shyness or fear of the world
That you are imprisoned behind this veil?

Do not hide the beauty of your SOUL
Behind the fortress of life's work

It is not enough to watch me from
Behind your LOVE - veil
Be fearless and FREE
Let LOVE flow without your LIFE's veil

Come forth to my eyes my BELOVEDz
By lifting my LOVE-veil from your heart
Now, let your SOUL illuminate my being

But for God/dess's sake
Do not lift your LOVE-veil
In front of the moon and stars
Otherwise seeing your beauty
They will die with jealousy & envy

So wait for my salute & surrender
Before you lift your LOVE-veil

Till then let our LOVE be a secret
Under your mystical LOVE - veil

And when you will lift your LOVE-veil
We will ask each other's eyes the secrets
And mysteries of OUR ONE-SOUL

But we won't reveal our
Pain and sufferings
To the people of the world

Let us wait for opportune time
Before we will reveal our
LOVE-SOUL-CONNECT

Till then - behind the LOVE veil
Let our hearts burn with desires
Don't let the world see our tears
Let us not complain about pains of longing

Let us not
Reveal the name of BELOVEDz / LOVERz
And betray the Nature's LAW of LOVE

Let us remain
DOGS of loyalty in LOVE



“Removes the veil. Reveal to me the beauty of your beautiful ******* and your excited ******* filled with the desire to be caressed my lips. They are your secrets, your jewelry and your mystical treasures. Lifts the veil. Reveal to me your tree of knowledge, the entrance of your garden and allow me spoon with my tongue drops of Tal, your divine dew that drips from the leaves of your fig tree. Let me penetrate your garden, the orchard of celestial secrets with the stick of my miracles and feed me of Edenic sources of your *******. Lift up your veil and show me the beauty of your naked body and let me read the esoteric inscriptions on your golden skin, they are manifestations of your tattoos recorded in your soul, the light of mystic hieroglyphics of your spirit. Lifts the veil. Reveal to me the mystery of your mysteries giving me the wine of your vine and distills that drips from your sphinx. Removes the veil and reveal to me the entrance to the ethereal worlds of your soul, the portal to the world of emanation of your wonderful kisses, the sea of ​​your ******* on which my ship sails. Remove my veil, a curtain on my conscience and catapult it into the world of creation, the high land of your ******* which trickle milk and honey. Removes the veil …" .*

Light Walker - Deepak Sankara Veda - Mystik Poet
Syv Elena Aug 2018
Where the veil is thin
That's where I am
That's where you'll be
When our skies overlap
And our stars shine the same
We will see
You & me
Each other
Across the street

When the veil is thin
We are one and the same
Our paths will cross
We will meet again
I have never seen you
We have not touched
But when the veil is thin
Nothing will be too much

Where the veil thin
Fates will intertwine
People will say hello
People will say goodbye

But where the veil is thin
For a moment
It will be just you & I
Ron Sanders Feb 2020
(Glade, World, Master, Boy, Hero)

                                                 GLADE

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

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

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

                                               WORLD

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                              MA­STER

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

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

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

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

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

                                                  BOY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                HERO

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

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

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

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







Copyright 2020 by Ron Sanders.

Contact:  ronsandersartofprose(at)yahoo(dot)com
Sorry about the ghastly copy. This system makes graceful formatting impossible.
Perfection is a necessary evil
but even with the ****** hand gone
her black veil still rests neatly upon her face
for her eyes remain covered reminiscing
in the darkness of her own secret sin
he sees this flaw, this empty husk of a woman
Death
still freshly pressed against her lips, stealing her last breath
she will never awake
he still sees her secret sin
if either man had achieved a profounder wisdom
they might not have flung away their happiness
for the pursuit of purity or science
yet quietly they craved the things so swiftly tugged away from their grasp
a sin still stains the hidden face of man
an indelible mark upon both the afflicted faces
so aged from bitter greed
wanting
needing
Perfection
Still grasping in the time of defeat
so prominent on the face of the man who shows his veil with cloth
with creepy crepe
“Have men avoided me, and women shown no pity...!”
The man cried
The girl Georgiana whispers of her impending mortality
while Parson Hooper rages into the dying light
with quiet longing the mister wanted to be seen
with the black veil married to his face
he accepted it- why could he, the scientist, not,
he still hides
dying for the sake of perfection
and living for the sake of hiding
Grasping at what could never be done
To rip the veil from upon her face
The ****** hand now gone,
He still craved more,
As their eyes close reminiscing in the darkness of their own secret sin,
The hands of all still,
Grasping at the veil,
To see the shame underneath.
Buzz Feb 2014
Hey there
Girl with the veil
Eventhough you cover yourself with a scarf
Your inner beautiness radiates through it
Displaying the real you
Without any other distractions

Hey there
Girl with the veil
You are not shy to voice out your feelings
Even with that hijab
It doesn't mean you are timid
The speculations of the ******
Makes it harder for you to go on
But you don't care

Hey there
Girl with the veil
You seem to have been writing poems
Hopeless romantic ones lately
Is your heart lost?
If you need any help
I can help you to find directions again
Dedicated to the girls wearing veils
Ruman Hafsa Aug 2016
I hide my tears behind the veil of my smile
I stay happy in a perfect style
I hide my cry behind the veil of my laugh
I laugh with them when they laugh
I hide my loneliness
Behind the veil of my happiness
I fall, I rise only to fall again
Burning memories of past remain
Oh! Why do I lose my loved one
With this I am just done
I live in dark pain
And when some light I regain
Into my life darkness awaits
Behind the veil of lights...
like know just time mind life feel world lost say we're things think love there's does people night away way thought got words long reality want better left make end eyes day man human dark experience remember really right death memory going place high good live city thoughts soul meaning great pain home sky believe shall change living oh fall light choice god consciousness existence years cause hard feeling thinking fear times 'cause dreams ask alive heart need past felt days dream sensation truth true use power knowledge wrong stars understand baby tell state thing face wave broken old you'll wave new broken nature you'll **** mental look far ah drug moment best ago air lose sleep dare try leave beautiful blue born lives escape sublime doesn't body dawn friends waiting feels young daze game control perception gone story mean sun head given writing act difference reason poetry philosophy psyche little trying touch deep greatest wonder choose drugs exist we'll moments score hold play set run self forget coming hope word future dead wish burn music emotion rain stop gaze pleasure glass one's what's lies sense wake hit remain real work bad stay open brain art seek space present happy spent acid pill social we've they're half-light used land held gotta help lie path finally listen actually longing rave water cold seeking caught energy reflection information anymore venturous goes came red hide start truly hand evil divine subtle matter kind lonely yes told eternity keeps line black edge ego context dusk horizon gonna spiritual tripping dimension data die white **** seen means care getting saw places sure freedom looking hurt fool wind flow search chance la took broke existential summer content flowing belief praise empyrean empathy discovery chemical aeon couldn't who's turn forth bit question eye judgement pray passion sound personal worth memories sanity accept universe embrace lack knows free makes rise language decide consider temporal society gain wander conscious stuff religious comprehend particle psychedelic metaphysics you've entheon absurdia entactus maybe ready fate realize family meant return perfect learn miss spirit doubt rest loved minds health moving mortal bring expression sleeping cast lines purpose quiet known strange infinite king months madness haze depths ate party patterns oneself psychedelion inside guess crowd later silent clear soft breath hours hate dust forgotten arms drink fast year war longer close searching morning ashes calm beauty darkness different justice fell friend shadows knowing fine youth heavy standing sweet enjoy explain vain simple chasing hidden ends smoke gold heaven follow point person breaking necessary today relief action cool possible bass generation lying listening machine yeah substance hath engine forlorn problem subject intangible study effort quantum definitions dopamine psychedelics we'd sigma cybran apotheon isn't empathion clouds practice gave warm wanted stand poem wait storm met asleep course skies crime surely grow depression write loose fair ecstasy knew dreaming humanity waves share taken simply faith playing sands view fix winter afraid began wise welcome comprehension sought late big zero table says bliss changed repetition everybody blame unto maze understanding mr explore states ignore addiction venture define teenage american humans billion she's wasn't 'til sonder walk smile tonight speak dance skin blood breathe fears illuminate worse peace girl crave easily emotions feelings **** having force ways lets catch meet hair doors worlds hearts destroy heard walking near hurricane wisdom lights second suicide ignorance fresh waking sadness grand happiness appear rising scared save join adventure neon outside alike liberty particles wonderful compounds killed somebody grace merely closer company desert master twisted realm respect trance ridiculous *** exile pondering noble dangerous absurd nation progress culture contradiction perceive irish urban phenomena cyberspace scoreboard psi ain't you'd mydriasis entheogenesis **** ones taste throw watch painting room alas lay history spend apart sea staring poet fact cut smell happened admit river wasted brought leaves making answer sorry glow learned decided grasp breeze bed begin pretty floor lived sole sand cure awake sight tears barely kept running safe roam willing prefer mist heads asked prose wandering sounds imagine looked hour growing recognize soon falls mirror treat ***** brother climb hero problems granted digital proud changes birth quest age spring aware doing witness names amazed ****** despite takes condition intoxication level beginning worked pupils decision object insanity rhythm medium quality weather physical false process strife individual journey doth code effects abandoned channel judge notions moral swear experienced greater chain natural thunderous cleanse determine shivering hallowed plus reckon caused adolescence media superposition addict connection indigo ethics survived definition reasoning internet feedback vibrancy serotonin cyclone hacker sardonic surreality virtuality here's he's sunyata temporality ******'s empathos apotheotelos flash shining green forever anger carry son moon selfish written supposed feed ya quite loop hooked pure feet hole paper flag sick voice burning attention fly utter wicked tremble endless form infinity talking piece shores verse chest rules food placed plan hallelujah called gun fading drinking emotional measure inspiration suffering belong west read sly instead bear erase furious shame conclusion drunk roll ******* depressed calls taught died defined tire everyday answers sacred acknowledge speaks perfection games ground spoke stood motion sway keeping pretend hell movement magic park key spin kick sake jump hanging animal begins orange streetlights fade crazy honest warp puppet chained survive apathy chains claim prey science diamonds begging grip tale hang powerful wonderland heal dealing plant twice painful daylight mastery desires recall school conviction miracle yearn empyreal weekend actual court value chalk hurts humankind rabbit eggs potential offers temporary pupil atlas nostalgia serenity happens yearning ponder hypothesis worthy witnessed ideas azure tools alpha curiosity consume singularity typhoon revelation stimulant liberate application projection criminals communication throes fraternity enables actuality starshine ethos apotheosis sardonicism aren't mind's teleology empatheon entheos hear mydriatic transcendention fight tear ash minutes wanna taking nights forgot tales lest desire lust darkest single shine slow allow destruction money comes anxiety contemplate nostalgic offer continue happen ink brings brave created holding create thunder produce talk sail philosopher creating distant illuminating drive dancing ease wishing higher pass excuse figure essence angel hopes child ahead sigh using door vast loves awaits strong tornado ok sorrow immortal ghosts certain remains stained insane reached lot discovered plain poison streets killing ending tried session vs poor woke stare watching grass slick emptiness falling box painter series children virtues awareness clean rolling reach advice heavens rend half cherish bay started relax focus laughed ashamed fiend melody drop exhale void occurs beneath win chose robes thrall shield ended sons normal sunrise road forged onward burden actions unlike colors curious street observe chosen silence shades returns technology race vengeance swept bag civilization strive reconcile trouble cloud described replaced substances whilst finding euphoria dear chemistry events deal message eternal masses beliefs vision apparent honestly dr seeing idea domain soar books frames rule law pleasures eat dread bare blaze raise compassion kindness wandered objects expressed sin declare mistake smoking drum heavenly honor lands fountain renew happening aspect gotten issues divinity teach matters pills goal follows significant job romantic gazed envelope elements identity group sell foolish lucid dimensions brothers owe education november difficult recognition express properties glitter considering illusion appreciate discover resonance derived transcendental buzz notion risk scares riot rainy teaching drizzle direct experiences elation normality quote evolution versus lamplight method reflective endeavour cloth eats teenagers eventually haul club result relative breed threat subjective concerning solstice interpretations allows rational ultimately basis aligned numbness hypocrite charade morality dope chaser continuum undead exploits aeons research freeman appropriate ion ****** teachings dilation binge beatific intuitive transcendent escapism psychedelia metaphysical beta untitled mescaline otherworldly dreampt contextual experiential symbiosis codex dissociation cybernetic weren't life's let's mirror's well-being any-more entheogenic junkiedom signifiers mescalito zero-summing won't 'pataphysics window million pair logic alright whisper stone walls notice fun picture lips whispering dying wanting hands pull remained pieces poems built push house choices united turns blessed lucky drifted sane demons demon external slowly worst angels town needs needed drifting watched abyss crimson liquid arch planes add souls questions leads flicker thousand swallow note strings player despair offering realms drift caressing enter gentle closed bodies letter beat gorgeous indescribable smiling laughing probably pick grown shade precious shooting background yesterday woman ocean sober lead clothed ghost flows turned conscience alphabet contain spun luck atmosphere vagabond completely surprise rock creed drawn book autumn rays spinning bottle early regrets lake kids sad acceptance stuck melancholy formed slip draw clearly scars collapse del sit satisfied jungle realized bunch favourite laid fit breaks notes plans anyways spoken produced echoes den trees steps ugly cover explained glance stole gazing current raised travel scratch haunts played women apathetic conquest naught goodbye midnight asking passed waste loss fallen rapture absolute positive walked mistakes lately bound patience nurture fog stranger men wants prevent forfeit asks arose easy quick sing allowed prove pitch mad closest deeply tides praying root poets sentence pulse nightmare deem coffee commit golden insert mock innocent whispers offend low tea strength captured attack stories baseline joint innocence neural chemicals plains blanket dripping reflect blink concepts psychosis plucked tidal radiance roar bathed wonders thrown moves suffer unspoken exists glad shroud plunge scorn bane asunder enslaved harvest possibly fail allure drank danger unsaid veil gravity assume sum receive bloom reveal odd whispered likes news fractured wisely gathered seraphim intention wrought plane weeks mere haunting aspects ha distance hungry eternally swaying eden foretold breach advance pains balance design event forgive significance confidence error alter paying unreality cost chronology thoroughly resembles vivid steal poetic illegal understands maelstrom temples amidst perpetual lesson pathos behold reborn produces scale heaviness ascend talked **** forsake valuable andor relinquish dismiss usually kid nervous sort fierce disguise demands abandon encourage avoid minor relentless identify loneliness web alchemy cosmic rhyme coil suffered basking dropped standard spark mates hearth swore steam myth native wonderfully occasionally solace ventures determination galaxy opportunity justify political prophecy steadfast healthy forsaken chapter facebook worried ex struggle shatter gentleman including convinced profit comfortable twine deity responsible adrift sage fortune immortality theft damage examine deliverance ultimate immersion response access test physics magnitude occur member relation acts theme signal shivers mire coin planet anybody vicious nirvana pendent applause glimmering benediction consuming glint refrain renewal myths manifest nocturnal reflections limitations teenager naturally material matrix columbine giveth inseparable singular proving lifestyle coherence humane ideals starlight sincerely prudence underworld infamous perspective presented pretends excitation viewed regard enhanced zen reverence arcadia theory realization typing construct statement subjugated exploration vote hazy reaper **** streetlight artificial trespass definitive device exceed complex finality surreal petrol proposition inspiring totality originally recurring narcotic cometh juxtaposition reckoning represent inability proclamation syntax continuity nevermind avoidance irrelevant veracious arcadian commence rumination aesthetics ubiquitous nonetheless variable exploit experiencing underlying villain cola rictus ketamine corporeal electronic graciously input cannabis manifestation comprised socially proportionate insofar ethical hedonism junkies vicissitudes cognitive determining psychiatrist palindrome lucidity remix reduction dissociative reclamation detract aer enhancement intoxicants qualia world's shouldn't wouldn't other's nothing's man's summer's today's who'd everybody's y'all 'the all's t'was ethereality thought's drug's noumenon skystruck shroom alexithymia transhuman you- -the in-between self-sufficiency -one zed's 15 11 liminality immanence adrenergic symbionts sublimeoblivious medina's buckfast psychonautes determinative serotonergic psychedelos skyglow cyclica 5-ht2a noumena pharmahuasca jeans role proper loud aching grows concrete cruel strains conversation ill paint wet couple calling mouth kiss senses case keeper torn pause middle setting whats pulling bone reminds likely remind wrath karma reading sunlight prone ***** phrase enemy familiar levels careful source adolescent small straight driving courage rush flaw suppose starting deny stayed weary worship trust turbulent troubled letting absence leaving wearing college proclaim spirits gather ear lady hey garden boys winning alcohol pay foolishly banish song cross encounters plays belonging famous shift burst alice tunes hood flickers glimpse gleam fleeting grant ride deja vu anticipation spot switch boyfriend order faded wrapped definitely short fish beach clock older dusted block station anchor longest deserve passing mark awhile lovers muse ache island totally existing comfort pride phone greek apollo bleeding unknown psychic powder remembrance tree train helps painted gambling tide tired acting blow build apologies silver fabric especially suspense band cascade flawless heat hunger nearly numb bread bright minus wide looks differently dive beating veins settle turning couch holds saying impression suspension meaningless plastic rich pointless occupied brief tiger sticks stones mask cake bitter concentrate drown forbidden shell dry walks unless regardless moved type shirt lone burns songs negative momentary staying police swing unseen ability analysis worries determined dreamt sink hopelessly chances abuse palm week existed ignorant blind dice sheep agree joke spy spill odds immeasurable *** pushing wanderlust softly midst presents blade guided ripped round ball lovely rhythms beats cars glaze wash fates evening vein gloss juvenile sides faces graces month circular rung wheel rises permeates father supreme portal liked rip fades october sitting grin showing surrounded explored opened confused wall quietly deftly scene sighs lingering radio altered evaporated suns dreamed vibration important appetite exactly devil inhabiting brains ordinary beckons constant local organic soothing linger meditation moonlight lads height ethereal simplicity kinda cigarette suggest violence blew bombs arise trips predict surface guy movements grey car stepped large bank forward landed lied ancient purely crash direction inspired release warned melodic rhythmic telling mysticism blues riddle blur floating drama neck lover nerve poisonous glare factory wage character suburbia escaped gates suspended followed pierced hall marks ruled influence functioning contained losing stopping effect electronica relate fed temper facts dependent malleable convey bent delve horror wolves won lacking certainly fooled temple oblivious watches extension molecular random subtlety rem price sear covers truths judging stage frost conditions victory millennium realised confront trickster eve daughter defines awoke terror remembere
Composed on 00:53, 21/09/2016 using Hello Poetry's 'Words' algorithm. We don't assume this means something.
Poetic T Sep 2014
You wished to look
Wanting to peek,
Beyond the veil
Souls
Lingering
Empty
You were never meant to see,
Now those not seen, seek
Breath,
Flow,
Life,
None should peer
None should see afterlife,
But curiosity
Killed a cat,
Now it comes to finish
What you saw.
Never were you meant to look
Beyond a veil,
It was closed for a reason
Now it must cleanse
Eyes
Mind,
Life,
Soul
What was seen
Must be still like those seen,
Your curtain is closing
What was is now what becomes
For you are a prisoner of the veil
You are now what was never meant to be seen..
Colin Bradford Apr 2015
You hold the hair dryer in your hand
Blowing hot air right at your man
Looks so nice right after the cut
Talking about *** gives them enough
Your stories keep them on the edge
What you do behind his back
How your needs aren’t met
Glad you use contraception
Underneath the veil of deception

