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

                                                 GLADE

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

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

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

                                               WORLD

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                              MA­STER

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

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

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

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

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

                                                  BOY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                HERO

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

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

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

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







Copyright 2020 by Ron Sanders.

Contact:  ronsandersartofprose(at)yahoo(dot)com
Sorry about the ghastly copy. This system makes graceful formatting impossible.
Haberdashery hauberk harbinger harangue equilibrist, harpy harsh hast severities.
Inane inert inertia innate, juxtaposition maenad ethos affinities.
Putrid quasi queasy pathos, emanate imminent perdition acerbities.

Agnate aggregate anathema android amalgamated, predication contract.
Glutton paradoxical dichotomy greaves, gauntlets gamut catalyst abstracts.
Ambidextrous amatory prelude amaze, analeptic adrenergic analgesia analytics extract.  Annex annul.  

Clairaudience clairvoyant omnipresence presage, omnipotent omnificent omniscience.
Pantheism parapet paradigm intuition, prognosticating prosthesis prediction.
Prolific profuseness profundity prosaic, nimbus nimiety nitty gritty, intrados rubato.

Venerable divinatory deity deify veneration, delineate demagoguery ecstasy, agonist agog.
Dream gleam cream seam beam team, serene ravine green gene careen, obscene demean.
Empiricise the existentialisms in the demagoguery of godhead aspiration.
Corporeal anaclitic apex inveterate embezzlement extroversion, acuity alacrity extortion.
Extraneous extemporaneous, ominous phenomena portrayal spontaneous synchronous, aorist actuator.

Endergonic protensive integration extrapolation interpolations investiture elicits.
Scenario synopsis synthesis syncopation, harmony rhymes rhythm.
Synchronous transition transposition interlude, summerial derivation cognition.
                                                      ­­­                                                               ­ ­ ­              
Irk-ness ire aerie altruism allegorical, autonomous avarice oscillating ostracism.
Pandemonium obdurate temerity impunity, impending preponderance onus, numinous illuminism quintessential frolic.
Amorous ardent argent arduous enamor endear, plenary putschist volatile phatic.
Conveyor controvert deft mesmeric deification deist dissertation.
Drastic premise portent pervasive embellish, elusive enhance enchant, engender enthrall.
Perpetuation euphenic euthenics, exude emote concoct recalcitrance regalia, irrefragable preternatural ne plus ultra prurient.
Vernaculars opulent myriad, aesthetic stratagem venial vexatious, astral projection conjuring levity apothegms.

Incite epistemological illuminism, accoutrements umbrage ultraism incognito trajectory extant.
Scandalous scavenger squalid anomalous punitive, heuristic manumission exigency.
Ostensible proclivity prodigious querulous, rambunctious repertoire rigmarole scenic schism sooth.
Ascribe arsenal crucial critical, abhorrent abstinence blatancy berserk, alacritous celerity brogue.
Ceremonial chicanery dynamism fealty, indefatigable incontrovertible ingenuity ingratiate inimical impugn.
Innovate integrity intricate invective convolution, licentious metaphor convection obeisance.
Splurge-ness spry sporadic sprawl, spurious staunch succinct stymie tacit, irate tirade treatise vehement escapade tedium.

Probity irascibly veracious audacity mendacity gumption.
Paphian peccavi preternatural proclivity gesticulation articulation prestidigitation.
Fantastication fantasia fabulist façade, glimmer glisten translucent refulgence.
Subliminally subjunctive nostalgic allusion analogies eidetic’s mnemonics.
Metaphysical mystique’s evolutionally metamorphic futurity fatidic.
Adroit agile nimble tactile acuity prescience capacity intrigue.
Unadulteratedly fornicatious fabrications, portentous ethereal etiquette.
Nose agnate somatology morphology metamorphic, cognition epistemology pragmatics.
Ontological ontogeny causality exigence integumence equivocal.
Innocuous noumenal verity ***** affectation intentions.

Adumbrate intimate obfuscate preterite rendition intimidate.
Logistical tactician spatiotemporal terrestrial equestrian telemetries, physicality’s terrene traverse tellurian terrain.
Vaunt-ness verve’s lucidly illusive, intrepid yare’s predilection predication.
Apriori a posteriori apostrophe shards shroud, innately inert inherency interstitial endemics.                  

Irk-ness ire Zen, graffiti mantra mantis, diminutive minutia iotas inductive interpolation asperities.
Hypercritically mitigating dialectics hypotaxis.
Vituperatively vociferous eerie strident irrefragable orotund  sonorous felicities.
Diacritical diction dharma apomixis.
Chutzpah panache spontaneous generation complicity, gambit alluvium aloof succor.

Demarcate mirador bartizan panorama, stalwart bastion bulwark tableau, dexterous gargoyle disguise gimmick camouflage.
Decipher coercible coalesce corrupt costume counselor chameleon charlatan chaperone entourage.
Cryptic evocative emulation scenarios siren skeptic, cynical demonic gremlin greaves curtilage.
Zesty zingy zippy zeal zenithal azimuth elaborate elliptical empathy endeavor entity entice.

Clambering clamorous clangor strategic systematic propagate prolific, wield wile treatise expose’.
Aural auspice austerity  axiom conscribe, perplex beleaguer beggary, coax cacophony clout, concatenate chronology.
Erumpent erudition evident evil evert, extol fervor flinty florid, fructify impromptu innuendo juncture.
Kinetic supremacy temporize tractive fluent, precious precess predetermined predatory predicament, gyro gyre.
Horizon hornswoggle huckster, hokey hoot ornery honkies.

Horologist hackamore relative rationality.
Decorum dastardly dazzle deceit, demolish demur, annihilate denigrate.
Armature arcade doughty, panacea parallax serendipity servant serenade.
Personification of sartorial perfection, picturesque visage of spectral grace.
Cosmic enigma rational relativity.

Housebreak huckster squabble brash, hovel huff.
Ghastly gruesome grotesque grisly groaty gnarly grotto grouch compunction.
Caustic cavernous celibate catatonic phonics, apex crux axis matrix cortex cephalic.
Blasphemous farcical fugue-ness and estranged ensemble orchestration acoustics.
Rendition: various assorted forms of related stranger weirdness.
Conjugation coercion junction function, adjunct conjunction conjecture.
Concoct deontology ontogeny, ontological enclitic osteopathy.
Anticipate angary amentia, tiercel theocracy.
Phrenic sensorium sentiment paragon tangible.
Covert aspersion avidity, coherent avid avarice, allegory allocate amatory prelude annex annul.

Tantamount telepathy tantalize talisman talesman, prerogative presumptive judicature.
Subpoena parameter perimeter peripherals prophylaxis protocol.
Real deal seal, sail bail, bailiff rake-ness rail.
Yoni yore yare, leeward lecher leer lingam, menagerie melee hyperbolic milieu thesis, métier quintessential fulham.
Dangle wrangle mangle jangle tangle angle.
Hysterically delirious zany nertsy bonkers bluster boggle.
Gyrate, austere askance obliquely, aspire assail askew.

Cosmic origins metamorphosis implosion contractions revision, blond entropy catalyst.
Cataclysm catastrophe holocaust trauma, inefficacy ineffable expiate.
Chaos cognizant conceive dialectic dictates in extremis extremity meld nuance.
Cryptic cipher circuit citadel clairvoyant sequitur.
Cajole fictitious fiery finesse, invoke fulmination gouts clout, curtilage endeavor iterative itinerary.
Ersatz fiat fulcrum fulgurous indemnify indigenous infernal infidel iniquitous.
Electroacoustics ciphony  Electra complex lore, occipital ubiquity synch.
Psychosomatic psychokinesis cybernetics, penumbral platitude platonic proxy photic.
Assimilate stigma perspicacious, astute asunder atman pulchritudinous.
        