What happened to make you this way
Thinking that cheating is ok
Betraying all your lovers trust
All your love turns to rust
Flip em over, do it again
Theres always something
That’s wrong with the men
So shallow to look inside
Find out where your fear hides
You don’t need a good reputation
Underneath the veil of deception

Someday soon you will see
That things don’t work dishonestly
Try to see from the other side
If you were deceived could you abide?
Karma isn’t a new ideal
See you one day when you are real
Shofi Ahmed Jan 2020
Fly perfectly straight high and shew the fly
out of the fly-bottle on your way.
Rise to victory far above the blue sky
ripping the reward is the opening of paradise!

The road ahead is all clear eye wide open space
up this way, the end is all vast open to reach
things small and big can grow and disappear in it.
You will see sunrises and sunsets on the way
waxing and waning moon flickering stars in the dark
be mindful though as you sway it got to be laser-sharp.
There is no hard shoulder on this highway
miss it by an inch and risk loosing forever!

There is hope there is light up in the high
pick your paintbrush as does the sun.
Goodness knows how it sneaks in right on the black
canvas of the night painting the first light
lo, it shows up in heaven the candle of the daylight.
So long there are a man and a woman
never give up our canary bird can fly  
rosy or not the nest in every morn nets a sunrise!

(1)
A woman indeed plucks up the courage
she never had to look up to the stars
be it for the guide or the light in the night.
Fathima herself was the full Moon every night
is thanks to her Godsent innate light.

With it, she can bask in the full spread of the pi
on top of its short decimals mounting high
constantly as if countless stars in the sky.

The time and space down the sun
and that under Fathima's light
is a far cry from each other
but can live side by side.

Like she points out:
'A circle is masculine
while the pi is feminine'.

Pi forms the circle while it's fine prints
decimal dots continue to spring.
Sprawling trillions of new digits
the bandwagon is still increasing.
Connecting the dots is an untouched dream.
The full moon pi picture is in veil
unseen at large, yet in short 3.145 it can live!  

(2)
Fathima can fly her lock of hair
in the lurking air of the transcended pi.
Because she is the primitive feminine
God's secret feminine opus!
An immeasurable black hole in between
the short and transcended pi runs like a river
and dances new on every riverbank
in the many curls of Fathima's jet black hair!

She lent out a hair to the planet earth
and crossed over here like a silhouette
without spilling out the colour
of the transcended end of the pi.
The earth takes it in the core of her heart
as if it would keepsake it forever.
Weaving the pi in Fathima instils the hair
tied it as a perfect circle the first and the front one
of the only ideal circle duo in the universe.

The motion inside the hair is the earth's finest fluid core
none is as deep as high as proportionate a perfect flow.
No time is as revealing no music is as sweet in this orb
no force is as mighty nor as a prevailing giant to explore
it's the cause of gravity and the heat at the earth's core.
the play of spirit and matter in the mix first and foremost
thanks to the pure resonance of 'Qun' be the word of God!

(3)
The way to the earth's core is exposed to none other
save the Angel of Death the lucky one.

See both sides of the one lofty sky swathed in countless stars  
but the day and night render through still remains an unseen one  
Terra is shalet zeroed in Fathima is heaven on earth!  
Up in the sky-high bank turning the starry bowl upside down
Fathima took no star nor a pearl diving deep down the Arab water,
the brightest luminary came after Muhammad (PBUH),
in veil from the Night of Measures and into the flipside in the night
she's gone without lifting the veil but left her penetrating mark.

Few could find the shortcut contemplating on this blank canvas
till to date, the Moon looks down into the abyss down the sea
looking for a mirror in the bottom in the as above so below matter
since God Sent Fathima touched on the all-inclusive primitive water.

She just raised a drop up, and the sun got caught up in the sky
the ancient fold of time still unfurls with the sun-kissed flowers
for the new hands yet the fingerprint on the sun remains only her!

Azrael heads to Fathima around the year 632 after death
touches down in Medina on his usual thin earth he steps.  
But this time a little mundane dust couldn't be thicker
he keeps descending deep down to the earth's centre
following from Medina there the angel locates her
inside the perfect circle a closed geometric figure.

(4)
Fathima is the female headline her secret is not all known
when she used to visit the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
he would stand up for her hold her hand and kiss it
and seat her on his seat, she would do the same to the prophet
when he would visit her like they did know each other
in and outside the spheres of heaven and earth!

She is the embodiment of the infinite feminine variations
the first spiritual woman created following God's word Qun.
Her is the mother tongue of the ever diversified feminine lingua
no one woman on her own can rhyme with her alone
she has no peer her rhetoric is unique like none other.
The galactic run from planet to planet up on the starry ladder
climbing high up the mountain heaven yet streams out like oval
off their rock bottom stone until that unleashes the final run
in perfect circle delving into the rhythm of the loop at the centre
made of Fathima's hair charged by 'Qun' God's uncreated word.  

Prophet David can sing on the bank of the river
and can see the fish are jumping to him out of the water.
The masculine is open form, eye on everywhere,
but not her the woman is in juxtaposition her
all-inclusive schema supplanting the details rest only on her.
She is the unseen world within the world at best imagine her!
Guess through this inwardly open door who might disappear?
It's nature before the scientist on ultimate discovery of the matter!  

Aligning with her down the rainbow up high the land absorbs
the grooming sky looking on the running rivers within her.
Her words spread through like the smart cloud that flies far
over the lands and valleys but not even the wind none other
gets a sniff of the potion and melody it caries until that rain down
without a hurdle without a visual she moves on at the target
such a soul needs no after death lift from the angel of death.

Before Azrael Fathima loses the arc of the circle then and there
so not the earth but giant Azrael can take the pressure!
Marked by a fluid discharge since then she is cooling this fire
In Shaa Allah God willing when she ajars it will be elixir!  

(5)
Draw a straight line, but it won't be perfect
it keeps bending, fly straight touching the sky
the flight path won't look like a straight line
it would be like the crest of a crescent moon
like curve touched the sky, like climbing up
atop the pyramid is not going high straight on
it goes up from the widespread seked slopes.

Like the stock market chart moves never
in straight lines but in a zigzag pattern.
Move big but start small, the golden ratio
is always 1.618 something is never the full 2
but gives the formula to design flawlessly on the go
from micro to macro level all the way to the true north!    

Fathima being the original feminine eyeing at her
she can tap in the knowhow of naturally feminine nature.
And discovers the immanent pattern - the world
is pre-designed and measured is never a coincidence.
The creatures' creativity, scientist's science
is to follow, discover working formulas like phi and pi.

Play along it works until an unknown hour strikes
comes with accurate knowledge dead on time
numerically correct never miss taking life away
as if it was calculated beforehand before the birth.
A newborn is born for a limited time
already set but no one knows when it goes up  
is a deadlock clock but it isn't so shrouded
in the blueprint of the creatures' grand design
there the clock ticks safe and sounds it never dies!  

(6)
Fathima hailing from the other side of the pool
eyes on the ever live pre-design side of the creation!
Then its corporeal face was only a water drop,
the primitive one looks see-through but dead zero
knowledge of its lively other side of the pool.
She comes closer and perfectly mirrors both sides
that shines through on her reflected face on the water.
An absolute new image that livens up the dead part
Bang - Big Bang! It gets the spark for the corporeal world
to explode out from the very first drop of the water!

The appearance of Fathima was miraculously instrumental
by the grace of God, it showed up the finite and infinite, 0 and 1,
future in the present and the death and life on the play!
Nature tends to follow suit it just saw the perfect role model
it moved big bang, but banged out only to its corporeal set!
A far cry from being at par symmetrical with its infinite reality
like the precursor image of it's Big Bang that it aspires to be!

Fathima leaves the door open elevating a perfect circle,
not a straight line, follows the pattern to take the variations
into account in the very first matter, the water drop.
She zooms in more into the abyss irrational portion
and aces the circle with her hair leaving a muslin fine
empty open zero at the starting point at the bottom.
The ocean of the pi digits, the DNA of all things material
banged out of it, still, the zero is numberless irrational!

(7)
All things, within oneself and in a set constantly vibrate,
strive to align with the enduring reality of itself.
The atom vibrates to reach out to its immortal portion
that doesn't die and is in the know of its lower base.
The planets are in a defined circular orbit, accurately measured
just the apex on top of their dynamic pyramid the pyramidon
is tucked away; they too have an irrational portion in the circle.

With the finest spin, they zoom in the spacious universe,
in part and like the sun outside the constellations round they go
never miss a target line yet to re-discover Fathima's perfect circle
the origin of their digital essences' breakthrough
the door to their transcended destination de jour.
Lo the matter turns the last stone pulsing across the cosmos
the mortal horizontal spread, the spirit returns home.

The earth has a line in its swansong it has a place in paradise
it's not here to stay for good neither to perish forever!

Matters form and break without losing the rope,
it's not to paint the shades of the eternal blue.
There is just an irrational portion in the circle
at the heart of the earth, as above, so below.  
The deep the high the perfect circle
up and down the centre of gravitation for all!

At even and at odd the vibration within the matter is fluid
somewhere is parched there the arch matter must make a splash.
Far away on that dark beach, the full-fledged sea of the matters
outpours its billowy potion with the Moon on the frontline
the physical world's most glowed up firefly!

(8)
The seven seas swell up smoothly into the moonlight-dip
oh, the waterless Moon at the core is still fasting.
Led by the time the sweet swan punting along the waves
streams down the watery inner circle of the planets.
In the Moon, it's stuck no water in the last waterfront
where paradise is on the other side of the pool!  

The sun dips away into the night
bathing the horizon in shades of pink and gold,
the dazzling hues soon turn to taupe.
Drawing down painting the picture in full colour
only to find the time is up on the halfway,
yet to print a colour copy of the night!
The other unseen half is passed down to the Moon
tiptoeing in slow motion in the depths of the night
barely keeping the head afloat in a fathomless ocean
of shades of black hails from where knows none.  

The sun enkindles the moon half-lit keeping itself away
in the shadow as if comparing the shades now it knows
a mehrem a veiled female is ahead not to look on or
compared to that the sun has no light or true are both.

Wrapt in the eternal night beneath its black mole
once the moon on the front approaching most close
directly down to the centre of the earth eyes on
over that inlaid string hairy black perfect circle
never did it turn back the same gaze is still on
orbiting around the earth in synchronous rotation.

(9)
The never-ending night, becoming a night indeed
it's coming to an end so soon in our time.
In Shaa Allah I will see it with my eyes before I die
in the Night of Measures in an odd night in Ramadan
Fathima from the transcendental end of irrational heart
will turn on top of the curve opening for the first time
a 9-degree angle in the circle at the centre of the earth.

Instantly the leading force, time will get the first sniff
of the other world, so peaceful heart-melting serene.
Rapturous time feeling an ounce of the enduring peace
for the first time cutting all the corners with ease
will be propelled into its yet uncharted golden mean.
Scurrying to the peaceful abode time will be on its wings
across the globe, people will be stunned seeing
how first the times pass from then on incredibly quick!

Fathima, the first spiritual woman on duty, will start
pulling her hair back off the circle at the centre
Juxtaposed in between the worlds of here and hereafter.
She will take back every inch of it, the heavenly bodies
will feel the pinch of her every little subtle pull
that too will be a boon helping them perfect their circle.

(10)
Soon she opens it just 9-degree wide at first
the Moon will see a glimpse of the first drop of water.
Without it, it's living perched without the water of life
that's destined to rain down soon and the Moon
back into its original pond shall revive!
Mapping the pi's whole infinitesimals playground
finally, Fathima will turn the circle upside down
before the stunning sun rising in the western sky!

By now under Fathima's hair's shaded closed circle
it must have sailed far over the blue sky in the other world.
Billowing with the breeze over the sea of uncharted water
and stacking to the brim with all that it could discover
humbly stood like a cloud in that corner of the sky.

The time is finally ticking fast to rain down with love
paradise's welcoming schema rendering in waterpaint drops
on the Moon over the sea of matters, that's most glowed up firefly
ah, finally can break the fast sipping in a drop of elixir!
It's their heavenly adopted, Miʿrāj performed, primitive water.
The Moon with the seven seas will leave off the corporeal shell
gliding gracefully with this stately water nymph as if it never dies
and will make a splash plopping into the pond of paradise!  

For the matter ultimately is water and its extent is sound
Fathima will fetch it the water of life and take it to the next life!
Oh, the matter shall do both die and revive with Israfil's sound
the cloud will fly out of the dead water on the ground,
like the earth with chorus songs of the rain revives.
When that a melodious nymph in the water makes waves
see paradise is here the Moon over the sea can't take off its eyes.

(11)
Hang on though they all set ready on their horizontal span  
to pull in such a fluid yet colourful descending like a rainbow swan.
First chaste Fathima will evaporate her hair's perfume away
that's yet lingering in the water warming it up to its premium
no crowd then can see where this heady, fragrant cloud will fly!
There are the momentum and delights where that will alight.

Israfil might then blow his trumpet swooning the world away
the secret will remain secret exception is noted in the Qur'an.
A strange sound will silence the chorus of the innate digits
collapsing the floating cosmos bubbling on their music.  
The corporeal circle will collapse as if there is no base no pi
the melody of the first word Qun means Be will still be loud
supercalifragilisticexpialidocious so how can we all expire?

Israfil too will play his reviving trumpet pure mellifluous
and In Shaa Allah numerically perfect Fathima will rise
amidst the resonant Qun as like she did in the beginning
when except prophet Muhammad (PBUH) there was nothing!
Now the earth once zeroed in beneath her hair will follow her
the stunned terra will discover Fathima took her hair away
only to shift the constellation up onto the upper world!