Decadent arrogant pompously bombastic blatant flagrant chaparral.
Diabolically maniacal dementia brusque macabre abruptness.
Swarthy beastly antithetical anathema ******* belligerent, savvy irate berserk-ness tirade.
Ulterior aghast agitator incongruous dire, perdurable peremptory primacy arbitrate zealot.
Cantankerously sorcerous insidiously sinister alchemy cauldron, pernicious visceral pathogenic, virulence truculence.
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Machismo equilibrist machinations, kinesiology kleptomaniac knell physique.
Ribaldry rigmarole rhubarb, risqué rive rollick.
Demeanor kamikaze kerf, megalomania misanthropies modus operandi genocidal xenophobic.
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Sepulcher stratagem pantheism parapet paradigm, psychosis neophyte, paragon proselyte.
Pilferous wheedling finagler, plunderous pillaging usurper, longevous loquacity lottery.
Rhapsody rhetoric rote raconteur newfangled nocturnal nonchalant sycophant.
Morose morsel moribund, lurid luscious lyricism lucidity lucrative.
Creative cleaver crafty cunning furtive sneaky stealthy connive.
Aphorism euphemism hegira to xanadu carousing marauder syllogism.
Swell surge flow flux craw crux, virago monad chaos character charisma.
Heuristic cavalier humeral, meager demonstrative anarchy iconoclasm, apropos ergo ipso-facto.
Plenary plenipotentiary omniscience presage, omnipotent directive ubiquity emanations.
Nous agnate ontological ontogeny, exegesis peroration.
Abeyance, exotically ****** quixotic ecstatically emphatic fanatic.
Orchestration rendition unicorn railway mainsail, awry askew askance.

Canny cogent fecund erudite sagacious sequacious conjuring mentality introjection conjugation coercions.
Avant-garde temporal abstract, scenario synopsis eclectic synectics.
Synaptic syntax syndrome aspersion, quagmire quandary poshly plush.
Physicality ***** pictorial, picturesque glyph, debauchery deviant profane ***** vicarious assertion exorbitance.
Mystical silhouette sojourn consortium sabbat conclave liaison, soiree tryst rendezvous symposium excursion compendium.
Incarnate cephalic phantasmagoria proximity parameter phantasm epitomize transitive transcendental syntactic semantics.
Resplendent radiant ephemeral effulgence translucent incandescent luster effluence, reflectively refractive azure opulence effusion.
Contentious pretentiously extravagant eccentric intransigent pedantic antics.
Guidon guile homogenous hovering imagination immaturity, exogamy incorporeity ideologies.
Pique poignant piquant puissant quiescence, obstreperously abstruse vagary plausibility’s cause.
Vivid intangible impetus instinct intrigue, livid lurid allusion.
Autonomous preterite discrepancy amendment emendations, transcendent accession ascensional in absentia expurgation exculpation.
I know this is getting redundant but I feel this is the best I ever wrote!!
Zoomorphic zoolatry's demagoguery to élan-vital.  Ethology's entelechy to social contiguity apotheosis' ****** matrix.  Vicarious recalcitrance!!!
Mitchell Duran Dec 2013
In the Fall, when the temperature of the Bay would drop and the wind blew ice, frost would gather on the lawn near Henry Oldez's room. It was not a heavy frost that spread across the paralyzed lawn, but one that just covered each blade of grass with a fine, white, almost dusty coat. Most mornings, he would stumble out of the garage where he slept and tip toe past the ice speckled patch of brown and green spotted grass, so to make his way inside to relieve himself. If he was in no hurry, he would stand on the four stepped stoop and look back at the dried, dead leaves hanging from the wiry branches of three trees lined up against the neighbors fence. The picture reminded him of what the old gallows must have looked like. Henry Oldez had been living in this routine for twenty some years.

He had moved to California with his mother, father, and three brothers 35 years ago. Henry's father, born and raised in Tijuana, Mexico, had traveled across the Meixcan border on a bent, full jalopy with his wife, Betria Gonzalez and their three kids. They were all mostly babies then and none of the brothers claimed to remember anything of the ride, except one, Leo, recalled there was "A lotta dust in the car." Santiago Oldez, San for short, had fought in World War II and died of cancer ten years later. San drank most nights and smoked two packs of Marlboro Reds a day. Henry had never heard his father talk about the fighting or the war. If he was lucky to hear anything, it would have been when San was dead drunk, talking to himself mostly, not paying very much attention to anyone except his memories and his music.

"San loved two things in this world," Henry would say, "*****, Betria, and Johnny Cash."

Betria Gonzalez grew up in Tijuana, Mexico as well. She was a stout, short woman, wide but with pretty eyes and a mess of orange golden hair. Betria could talk to anyone about anything. Her nick names were the conversationalist or the old crow because she never found a reason to stop talking. Santiago had met her through a friend of a friend. After a couple of dates, they were married. There is some talk of a dispute among the two families, that they didn't agree to the marriage and that they were too young, which they probably were. Santiago being Santiago, didn't listen to anybody, only to his heart. They were married in a small church outside of town overlooking the Pacific. Betria told the kids that the waves thundered and crashed against the rocks that day and the sea looked endless. There were no pictures taken and only three people were at the ceremony: Betria, San, and the priest.

Of course, the four boys went to elementary and high school, and, of course, none of them went to college. One brother moved down to LA and eventually started working for a law firm doing their books. Another got married at 18 years old and was in and out of the house until getting under the wing of the union, doing construction and electrical work for the city. The third brother followed suit. Henry Oldez, after high school, stayed put. Nothing in school interested him. Henry only liked what he could get into after school. The people of the streets were his muse, leaving him with the tramps, the dealers, the struggling restaurateurs, the laundry mat hookers, the crooked cops and the addicts, the gang bangers, the bible humpers, the window washers, the jesus freaks, the EMT's, the old ladies pushing salvation by every bus stop, the guy on the corner and the guy in the alley, and the DOA's. Henry didn't have much time for anyone else after all of them.

Henry looked at himself in the mirror. The light was off and the room was dim. Sunlight streaked in through the dusty blinds from outside, reflecting into the mirror and onto Henry's face. He was short, 5' 2'' or 5' 3'' at most with stubby, skinny legs, and a wide, barrel shaped chest. He examined his face, which was a ravine of wrinkles and deep crows feet. His eyes were sunken and small in his head. Somehow, his pants were always one or two inches below his waistline, so the crack of his *** would constantly be peeking out. Henry's deep, chocolate colored hair was  that of an ancient Native American, long and nearly touched the tip of his belt if he stood up straight. No one knew how long he had been growing it out for. No one knew him any other way. He would comb his hair incessantly: before and after a shower, walking around the house, watching television with Betria on the couch, talking to friends when they came by, and when he drove to work, when he had it.

Normal work, nine to five work, did not work for Henry. "I need to be my own boss," he'd say. With that fact stubbornly put in place, Henry turned to being a handy man, a roofer, and a pioneer of construction. No one knew where he would get the jobs that he would get, he would just have them one day. And whenever he 'd finish a job, he'd complain about how much they'd shorted him, soon to move on to the next one. Henry never had to listen to anyone and, most of the time, he got free lunches out of it. It was a very strange routine, but it worked for him and Betria had no complaints as long as he was bringing some money in and keeping busy. After Santiago died, she became the head of the house, but really let her boys do whatever they wanted.

Henry took a quick shower and blow dried his hair, something he never did unless he was in a hurry. He had a job in the east bay at a sorority house near the Berkley campus. At the table, still in his pajamas, he ate three leftover chicken thighs, toast, and two over easy eggs. Betria was still in bed, awake and reading. Henry heard her two dogs barking and scratching on her bedroom door. He got up as he combed his damp hair, tugging and straining to get each individual knot out. When he opened the door, the smaller, thinner dog, Boy Boy, shot under his legs and to the front door where his toy was. The fat, beige, pig-like one waddled out beside Henry and went straight for its food bowl.

"Good morning," said Henry to Betria.

Betria looked at Henry over her glasses, "You eat already?"