The old songs of the planets the chorus of the digits will revive
from the zero bases in the core the digital panache that dance
planet upon the planet as if they are always at the perfect hertz.

Indeed that is yet to come, the arts of the fine layers
opening from the irrational pi, the finest one is to flower
when Fathima will unloop her circled hair at the centre
piercing the very immanent irrational cut
that no creation can fathom only the loving creator Allah
will turn odd to even in between the here and hereafter
then the ocean stuck in deep salt shall turn to enduring potion!
The As-Sirat shall turn to be the bridge to paradise
the body shall revive with the enduring soul forever
and with ah Fathima couple shall enter paradise In Shaa Allah
with the rhapsody 'all praise is for Allah' Alhamdulillah!
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Composed on 01:33, 27/02/2017 using Hello Poetry's 'Words' algorithm. We still don't assume this means something.
scar Jun 2015
I could show you such things as you never have seen
But I'd have to go back on my oath
An oath I never made, but which
Stuck with me, the most sacred of things
So sacrosanct that even to say the words of the oath itself
Would be to break it.
Rarely is holiness so raw
Yet when that place is found
When the moon descends
And the water rises
Something shifts: and the veil is slightly lifted
But only slightly, for
Personne ne peut enlever la voile d'Isis
Even if we know how
Especially if we know how
Yet sometimes, gods willing,
It thins itself slightly
But only slightly, and
We catch a glimpse of the way things really are:
The way things could be.
What is this, behind this veil, is it ugly, is it beautiful?
It is shimmering, has it *******, has it edges?

I am sure it is unique, I am sure it is what I want.
When I am quiet at my cooking I feel it looking, I feel it thinking

'Is this the one I am too appear for,
Is this the elect one, the one with black eye-pits and a scar?

Measuring the flour, cutting off the surplus,
Adhering to rules, to rules, to rules.

Is this the one for the annunciation?
My god, what a laugh!'

But it shimmers, it does not stop, and I think it wants me.
I would not mind if it were bones, or a pearl button.

I do not want much of a present, anyway, this year.
After all I am alive only by accident.

I would have killed myself gladly that time any possible way.
Now there are these veils, shimmering like curtains,

The diaphanous satins of a January window
White as babies' bedding and glittering with dead breath. O ivory!

It must be a tusk there, a ghost column.
Can you not see I do not mind what it is.

Can you not give it to me?
Do not be ashamed--I do not mind if it is small.

Do not be mean, I am ready for enormity.
Let us sit down to it, one on either side, admiring the gleam,

The glaze, the mirrory variety of it.
Let us eat our last supper at it, like a hospital plate.

I know why you will not give it to me,
You are terrified

The world will go up in a shriek, and your head with it,
Bossed, brazen, an antique shield,

A marvel to your great-grandchildren.
Do not be afraid, it is not so.

I will only take it and go aside quietly.
You will not even hear me opening it, no paper crackle,

No falling ribbons, no scream at the end.
I do not think you credit me with this discretion.

If you only knew how the veils were killing my days.
To you they are only transparencies, clear air.

But my god, the clouds are like cotton.
Armies of them. They are carbon monoxide.

Sweetly, sweetly I breathe in,
Filling my veins with invisibles, with the million

Probable motes that tick the years off my life.
You are silver-suited for the occasion. O adding machine-----

Is it impossible for you to let something go and have it go whole?
Must you stamp each piece purple,

Must you **** what you can?
There is one thing I want today, and only you can give it to me.

It stands at my window, big as the sky.
It breathes from my sheets, the cold dead center

Where split lives congeal and stiffen to history.
Let it not come by the mail, finger by finger.

Let it not come by word of mouth, I should be sixty
By the time the whole of it was delivered, and to numb to use it.

Only let down the veil, the veil, the veil.
If it were death

I would admire the deep gravity of it, its timeless eyes.
I would know you were serious.

There would be a nobility then, there would be a birthday.
And the knife not carve, but enter

Pure and clean as the cry of a baby,
And the universe slide from my side.
JennyFrenzy Oct 2014
Do you remember Red Ribbons
And the fear the world felt inside
Could AIDS be transferred through vision
Was the air contagious outside

Some said the government made it
Others thought it was god's design
AIDS had infected our spirits
Was the air contagious outside

Was AIDS transmitted by touching
"Don't touch him he's gay and you'll die"
Repugnant minds were erupting
Was the air contagious outside

Do you remember Red Ribbons
Was the air contagious outside

I started wearing Red Ribbons
After hearing my friends tragic tales
Of the worst gifts they'd been given
Entombed in a black mourning veil

Our grandmothers they were best friends
You told me, my god I went stale
Sick with anguish for your grave end
Entombed in a black mourning veil

Once surrounded by many, now few
Your frame morphed from buxom to frail
Love you Joy, I bid you adieu
Entombed in a black mourning veil

I started wearing Red Ribbons
Entombed in a black mourning veil
I lost a life long friend to AIDS. Her name has been changed to Joy, because that's what she brought to her friends and family, so much joy...
TS Feb 2020
Trigger warning : aggressive ****** encounters, ****, violence

Walking down an empty street in London, I‌ was drawn to a crumbling, empty church. It's as if ‘decay’ was written on the walls. A sight unseen, I‌ just had to explore. It looks as though no one has been there for years, decades, or maybe even centuries. Wooden trim adorned the boarded up windows and an altar like a hidden stage lay in the very front. Layers of dust coated the floor. Two balconies towered over either side of the altar and what was left of the chairs sat facing the front of the church. The room was almost a half circle, drawing the attention to the front altar. The ceilings seemed to rise for miles and the windows cast haunted shadows on the floor. Everything is dingy and dull in color, as if it was a forgotten coloring book page that has faded overtime. As I tiptoed across the floor, I inspected each little thing almost in search of a lost treasure.

The energy is strange, almost as if it had been frozen in a paradox of time. Everything was left as if they fled in a hurry, untouched by the passing of years. What was it about this place that I was drawn to? What community used to worship here? What happened to them that left this church in this state. I‌ wasn’t sure I would find out the answer to any of these questions until I‌ spotted a dusty old book on a table by the door. Inside was a language I‌ did not know and notes scrawled on the page margins in pencil. “Gratias agimus tibi propter Princeps tenebris, princeps infernum.” it read. Was this latin? That might make sense as many of the Christian religions’ texts derived from the latin language. Since google is a thing now and we have an infinite access to so much information, I decided to give it a go.

‘We worship thee prince of the darkness, ruler of hell.’

I don’t think this was a Christian church…

As I‌ read these words aloud, a whisper seemed to escape from the walls around me. Carefully, I continued to explore, making sure to not disturb anything. Toward the back of the room was a wall trimmed in wainscoting dusted in a faded brown stain. A large hole was torn through a space on the bottom and a faint light flickered from inside. Was I not the only one here?

Next thing I‌ knew, I‌ was on my hands and knees, crawling through this hole. Why am I not able to control myself? I‌ should have left the instant I‌ read the inscription.‌ Something tells me that someone wants me to be here. Through cobwebs and rodent dung, I‌ reached an opening and stood up. It was a room with dirt walls and floor. There was a single oil lamp lit on a desk across the room. The furniture was skewed about and a questionable, almost luminescent red powder on the floor across the room. When I‌ got closer, I‌ also noticed the shards of glass spread on the ground around the powder. I reached down to touch the powder. I‌n the blink of an eye, I‌ was across the room, wondering what had happened. Before I‌ could even form a full thought, there was movement from the hole in the wall I‌ had just climbed through. A‌ little boy appeared, no older than 8, dressed in ***** wool trousers and a half tucked in, stained linen shirt. He wore a newsboy hat on his head that had certainly seen better days. On his shoulder was a worn bag which looked to be carrying something heavy.

“Hi there. My name is Anna. Are you lost?”

He walked by me as if I‌ were a ghost.

He was looking around, almost searching for something.

“Wh-what are you looking for?”

He made his way to the desk in the corner with the oil lamp and laid his bag down on the chair. He looked under and around with a near disappointed look. What was he trying to find? His eyes suddenly widened and he darted toward a nearby bookshelf, pulling down a crystal decanter from the top shelf. It was full of that same ghastly powder I saw before!‌ I‌ turned to look at that spot on the floor, only to find it clear and no broken glass scattered. To my surprise, the decanter came hurdling across the room, right passed my head, and smashed into the wall. I‌ turn quickly to see the little boy and he was gone. I blink and again am across the room where I‌ was before. I‌ shake my head and rub my eyes. What just happened? I‌ should really get out of here - I don’t think its safe to be here.

I‌ turned to leave but caught a glimpse of the little boy’s bag on the chair. Why was this still here? Why wouldn’t he take it with him? I‌ had to see what was inside. I picked up the bag and pulled each item out; a rock-hard loaf of bread nearly mummified, a small black book on elementary mathematics, a very old key, and sort of spherical item wrapped in a brown cloth.

I‌ removed the cloth to reveal a black clouded crystal ball. As soon as my hands touched its surface, I blinked and I‌ was out in the main room of the church with at least 30 people lingering around their chairs talking. I was no longer holding the ball, and everything had a bit brighter of a color to it. The room was still dark but the windows were not boarded up. There still lie some rubble on the ground but much less than before.

“Uhm, hello? Who are you? What is happening?”

I reached out to one of the people and they said nothing - they didn’t even acknowledge my existence. Everyone was dressed in very old clothing. Corsets, bustles, and shiny leather shoes. It was as if I stepped into a chapter of a victorian era book.
Despite the demeanor of the patrons, their clothes were still a little worn, torn, *****, and drab. Everyone carried on their conversations in a reasonable tone until a bell rang - everyone found a seat.

A lanky gentleman appeared at the altar in black clothing and spoke to the crowd.

“My fellow followers of Lucifer, I‌ beseech thee to bow down in worship to our almighty prince. He hath lead us to the depths of the fire and bestowed on us the power to destroy life itself.”

Each person knelt down and faced the ground in what I‌ would assume is reverence.

“For over a thousand years, this temple has held a dark mass for our dark lord, in which we show our dedication to his unholiness in the form of a sacrifice. Who among you has brought a gift to Satan himself?”

A petite, young, beautiful woman rose and approached the altar. Her head bowed in reverence and a veil over her head, she held out her arms. The man took a small item wrapped in a brown cloth from her and set it on the altar. They continued their ritual by spreading what I imagine was blood along the edge of the altar in a circle. As the man worked, the crowd of people mumbled in unison like a prayer. I watched from the side, trying to understand why I‌ was here and why no one would speak with me.

“Ma’am, what is this place?” I‌ asked a nearby worshiper. She said nothing.
“Excuse me,” I‌ nudge a young man to her left, “what is everyone doing?” He did not even look at me.

The mass continued in latin and I‌ watched quietly in confusion.

Nearly an hour passed and the mass seemed over. The people start chatting away as they had before and the gentleman at the front makes his way to the back wall where the hole was before. The young woman stopped him and asked to speak. I follow them to the back of the church. The gentleman quietly opens a door hidden in the wall right where the hole was and they walk in. I sneak in with them as the gentleman closes the door.

“Elizabeth, I am glad you came today. I was starting to worry that your faith was wavering. You haven’t seemed yourself lately since that human left.” the gentleman addressed the young woman as she sat in the chair by the desk. Everything was neater now and the furniture was placed in a purposeful way, much like a room in a house.

“Jonathan was the love of my life, Cain. I miss him every day. I don’t wish to go on in this world any longer.” Elizabeth squawked back with tears in her eyes.

Cain goes to comfort her, sits with her, and holds her in his arms as she sobs gently. He offers her his handkerchief and she accepts gracefully.
“Darling, you have so much more to give here. Lucifer needs your fortitude and dedication. But most of all, I need you.” He says, wiping a tear from her cheek.

As she rests her head on his shoulder, I look around the room. The powder is no longer on the floor and the decanter is on the table. I turn my attention back to the couple and I‌ see him kiss her softly. She turns away,
“Cain, please…” she whimpers, “I am not ready for this yet.” Cain nods and stands up. He walks across the room to a metal bowl with a pitcher and pours a glass of water.

“You should leave, Elizabeth.” he states without making eye contact. “You have no business being here if you will continue to cohort with humans. You have been given a dark gift that you are wasting away. You have been made beautiful to be a glorious gift to our community and you have disgraced us by your unfaithfulness.”

Shocked, Elizabeth stands and walks toward him with more tears in her eyes, “Cain, you know I‌ love you. I‌ want to stay with the community, to contribute and prove my worth. Please give me a chance.” she sobs.

He takes her in his arms and calmly says, “Elizabeth, you know what you must do. You know your purpose. You are the source of intimacy in this coven. You are our only hope to offer what we have to Lucifer.”

Elizabeth sighs and softly agrees. She looks defeated, tired, sad. I just want to wrap my arms around her and tell her it will be okay. I‌ blink back tears from my eyes. As I open them, I‌ am back in the main room surrounded by people. Cain is standing at the altar beside Elizabeth who is dressed in a beautiful black lace gown and veil. Cain lifts the veil from her face and kisses her neck. Her expression unchanged, still flooded with defeat. Cain starts to unbutton her gown. What is happening? Why are all these people watching this? She doesn’t look happy… why is no one stopping this? Cain starts to aggressively remove her clothing until she is standing bare and vulnerable in front of the crowd.

“What are you doing?!” I‌ scream.
“Leave her alone!” I‌ run to the front to try and stop them but I‌ am invisible.

As Cain removes his trousers, Elizabeth stands there calmly but with deep sadness in her eyes. He motions to the altar and Elizabeth lays down. Cain climbs on top of her and starts to penetrate. He begins aggressively … well there is no other word for it besides ****. He is ****** her. Her eyes fill with tears but she blinks them back. He gains speed until he finally ******* inside her. She blankly stares at the ceiling and a single tear rolls down the side of her face, landing in her now unkempt hair.
Why? Why did this happen? What is going on? Why did no one stop this?
A man in the crowd stands up and walks to the front. When he reaches the altar, he begins to undress.

No.

Not again. There is no way. Why would they be doing this? Why is no one stopping this?!

Man after man after man violates Elizabeth while she lays silently on the stone altar. I am sobbing now. Why am I‌ powerless? Why can’t I‌ stop this? Why is this happening?

What seems like hours pass of this horror and Elizabeth finally stands up. She puts her gown back on and replaces her veil. Cain stands beside her and grabs her hand. He recites something in latin then repeats in English, “The marriage of the many.” They begin a ceremony similar to a wedding but instead of a groom, on the altar lies the decanter of powder.
The ceremony continues and I can hear Elizabeth faintly sobbing, “Jonathan…” she whispers. She blinks back her tears and looks up. She sees him standing by the door, tears off her veil and runs to him. He was not there. Men from the crowd drag her back to the altar. She is screaming, “I‌ won’t marry him! Jonathan has my heart. I‌ would rather die than give myself over to Lucifer!” Cain hits her across the face leaving a throbbing red mark.

She cradles her face from the pain as Cain yells,
“Don’t you dare disgrace us! You are the ultimate sacrifice to our king and you must obey!”

Cain drags her back to the altar and chains her down. He pulls a knife from his belt and lifts it in the air yelling, “To thee I‌ offer, oh king of hell, this sacrifice of violated innocence. Come forth and bestow your gifts upon us as we offer her to you.” I‌ lunge forward to try and stop him. Just as he is about to plunge the knife in her chest, the decanter on the altar opens and the powder bursts into the air. A loud voice bellows through the church,

“You dare disgrace this innocence. An offer of such little worth hath no result for a coven such as yours.” A strong gust of wind throws Cain against the wall. The blow kills him instantly. The crowd bursts into chaos. Elizabeth, still chained to the altar, is hysterically sobbing and trying to break free. From the cloud of wind, a man walks toward her. He is tall with dark features. He has deep black eyes and a chiseled jaw line and body. He walks to her. Elizabeth looks up and is speechless. The man crouches down to unchain her and kindly helps her up.
“They hath defiled you, oh innocence. For this they shall burn.” He speaks in a deep voice. He extends his hand and half of the crowd turns to ash. He looks into her eyes and kisses her neck.

Elizabeth looks to the ceiling with tears in her eyes and mutters, “Please don’t hurt me…”
“Why would I hurt the most purest gifts my father has given the world?” He says as he holds her face. “I have removed the human from your life to clear your path to glory. In my father’s spite, we will be betrothed tonight. You shall rule hell beside me and bear my children.”
She sobs, “You … you killed him? I loved him!”
“Girl, you know nothing of love.” He says flatly. She looks at him in surprise, tears still falling down her cheeks. Chaos is still roaring around them as the crowd tried to escape the hellfire. “These filthy creatures are not worthy of your power. You belong to me now.” She tries to break free of his grip but he is far too strong for her. He lifts her up and lays her on the altar and begins to overtake her as she cries.
I stand to the side helplessly. Sobbing with her. I close my eyes and wish it over. I‌ want to leave now. I can’t take this.
Silence. I open my eyes to the sudden stillness and there sits a pregnant Elizabeth in a dark, empty church. Tears are gently running down her face and I realize that I‌ have not yet seen her with a smile on her face. Lucifer appears to her and holds her in his arms. I can’t hear anything. They are speaking but there is no sound. He lays her down and she yells - she is in labor. A small bundle wrapped in a cloth is delivered and the dark lord holds it in his hands and looks down calmly. Elizabeth stands up behind him with anger in her eyes. She pulls a knife from her cloak and plunges it in his neck. He drops the child but Elizabeth reaches to catch it just in time. She runs to the door with the cloth in her arms and slams the door behind her. A furious Satan rips the knife from his neck and runs to the door. He slams on it with his fists and yells. I‌ still cannot hear.
I blink and see Elizabeth on the steps of a church, crying softly. She gently lays the bundle on the door step and runs away. A woman appears at the door and picks it up, cradling it in her arms.
I‌ blink and see Elizabeth back in the church, holding the decanter and stealthy creeping around the corners. She turns around and Lucifer is standing there.
“You have betrayed me. All freedoms have been stripped from you. You will no longer sit beside me and rule hell. You will be caged and retained for only reproduction. You WILL bear my children and I‌ shall take them from you, never to be seen again. This will continue until I‌ have used the last of you and then you will be destroyed.” He exclaims angrily.
Elizabeth stands straight up, holds the decanter in her hand and yells, “I‌ banish thee, Satan, to the confines of this prison. You shall never again walk the face of this earth.”‌ As she opens the lid, the dark lord plunges the knife she used on him into her chest. A gust of wind engulfs him into the decanter. Elizabeth drops to the floor. A‌ knife in her chest, she struggles to put the top on the decanter. She crawls to the wall where the door once was. She begins to peel away the pieces of the wall weakly. She works in pain for what seems like hours until she makes it into the room. She drags herself over to the bookshelf and hoists herself up. She places the decanter up as far up as she can and tries to cover it with a cloth. As she reaches, she falls. Upon hitting the ground, she fades into dust.
I‌ stood there silently, shocked. This woman. I feel like I‌ know her. She is so strong and brave. I‌ am in awe and also in tears. I‌ collapse to the ground in the dust she left behind. I‌ mourn her, her hardships, her life. She deserved so much more.
I open my eyes and I‌ see a little girl, maybe 5 or 6 years old enter the room. She looks around. I yell, “Leave!‌ This place is dangerous!‌”
Bewildered by the things around her, she wanders to the bookshelf. She looks so much like Elizabeth. Could this be? Could it be her daughter? She is holding a small bag. She sits down at the desk and opens it. Its her lunch. She begins to eat and continue looking around. She sees the light from the oil lamp gleam off the crystal decanter. Excited, she pushes the chair up against the bookcase and climbs up. On her tippy toes, she manages to reach the decanter. She sits back down and twirls it around, moving the powder from one side to the other. A small amount of powder escapes in a puff. You can hear a whisper, “Victoria…” I‌ hear. She hears it too.
“Hello? Who’s there?” she squeaks. She puts the decanter down and walks around. She turns around to return to her lunch and is greeted by Lucifer himself, though she doesn’t know this. He is weak. The remainder of his strength lies in the decanter. He can’t speak. He grabs her and yells - she screams and breaks away from his grasp. She takes off in the other direction and crawls back through the hole. She looks behind her then darts toward the door. He is standing there in front of the door. He waves his hand and the large metal door bolts shut. She stops dead in her tracks, stares at him for a moment, then takes off.
Frantically running through the church, Victoria is trying to find any means of escape. Tears in her eyes, she evades Lucifer’s grasp several times. The windows are boarded up, the doors are bolted, and it seems there is no way out. Suddenly a little gleam of light comes from above. The balcony. She starts toward the wall and begins to climb up the trim as quickly as she can. Lucifer is close behind, yelling but unable to speak words to her. She reaches for the balcony and pulls herself up.
Suddenly I‌ am outside on the balcony and Victoria is reaching for the railing. She is reaching for the light. She is reaching for me. She looks into my eyes and yells, “Help me! Please!” and extends her hand. Surprised that she can see me, I reach out to grasp her hand but before I‌ can get her, she is pulled screaming back into the church. I‌ lunge forward to pull her back but land on the floor of the back hidden room breathing heavily. I stand up and dust myself off. I am in the middle of the powder and glass that was on the floor. I grab the book I‌ found and start to run for the door. I‌ can’t get caught by him, he will **** me. A thousand things are running through my mind. I crawl through the hole and head toward the door. Something compels me to look back as I pull open the door.
There he stood.
Staring at me.
“Daughter, fear not. I will find you and we will rule together with your sister.” He says.
Daughter? Sister? Who am I?
Trigger warning : aggressive ****** encounter, ****, violence
Traveler Oct 2015
The fear is limited
To the chills up the spine
Ghosts cling to the living
Spirits cling to good times

The music and laughter
Binds the trance
The heart beats
In mysterious rhythms
Paranormal enhanced

Waxing from a Libra moon
The shadow worlds ignite
Young at heart soar forever
In a restless states of fight

The veil of Samhain
Be opened wide
Let wandering soul roam free
As we celebrate another year
   Of Natures selfless deeds ...
Traveler Tim
2015
re to 08-18
(A play in one act.)

The Knight.
The Lady.

Voices of men and women on the ground at the foot of the tower.
The voice of the Knight’s Page.



     The top of a high battlemented tower of a castle.  A stone ledge,
     which serves as a seat, extends part way around the parapet.
     Small clouds float by in the blue sky, and occasionally a swallow passes.
     Entrance R. from an unseen stairway which is supposed to extend around
     the outside of the tower.

The Lady (unseen).
Oh do not climb so fast, for I am faint
With looking down the tower to where the earth
Lies dreaming in the sun.  I fear to fall.

The Knight (unseen).
Lean on me, love, my love, and look not down.

L.
Call me not “love”, call me your conquered foe,
That now, since you have battered down her gates,
Gives you the keys that lock the highest tower
And mounts with you to prove her homage true;
Oh bid me go no farther lest I fall,
My foot has slipped upon the rain-worn stones,
Why are the stairs so narrow and so steep?
Let us go back, my lord.

K.
                           Are you afraid,
Who were so dauntless till the walls gave way?
Courage, my sweet.  I would that I could climb
A thousand times by wind-swept stairs like these,
That lead so near to heaven.

L.
                              Sir, you may,
You are a knight and very valorous;
I am a woman.  I shall never come
This way but once.
(The Knight and the Lady appear on the top of the tower.)

K.
                     Kiss me at last, my love.

L.
Oh, my sweet lord, I am too tired to kiss.
Look how the earth is like an emerald,
With rivers veined and flawed with fallow fields.

K.  (Lifting her veil)
Then I kiss you, a thousand thousand kisses
For all the days ere I had won to you
Beyond the walls and gates you barred so close.
Call me at last your love, your castle’s lord.

L.  (After a pause)
I love you.

(She kisses him.  Her veil blows away like a white butterfly
over the parapet.  Faint cries and laughter from men and women
under the tower.)

Men and Women.
The veil, the lady’s veil!

(The knight takes the lady in his arms.)

L.
My lord, I pray you loose me from your arms
Lest that my people see how much we love.

K.
May they not see us?  All of them have loved.

L.
But you have been an enemy, my lord,
With walls between us and with moss-grown moats,
Now on a sudden must I kiss your mouth?
I who was taught before I learned to speak
That all my house was hostile unto yours,
Now can I put my head against your breast
Here in the sight of all who choose to come?

K.
Are we not past the caring for their eyes
And nearer to the heaven than to earth?
Look up and see.

L.
                   I only see your face.

(She touches his hair with her hands.  Murmuring under the tower.)

K.
Why came we here in all the noon-day light
With only darting swallows over us
To make a speck of darkness on the sun?
Let us go down where walls will shut us round.
Your castle has a hundred quiet halls,
A hundred chambers, where the shadows lie
On things put by, forgotten long ago.
Forgotten lutes with strings that Time has slackened,
We two shall draw them close and bid them sing—
Forgotten games, forgotten books still open
Where you had laid them by at vesper-time,
And your embroidery, whereon half-worked
Weeps Amor wounded by a rose’s thorn.
Shall I not see the room in which you slept,
Palpitant still and breathing of your thoughts,
Where maiden dreams adown the ways of sleep
Swept noiselessly with damosels and knights
To tourneys where the trumpet made no sound,
Blow as he might, the scarlet trumpeter,
And were the dreams not sometimes brimmed with tears
That waked you when the night was loneliest?
Will you not bring me to your oratory
Where prayers arose like little birds set free
Still upward, upward without sound of flight?
Shall I not find your turrets toward the north,
Where you defied white winter armed for war;
Your southern casements where the sun blows in
Between the leaf-bent boughs the wind has lifted?
Shall we not see the sunrise toward the east,
Watch dawn by dawn the rose of day unfolding
Its golden-hearted beauty sovereignly;
And toward the west look quietly at evening?
Shall I not see all these and all your treasures?
In carven coffers hidden in the dark
Have you not laid a sapphire lit with flame
And amethysts set round with deep-wrought gold,
Perhaps a ruby?

L.
                  All my gems are yours
And all my chambers curtained from the sun.
My lord shall see them all, in time, in time.


(The sun begins to sink.)

K.
Shall I not see them now?  To-day, to-night?

L.
How could I show you in one day, my lord,
My castle and my treasures and my tower?
Let all the days to come suffice for this
Since all the past days made them what they are.
You will not be impatient, my sweet lord.
Some of the halls have long been locked and barred,
And some have secret doors and hard to find
Till suddenly you touch them unawares,
And down a sable way runs silver light.
We two will search together for the keys,
But not to-day.  Let us sit here to-day,
Since all is yours and always will be yours.

(The stars appear faintly one by one.)

K.  (After a pause.)
I grow a little drowsy with the dusk.

L.  (Singing.)
    There was a man that loved a maid,
    (Sleep and take your rest)
    Over her lips his kiss was laid,
    Over her heart, his breast.

(The knight sleeps.)

    All of his vows were sweet to hear,
    Sweet was his kiss to take;
    Why was her breast so quick to fear,
    Why was her heart, to break?

    Why was the man so glad to woo?
    (Sleep and take your rest)
    Why were the maiden’s words so few—

(She sees that he is asleep, and slipping off her long cloak-like
outer garment, she pillows his head upon it against the parapet,
and half kneeling at his feet she sings very softly:)

    I love you, I love you, I love you,
    I am the flower at your feet,
    The birds and the stars are above you,
    My place is more sweet.

    The birds and the stars are above you,
    They envy the flower in the grass,
    For I, only I, while I love you
    Can die as you pass.

(Light clouds veil the stars, growing denser constantly.
The castle bell rings for vespers, and rising, the lady moves
to a corner of the parapet and kneels there.)

L.
Ave Maria! gratia plena, Dominus—

Voice of the Page (from the foot of the tower.)
My lord, my lord, they call for you at court!

(The knight wakes.  It is now quite dark.)

There is a tourney toward; your enemy
Has challenged you.  My lord, make haste to come!

(The knight rises and gropes his way toward the stairs.)

K.
I will make haste.  Await me where you are.

(To himself.)
There was a lady on this tower with me—

(He glances around hurriedly but does not see her in the darkness.)

Page.
My lord has far to ride before the dawn!

K.  (To himself.)
Why should I tarry?

(To the page.)
Bring my horse and shield!

(He descends.  As the noise of his footfall on the stairs dies away,
the lady gropes toward the stairway, then turns suddenly, and going to
the ledge where they have sat, she throws herself over the parapet.)


CURTAIN.
Through the darkness I part the Veil,
And walk the hidden paths,
In the brightness beyond the pale,
I see what none have seen.
There's danger here in the world beyond,
In the gleam beyond the gloom.

And all my days it waits for me,
The calling in my blood,
And through the years I walk the paths,
That very few have seen,
The Veil grows thin as years go by,
In the gleam beyond the gloom.

Through the darkness I return again,
From those fair hidden paths,
And as I walk I learn to talk,
Like I once knew I could,
For few have been beyond the veil,
In the gleam beyond the gloom.

~In the Gleam Beyond the Gloom by Bethany "Lorekeeper" Davis, March 5, 2015


My attempt at translating it into Latin:

Velum parte post umbram,
Et ambulate per semitae occultae,
In splendóribus supra pallidus,
Non video quid viderim.
Non est hic mundus extra periculum,
In splendóribus post umbram.

Et omnibus diebus meis memet maneat
Vocatio in sanguine meo,
Et per annos ambulate semitae,
Valde pauci, quas vidi,
Velum crescit tenuis quod eunt anni,
In splendóribus post umbram.

Per tenebras revertentur
Ex his latet semitas occultae,
Et ego ambulo illis loquela,
Scientes semel ego potui,
Pauci abierunt trans velum,
In splendóribus post umbram.


And a translation of that Latin from an academic translation site:

And the hanging for the part after the shadow,
And walk by the ways of the hidden God,
In the brightness of beyond the pale,
I do not see what I saw,
He is not here the world is out of danger,
In the brightness after the shadow.

The call waits for me,
In my blood, and all my days,
And I will walk you through the years, the highways,
Very few men, that I have seen,
As the years go by the thin veil of the increases,
In the brightness after the shadow.

From these things it is hidden by the darkness,
They shall come again the paths of the hidden God,
And I, I walk the angels have speech,
Yet knowing that once I was able to,
They went to the other side of the veil of the few,
In the brightness after the shadow.
On Hellespont, guilty of true love’s blood,
In view and opposite two cities stood,
Sea-borderers, disjoin’d by Neptune’s might;
The one Abydos, the other Sestos hight.
At Sestos Hero dwelt; Hero the fair,
Whom young Apollo courted for her hair,
And offer’d as a dower his burning throne,
Where she could sit for men to gaze upon.
The outside of her garments were of lawn,
The lining purple silk, with gilt stars drawn;
Her wide sleeves green, and border’d with a grove,
Where Venus in her naked glory strove
To please the careless and disdainful eyes
Of proud Adonis, that before her lies;
Her kirtle blue, whereon was many a stain,
Made with the blood of wretched lovers slain.
Upon her head she ware a myrtle wreath,
From whence her veil reach’d to the ground beneath;
Her veil was artificial flowers and leaves,
Whose workmanship both man and beast deceives;
Many would praise the sweet smell as she past,
When ’twas the odour which her breath forth cast;
And there for honey bees have sought in vain,
And beat from thence, have lighted there again.
About her neck hung chains of pebble-stone,
Which lighten’d by her neck, like diamonds shone.
She ware no gloves; for neither sun nor wind
Would burn or parch her hands, but, to her mind,
Or warm or cool them, for they took delight
To play upon those hands, they were so white.
Buskins of shells, all silver’d, used she,
And branch’d with blushing coral to the knee;
Where sparrows perch’d, of hollow pearl and gold,
Such as the world would wonder to behold:
Those with sweet water oft her handmaid fills,
Which as she went, would chirrup through the bills.
Some say, for her the fairest Cupid pin’d,
And looking in her face, was strooken blind.
But this is true; so like was one the other,
As he imagin’d Hero was his mother;
And oftentimes into her ***** flew,
About her naked neck his bare arms threw,
And laid his childish head upon her breast,
And with still panting rock’d there took his rest.
So lovely-fair was Hero, Venus’ nun,
As Nature wept, thinking she was undone,
Because she took more from her than she left,
And of such wondrous beauty her bereft:
Therefore, in sign her treasure suffer’d wrack,
Since Hero’s time hath half the world been black.