"Yep," he announced, "Got to go to work." He tugged on a knot.

"That's good. Dondé?" Betria looked back down at her spanish TV guide booklet.

"Berkley somewhere," Henry said, bringing the comb smoothly down through his hair.

"That's good, that's good."

"OK!" Henry sighed loudly, shutting the door behind him. He walked back to the dinner table and finished his meal. Then, Betria shouted something from her room that Henry couldn't hear.

"What?" yelled Henry, so she could hear him over the television. She shouted again, but Henry still couldn't hear her. Henry got up and went back to her room, ***** dish in hand. He opened her door and looked at her without saying anything.

"Take the dogs out to ***," Betria told him, "Out the back, not the front."

"Yeah," Henry said and shut the door.

"Come on you dogs," Henry mumbled, dropping his dish in the sink. Betria always did everyones dishes. She called it "her exercise."

Henry let the two dogs out on the lawn. The sun was curling up into the sky and its heat had melted all of the frost on the lawn. Now, the grass was bright green and Henry barely noticed the dark brown dead spots. He watched as the fat beige one squatted to ***. It was too fat to lifts its own leg up. The thing was built like a tank or a sea turtle. Henry laughed to himself as it looked up at him, both of its eyes going in opposite directions, its tongue jutted out one corner of his mouth. Boy boy was on the far end of the lawn, searching for something in the bushes. After a minute, he pulled out another one of his toys and brought it to Henry. Henry picked up the neon green chew toy shaped like a bone and threw it back to where Boy boy had dug it out from. Boy boy shot after it and the fat one just watched, waddling a few feet away from it had peed and laid down. Henry threw the toy a couple more times for Boy boy, but soon he realized it was time to go.

"Alright!" said Henry, "Get inside. Gotta' go to work." He picked up the fat one and threw it inside the laundry room hallway that led to the kitchen and the rest of the house. Boy boy bounded up the stairs into the kitchen. He didn't need anyone lifting him up anywhere. Henry shut the door behind them and went to back to his room to get into his work clothes.

Henry's girlfriend was still asleep and he made sure to be quiet while he got dressed. Tia, Henry's girlfriend, didn't work, but occasionally would put up garage sales of various junk she found around town. She was strangely obsessed with beanie babies, those tiny plush toys usually made up in different costumes. Henry's favorite was the hunter. It was dressed up in camouflage and wore an eye patch. You could take off its brown, polyester hat too, if you wanted. Henry made no complaint about Tia not having a job because she usually brought some money home somehow, along with groceries and cleaning the house and their room. Betria, again, made no complain and only wanted to know if she was going to eat there or not for the day.

A boat sized bright blue GMC sat in the street. This was Henry's car. The stick shift was so mangled and bent that only Henry and his older brother could drive it. He had traded a new car stereo for it, or something like that. He believed it got ten miles to the gallon, but it really only got six or seven. The stereo was the cleanest piece of equipment inside the thing. It played CD's, had a shoddy cassette player, and a decent radio that picked up all the local stations. Henry reached under the seat and attached the radio to the front panel. He never left the radio just sitting there in plain sight. Someone walking by could just as soon as put their elbow into the window, pluck the thing out, and make a clean 200 bucks or so. Henry wasn't that stupid. He'd been living there his whole life and sure enough, done the same thing to other cars when he was low on money. He knew the tricks of every trade when it came to how to make money on the street.

On the road, Henry passed La Rosa, the Mexican food mart around the corner from the house. Two short, tanned men stood in front of a stand of CD's, talking. He usually bought pirated music or movies there. One of the guys names was Bertie, but he didn't know the other guy. He figured either a customer or a friend. There were a lot of friends in this neighborhood. Everyone knew each other somehow. From the bars, from the grocery, from the laundromat, from the taco stands or from just walking around the streets at night when you were too bored to stay inside and watch TV. It wasn't usually safe for non-locals to walk the streets at night, but if you were from around there and could prove it to someone that was going to jump you, one could usually get away from losing a wallet or an eyeball if you had the proof. Henry, to people on the street, also went as Monk. Whenever he would drive through the neighborhood, the window open with his arm hanging out the side, he would usually hear a distant yell of "Hey Monk!" or "What's up Monk!". Henry would always wave back, unsure who's voice it was or in what direction to wave, but knowing it was a friend from somewhere.

There was heavy traffic on the way to Berkley and as he waited in line, cursing his luck, he looked over at the wet swamp, sitting there beside highway like a dead frog. A few scattered egrets waded through the brown water, their long legs keeping their clean white bodies safe from the muddy water. Beyond the swamp laid the pacific and the Golden Gate bridge. San Francisco sat there too: still, majestic, and silver. Next to the city, was the Bay Bridge stretched out over the water like long gray yard stick. Henry compared the Golden Gate's beauty with the Bay Bridge. Both were beautiful in there own way, but the Bay Bridge's color was that of a gravestone, while the Golden Gate's color was a heavy red, that made it seem alive. Why they had never decided to pain the Bay Bridge, Henry had no idea. He thought it would look very nice with a nice coat of burgundy to match the Golden gate, but knew they would never spend the money. They never do.

After reeling through the downtown streets of Berkley, dodging college kids crossing the street on their cell phones and bicyclists, he finally reached the large, A-frame house. The house was lifted, four or five feet off the ground and you had to walk up five or seven stairs to get to the front door. Surrounded by tall, dark green bushes, Henry knew these kids had money coming from somewhere. In the windows hung spinning colored glass and in front of the house was an old-timey dinner bell in the shape of triangle. Potted plants lined the red brick walkway that led to the stairs. Young tomatoes and small peas hung from the tender arms of the stems leaf stalks. The lawn was manicured and clean. "Must be studying agriculture or something," Henry thought, "Or they got a really good gardener."

He parked right in front of the house and looked the building up and down, estimating how long it would take to get the old shingles off and the new one's on. Someone was up on the deck of the house, rocking back and forth in an old wooden chair. He listened to the creaking wood of the chair and the deck, judging it would take him two days for the job. Henry knew there was no scheduled rain, but with the Bay weather, one could never be sure. He had worked in rain before - even hail - and it never really bothered him. The thing was, he never strapped himself in and when it would rain and he was working roofs, he was afraid to slip and fall. He turned his truck off, got out, and locked both of the doors. He stepped heavily up the walkway and up the stairs. The someone who was rocking back and forth was a skinny beauty with loose jean shorts on and a thick looking, black and red plaid shirt. She had long, chunky dread locks and was smoking a joint, blowing the smoke out over the tips of the bushes and onto the street. Henry was no stranger to the smell. He smoked himself. This was California.

"Who're you?" the dreaded girl asked.

"I'm the roofer," Henry told her.

The girl looked puzzled and disinterested. Henry leaned back on his heels and wondered if the whole thing was lemon. She looked beyond him, down on the street, awkwardly annoying Henry's gaze. The tools in Henry's hands began to grow heavy, so he put them down on the deck with a thud. The noise seemed to startle the girl out of whatever haze her brain was in and she looked back at Henry. Her eyes were dark brown and her skin was smooth and clear like lake water. She couldn't have been more then 20 or 21 years old. Henry realized that he was staring and looked away at the various potted plants near the rocking chair. He liked them all.

"Do you know who called you?" She took a drag from her joint.

"Brett, " Henry told her, "But they didn't leave a last name."

For a moment, the girl looked like she had been struck across the chin with a brick, but then her face relaxed and she smiled.

"Oh ****," she laughed, "That's me. I called you. I'm Brett."

Henry smiled uneasily and picked up his tools, "Ok."

"Nice to meet you," she said, putting out her hand.

Henry awkwardly put out his left hand, "Nice to meet you too."

She took another drag and exhaled, the smoke rolling over her lips, "Want to see the roof?"

The two of them stood underneath a five foot by five foot hole. Henry was a little uneasy by the fact they had cleaned up none of the shattered wood and the birds pecking at the bird seed sitting in a bowl on the coffee table facing the TV. The arms of the couch were covered in bird **** and someone had draped a large, zebra printed blanket across the middle of it. Henry figured the blanket wasn't for decoration, but to hide the rest of the bird droppings. Next to the couch sat a large, antique lamp with its lamp shade missing. Underneath the dim light, was a nice portrait of the entire house. Henry looked away from the hole, leaving Brett with her head cocked back, the joint still pinched between her lips, to get a closer look. There looked to be four in total: Brett, a very large man, a woman with longer, thick dread locks than Brett, and a extremely short man with a very large, brown beard. Henry went back
Haberdashery hauberk harbinger harangue equilibrist, harpy harsh hast severities.
Inane inert inertia innate, juxtaposition maenad ethos affinities.
Putrid quasi queasy pathos, emanate imminent perdition acerbities.

Agnate aggregate anathema android amalgamated, predication contract.
Glutton paradoxical dichotomy greaves, gauntlets gamut catalyst abstracts.
Ambidextrous amatory prelude amaze, analeptic adrenergic analgesia analytics extract.

Clairaudience clairvoyant omnipresence presage, omnipotent omnificent omniscience.
Pantheism parapet paradigm intuition, prognosticating prosthesis prediction.
Prolific profuseness profundity prosaic, nimbus nimiety nitty gritty, intrados rubato.

Venerable divinatory deity deify veneration, delineate demagoguery ecstasy, agonist agog.
Dream gleam cream seam beam team, serene ravine green gene careen, obscene demean.
Empiricise the existentialisms in the demagoguery of godhead aspiration.
Corporeal anaclitic apex inveterate embezzlement extroversion, acuity alacrity extortion.
Extraneous extemporaneous, ominous phenomena portrayal spontaneous synchronous, aorist actuator.

Endergonic protensive integration extrapolation interpolations investiture elicits.
Scenario synopsis synthesis syncopation, harmony rhymes rhythm.
Synchronous transition transposition interlude, summerial derivation cognition.
                                                      ­                                                                 ­             
Irk-ness ire aerie altruism allegorical, autonomous avarice oscillating ostracism.
Pandemonium obdurate temerity impunity, impending preponderance onus, numinous illuminism quintessential frolic.
Amorous ardent argent arduous enamor endear, plenary putschist volatile phatic.
Conveyor controvert deft mesmeric deification deist dissertation.
Drastic premise portent pervasive embellish, elusive enhance enchant, engender enthrall.
Perpetuation euphenic euthenics, exude emote concoct recalcitrance regalia, irrefragable preternatural ne plus ultra prurient.
Vernaculars opulent myriad, aesthetic stratagem venial vexatious, astral projection conjuring levity apothegms.

Incite epistemological illuminism, accoutrements umbrage ultraism incognito trajectory extant.
Scandalous scavenger squalid anomalous punitive, heuristic manumission exigency.
Ostensible proclivity prodigious querulous, rambunctious repertoire rigmarole scenic schism sooth.
Ascribe arsenal crucial critical, abhorrent abstinence blatancy berserk, alacritous celerity brogue.
Ceremonial chicanery dynamism fealty, indefatigable incontrovertible ingenuity ingratiate inimical impugn.
Innovate integrity intricate invective convolution, licentious metaphor convection obeisance.
Splurge-ness spry sporadic sprawl, spurious staunch succinct stymie tacit, irate tirade treatise vehement escapade tedium.

Probity irascibly veracious audacity mendacity gumption.
Paphian peccavi preternatural proclivity gesticulation articulation prestidigitation.
Fantastication fantasia fabulist façade, glimmer glisten translucent refulgence.
Subliminally subjunctive nostalgic allusion analogies eidetic’s mnemonics.
Metaphysical mystique’s evolutionally metamorphic futurity fatidic.
Adroit agile nimble tactile acuity prescience capacity intrigue.
Unadulteratedly fornicatious fabrications, portentous ethereal etiquette.
Nose agnate somatology morphology metamorphic, cognition epistemology pragmatics.
Ontological ontogeny causality exigence integumence equivocal.
Innocuous noumenal verity ***** affectation intentions.

Adumbrate intimate obfuscate preterite rendition intimidate.
Logistical tactician spatiotemporal terrestrial equestrian telemetries, physicality’s terrene traverse tellurian terrain.
Vaunt-ness verve’s lucidly illusive, intrepid yare’s predilection predication.
Apriori a posteriori apostrophe shards shroud, innately inert inherency interstitial endemics.                  

Irk-ness ire Zen, graffiti mantra mantis, diminutive minutia iotas inductive interpolation asperities.
Hypercritically mitigating dialectics hypotaxis.
Vituperatively vociferous eerie strident irrefragable orotund  sonorous felicities.
Diacritical diction dharma apomixis.
Chutzpah panache spontaneous generation complicity, gambit alluvium aloof succor.

Demarcate mirador bartizan panorama, stalwart bastion bulwark tableau, dexterous gargoyle disguise gimmick camouflage.
Decipher coercible coalesce corrupt costume counselor chameleon charlatan chaperone entourage.
Cryptic evocative emulation scenarios siren skeptic, cynical demonic gremlin greaves curtilage.
Zesty zingy zippy zeal zenithal azimuth elaborate elliptical empathy endeavor entity entice.

Clambering clamorous clangor strategic systematic propagate prolific, wield wile treatise expose’.
Aural auspice austerity  axiom conscribe, perplex beleaguer beggary, coax cacophony clout, concatenate chronology.
Erumpent erudition evident evil evert, extol fervor flinty florid, fructify impromptu innuendo juncture.
Kinetic supremacy temporize tractive fluent, precious precess predetermined predatory predicament, gyro gyre.
Horizon hornswoggle huckster, hokey hoot ornery honkies.

Horologist hackamore relative rationality.
Decorum dastardly dazzle deceit, demolish demur, annihilate denigrate.
Armature arcade doughty, panacea parallax serendipity servant serenade.
Personification of sartorial perfection, picturesque visage of spectral grace.
Cosmic enigma rational relativity.

Housebreak huckster squabble brash, hovel huff.
Ghastly gruesome grotesque grisly groaty gnarly grotto grouch compunction.
Caustic cavernous celibate catatonic phonics, apex crux axis matrix cortex cephalic.
Blasphemous farcical fugue-ness and estranged ensemble orchestration acoustics.
Rendition: various assorted forms of related stranger weirdness.
Conjugation coercion junction function, adjunct conjunction conjecture.
Concoct deontology ontogeny, ontological enclitic osteopathy.
Anticipate angary amentia, tiercel theocracy.
Phrenic sensorium sentiment paragon tangible.
Covert aspersion avidity, coherent avid avarice, allegory allocate amatory prelude annex annul.

Tantamount telepathy tantalize talisman talesman, prerogative presumptive judicature.
Subpoena parameter perimeter peripherals prophylaxis protocol.
Real deal seal, sail bail, bailiff rake-ness rail.
Yoni yore yare, leeward lecher leer lingam, menagerie melee hyperbolic milieu thesis, métier quintessential fulham.
Dangle wrangle mangle jangle tangle angle.
Hysterically delirious zany nertsy bonkers bluster boggle.
Gyrate, austere askance obliquely, aspire assail askew.

Cosmic origins metamorphosis implosion contractions revision, blond entropy catalyst.
Cataclysm catastrophe holocaust trauma, inefficacy ineffable expiate.
Chaos cognizant conceive dialectic dictates in extremis extremity meld nuance.
Cryptic cipher circuit citadel clairvoyant sequitur.
Cajole fictitious fiery finesse, invoke fulmination gouts clout, curtilage endeavor iterative itinerary.
Ersatz fiat fulcrum fulgurous indemnify indigenous infernal infidel iniquitous.
Electroacoustic ciphony  Electra complex lore, occipital ubiquity synch.
Psychosomatic psychokinesis cybernetics, penumbral platitude platonic proxy photic.
Assimilate stigma perspicacious, astute asunder atman pulchritudinous.
        