Amorous Leander, beautiful and young
(Whose tragedy divine MusÆus sung),
Dwelt at Abydos; since him dwelt there none
For whom succeeding times make greater moan.
His dangling tresses, that were never shorn,
Had they been cut, and unto Colchos borne,
Would have allur’d the vent’rous youth of Greece
To hazard more than for the golden fleece.
Fair Cynthia wish’d his arms might be her sphere;
Grief makes her pale, because she moves not there.
His body was as straight as Circe’s wand;
Jove might have sipt out nectar from his hand.
Even as delicious meat is to the taste,
So was his neck in touching, and surpast
The white of Pelops’ shoulder: I could tell ye,
How smooth his breast was, and how white his belly;
And whose immortal fingers did imprint
That heavenly path with many a curious dint
That runs along his back; but my rude pen
Can hardly blazon forth the loves of men,
Much less of powerful gods: let it suffice
That my slack Muse sings of Leander’s eyes;
Those orient cheeks and lips, exceeding his
That leapt into the water for a kiss
Of his own shadow, and, despising many,
Died ere he could enjoy the love of any.
Had wild Hippolytus Leander seen,
Enamour’d of his beauty had he been.
His presence made the rudest peasant melt,
That in the vast uplandish country dwelt;
The barbarous Thracian soldier, mov’d with nought,
Was mov’d with him, and for his favour sought.
Some swore he was a maid in man’s attire,
For in his looks were all that men desire,—
A pleasant smiling cheek, a speaking eye,
A brow for love to banquet royally;
And such as knew he was a man, would say,
“Leander, thou art made for amorous play;
Why art thou not in love, and lov’d of all?
Though thou be fair, yet be not thine own thrall.”

The men of wealthy Sestos every year,
For his sake whom their goddess held so dear,
Rose-cheek’d Adonis, kept a solemn feast.
Thither resorted many a wandering guest
To meet their loves; such as had none at all
Came lovers home from this great festival;
For every street, like to a firmament,
Glister’d with breathing stars, who, where they went,
Frighted the melancholy earth, which deem’d
Eternal heaven to burn, for so it seem’d
As if another Pha{”e}ton had got
The guidance of the sun’s rich chariot.
But far above the loveliest, Hero shin’d,
And stole away th’ enchanted gazer’s mind;
For like sea-nymphs’ inveigling harmony,
So was her beauty to the standers-by;
Nor that night-wandering, pale, and watery star
(When yawning dragons draw her thirling car
From Latmus’ mount up to the gloomy sky,
Where, crown’d with blazing light and majesty,
She proudly sits) more over-rules the flood
Than she the hearts of those that near her stood.
Even as when gaudy nymphs pursue the chase,
Wretched Ixion’s shaggy-footed race,
Incens’d with savage heat, gallop amain
From steep pine-bearing mountains to the plain,
So ran the people forth to gaze upon her,
And all that view’d her were enamour’d on her.
And as in fury of a dreadful fight,
Their fellows being slain or put to flight,
Poor soldiers stand with fear of death dead-strooken,
So at her presence all surpris’d and tooken,
Await the sentence of her scornful eyes;
He whom she favours lives; the other dies.
There might you see one sigh, another rage,
And some, their violent passions to assuage,
Compile sharp satires; but, alas, too late,
For faithful love will never turn to hate.
And many, seeing great princes were denied,
Pin’d as they went, and thinking on her, died.
On this feast-day—O cursed day and hour!—
Went Hero thorough Sestos, from her tower
To Venus’ temple, where unhappily,
As after chanc’d, they did each other spy.

So fair a church as this had Venus none:
The walls were of discolour’d jasper-stone,
Wherein was Proteus carved; and over-head
A lively vine of green sea-agate spread,
Where by one hand light-headed Bacchus hung,
And with the other wine from grapes out-wrung.
Of crystal shining fair the pavement was;
The town of Sestos call’d it Venus’ glass:
There might you see the gods in sundry shapes,
Committing heady riots, ******, rapes:
For know, that underneath this radiant flower
Was Danae’s statue in a brazen tower,
Jove slyly stealing from his sister’s bed,
To dally with Idalian Ganimed,
And for his love Europa bellowing loud,
And tumbling with the rainbow in a cloud;
Blood-quaffing Mars heaving the iron net,
Which limping Vulcan and his Cyclops set;
Love kindling fire, to burn such towns as Troy,
Sylvanus weeping for the lovely boy
That now is turn’d into a cypress tree,
Under whose shade the wood-gods love to be.
And in the midst a silver altar stood:
There Hero, sacrificing turtles’ blood,
Vail’d to the ground, veiling her eyelids close;
And modestly they opened as she rose.
Thence flew Love’s arrow with the golden head;
And thus Leander was enamoured.
Stone-still he stood, and evermore he gazed,
Till with the fire that from his count’nance blazed
Relenting Hero’s gentle heart was strook:
Such force and virtue hath an amorous look.

It lies not in our power to love or hate,
For will in us is over-rul’d by fate.
When two are stript, long ere the course begin,
We wish that one should lose, the other win;
And one especially do we affect
Of two gold ingots, like in each respect:
The reason no man knows, let it suffice,
What we behold is censur’d by our eyes.
Where both deliberate, the love is slight:
Who ever lov’d, that lov’d not at first sight?

He kneeled, but unto her devoutly prayed.
Chaste Hero to herself thus softly said,
“Were I the saint he worships, I would hear him;”
And, as she spake those words, came somewhat near him.
He started up, she blushed as one ashamed,
Wherewith Leander much more was inflamed.
He touched her hand; in touching it she trembled.
Love deeply grounded, hardly is dissembled.
These lovers parleyed by the touch of hands;
True love is mute, and oft amazed stands.
Thus while dumb signs their yielding hearts entangled,
The air with sparks of living fire was spangled,
And night, deep drenched in misty Acheron,
Heaved up her head, and half the world upon
Breathed darkness forth (dark night is Cupid’s day).
And now begins Leander to display
Love’s holy fire, with words, with sighs, and tears,
Which like sweet music entered Hero’s ears,
And yet at every word she turned aside,
And always cut him off as he replied.
At last, like to a bold sharp sophister,
With cheerful hope thus he accosted her.

“Fair creature, let me speak without offence.
I would my rude words had the influence
To lead thy thoughts as thy fair looks do mine,
Then shouldst thou be his prisoner, who is thine.
Be not unkind and fair; misshapen stuff
Are of behaviour boisterous and rough.
O shun me not, but hear me ere you go.
God knows I cannot force love as you do.
My words shall be as spotless as my youth,
Full of simplicity and naked truth.
This sacrifice, (whose sweet perfume descending
From Venus’ altar, to your footsteps bending)
Doth testify that you exceed her far,
To whom you offer, and whose nun you are.
Why should you worship her? Her you surpass
As much as sparkling diamonds flaring glass.
A diamond set in lead his worth retains;
A heavenly nymph, beloved of human swains,
Receives no blemish, but ofttimes more grace;
Which makes me hope, although I am but base:
Base in respect of thee, divine and pure,
Dutiful service may thy love procure.
And I in duty will excel all other,
As thou in beauty dost exceed Love’s mother.
Nor heaven, nor thou, were made to gaze upon,
As heaven preserves all things, so save thou one.
A stately builded ship, well rigged and tall,
The ocean maketh more majestical.
Why vowest thou then to live in Sestos here
Who on Love’s seas more glorious wouldst appear?
Like untuned golden strings all women are,
Which long time lie untouched, will harshly jar.
Vessels of brass, oft handled, brightly shine.
What difference betwixt the richest mine
And basest mould, but use? For both, not used,
Are of like worth. Then treasure is abused
When misers keep it; being put to loan,
In time it will return us two for one.
Rich robes themselves and others do adorn;
Neither themselves nor others, if not worn.
Who builds a palace and rams up the gate
Shall see it ruinous and desolate.
Ah, simple Hero, learn thyself to cherish.
Lone women like to empty houses perish.
Less sins the poor rich man that starves himself
In heaping up a mass of drossy pelf,
Than such as you. His golden earth remains
Which, after his decease, some other gains.
But this fair gem, sweet in the loss alone,
When you fleet hence, can be bequeathed to none.
Or, if it could, down from th’enameled sky
All heaven would come to claim this legacy,
And with intestine broils the world destroy,
And quite confound nature’s sweet harmony.
Well therefore by the gods decreed it is
We human creatures should enjoy that bliss.
One is no number; maids are nothing then
Without the sweet society of men.
Wilt thou live single still? One shalt thou be,
Though never singling ***** couple thee.
Wild savages, that drink of running springs,
Think water far excels all earthly things,
But they that daily taste neat wine despise it.
Virginity, albeit some highly prize it,
Compared with marriage, had you tried them both,
Differs as much as wine and water doth.
Base bullion for the stamp’s sake we allow;
Even so for men’s impression do we you,
By which alone, our reverend fathers say,
Women receive perfection every way.
This idol which you term virginity
Is neither essence subject to the eye
No, nor to any one exterior sense,
Nor hath it any place of residence,
Nor is’t of earth or mould celestial,
Or capable of any form at all.
Of that which hath no being do not boast;
Things that are not at all are never lost.
Men foolishly do call it virtuous;
What virtue is it that is born with us?
Much less can honour be ascribed thereto;
Honour is purchased by the deeds we do.
Believe me, Hero, honour is not won
Until some honourable deed be done.
Seek you for chastity, immortal fame,
And know that some have wronged Diana’s name?
Whose name is it, if she be false or not
So she be fair, but some vile tongues will blot?
But you are fair, (ay me) so wondrous fair,
So young, so gentle, and so debonair,
As Greece will think if thus you live alone
Some one or other keeps you as his own.
Then, Hero, hate me not nor from me fly
To follow swiftly blasting infamy.
Perhaps thy sacred priesthood makes thee loath.
Tell me, to whom mad’st thou that heedless oath?”

“To Venus,” answered she and, as she spake,
Forth from those two tralucent cisterns brake
A stream of liquid pearl, which down her face
Made milk-white paths, whereon the gods might trace
To Jove’s high court.
He thus replied: “The rites
In which love’s beauteous empress most delights
Are banquets, Doric music, midnight revel,
Plays, masks, and all that stern age counteth evil.
Thee as a holy idiot doth she scorn
For thou in vowing chastity hast sworn
To rob her name and honour, and thereby
Committ’st a sin far worse than perjury,
Even sacrilege against her deity,
Through regular and formal purity.
To expiate which sin, kiss and shake hands.
Such sacrifice as this Venus demands.”

Thereat she smiled and did deny him so,
As put thereby, yet might he hope for moe.
Which makes him quickly re-enforce his speech,
And her in humble manner thus beseech.
“Though neither gods nor men may thee deserve,
Yet for her sake, whom you have vowed to serve,
Abandon fruitless cold virginity,
The gentle queen of love’s sole enemy.
Then shall you most resemble Venus’ nun,
When Venus’ sweet rites are performed and done.
Flint-breasted Pallas joys in single life,
But Pallas and your mistress are at strife.
Love, Hero, then, and be not tyrannous,
But heal the heart that thou hast wounded thus,
Nor stain thy youthful years with avarice.
Fair fools delight to be accounted nice.
The richest corn dies, if it be not reaped;
Beauty alone is lost, too warily kept.”

These arguments he used, and many more,
Wherewith she yielded, that was won before.
Hero’s looks yielded but her words made war.
Women are won when they begin to jar.
Thus, having swallowed Cupid’s golden hook,
The more she strived, the deeper was she strook.
Yet, evilly feigning anger, strove she still
And would be thought to grant against her will.
So having paused a while at last she said,
“Who taught thee rhetoric to deceive a maid?
Ay me, such words as these should I abhor
And yet I like them for the orator.”

With that Leander stooped to have embraced her
But from his spreading arms away she cast her,
And thus bespake him: “Gentle youth, forbear
To touch the sacred garments which I wear.
Upon a rock and underneath a hill
Far from the town (where all is whist and still,
Save that the sea, playing on yellow sand,
Sends forth a rattling murmur to the land,
Whose sound allures the golden Morpheus
In silence of the night to visit us)
My turret stands and there, God knows, I play.
With Venus’ swans and sparrows all the day.
A dwarfish beldam bears me company,
That hops about the chamber where I lie,
And spends the night (that might be better spent)
In vain discourse and apish merriment.
Come thither.” As she spake this, her tongue tripped,
For unawares “come thither” from her slipped.
And suddenly her former colour changed,
And here and there her eyes through anger ranged.
And like a planet, moving several ways,
At one self instant she, poor soul, assays,
Loving, not to love at all, and every part
Strove to resist the motions of her heart.
And hands so pure, so innocent, nay, such
As might have made heaven stoop to have a touch,
Did she uphold to Venus, and again
Vowed spotless chastity, but all in vain.
Cupid beats down her prayers with his wings,
Her vows above the empty air he flings,
All deep enraged, his sinewy bow he bent,
And shot a shaft that burning from him went,
Wherewith she strooken, looked so dolefully,
As made love sigh to see his tyranny.
And as she wept her tears to pearl he turned,
And wound them on his arm and for her mourned.
Then towards the palace of the destinies
Laden with languishment and grief he flies,
And to those stern nymphs humbly made request
Both might enjoy each other, and be blest.
But with a ghastly dreadful
Kelly Mistry Aug 2020
As I approach the edge
Of awareness
Danger flashes!
A veil of flame
You risk burning fingers here

Pain
Confusion
Shame
Guilt
Crushed by the weight of the past

Once invisible worlds that shimmer
Just out of focus
Beyond the veil

What draws me near?
Why do I risk burning?

I have not always felt the lie so clearly
But as I learn and explore my world
The shallowness of my existence has been plumbed
Found wanting

It doesn’t match the world that others see

To see their worlds
I must
Walk through the fiery veil
        To connect
        To love
        To fit the pieces of their worlds and mine together

Now I pity those I was once like
Trapped in their small worlds
Blinded eyes
Plugged ears
Wrapped in cotton

They don’t know what they don’t know
But a part of me knew
A part of them knows
And mourns

For the world that waits for them
Beyond the veil
Thinking about how I, as a white person, have benefited from doing anti-racist work; a big thing is relieving the cognitive dissonance that comes from your perspective of the world being frequently in conflict with non-white people, especially distressing and confusing when its in conflict with friends and family
(As she is usually expressed with a Seraphim beside her.)


Well meaning readers! you that come as friends
And catch the precious name this piece pretends;
Make not too much haste to admire
That fair-cheeked fallacy of fire.
That is a Seraphim, they say
And this the great Teresia.
Readers, be rul’d by me; and make
Here a well-plac’d and wise mistake
You must transpose the picture quite,
And spell it wrong to read it right;
Read him for her, and her for him;
And call the saint the Seraphim.

Painter, what did’st thou understand
To put her dart into his hand!
See, even the years and size of him
Shows this the mother Seraphim.
This is the mistress flame; and duteous he
Her happy fireworks, here comes down to see.
O most poor-spirited of men!
Had thy cold pencil kist her pen
Thou couldst not so unkindly err
To show us this faint shade for her.
Why man, this speaks pure mortal frame;
And mocks with female frost love’s manly flame.
One would suspect, thou meant’st to paint
Some weak, inferior, woman saint.
But had thy pale-fac’d purple took
Fire from the burning cheeks of that bright book
Thou wouldst on her have leapt up all
That could be found seraphical;
Whate’er this youth of fire wears fair,
Rosy fingers, radiant hair,
Glowing cheek, and glistering wings,
All those fair and flagrant things,
But before all, that fiery dart
Had fill’d the hand of this great heart.

Do then as equal right requires,
Since his the blushes be, and hers the fires,
Resume and rectify thy rude design;
Undress thy Seraphim into mine.
Redeem this injury of thy art;
Give him the veil, give her the dart.

Give him the veil; that he may cover
The red cheeks of a rivall’d lover.
Asham’d that our world, now, can show
Nests of new Seraphims here below.

Give her the dart for it is she
(Fair youth) shoots both thy shaft and thee.
Say, all ye wise and well-pierc’d hearts
That live and die amidst her darts,
What is’t your tasteful spirits do prove
In that rare life of her, and love?
Say and bear witness. Sends she not
A Seraphim at every shot?
What magazines of immortal arms there shine!
Heav’n’s great artillery in each love-spun line.
Give then the dart to her who gives the flame;
Give him the veil, who kindly takes the shame.

But if it be the frequent fate
Of worst faults to be fortunate;
If all’s prescription; and proud wrong
Hearkens not to an humble song;
For all the gallantry of him,
Give me the suff’ring Seraphim.
His be the bravery of all those bright things,
The glowing cheeks, the glistering wings;
The rosy hand, the radiant dart;
Leave her alone, the Flaming Heart.