Decadent arrogant pompously bombastic blatant flagrant chaparral.
Diabolically maniacal dementia brusque macabre abruptness.
Swarthy beastly antithetical anathema ******* belligerent, savvy irate berserk-ness tirade.
Ulterior aghast agitator incongruous dire, perdurable peremptory primacy arbitrate zealot.
Cantankerously sorcerous insidiously sinister alchemy cauldron, pernicious visceral pathogenic, virulence truculence.
Ideational hideously horrible horrendously heinous ghastly abysmal abjection.
Perpetuity pervade rampart ransack oblation erogenous scarp lambent actuarial arbitrage.
Exserted protuberant pseudopodia actuator, odious aorist militantly mercenary.

Wingspread wiry wiseacre wherewithal rapacity, implicit important juxtaposition.
Machismo equilibrist machinations, kinesiology kleptomaniac knell physique.
Ribaldry rigmarole rhubarb, risqué rive rollick.
Demeanor kamikaze kerf, megalomania misanthropies modus operandi genocidal xenophobic.
Heredity heritage heresy legacy, pseudonym multifarious nefarious nemesis.
Sepulcher stratagem pantheism parapet paradigm, psychosis neophyte, paragon proselyte.
Pilferous wheedling finagler, plunderous pillaging usurper, longevous loquacity lottery.
Rhapsody rhetoric rote raconteur newfangled nocturnal nonchalant sycophant.
Morose morsel moribund, lurid luscious lyricism lucidity lucrative.
Creative cleaver crafty cunning furtive sneaky stealthy connive.
Aphorism euphemism hegira to xanadu carousing marauder syllogism.
Swell surge flow flux craw crux, virago monad chaos character charisma.
Heuristic cavalier humeral, meager demonstrative anarchy iconoclasm, apropos ergo ipso-facto.
Plenary plenipotentiary omniscience presage, omnipotent directive ubiquity emanations.
Nous agnate ontological ontogeny, exegesis peroration.
Abeyance, exotically ****** quixotic ecstatically emphatic fanatic.
Orchestration rendition unicorn railway mainsail, awry askew askance.

Canny cogent fecund erudite sagacious sequacious conjuring mentality introjection conjugation coercions.
Avant-garde temporal abstract, scenario synopsis eclectic synectics.
Synaptic syntax syndrome aspersion, quagmire quandary poshly plush.
Physicality ***** pictorial, picturesque glyph, debauchery deviant profane ***** vicarious assertion exorbitance.
Mystical silhouette sojourn consortium sabbat conclave liaison, soiree tryst rendezvous symposium excursion compendium.
Incarnate cephalic phantasmagoria proximity parameter phantasm epitomize transitive transcendental syntactic semantics.
Resplendent radiant ephemeral effulgence translucent incandescent luster effluence, reflectively refractive azure opulence effusion.
Contentious pretentiously extravagant eccentric intransigent pedantic antics.
Guidon guile homogenous hovering imagination immaturity, exogamy incorporeity ideologies.
Pique poignant piquant puissant quiescence, obstreperously abstruse vagary plausibility’s cause.
Vivid intangible impetus instinct intrigue, livid lurid allusion.
Autonomous preterite discrepancy amendment emendations, transcendent accession ascensional in absentia expurgation exculpation.
I'm so lonely. Nobody loves me unless I over simplify. I think I'll take my martial arts trainee (Jaded seal ordinand) down to the corner and see if I can find a likely suspect to flash my badge at.
howard brace Sep 2012
He'd been conceived in Flamborough, so his little sister assured him some eleven summers ago, which was a tad hard for Rocky to swallow, she was a whole eighteen months his junior and then some... and at that age, well... what did she know, she was only a kid, "on this very rock" River insisted, kicking her heels in delight, "next to this very rock pool" they were both sitting beside, "one sunny afternoon eleven years ago..." and that was how he came by the name of Rocky... she taunted as the rest of the colourful story unfolded... and that she had it all on the best possible authority... although the more she thought about it, had she meant concealed... she wasn't quite sure now, it was all so very confusing at her tender age but thought it sounded close enough not to matter too much and that she would just wait and see which way the wind blew.
        
     It was conceivably an ill wind that blew no one any good that day, especially if you were a boy and just happened to be sat by a rock pool next to your little sister...  Having just taken a well earned drink from a neighbouring rock pool, Sockeye the floppiest Springer Spaniel this side of the Pecos decided that he was going to dig a hole and that he would be digging it deep, then changed his mind mid-dig and decided to have a more down to earth back scratching wriggle instead... then promptly flopped over and slid into the hole... life was sweet.  Now covered from nose to tail with every species of deceased shore life usually found frequenting the high water mark Sockeye, in a blinding flash of canine inspiration judged it would be in everyone's best interest were he to have a really good shakedown which always appeared to go down well on these occasions... and give everyone a good peppering, just so they could see exactly what they'd been missing all their lives.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                      ­                         ...   ...   ...*

a work in progress*                                                        ­                                                              240­6
Mokomboso Oct 2014
My hair is a mop hanging over my crown
The shade of standard mammalian brown
I am envious of your tresses
Over your face is a redheaded swirl,
Gradating into your dreadlocked shawl
Tendrils of auburn drag along the floor like a high wizard’s gown
If I had your hair I would knot each section into braids
Weave it with bobbles and beads
I could take a curler to my cape, straighteners to my legs
I’ve always been a fan of the redhead, pre-Raphaelite waves
Reds and yellows and oranges cascade
You take it to another level though, and boy
It is most enviable!
I would ask that we swap, but with my fur pattern you’d look quite odd
With a blackish flannel hanging on your head
And the odd patch of wiry moss 'tween your legs
And I must say I would look a bit daft
With a crimped ginger trench coat swamping my back!
So I shall just say, Mr. orang-utan
Your hair is great!
Orangutans have badass hair. That is all.
Skypath Sep 2014
It's elementary, my dear
This bittersweet affection that I feel
From one boy to the next I grew
Ladder rungs of broken hearts

First grade
Blonde hair and disarming smile
Recess games and hallway passes
A note in a diary and minutes spent giggling
Never talking, always watching

Fourth grade
Glasses frame of brown hair and thin shoulders
Curious enigma to come and go
A bit more literate diary entrees
One year of crossed legs and shy smiles

Fifth grade
A growing tree of lean muscle and blue eyes
Short brown hair and a charming grin
Side by side on a rubber track
Gray skies and sweet goodbyes
A bright dance floor and a shattered heart
Miserable nights and heartbreak songs

Seventh grade
Long dark hair and chocolate eyes
This spring has brought a strange surprise
Wiry muscle and soft cheeks
Once admired, then adored
An ongoing thrum of sweet affection
Sidelong glances and gym class stares
New discoveries and quiet realization
Girl can love girl

Tenth grade
A firecracker packed with mysterious boys
And an enigmatic girl
A bomb in the summer sky
Spelling new names, new faces, new hearts
A whisper of 'I love you' at long last returned
Names carved on my ribs and pulling my lips
A tightened chest never felt so good
Sid Lollan Aug 2017
◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

(Authors of (obligatory)
Redemption: what is true genius if it ain’t dead yet?
Let you, who **** it, not be present for its resurrection.)

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

i had a nightmare:

i opened the door of my ranch-house in the boonies of
southern pa.
out-into the grasses of the old Congo;
There stood the Lion.
20 feet away
i, frozen in the magnitude of his vision;
spirit, dominated by his
completely;
Not even a growl.
i remained
paralyzed—he licked the backs of his paws
and combed a wiry mane...
…a halfa-second was a year if it was a halfa-second now...
but
somewhere in there
i regained my legs and without knowing
pivoted,
grabbed the doorknob. Twist. Open. Step inside.
turn to close the...doorway is gone, the house has vanished
And
HE WAS RIGHT ON TOP OF ME

i was nothing but-a body of plastic fear
molten,
melted and cast into mannequin limbs and head.
i could feel the Lion’s entire, real
spirit crushing spirt
on my hollow caste self.

his breathe stunk of blood that
forced my replicaego into infant curl…
…Finally, the beast roared a canyon
i shivered!
a shiver that shook inside my head
thru the spine to shake
my bones inside the bed.