Leave her that; and thou shalt leave her
Not one loose shaft but love’s whole quiver.
For in love’s field was never found
A nobler weapon than a wound.
Love’s passives are his activ’st part.
The wounded is the wounding heart.
O heart! the equal poise of love’s both parts
Big alike with wound and darts.
Live in these conquering leaves; live all the same;
And walk through all tongues one triumphant flame.
Live here, great heart; and love and die and ****;
And bleed and wound; and yield and conquer still.
Let this immortal life where’er it comes
Walk in a crowd of loves and martyrdoms.
Let mystic deaths wait on’t; and wise souls be
The love-slain witnesses of this life of thee.
O sweet incendiary! show here thy art,
Upon this carcass of a hard, cold heart,
Let all thy scatter’d shafts of light, that play
Among the leaves of thy large books of day,
Combined against this breast at once break in
And take away from me my self and sin,
This gracious robbery shall thy bounty be;
And my best fortunes such fair spoils of me.
O thou undaunted daughter of desires!
By all thy dow’r of lights and fires;
By all the eagle in thee, all the dove;
By all thy lives and deaths of love;
By thy large draughts of intellectual day,
And by thy thirsts of love more large than they;
By all thy brim-fill’d bowls of fierce desire
By the last morning’s draught of liquid fire;
By the full kingdom of that final kiss
That seiz’d thy parting soul, and seal’d thee his;
By all the heav’ns thou hast in him
(Fair sister of the Seraphim!)
By all of him we have in thee;
Leave nothing of my self in me.
Let me so read thy life, that I
Unto all life of mine may die.
Alyssa Underwood Aug 2018
We're forced, each man, to walk a trialed path—
resisted trek, uphill through blinding daze
that shrouds with crucible's perplexing haze
till fog-white skies yield quick to black clouds' wrath.
Affliction brims a thorny pack to bear
whilst dewy darkness drenches in the night,
but where is calming lamp to lend us sight?
And who will come to give us saving care?
Here through veil is heard a whisper certain,
then o'er the mountain creeps the dawning day
and with clear eyes we see the brume give way
as God retracts His theatre's curtain,
unsheathing velvet waves whose morning sheen
beyond grey mist splays vast and wondrous green.
~~~

"I will exalt You, LORD,
    for You lifted me out of the depths
    and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
LORD my God, I called to You for help,
    and You healed me.
You, LORD, brought me up from the realm of the dead;
    You spared me from going down to the pit.
Sing the praises of the LORD, you His faithful people;
    praise His holy name.
For His anger lasts only a moment,
    but His favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
    but rejoicing comes in the morning.
When I felt secure, I said,
    'I will never be shaken.'
LORD, when You favored me,
    You made my royal mountain stand firm;
but when You hid Your face,
    I was dismayed.
To You, LORD, I called;
    to the Lord I cried for mercy:
'What is gained if I am silenced,
    if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise You?
    Will it proclaim Your faithfulness?
Hear, LORD, and be merciful to me;
    LORD, be my help.'
You turned my wailing into dancing;
    You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing Your praises and not be silent.
    LORD my God, I will praise You forever."

~ Psalm 30

https://hellopoetry.com/poem/1464179/the-beauty-behind-the-fog/
RAJ NANDY Feb 2015
AN INTRODUCTION TO INDIAN ART IN VERSE  
By Raj Nandy : Part One

INTRODUCTION
Background :
The India subcontinent and her diverse physical features,
influenced her dynamic history, religion, and culture!
The fertile basin of the Sapta-Sindu Rivers* cradled one of
world’s most ancient civilization, (seven rivers)
Contemporary to the Sumerians and the Egyptians, popularly
known as the Indus Valley Civilization!
The Sindu (Indus), Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej, Bias, along
with the sacred river Saraswati, shaped India’s early History;
Where once flourished the urban settlements of Harappa and
Mohenjodaro, which lay buried for several centuries;
For our archaeologists and scholars to unravel their many
secrets and hidden mysteries!
Modern scholars refer to it as ‘Indus-Saraswati Civilization’;
By interpreting the text of the Rig Veda which mentions
eclipses, equinoxes, and other astronomical conjunctions,
They date the origin of the Vedas as earlier as 3000 BC;
Thereby lifting the fog which shrouds Ancient History! +
(+ Two broad schools of thoughts prevail; Max Mullar refers
to 1500 BC as the date for origin of the Vedas, but modern scientific findings point to a much earlier date for their Oral composition and
their long oral tradition!)

On the banks of the sacred Saraswati River the holy sages
did once meditate, *
When their third eye opened, as all earthly bonds they did
transcend !
From their lips flowed the sacred chants of the Vedas, as
they sang the creator Brahma’s unending praise!
These Vedic chants and incantations survived many
centuries of an oral tradition,
When Indian Art began to blossom into exotic flowers like
Brahma’s divine manifestations;
With all subsequent art forms following the model of
Brahma’s manifold creations!
The Vedas got written down during the later Vedic Age
with commentaries and interpolations,
And remain as India’s indigenous composition, forming a
part of her sacred religious tradition! *
(
Rig Veda the oldest, had hymns in praise of the creator;
Yajur Veda spelled the ritual procedures; Sama Veda sets
the hymns for melodious chanting, & is the source of seven
notes of music; Artha Veda had hymns for warding off evil
& hardship, giving us a glimpse of early Vedic life.)

IMPACT OF FOREIGN INVASIONS:
Through the winding Khyber Pass cutting through the rugged
Hindu Kush Range,
Came the Persians, Greeks, Muslims, the Moguls, and many
bounty hunters storming through north-western frontier gate;
Consisting of varied racial groups and cultures, they entered
India’s fertile alluvial plains!
Therefore, while tracing 5000 years of Art Story, one cannot
divorce Art from India’s exotic cultural history.
From the Cave Art of Bhimbetka, to the dancing girl of Harappa,
To the frescoes and the evocative figures of Ajanta and Ellora;
Many marvelous and exquisitely carved temples of the South,
And Muslim and Mogul architecture and frescoes along with
India’s rich Folk Art, enriched her artistic heritage no doubt!
Yet for a long time Indian Art had been the least known of
the Oriental Arts,
Perhaps because from Western point of view it was difficult
to understand the spirit behind Indian Art!
For Indian Art is at once aesthetic and sensual, also passionate,
symbolic, and spiritual !
It both celebrates and denies the individual’s love of life,
where free instinct with rigid reason combine !
These contradictory elements are found side by side due to
her culturally mixed conditions, as I had earlier mentioned!
Now, if we add to this the constant religious exaltation,
With the extensive use of symbolic presentation, from the
early days of Indian civilization;
We have the basic elements of an Art, which has gradually
aroused the interest of Western Civilization!

The further we get back in time, we only begin to find,
That religion, philosophy, art and architecture,
Had all merged into an unified whole to form India’s
composite culture!
But while moving forward in time, we once again find,
That art, architecture, music, poetry and dance, all begin to
gradually emerge, with their separate identities,
Where Indian Art is seen as a rich mosaic of cultural diversity!

(NOTES:-In the ancient days, the Saraswati River flowed from the Siwalik Range of Hills (foothills of the Himalayas) between Sutlej & the Yamuna rivers, through the present day Rann of Kutch into the Arabian Sea, when Rajasthan was a fertile place! Indus settlements like Kalibangan, Banawalli, Ganwaiwala, were situated on the banks of Sarsawati River, which was longer than the Indus & ran parallel, and is mentioned around50 times in the Rig Veda! Scientists say that due to tectonic plate movements, and climatic changes, Saraswati dried up around 1700BC ! The people settled there shifted east and the south, during the course of history! Some of those Indo-Aryan speaking people were already settled there, & others joined later. Max Muller’s theory of an Aryan Invasion which destroyed the Indus Valley Civilization during 1500BC, supported by Colonial Rulers, was subsequently proved wrong ! Indo-Aryans were a Language group of the Indo- European
Language Family, & not a racial group as mistaken by Max Mullar! Therefore Dr.Romila Thapar calls it a gradual migration, & not an invasion! The Vedas were indigenous composition of India. However, they got compiled & written down for the first time with commentaries, at a much later date! I have maintained this position since it has been proved by modern scholars scientifically!)

SYMBOLISM IN INDIAN ART
From the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic to the Cretan Bull
of Greece,
Symbols have conveyed ideas and messages, fulfilling
artistic needs.
The ‘Da Vinci Code’ speaks of Leonardo’s art works as
symbolic subterfuge with encrypted messages for a secret
society!
While Indian art is replete with many sacred symbols to
attract good fortune, for the benefit of the community!
The symbols of the Dot or ‘Bindu’, the Lotus, the Trident,
the Conch shell, the sign and chant of ‘OM’, are all sacred
and divine;
For at the root of Indian artistic symbolism lies the Indian
concept of Time!
The West tends to think of time as a dynamic process which
is forward moving and linear;
Commencing with the ‘Big Bang’, moving towards a ‘Big
Crunch’, when ‘there shall be no more time’, or a state of
total inertia !
Indian art and sculpture is influenced by the cyclic concept
of time unfolding a series of ages or ‘yugas’;
Where creation, destruction and recreation, becomes a
dynamic and an unending phenomena!
This has been artistically and symbolically expressed in the
figure of Shiva-Nataraja’s cosmic dance,
Which portrays the entire kinetic universe in a state of
eternal flux!
The hour-glass drum in Nataraja’s right hand symbolizes
all creation;
Fire in his left hand the cyclic time frame of destruction!
The raised third hand is in a gesture of infinite benediction;
And the fourth hand pointing to his upraised foot shows the
path of liberation!

It was easier to teach the vast untutored population through
symbols, images, and paintings in the form of Art;
For a picture is more effective than a thousand words!
The Dot or ‘bindu’ becomes the focus for meditation,
Where the mental energies are focused on a single point of
creation,
As seen in the cotemporary art works of SH Raza’s
artistic representations!
Yet the same dot when expanded as a circle becomes
wholeness and infinity;
The shape of celestial bodies of the cyclic universe in its
creativity!
The Lotus seen in many sculptures, on temple walls, and
majestic columns, denotes purity;
A symbol of non-attachment rising above the muddy waters,
retaining its pristine color and beauty!
The Lotus is a powerful and transformational symbol in
Buddhist Art,
Where pink lotus is for height of enlightenment, blue for
wisdom, white for spiritual perfection, and the red lotus
symbolizing the heart!
This Lotus symbol also finds a place in Mughal sculptural
carvings and miniatures;
The inverted lotus dome resting on its petals, forms the
crown of Taj Mahal’s white marble architecture!
The trident or ‘trishul’ symbolizes the three god-heads
Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva;
As the Creator, Preserver and Destroyer, in that cyclic
chain which goes on forever!
The ***** stone of Shiva-lingam surrounded by the oval
female yoni symbolizes fertility and creation,
Usually found in the inner sanctuary of Hindu temples!
Finally, the symbol of ‘OM’ and its vibrating sound,
Echoes the primordial vibrations with which space and
time abounds!
All matter comes from energy vibrations manifesting
cosmic creation;
Also symbolized in Einstein’s famous matter-energy equation!
The Conch Shell a gift of the sea when blown, sounds the
ancient primordial vibration of ‘OM’!
It’s hallowed auspicious sound accompanies marriage
ceremonies and rituals whenever occasion demands;
And pacifies mother earth during Shiva-Nataraja’s sudden
seismic dance! (earthquakes)
Dear readers the symbols mentioned here are very few,
Mainly to curb the length, while I pay Indian Art my
artistic due!

A BRIEF COMPARISON OF ART:
Despite the many foreign influences which entered India
through the Khyber and Bholan pass,
India displayed marvelous adaptability and resilience, in
the development of her indigenous Art!
The aesthetic objectivity of Western Art was replaced by
the Indian vision of spiritual subjectivity,
For the transitory world around was only a ‘Maya’ or an
Illusion,- lacking material reality!
Therefore life-like representation was not always the aim
of Indian art,
But to lift that veil and reveal the life of the spirit, - was
the objective from the very start!
Egyptian funerary art was more occupied with after-life
and death;
While the Greeks portrayed youthful vigor and idealized
beauty, celebrating the joys of life instead!
The proud Roman Emperors to outshine their predecessors
erected even bigger statues, monuments, and columns
draped in glory;
Only in the long run to drain the Roman treasury, - a sad
downfall story!
Indian art gradually evolved over centuries with elements
both religious and secular,
As seen from the period of King Chandragupta Maurya,
Who defeated the Greek Seleucus, to carve out the first
united Indian Empire ! (app. 322 BC)

SECULAR AND SPIRITUAL FUSION IN ART:
Ancient Indian ‘stupas’
and temples were not like churches
or synagogues purely spiritual and religious,
But were cultural centers depicting secular images which
were also non-religious!
The Buddhist ‘stupa’ at Amravati (1stcentury BC), and the
gateways at Sanchi (1stcentury AD), display wealth of carvings
from the life of Buddha;
Also warriors on horseback, royal procession, trader’s caravans,
farmers with produce, - all secular by far!
Indian temples from the 8th Century AD onwards depicted
images of musicians, dancers, acrobats and romantic couples,
along with a variety of Deities;
But after 10th Century ****** themes began to make their mark
with depiction of sensuality!
Sensuality and ****** interaction in temples of Khajuraho and
Konarak has been displayed without inhibition;
As Tantric ideas on compatibility of human sexuality with
human spirituality, fused into artistic depictions!
Religion got based on a healthy and egalitarian acceptance
of all activities without ****** starvation;
For the emotional health and well-being of society, without
hypocritical denial or inhibition!
(’Stupas’= originated from ancient burial mounds, later became devotional Buddhist sites with holy relics, & external decorative gateways and carvings!)

KHJURAHO TEMPLE COMPLEX (950 - 1040 AD) :
Was built by the Chandela Rajputs in Central India,
When Khajuraho, the land of the moon gods, was the first
capital city of the Chandelas!
****** art covers ten percent of the temple sculptures,
Where both Hindu and Jain temples were built in the north-Indian
Nagara style of Architecture.
Out of the 85 temples only 22 have stood the vagaries of time,
Where a perfect fusion of aesthetic elegance and evocative
Kama-Sutra like ****** sculptural brilliance, - dazzle the eyes!

KONARAK SUN TEMPLE OF ORISSA - EAST COAST:
From the Khajuraho temple of love, we now move to the
Konark temple of *** in stones - as art!
Built around 1250 AD in the form of a temple mounted on
a huge cosmic chariot for the Sun God;
With twelve pairs of stone-carved wheels pulled by seven
galloping horses, symbolizing the passage of time under
the Solar God !
Seven horses for each day of the week, pulls the chariot
east wards towards dawn;
With twelve pairs of wheels representing the twelve calendar
months, as each cyclic day ushers in a new morn !
The friezes above and below the chariot wheels show military
processions, with elephants and hunting scenes;
Celebrating the victory of King Narasimhadeva-I over the
invading Muslims!
The ****** art and voluptuous carvings symbolizes aesthetic
bliss when uniting with the divine;
Following yogic postures and breathing techniques, which
Tantric Art alone defines!
(
Both Khjuraho & Konark temples were re-discovered by the
British, & are now World Heritage Sites!)

Artistic invention followed the model of cosmic creation;
Ancient Vedic tradition visualized the spirit of a joyous
self-offering with chants and incantations!
The world was understood to be a structured arrangement
of five elements of earth, water, fire, air, and ethereal space;
Where each element brought forth a distinct art-expression
with artistic grace!
Element of Sculpture was earth, Painting the fluidity of water,
Dance was transformative fire, Music flowed through the air,
and Poetry vibrated in ethereal space!

CONCLUDING INTRODUCTION TO INDIAN ART:

Indian Art is like a prism with many dazzling facets,
I have only introduced the subject with its symbolism,
- without covering its complete assets!
After my Part Three on ‘Etruscan and Roman Art’,
Christian and Byzantine Art was to follow;
But following request from my few poet friends I have
postponed it for the morrow!
Traditional Indian Art survives through its sculptures,
architecture, paintings and folk art, ever evolving with
the passing of time and age;
Influenced by Buddhist, Jain, Muslim, Mogul, and many
indigenous art forms, enriching India’s cultural heritage!
While the art of our modern times constitutes a separate
Contemporary phase !
The juxtaposition of certain concepts and forms might
have appeared a bit intriguing,
But the spiritual content and symbolism in art answers
our basic artistic seeking!
The other aspects of Indian Art I plan to cover at a later
date,
Hope you liked my Introduction, being posted after
almost forty days!
ALL COPY RIGHTS ARE WITH RAJ NANDY