Thru the constricting red curtain of bloodclot eye
spy the tiny eclipse
of the Black Crow inna massive sheet of african sun;
i must be dead already.
The Lion feels the Crow perched onna cape fig nearby
and his muscles tighten accordingly, his beastly hunger
displaced by boiled-blood anger.

Eye-to-Eye
with the beast
where Fear has reached saturation-point;
it is Nothing if it is Everything…
…the Crow lets out a hiss
like spikes of radio-static, interrupted by series
of whooping-caws…
…stomach vibrated by the Lion’s low,
almost internal growl. For the
first time, his tranquilizing orbs
divert from mine
to capture the Black Crow perched on the dying cape fig.
uncertainty taps my shoulder…then…i feel my body;
the weight releases
and as i motion to rise from the grass and dirt, the Congo dissolves and i’m
sitting up on my mattress with broken springs in the humid
summer slumber of southern pa.

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

-What security?
programmed,
under deep-cover;
jungian re-uploads. Them. Resurrected witha blackmarket
medicine a Witch Doctor devolution;
Replicate, regenerate, forever
<01100101 01100001 01110100 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01110100 01100001 01101001 01101100 00100000 01110100 01101111 00100000 01100111 01110010 01101111 01110111 00100000 01100001 00100000 01101000 01100101 01100001 01100100>
Bottom feeding grave robbers and tomb vandals are all they are!-

-Better check what ya put down here…liable to shape a ghoul,
and you know this haunt is made-up of enough spooks-

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Professors of chaos preach:
O wanderers!
write me the manifesto
walking atop a line of hot coals
-I smell me some burning soles-

(They intend to:
Pour, pure from cold-clear spring-spout
      into muddy-brown-clay, dissolved,
rushing against dried-up bones of gully-walls…
…the Crow just sits above
         and laughs there

Don’t ya see it?)

History
is not about the past,
but
about what the present
can mold the past
into
for the future.
-the marble’s trajectory sure to
flip onnit’s axis d’pending on which record you dig-

(One mistake
can a coward make
or
one accident happen
up-on that a martyr stake’d.
etched in the rut of each separate fate;)


The lion
must roar for his P R I D E
        (or?)
lion wears his hide
as a mascot
Black Crow eats crow egg blues
        black crow spotted me yellow in the bushes
pants down, gun-in-hand
-send your prayers-

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊
King David Apr 2014
Im a calm, cool collected cucumber underneath this fandangled, wiry, wrinkled visage.
Ive escaped the clutches of the tangled snare of my image.
Where and when I belong and to whom is no matter.
I pass by groups and clans and grimace inquisitively at thier chatter.
To my ears its an alien clamour of clashing egos and look at me's.
They'd all be happier in a lonesome cross legged position enjoying the breeze beneath the trees.
With ease I float through my day passionately.
Expanding and contracting with the waves of existence.
I sway indefinitely.
Yield to and renounce the question arisen from the back of the mind "what does it mean to be me"
Akemi Nov 2018
Blanket city run along soaked in rain. Idiot Boy wastes his time visiting a passing crush at the other end of town. Slips between two houses and a metal sheet, communal refrigerator in the middle of the road filed with half-empty soy bottles.

Dead bell stop, mocking red blink of the operator. Father arrives, a mess of wiry muscles and hair.

“Hey. Is Coffin Cat here?”

“Who?” Father squints at Idiot Boy’s cap. Idiot Boy avoids eye contact.

“Um.”

Recessed in the blackness behind Father, a Figure says, “You looking for Coffin Cat?”

Idiot Boy nods.

The Recessed Figure turns. “I’ll go get her.”

Father returns to his parched body on the couch, content.

Indistinguishable forms move back and forth in the kitchen to the right. They stop their pacing and glance at Idiot Boy as he passes. Idiot Boy avoids eye contact and slips into the left-bound arterial vessel.

“So this is the heart chamber I’ve been living in,” Coffin Cat says as Idiot Boy enters her room. There is music gear. “It’s pretty comfy.”

“Oh, sick mic,” Idiot Boy says, pointing at the mic behind Coffin Cat’s head.

“I feel like a ghost,” Coffin Cat replies, falling on her bed.

Idiot Boy settles next to her. Animal distance. Intensely aware of his rain-soaked right shoe. “Same.”

Nothing comes out right, intersubjectivity a false God to mediate the impossible kernel of being, nobody can find nor express. Idiot Boy searches for connection. He glances around the heart chamber, at the music gear, but nothing grips. Four pears sit on a table by the window, their skins garish green in the harsh grey light.

Coffin Cat moves from the bed to the floor. She opens a virtual aquarium on her computer; fish eat pellets dropped from the sky to **** out coins to buy more fish to **** out coins to buy more fish. Capitalist investment and accumulation. Every few minutes a rocket-spewing robot teleports into the aquarium to attack the fish. Ruthless competition in the global marketplace.

“No! Why would you swim there, you ******* fish?” Coffin Cat yells as one if her fish is eaten by the nomadic war machine. “So dumb. ****. Why did it eat my fish?”

A knock at the door. The Recessed Figure from earlier enters the room. “Hey, mind if I join?” Their arms dangle like fine threads of hair.

“I like your music gear,” Idiot Boy says, pointing at nothing in particular.

“Idiot Boy also makes music,” Coffin Cat adds from the floor.

The Recessed Figure does not respond. They are enthralled by their phone, streak of dead pixels along a digital chessboard, minute reflection of their own gaunt face in the glass. After an extended period, they decide to move none of their pieces. A gaping coffee grinder rises out of the rubble at their feet. They begin filling it with tobacco from broken cigarettes.

“I’m surprised you’re still playing this,” Idiot Boy says to Coffin Cat. “I swear this is one of those games designed to ruin your life. Get addicted, stop going to work, become a hikik weaboo.”

“Already there, man,” Coffin Cat laughs. “Nah, this is my new job. I’m going to be a professional gamer.”

“Stream only PopCap games.”

Another knock at the door. Tired squander in an endless pacing of flesh. Strawman enters and nods at the Recessed Figure. “Hey bro.”

“Good to see you, man.” The Recessed Figure plugs the coffee grinder into the wall. “You got any ciggys?”

Idiot Boy points under the table and says “Ahh” with his mouth.

The Recessed Figure empties it into the coffee grinder. The device whirs into motion, creating a centrifugal blur, a mechanical and headless hypnotic repeat.

Idiot Boy and Coffin Cat look for horror movies to watch. The Recessed Figure empties the contents of the coffee grinder onto a metal tray. Strawman repacks it into a ****. White smoke fills the empty column, moves in slow motion like an oceanic rip a mile off coast, surface seething with quiet, impenetrable violence.

Idiot Boy refuses the first round. It’s never done him any good. Face turned to smoke and the wretched weight of a tongue that refuses to speak. Headless carry-on as time ticks through the clock face.

The door bursts open. Everybody turns as Manic Refusal or the Loud Person saunters in.

“I can’t believe it. I can’t ******* believe it. They’re selling me off!” the Loud Person says in exasperation. “First time back in New Zealand in five years and they do this to me!”

“What? What’s happened?” Strawman asks.

“Some rich ****** in Australia has bought me as his wife. I knew it, I knew if I came back, my parents wouldn’t let me leave again. Whole ******* thing arranged!” the Loud Person laughs bitterly, before hitting the ****.

“Oomph, that’s rough,” Coffin Cat quips from the side.

“No, you don’t even understand. This is the first time back, the first time back in five years, and I’m being sold to off some rich ****** who owns all the banks in Australia.”

“But like, who is this guy?” Strawman asks, pointing.

“And he’s been reading all my profiles. He has access to all my information. I don’t even have control over my Facebook profile. Grand Larson’s logged in as me, posting for me,” the Loud Person continues. “I met him once in Australia, clubbing, and now he’s tracked and bought me.”

“That’s creepy as ****,” Idiot Boy says.

“So he’s not a complete stranger?” Strawman asks.

“I can’t believe it. I can’t ******* believe it. First time back in five years and I’m being sold off!”

Idiot Boy decides one hit from the **** wouldn’t be so bad. He packs the cone with chop, lights and inhales. Smoke rushes through the glass channel, a swirl of white ether, more than he’d expected. He quickly passes the **** to Coffin Cat, before collapsing onto the bed, eyes closed. A suffocating sensation fills his body. He sinks into the chasm of himself, further and further into an impossible, infinite depth.

“Still working at . . . ?”

“Yeah, yeah. Management. Hospital. You?”

“Like, property. Motions.”

“Subcontracting? Intonements?”

“Yeah, yeah.”

“Mmm.”

Idiot Boy doesn’t know what’s going on. He feels sick and tries to get Coffin Cat’s attention, but cannot move his body.

“Come on. Sell me drugs, Strawman.”

“Nah. I don’t deal drugs. I don’t deal drugs.”

A strange silence stretches like an artificial dusk, a liminal duration, the hollow click of a tape set back into place in reverse. The Recessed Figure coughs and the Loud Person whirs back into motion.

“I can’t believe it. I can’t ******* believe it. They’re selling me off! First time back in New Zealand in five years and they do this to me!”

The Recessed Figure makes a noncommittal noise.

“I knew it, I knew if I came back, my parents wouldn’t let me leave again. Whole ******* thing arranged!”

Coffin Cat laughs quietly.

“No, you don’t even understand. This is the first time back, the first time back in five years, and I’m being sold off to some rich ****** who owns all the banks in Australia.”

“How about this fella? He doing okay?” Strawman asks, pointing. Everyone turns to Idiot Boy and laughs affectionately.

“Still working at . . . ?”

“Yeah, yeah. Management. Hospital. You?”

“Like, property. Motions.”

“Subcontracting? Intonements?”

“Yeah, yeah.”

“Mmm.”

“Sell me drugs, Strawman.”

“Nah. I don’t deal drugs. I don’t deal drugs.”

Idiot Boy slowly opens his eyes and stares out the window. The same grey light as before. He moves his arm further towards Coffin Cat, but is still too weak to get her attention. The same strange silence stretches. The Recessed Figure coughs and the Loud Person whirs back into motion.

“I can’t believe it. I can’t ******* believe it. . . .”

As the conversation repeats over and again, Idiot Boy begins to think he has become psychotic, or perhaps entered into a psychotic space. He thinks of computer algorithms, input-output, loops without variables, endless regurgitations of the same result. Human machines trapped in their own stupid loop. Drug-****** neuronal networks incapable of making new connections, forever traversing old ones. Short-term memory loss, every repeat a new conversation of what has already been. The same grey light painted upon four pears by the window.

He’s not sure if Coffin Cat’s laugh is getting weaker with each repeat.

Signal-response. The exterior world oversaturated with variables: roadways, rivers, forests, wildlife — an ever changing scene to respond to — the illusion of depth. Automatic response mechanisms reorient to new stimuli. The soul rises like surfactant, objectified fractal diffusion. A becoming without end.

But within the border of this interior world, the light stays grey. No input, no change; the same dead repeat, over and over, until sundown triggers a hunger response. Lined all along the street, a black box ceremony of repeating machines, trapped in their idiot cults, walls of clay and blood.

Idiot Boy finally gets Coffin Cat’s attention. She helps him through the house’s arteries to reach rain and wet stone, overcast skies. As he shakes in shock, Coffin Cat mumbles, “It’s cold.”

Idiot Boy sits silent on the ride home. Travels through himself. Tunnel through the body or Mariana Trench. Loses his footing before a traumatic void. Leaves the car and pukes.
Iris Proctor Jan 2018
Saturday
Sounds like the pattering
Of bare feet
On a dusty concrete yard,

Smells of chimney smoke
And jagged coal heath,
Sheep-scent and
Wiry wool on a barbed fence,

Saturday
Is a jangly guitar
In a rickety truck
On a gravel road,

With a gravel voice
Rough as grit,
Deep as the caverns
Between the peaks,

Saturday
Is sunlight on an enamel ***,
A tin kettle
And its blood metal tea,

It is blackberry-bitten legs
and iodine streams,
A canopy of heady bracken
Below penny-marked trees,

Then Sunday,
Slantwise
Against the setting sun
Away again.
Martin Narrod Apr 2014
I am in levels. Past levels. This deep, intrinsic wonderful lost, the lawlessness of its fascinating expenditure of excite. Pushing through the wild and feral snow-dusted plains and timber ridges. Like red-spotted dots breathing through the cylinders called the spine. This descends into a narrow channel of scantly clad greenish scenery in a time-soaked visionary wilderness of snow,
Our crab legs dancing down wiry purple highways, our heads could not even look backwards if we had wanted.

Furious, love-latitudes, stalking breaths thwacking fork-ended tongues into a pinkish knot buried into the first layer of organic membrane on this railway of miniature canals, showing. And their pride snuck into the elbows, shooting down each vertebrae as it stepped with great precision every ledge that the currency emphasized. The raw accumulation of stolen heart-beats rattling between the interstices of new fuel careering these red engines. Crashing with exquisite pleasure into one another.
mrs kite Apr 2016
blood curdles
sour milk in a pale blue carton
pushing out of wiry veins
rotten

.


the vena cava
was never meant to hold
ruined plasma
just like the world was never meant to hold
me.
THE BABY moon, a canoe, a silver papoose canoe, sails and sails in the Indian west.
A ring of silver foxes, a mist of silver foxes, sit and sit around the Indian moon.
One yellow star for a runner, and rows of blue stars for more runners, keep a line of watchers.
O foxes, baby moon, runners, you are the panel of memory, fire-white writing to-night of the Red Man's dreams.
Who squats, legs crossed and arms folded, matching its look against the moon-face, the star-faces, of the West?
Who are the Mississippi Valley ghosts, of copper foreheads, riding wiry ponies in the night?-no bridles, love-arms on the pony necks, riding in the night a long old trail?
Why do they always come back when the silver foxes sit around the early moon, a silver papoose, in the Indian west?
There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around
That the colt from old Regret had got away,
And had joined the wild bush horses -  he was worth a thousand pound,
So all the cracks had gathered to the fray.
All the tried and noted riders from the stations near and far
Had mustered at the homestead overnight,
For the bushmen love hard riding where the wild bush horses are,
And the stock-horse snuffs the battle with delight.

There was Harrison, who made his pile when Pardon won the cup,
The old man with his hair as white as snow;
But few could ride beside him when his blood was fairly up —
He would go wherever horse and man could go.
And Clancy of the Overflow came down to lend a hand,
No better horseman ever held the reins;
For never horse could throw him while the saddle girths would stand,
He learnt to ride while droving on the plains.

And one was there, a stripling on a small and weedy beast;
He was something like a racehorse undersized,
With a touch of Timor pony — three parts thoroughbred at least —
And such as are by mountain horsemen prized.
He was hard and tough and wiry — just the sort that won't say die —
There was courage in his quick impatient tread;
And he bore the badge of gameness in his bright and fiery eye,
And the proud and lofty carriage of his head.

But still so slight and weedy, one would doubt his power to stay,
And the old man said, "That horse will never do
For a long and tiring gallop  - lad, you'd better stop away,
Those hills are far too rough for such as you."
So he waited sad and wistful — only Clancy stood his friend —
"I think we ought to let him come," he said;
"I warrant he'll be with us when he's wanted at the end,
For both his horse and he are mountain bred."