E-Mail: rajnandy21@yahoo.
    FEW COMMENTS BY POETS ON 'POETFREAK.COM' :-
I have a vicarious pleasure going through your historical journey of Indian art! Thanks for sharing this here! 2 Mar 2013 by Ramesh T A | Reply

The prism of Indian Art is indeed has myriads of facets and is an awesome mixture of many influences some of which you list here so clearly - a very understandable presentation of symbolism too - -thank you for your fine effort Raj. 2 Mar 2013 by Fay Slimm | Reply

Oh what an interesting read with immense information capturing every single detail. You painted this piece of art with utmost care. Truly, it's works Raj…tfs 2 Mar 2013 by John Thomas Tharayil | Reply

First, I have to say, the part about the lotus symbolism reminds me – My name ‘NILOTPAL’ can be split into ‘NIL’ meaning BLUE and ‘UTPAL’ meaning LOTUS. So my name represents wisdom (although it contradicts ME.. LOL). A lot of things were mentioned in the veda and other ancient Indian texts that were way ahead of the time Like the idea of ‘velocity of light’ got considerable mention in the rig veda-Sahan bhasya, ‘Elliptical order of planets, ‘Black holes’ , although these are the scientific aspects. The emphasis on contradictory elements or even the idea of opposites in Indian art is interesting because India developed the mathematical concept of ‘Zero’ and ‘infinity’. Hard to believe Rajasthan was a fertile place but now it possesses its own beauty. It was great to read about the Natraja, ‘OM’ and the trident(Trishul). Among symbolisms, Lord Ganseha is my favorite because a lot is portrayed in that one image like the MOOSHIK representing
When I composed the History of Western Art in Verse & posted the series on 'Poetfreak.com', few Indian poet friends requested me to compose on Indian Art separately. I am posting part one of my composition here for those who may like to know about Indian Art. Thanks & best wishes, -Raj
Kara Rose Trojan Dec 2014
My Second Letter to Allen Ginsberg
Dear Allen,
Almost five years ago, I wrote you a letter, and in
That letter, I purged my drunkenly woeful cries
That seem so first-world now and naïve –
The things I grimed over with luxuries I didn’t
Realize that rubbed against my plump limbs
Like millions of felines poised at the
Tombs of pharaohs.

Oh, Allen, I’m so tired –
These politics, and poly ticks, so many ticks that
Annoy my tics. Allen! I smear your name so liberally
Against this paper like primer because the easiest way
To coerce someone into listening to you like
A mother
or predator
tugging or nibbling on your ear –
Swatches of velvet scalped from a ****’s coat
Are you and I talking to ourselves again?
Candid insanity : Smoky hesitance.

Dear Allen, I’m so tired –
Yes, I love wearing my ovaries on the outside like
Some Amazonian soapbox gem glistening from beneath
The iron boots of what the newspapers tell me while
I cough at them with the hurdled delicacies of alphabet soup.
Give vegetables a gender and call them onions, Allen.
Sullied scratch-hicks pinioned feet from slapping
Society’s last rung on the ladder.
Ignore the swerve of small-town eyes.
Scapulas, stirrups, pap smears, and cervical mucus – now do you know who we are?

That fingernail clipped too short, Allen. We’ve all got AIDs
And AIDs babies, haven’t you heard? Hemorrhaging from the political
****** and out – they haven’t reached the heart.  
Since when have old white men given a **** about some
13 year old’s birth control? I’m riding on the waves of the
Parachute game and I swear this abortion-issue is just a veil outside Tuskegee University
Being further shove over plaintive eyes, swollen and black.
Pay up and
shut up.

I still remember my first broken *****, Allen.
Can you tell me all about your first time?
The vasodilatation that made veins rub against skin,
Delirious brilliance : unfathomable electricity.
I made love during an LSD experience, Allen,
And I am not sorry. I see cosmic visions and
Manifest universal vibrations as if this entire world is
A dish reverberating with textiles and marbles, and
All are plundering the depths of the finished wine
Bottle roasting in the sink like Thanksgiving Turkey.
The patience is in the living. Time opens out to you.
The opening, between you and you, occupied,
zoned for an encounter,
given the histories of you and you—
And always, who is this you?
The start of you, each day,
a presence already—
Hey, you!

Ah, Allen, if you are not safe, then I am not safe.
And where is the safest place when that place
Must be someplace other than in the body?
Am I talking to myself again?
You are not sick, you are injured—
you ache for the rest of life.

Why is it that I have to explain to my students that
sometimes what I'm spouting is prescribed by a pedagogical pharmacy --
but all they want to know is "what do the symbols on the television mean?"
I am completely aghast against the ghosts of future goners --
I am legitimately licensed to speak, write, listen like some mothers --
I am constantly cajoling the complex creations blamed on burned-out educators --
I am following the flagrant, fired-up "*******"s tagging lockers --
Pay up and
shut up.

Yes, and it’s Hopeless. Allen.
Where did we get off leaping and bounding into
The dogpile for chump change jurisdiction, policing
The right and the left for inherent hypocrisies when
Poets are so frightful to turn that introspective judgment
Upon ourselves?
We didn’t see it coming and I heard the flies, Allen.
Mean crocodile tears. Flamingo mascara tracks
Up and down : up and down: bow – bow – bow – bow
Buoyant amongst the misguided ******* floating around
In the swirlpool of lackadaisical introspection.
What good is vague vocab within poetry?
Absolutely none.
Would you leave the porchlight on tonight?
Absolutely, baby.

Dear Allen, would you grow amongst the roots and dirt
At the knuckles of a slackjawed brush of Ever-Pondering Questions
Only to ask them time-and-time-and-time-and-time-again.
Or pinch your forehead with burrowed, furrowed concentration upon those
Feeble branches of progression towards something that recedes further
And further with as much promise as the loving hand
Attempts to guide a lover to the bed?

Allen, I wish to see this world feelingly through the vibrations of billions of bodies, rocking and sobbing, plotting and gnashing like the movement of a million snakes, like the curves collecting and riding the parachute-veil.

Ah, Allen! Say it ain’t so! Sanctified swerve town eyes.
And everything is melting while poets take the weather
Too personally
And all the Holden Caulfields of the world read all the
*******’s written on the walls and all the Invisible Men
Eat Yams and all the Zampanos are blind and blind
And blind and blind and blind and blind
Yet see as much as Gloucester, as much as Homer,
As much as Oedipus.

Oh, Allen, do you see this world feelingly
and wander around the desert?
Colored marbles vibrating on the curtailed parachute paradox.
Lamentation of a small town’s onion. Little do we know, Allen,
That what you cannot see, we cannot see, and we are bubbling
Over in the animal soup of the proud yet weary. I can see,
However, how the peeled back skulls of a million
Workboots and paystubs may never sully the burden
Of an existential angst in miniscule amounts.
Pay up and
shut up.  

My dearest Allen, there is always a question of how
The cigarettes became besmirched with wax to complement
What was once grass, and
What was once a garish night drenching doorknobs.
The night's yawn absorbs you as you lie down at the wrong angle
To the sun ready already to let go of your hand
As you stepped, quivering, on to
The shores of Lethe.
Shofi Ahmed Jul 2018
On the very edge the living earth
dared to replicate Queen Fathima
The Queen of Heaven’s footstep.
That way is blessed bedewed
is the destination de jour
graced by thousands of prophets of God!

In the name of Allah she descended
on the Night of Ascension.
From the Night of Measures unlike the rest
none can enumerate it yet an unnumbered zone
in the perfect geometrised transcended location.  

The earth steps in the gap making way for her:
The only asymmetric golden ratio
slips out to the symmetric prophet flock!
Sequenced in symmetric phi she moves on
in the veil, reveals her unique divine relation,
the front burner for sure is ever closer to God!

So pretty classy she is the paragon work of art
the sunrise amidst the eternal night.
Her beauty in her shadow is burning fire
she is 'Zahra' pure light the luminary dynamo
the only one woman had no shadow!

The great women flocked and mirrored the earth
treading across every atom on that angle
perfectly aligned down the Moon.
Until those beneath the skin atoms
bang, explode, on approaching the behemoth,
the vibration beneath Fathima’s foot!

The ocean billows up
feels life on the high
floating on the clouds.
Choreographed like a little dew
hanging low on the rose.
Just to drop down on that hot spot
like a cool honey drop.

Even the Moon on the horizon
fancies to sip from this drop.
Ah, the lunar punter is rowing down.
The sleeping beauty wakes up
eyes are on the moonlight silver dance.
Eying on every star in the night
the Moon is floating down.
The seven seas sing out in the dark
bubbling with exuberant fireflies
that would gleefully rock the moonlight boat
over to the cup of this pretty little drop.  

Poetry in motion is a sea on the ground
the same is known as the Moon in the sky!
The storylines jump ever more
on that way over the shady grove.
Painting the colour of the winds
the sky rains down on that spot
singing the sweetest title song.  

Never was a woman prophet of God
to the one primitive woman, the leading lady
'Sayeedatun Nessa' Queen Fathima
heaven is no secret, it is an open mirror!
For her heaven is made an open book
the first batch of houris came to be
tuning into mellifluous sounds of her toes.
The earth in its primitive water first moved on
bang, Big Bang, soon she drops in it her hair lock.
She's the hidden gem in the secret end of God!

For the planetary ebb and flow on the way heaven
the planet earth is the only stepping stone.
No matter how many times it tries on
there will still be an unturned stone.
Until the very one the original woman,
the Queen Fathima steps on.

Her presence connects the dots
the nadir and zenith perfectly line up
intersect into one grand perfect circle.
She will close it with the pi once for all
without a gap spilling new decimal.
Putting it all on the map ‘as above, so below’,
all in all, like it's in pure scientia scenario.

Heaven will open its grand door
where the queen will stand on.
No more reverse engineering physically
the original, God willing Fathima will step on,
on the last turned stone.
From the one great woman
paradise starts from here on
from beneath the mother’s foot!
Under her dark veil she wrung her hands.
"Why are you so pale today?"
"Because I made him drink of stinging grief
Until he got drunk on it.
How can I forget? He staggered out,
His mouth twisted in agony.
I ran down not touching the bannister

And caught up with him at the gate.
I cried: 'A joke!
That's all it was. If you leave, I'll die.'
He smiled calmly and grimly
And told me: 'Don't stand here in the wind.' "
Shofi Ahmed Jul 2018
When the sun
is a sleeping beauty at night
shining on the Moon!
The night is wake
is a stunner far cuter.
It knows no cold foot
is on the move.

The full wax of the starry
sky keeps awake.
But none could chart a line
exposing a beautiful
night in the veil, no one
says a single word.

The first one perhaps that
dared to open the mouth
only to be speechless
to be lost for word!

Not a night or two ago but
since the dawning of the time!
Khristov Dubois Oct 2012
Shadows surrounding, pray they not see,

pray they not listen, dare i not breathe.

Whispers that deafen, and words that reveal,

this lucid veil that will not conceal.



Hollow and vacant, empty and cold,

their blackened eyes upon me now.

The night has deadened with a deathly chill,

the air so silent, the heart so still.



As darkness hastens and light recedes,

i turn from myself to a place within.

A sanctum of solace where no-one can see,

walls without doors, a prison of dreams.



Behind the curtain and beyond the walls,

a barren waste in a desolate land.

Under the stars and endless skies,

my solitary shell, a kingdom all mine.



Roaming the earth and drifting through time,

i wander yet further, so far from this life.

But into the distance, reflections like shimmer,

refracting rays, the hall of mirrors.



Drawn to this place like flies to the light,

a spectacle of colour beneath the night.

Images flicker and pictures so real,

projecting desires and all of my fears.



This looking glass that echoes my soul,

a baleful glimpse of a life unknown.

Of broken thoughts and truths undone,

devotions lost, unrequited love.



Recoiled in horror, i fall to my knees,

with head in my hands, desperation screams.

A storm so loud it breaks the heavens,

a wind so fierce it shakes the trees.



The mirrors shatter and light shines through,

returning to myself, a place i once knew.

The fallen curtain and the crashing walls,

all that was becomes nothing at all.



Darkness recedes and whispers fade,

the blistering sun upon my face.

Distorted visions they disappear,

the world around me becoming clear.  



As everything becomes illuminated,

what i've become is emanated.

No more the voices and all is clearer,

this lucid veil, this two-sided mirror.



Reflections surrounding, pray I not see,

Pray I not listen, yet I still breathe.

Never to change and never to heal,

always behind my two-sided veil.
Yue Wang Yitkbel Jun 2019
Beyond the Veil of Our Inverted Universe:

I must wander

Beyond the thinnest part

Of our inverted universe

As we are outside of living


Living the whole of a dream

While dreaming

Fragments of

The Mirror of

‘Reality’


Truth is only to be felt

For we see

Only what we wanted to see

And think

Only what we wanted to think


But only feelings

From sparks of infatuation

To chasms of the deepest sorrow

Is authentic

In and of itself

Mercilessly

Beyond our desperate

Need for control


And there

Beyond the veil

Of false possessions

And

Expectations



Is

You


The authentic truth

Of

You


Beyond all thoughts

Rationality and

Physicality


Merely an intense feeling

Intertwined

With the untamed feeling of me


Two branches of lightning

Bursting through pure darkness

Briefly revealing the

Landscape of our universe

With the collision

Of our pure

Being






















When the Sleeper Wakes in Sleep:

When the sleeper ‘sleeps’

He wakes, on the other side

Of Plato’s Cave

And sees time and time again

Often in fragmented consciousness

The world that truly is

“Bigger on the ‘inside’”

“Smaller on the ‘outside’”


It’s like forever standing

Within a mirrored cylinder ring

Keeping faith to its seeming

Infinity

Even though only

Reflections are being seen


Reflections of the

Geometry of love

Thoughts

Unseen beings

Consciousness

And

Gravity


These and more

Floats around the exterior

Of this thin fabric of reality

Bumping into us occasionally

Letting us feel its obscured shape

But never witness its true property


Only through momentary slumber

When we open our minds eye

And peeks at the other side

When we drift away-

Unguarded by our perspective-

Through all of spacetime

And drift closer to the veil

As if through a plastic foil

Can we see and softly touch

The ‘matters’ of truth in life


See the wrinkles

And ripples in time?

That’s where runaway dreams

And forgotten past hide

You will see yours

And even all of mine


That’s why I can live

Again and again your happiness

And joys of mine

With near absolute clarity

Manifested through twinges

And longing

With the help of the night


That’s why

When the sleeper ‘wakes’

He can no longer

Bear this world of bright shadows

And must rush back

To the brilliant world

Under the dark sunlight


That's why

I leave the lies for the morning

And truth for the night

When you're weary of

My dazzling praises

You can dream among

The starry sentiments

Of my moonless sky






















A Brief History of that Muse Song:

The weight of thoughts

We hold deep within

Gather and increase in mass

Till we’re beings of immense gravity

Attracted at the moment of first contact

Never letting go


Even through the unseeable distance

I can still feel your pull-

Feel time stretch into infinity

Feel nothing else within my hold-

From our fateful event horizon


Even though we’re both vessels

Of very little voices

We’re far from empty

We’re far from silent-

With every unspoken word-

Not let out to wander and

Disperse-

We bear the roaring wrath

Of neutron stars deep within

Our Soul


And such

Is our ‘Density’






















Purity:

I believe that

Names can physically

Mold a being

Without human intentions

As accidental drops of ink

Muddies the water

Yours follow the opposite

And being true to its essence

You are indeed eternally ‘PURE’


Pure, in the winter lakes

Of your soft pensive eyes

Color of the earth, the dust of existing


Pure, in the crescent

Of your laughing eyes

Hiding no sorrow

Dragging me along with you

When it descends


Pure

In the ripples of your soul

As I felt every drop

Seen in your dazzling smile

Unseen, in the dreamer’s dream


And I, indeed a dreamer

The ‘MOON’, the ‘STARS’, and

‘A MYTHICAL JEWEL’

That radiates not

Within or without

Except under or carrying

Your light


If only I can be your moon

A source of comfort but

Only at your darkest

Never to steal your shine


Except

I am merely a solitary bird

In love with the spotless lofty sky


I may praise it

And lament in its silence

But I can never caress it

Possess it or even

Comfort it


So it shall be

For even a storm of the sweetest dreams

Might taint the purity of a cloudless night
It is full summer now, the heart of June;
Not yet the sunburnt reapers are astir
Upon the upland meadow where too soon
Rich autumn time, the season’s usurer,
Will lend his hoarded gold to all the trees,
And see his treasure scattered by the wild and spendthrift breeze.

Too soon indeed! yet here the daffodil,
That love-child of the Spring, has lingered on
To vex the rose with jealousy, and still
The harebell spreads her azure pavilion,
And like a strayed and wandering reveller
Abandoned of its brothers, whom long since June’s messenger

The missel-thrush has frighted from the glade,
One pale narcissus loiters fearfully
Close to a shadowy nook, where half afraid
Of their own loveliness some violets lie
That will not look the gold sun in the face
For fear of too much splendour,—ah! methinks it is a place

Which should be trodden by Persephone
When wearied of the flowerless fields of Dis!
Or danced on by the lads of Arcady!
The hidden secret of eternal bliss
Known to the Grecian here a man might find,
Ah! you and I may find it now if Love and Sleep be kind.

There are the flowers which mourning Herakles
Strewed on the tomb of Hylas, columbine,
Its white doves all a-flutter where the breeze
Kissed them too harshly, the small celandine,
That yellow-kirtled chorister of eve,
And lilac lady’s-smock,—but let them bloom alone, and leave

Yon spired hollyhock red-crocketed
To sway its silent chimes, else must the bee,
Its little bellringer, go seek instead
Some other pleasaunce; the anemone
That weeps at daybreak, like a silly girl
Before her love, and hardly lets the butterflies unfurl

Their painted wings beside it,—bid it pine
In pale virginity; the winter snow
Will suit it better than those lips of thine
Whose fires would but scorch it, rather go
And pluck that amorous flower which blooms alone,
Fed by the pander wind with dust of kisses not its own.

The trumpet-mouths of red convolvulus
So dear to maidens, creamy meadow-sweet
Whiter than Juno’s throat and odorous
As all Arabia, hyacinths the feet
Of Huntress Dian would be loth to mar
For any dappled fawn,—pluck these, and those fond flowers which
are

Fairer than what Queen Venus trod upon
Beneath the pines of Ida, eucharis,
That morning star which does not dread the sun,
And budding marjoram which but to kiss
Would sweeten Cytheraea’s lips and make
Adonis jealous,—these for thy head,—and for thy girdle take

Yon curving spray of purple clematis
Whose gorgeous dye outflames the Tyrian King,
And foxgloves with their nodding chalices,
But that one narciss which the startled Spring
Let from her kirtle fall when first she heard
In her own woods the wild tempestuous song of summer’s bird,

Ah! leave it for a subtle memory
Of those sweet tremulous days of rain and sun,
When April laughed between her tears to see
The early primrose with shy footsteps run
From the gnarled oak-tree roots till all the wold,
Spite of its brown and trampled leaves, grew bright with shimmering
gold.

Nay, pluck it too, it is not half so sweet
As thou thyself, my soul’s idolatry!
And when thou art a-wearied at thy feet
Shall oxlips weave their brightest tapestry,
For thee the woodbine shall forget its pride
And veil its tangled whorls, and thou shalt walk on daisies pied.

And I will cut a reed by yonder spring
And make the wood-gods jealous, and old Pan
Wonder what young intruder dares to sing
In these still haunts, where never foot of man
Should tread at evening, lest he chance to spy
The marble limbs of Artemis and all her company.

And I will tell thee why the jacinth wears
Such dread embroidery of dolorous moan,
And why the hapless nightingale forbears
To sing her song at noon, but weeps alone
When the fleet swallow sleeps, and rich men feast,
And why the laurel trembles when she sees the lightening east.

And I will sing how sad Proserpina
Unto a grave and gloomy Lord was wed,
And lure the silver-breasted Helena
Back from the lotus meadows of the dead,
So shalt thou see that awful loveliness
For which two mighty Hosts met fearfully in war’s abyss!

And then I’ll pipe to thee that Grecian tale
How Cynthia loves the lad Endymion,
And hidden in a grey and misty veil
Hies to the cliffs of Latmos once the Sun
Leaps from his ocean bed in fruitless chase
Of those pale flying feet which fade away in his embrace.

And if my flute can breathe sweet melody,
We may behold Her face who long ago
Dwelt among men by the AEgean sea,
And whose sad house with pillaged portico
And friezeless wall and columns toppled down
Looms o’er the ruins of that fair and violet cinctured town.

Spirit of Beauty! tarry still awhile,
They are not dead, thine ancient votaries;
Some few there are to whom thy radiant smile
Is better than a thousand victories,
Though all the nobly slain of Waterloo
Rise up in wrath against them! tarry still, there are a few

Who for thy sake would give their manlihood
And consecrate their being; I at least
Have done so, made thy lips my daily food,
And in thy temples found a goodlier feast
Than this starved age can give me, spite of all
Its new-found creeds so sceptical and so dogmatical.

Here not Cephissos, not Ilissos flows,
The woods of white Colonos are not here,
On our bleak hills the olive never blows,
No simple priest conducts his lowing steer
Up the steep marble way, nor through the town
Do laughing maidens bear to thee the crocus-flowered gown.

Yet tarry! for the boy who loved thee best,
Whose very name should be a memory
To make thee linger, sleeps in silent rest
Beneath the Roman walls, and melody
Still mourns her sweetest lyre; none can play
The lute of Adonais:  with his lips Song passed away.

Nay, when Keats died the Muses still had left
One silver voice to sing his threnody,
But ah! too soon of it we were bereft
When on that riven night and stormy sea
Panthea claimed her singer as her own,
And slew the mouth that praised her; since which time we walk
alone,

Save for that fiery heart, that morning star
Of re-arisen England, whose clear eye
Saw from our tottering throne and waste of war
The grand Greek limbs of young Democracy
Rise mightily like Hesperus and bring
The great Republic! him at least thy love hath taught to sing,

And he hath been with thee at Thessaly,
And seen white Atalanta fleet of foot
In passionless and fierce virginity
Hunting the tusked boar, his honied lute
Hath pierced the cavern of the hollow hill,
And Venus laughs to know one knee will bow before her still.

And he hath kissed the lips of Proserpine,
And sung the Galilaean’s requiem,
That wounded forehead dashed with blood and wine
He hath discrowned, the Ancient Gods in him
Have found their last, most ardent worshipper,
And the new Sign grows grey and dim before its conqueror.

Spirit of Beauty! tarry with us still,
It is not quenched the torch of poesy,
The star that shook above the Eastern hill
Holds unassailed its argent armoury
From all the gathering gloom and fretful fight—
O tarry with us still! for through the long and common night,

Morris, our sweet and simple Chaucer’s child,
Dear heritor of Spenser’s tuneful reed,
With soft and sylvan pipe has oft beguiled
The weary soul of man in troublous need,
And from the far and flowerless fields of ice
Has brought fair flowers to make an earthly paradise.

We know them all, Gudrun the strong men’s bride,
Aslaug and Olafson we know them all,
How giant Grettir fought and Sigurd died,
And what enchantment held the king in thrall
When lonely Brynhild wrestled with the powers
That war against all passion, ah! how oft through summer hours,

Long listless summer hours when the noon
Being enamoured of a damask rose
Forgets to journey westward, till the moon
The pale usurper of its tribute grows
From a thin sickle to a silver shield
And chides its loitering car—how oft, in some cool grassy field

Far from the cricket-ground and noisy eight,
At Bagley, where the rustling bluebells come
Almost before the blackbird finds a mate
And overstay the swallow, and the hum
Of many murmuring bees flits through the leaves,
Have I lain poring on the dreamy tales his fancy weaves,

And through their unreal woes and mimic pain
Wept for myself, and so was purified,
And in their simple mirth grew glad again;
For as I sailed upon that pictured tide
The strength and splendour of the storm was mine
Without the storm’s red ruin, for the singer is divine;

The little laugh of water falling down
Is not so musical, the clammy gold
Close hoarded in the tiny waxen town
Has less of sweetness in it, and the old
Half-withered reeds that waved in Arcady
Touched by his lips break forth again to fresher harmony.

Spirit of Beauty, tarry yet awhile!
Although the cheating merchants of the mart
With iron roads profane our lovely isle,
And break on whirling wheels the limbs of Art,
Ay! though the crowded factories beget
The blindworm Ignorance that slays the soul, O tarry yet!

For One at least there is,—He bears his name
From Dante and the seraph Gabriel,—
Whose double laurels burn with deathless flame
To light thine altar; He too loves thee well,
Who saw old Merlin lured in Vivien’s snare,
And the white feet of angels coming down the golden stair,

Loves thee so well, that all the World for him
A gorgeous-coloured vestiture must wear,
And Sorrow take a purple diadem,
Or else be no more Sorrow, and Despair
Gild its own thorns, and Pain, like Adon, be
Even in anguish beautiful;—such is the empery

Which Painters hold, and such the heritage
This gentle solemn Spirit doth possess,
Being a better mirror of his age
In all his pity, love, and weariness,
Than those who can but copy common things,
And leave the Soul unpainted with its mighty questionings.

But they are few, and all romance has flown,
And men can prophesy about the sun,
And lecture on his arrows—how, alone,
Through a waste void the soulless atoms run,
How from each tree its weeping nymph has fled,
And that no more ’mid English reeds a Naiad shows her head.

Methinks these new Actaeons boast too soon
That they have spied on beauty; what if we
Have analysed the rainbow, robbed the moon
Of her most ancient, chastest mystery,
Shall I, the last Endymion, lose all hope
Because rude eyes peer at my mistress through a telescope!

What profit if this scientific age
Burst through our gates with all its retinue
Of modern miracles!  Can it assuage
One lover’s breaking heart? what can it do
To make one life more beautiful, one day
More godlike in its period? but now the Age of Clay

Returns in horrid cycle, and the earth
Hath borne again a noisy progeny
Of ignorant Titans, whose ungodly birth
Hurls them against the august hierarchy
Which sat upon Olympus; to the Dust
They have appealed, and to that barren arbiter they must

Repair for judgment; let them, if they can,
From Natural Warfare and insensate Chance,
Create the new Ideal rule for man!
Methinks that was not my inheritance;
For I was nurtured otherwise, my soul
Passes from higher heights of life to a more supreme goal.

Lo! while we spake the earth did turn away
Her visage from the God, and Hecate’s boat
Rose silver-laden, till the jealous day
Blew all its torches out:  I did not note
The waning hours, to young Endymions
Time’s palsied fingers count in vain his rosary of suns!

Mark how the yellow iris wearily
Leans back its throat, as though it would be kissed
By its false chamberer, the dragon-fly,
Who, like a blue vein on a girl’s white wrist,
Sleeps on that snowy primrose of the night,
Which ‘gins to flush with crimson shame, and die beneath the light.

Come let us go, against the pallid shield
Of the wan sky the almond blossoms gleam,
The corncrake nested in the unmown field
Answers its mate, across the misty stream
On fitful wing the startled curlews fly,
And in his sedgy bed the lark, for joy that Day is nigh,

Scatters the pearled dew from off the grass,
In tremulous ecstasy to greet the sun,
Who soon in gilded panoply will pass
Forth from yon orange-curtained pavilion
Hung in the burning east:  see, the red rim
O’ertops the expectant hills! it is the God! for love of him

Already the shrill lark is out of sight,
Flooding with waves of song this silent dell,—
Ah! there is something more in that bird’s flight
Than could be tested in a crucible!—
But the air freshens, let us go, why soon
The woodmen will be here; how we have lived this night of June!
Azurel Jul 2018
You call me
She, Her, Daughter, Girl
Shhhhh...
You speak with a blind mouth,
Look at me, see me
She isn't me,
Only a fantasy that you clutch till your knuckles grow pale.
I am not broken, I am free
But you hide behind a veil
Afraid to finally let go of...

Long hair, Lipstick, Lace dress
You question each time I show you my truth,
"Are you trying to hide your femininity?"
No, my femininity is simply not my definition.
Spend a day in my skin, in my cage,
And don't cry when the words start to pierce you like daggers,
Shhhh... Stay silent, don't worry, it's just a phase.
Now do you see that "She" just doesn't make sense?
You speak to me but your voice seems distant,
Bouncing off of me and echoing
Like I am the hollow statue of the girl you used to see.
"I am right in front of you, you know"
But my words are only heard when they come from her lips.
Do you see me now?

Mother, Children, Wife, Woman
A silent prayer each night for all the things I am not,
Stomach swollen, hair to my waist
The glow of an expecting mother on my face.
Curves, not edges,
Pink, not blue.
Delicate hands grasping the man who stands in my place.
Do you see me now?


Pants swollen, hair to my brow,
Along my jaw,
Down my legs,
Sprouting from my toes.
Do you see me now?
Bulged, Buzzed, Boy
Blood on my sheets, not between my legs
Stained by the girl who lies in her place
Fresh coat of gel and cologne,
Swirls of shaving cream.
Bare chest, Burning skin
Twitch of an Adam's apple when breath comes short,
Nervous fidgets with a tie,
tick tock,
"Pick me up at eight"
"Treat her right" "I will sir"
"Will you be my..."
"You're going to be a father!"
"You are the best daughter we could have asked for"
...."Son" I whispered.
But you didn't hear,
Please tell me
Do you see me now?
Any one who can relate to this but can’t say it, I hope I can be your voice.
Shofi Ahmed Mar 2018
The material body was yet in the making
The first and foremost luminary feminine
ebb and flow heartily pans out
flawless flow to the finest angle.
Across the nadir to the zenith
Fathima eyes on upon it like it
shapes and forms are waxing lyrical:
The pure masterpiece without a mirror!

Arts on the go Fathima moves on.
Praise be to the Lord she being made
to measure inborn mathematical the pi is her!
(For the perfect circle the circumference is masculine
The pi tends to circle the blank space within is feminine)
She can budge equally in the shadow
in patternless pi decimals and in the open,
in integer into a whole full number!

Hops up her first step she looks for ‘the all’
the complete whole the absolute one Allah.
Time and again she steps up but finds no floor
Her measured step by default lays on 360-degree circle
Scans all things at the first go still finds no bottom!

The first luminary masculine peace be upon him
first looks in the open she takes the veiled angle.
Through the evermore pi decimal micro-hole
She looks on and witnesses the first water drop
surfaces up without a base without a roof on top!
It follows through truly the copy of the original
softly springing around the serene water paints  
of all the maters to be created from this first drop.
Fathima looks at it and veils withdraws her reflection.

It’s still remembered in the sky that follows suit.  
First, a star was born stepping in Fathima’s shoe.
It tried so did the full set of the galaxy only to disperse
into a profound constellation never finds a bottom.
Because amidst this water circle floats the first soil.
Allah called it His house that He first created from it.
Every planetary orb pilgrimage around it in the core
known as Ka’abah up to the heart of the earth it rose.

In the pre-designed world after the first masculine
the first feminine Fathima thus did the first pilgrimage.
She walked the walk did so in the patternless pi veil.

Nature is never uneven on the hidden hand of the pi.
Every little fraction, the small decimal does it count
connects to the dot without showing up a pattern
Long live, long live the digital charisma is on the rise!

Retracing time and again the sun rises in the median lane,
yet the black box scores it's only a dark chart at the end of the day!
The Moon is yet to moon over an unturned sublunary-dip
It pulls all, the mighty sea that the earth can't
and sync in the feminine water cycle but save only one
with Fathima floating out of the box it can’t link up!

Like millions, ever wonder where Fathima’s grave is?
The earth strived too to the death bite to print her footprint!
Most of the mass visiting Medina look too see the grave of the holy lady Fathima. It has been a tradition since her death some fourteen hundred years ago. There are two graves where she is buried but which one is her is still unknown. Reportedly she wanted her grave to remain unidentified.
You lifted the veil between the worlds known by many
To walk a rarely trod path, chosen by few
While seeking to find an existence somewhere in between
Instead, you found a world with different rules

You were drawn in to a mysterious place of allure
Where the wolves howl at the moon
Paying homage to the glorious face of delight
While listening to the stars sweet tune

Each new corner you rounded brought sights anew
Sometimes frightening in their glare
As glowing eyes emerged from the brush in the forest
Revealing creatures from ancient nightmares

The glow of the moonlight brought visions so fair
Of maidens and knights on wild steeds
You watched in awe and wonder as they fell in love
And honor brought them to their knees

You walked further and further away from the world
Of which we all know and understand
Finding freedom to embrace the mysteries of life
Your imagination at your command

Now the time has come to return to this world
Which you know and understand well
Come enlighten us all with the tales you weave
Tell us all, what is under the veil

Copyright *Neva Flores @2010
Copyright *Neva Flores @2010
www.changefulstorm.blogspot.com
www.stumbleupon.com/stumbler/Changefulstorm
Is the moon tired? she looks so pale
Within her misty veil:
She scales the sky from east to west,
And takes no rest.

Before the coming of the night
The moon shows papery white;
Before the dawning of the day
She fades away.

— The End —