"He hails from Snowy River, up by Kosciusko's side,
Where the hills are twice as steep and twice as rough,
Where a horse's hoofs strike firelight from the flint stones every stride,
The man that holds his own is good enough.
And the Snowy River riders on the mountains make their home,
Where the river runs those giant hills between;
I have seen full many horsemen since I first commenced to roam,
But nowhere yet such horsemen have I seen."

So he went; they found the horses by the big mimosa clump,
They raced away towards the mountain's brow,
And the old man gave his orders, "Boys, go at them from the jump,
No use to try for fancy riding now.
And, Clancy, you must wheel them, try and wheel them to the right.
Ride boldly, lad, and never fear the spills,
For never yet was rider that could keep the mob in sight,
If once they gain the shelter of those hills."

So Clancy rode to wheel them — he was racing on the wing
Where the best and boldest riders take their place,
And he raced his stockhorse past them, and he made the ranges ring
With the stockwhip, as he met them face to face.
Then they halted for a moment, while he swung the dreaded lash,
But they saw their well-loved mountain full in view,
And they charged beneath the stockwhip with a sharp and sudden dash,
And off into the mountain scrub they flew.

Then fast the horsemen followed, where the gorges deep and black
Resounded to the thunder of their tread,
And the stockwhips woke the echoes, and they fiercely answered back
From cliffs and crags that beetled overhead.
And upward, ever upward, the wild horses held their way,
Were mountain ash and kurrajong grew wide;
And the old man muttered fiercely, "We may bid the mob good day,
No man can hold them down the other side."

When they reached the mountain's summit, even Clancy took a pull  -
It well might make the boldest hold their breath;
The wild hop scrub grew thickly, and the hidden ground was full
Of wombat holes, and any slip was death.
But the man from Snowy River let the pony have his head,
And he swung his stockwhip round and gave a cheer,
And he raced him down the mountain like a torrent down its bed,
While the others stood and watched in very fear.

He sent the flint-stones flying, but the pony kept his feet,
He cleared the fallen timbers in his stride,
And the man from Snowy River never shifted in his seat —
It was grand to see that mountain horseman ride.
Through the stringy barks and saplings, on the rough and broken ground,
Down the hillside at a racing pace he went;
And he never drew the bridle till he landed safe and sound,
At the bottom of that terrible descent.

He was right among the horses as they climbed the farther hill
And the watchers on the mountain standing mute,
Saw him ply the stockwhip fiercely; he was right among them still,
As he raced across the clearing in pursuit.
Then they lost him for a moment, where two mountain gullies met
In the ranges - but a final glimpse reveals
On a dim and distant hillside the wild horses racing yet,
With the man from Snowy River at their heels.

And he ran them single-handed till their sides were white with foam.
He followed like a bloodhound on their track,
Till they halted cowed and beaten, then he turned their heads for home,
And alone and unassisted brought them back.
But his hardy mountain pony he could scarcely raise a trot,
He was blood from hip to shoulder from the spur;
But his pluck was still undaunted, and his courage fiery hot,
For never yet was mountain horse a cur.

And down by Kosciusko, where the pine-clad ridges raise
Their torn and rugged battlements on high,
Where the air is clear as crystal, and the white stars fairly blaze
At midnight in the cold and frosty sky,
And where around the Overflow the reed -beds sweep and sway
To the breezes, and the rolling plains are wide,
The man from Snowy River is a household word today,
And the stockmen tell the story of his ride.
Martin Narrod Feb 2015
Part I


the plateau. the truest of them all. coast line. night spells and even controlled by the dream of meeting again. the ribbon of darker than light in your crown. No region overlooked. Third picnic table to the drive at Half Moon Bay, meet me there, decant my speech there. the table by the restroom block. While the tide is in show me your oyster garden, 3:00p.m. at half-light here in the evilest torments that have been shed.---------------door locked.  The moors. Cow herds and lymph nodes, rancorous afternoon West light and bending roads, the cliffs, a sister, the need to jump. There is nothing as serious as this. There is nothing nor no one that could ever, or would ever on this side come between. Who needs sleep or jokes or snow or rivers or bombs or to turn or be a rat or a fly or ceiling fan or a gurney or a cadaver or piece of cloth or a bed spread or a couch or a game or the flint of a lighter or the bell of a dress; the bell of your dress, yes, perhaps. Having been crushed like orange cigarette light in a pool of Spanish tongues. I feel the heave, the pull; not a yawn but a wired, thread-like twist about my core. Up around the neck it makes the first cut, through the eyes out and into the nostrils down over the left arm, on the inside of the bicep, contorting my length, feigning sleep, and then cutting over my stomach, around and around multiples of times- pulled at the hips and under the groin, across each leg and in-between each nerve, capillary, artery, hair, dot, dimple, muscle, to the toes and in-between them. Wiry dream-like and nervous nightmarish, hellacious plateaus of leapers. Penguin heads and more penguin heads. Startling torment. The evilest of the vile mind. The dance of despair: if feet contorted and bound could move. The beach off Belmont. The hills and the reasons I stared. Caveat after caveat at the heads of letters, on the heads of crowns, and the wrists, and on the palms. Being pulled and signed, and moved away so greatly and so heavily at once in a moment, that even if it were a year or a set of many months it would always be a moment too taking away to be considered an expanse, and it would be too hellacious to be presumptuous. It could only be a shadow over my right shoulder as I write the letters over and again. One after another. Internally I ask if I would even grant a convo with Keats or Yeats or Plath or Hughes? Does mine come close? Does it matter the bellies reddish and cerise giving of pain? Does it have to have many names?


"This is the only Earth," I would say with the bouquet of lilies spread out on the table. Are lilies only for funerals, I would never make or risk or wish this metaphor, even play it like the drawn out notes of a melody unwritten and un-played: my black box and latched, corner of the room saxophone. Top-floor, end of the hall two-room never-ending story, I'm the left side of the bed Chicago and I see pink walls, bathrooms, the two masonite paintings, the Chanel books, the bookshelves, the white desk, the white dresser, you on the left side of the bed in such sentimental woe, **** carpet and tilted blinds, and still the moors and the whispering in the driver's seat in afternoon pasture. Sunset, sunrise, nighttime and bike room writing in other places, apartments, rooms where I inked out fingertips, blights, and moods; nothing ever being so bleak, so eerily woe-like or stoic. Nothing has ever made me so serious.

Put it on the rib, in a t-shirt. Make it a hand and guide it up a set of two skinny legs under a short-sheeted bed in small room and literary Belmont, address included. Trash cans set out morning and night, deck-readied cigarette smoking. Sliding glass door and kitchen fright. Low-lit living room white couch, kaleidoscope, and zoetrope. Spin me right round baby right round. I am my own revenge of toxic night. Attack the skin, the soul, the eyes, the mind, and the lids. The finger lids and their tips. Rot it out. Blearing wild and deafening blow after blow: left side of the bed the both of us, whilst stirs the intrepid hate and ousts each ******* tongue I can bellow and blow.

Last resort lake note in snow bank and my river speak and forest walk. Wrapped in blocks and boxes, Christmas packaging and giant over-sized red ribbons and bows. Shall I mention the bassinet, the stroller, the yard, several rings of gold and silver, several necklaces of black and thread? I draw dagger from box, jagged ended and paper-wrapped in white and amber: lit in candle light and black room shadow-kept and sleeping partisan unforgettable forever. Do I mention Hawaii, my mother dying, invisible ligatures and the unveiling of the sweat and horror? Villainous and frightening, the breath as a bleat or heart-beat and matchstick stirring slightly every friends' woe and tantrum of their spirit.

Lobster-legged, waiting, sifting through the sea shore at the sea line, the bright tyrannosaurs in mahogany, in maple, and in twine over throw rose meadow over-looks, honey-brimming and warehouse built terrariums in the underbelly of the ravine, twist and turn: road bending, hollowing, in and out and in and out, forever, the everlasting and too fastidious driving towards; and it's but what .2 miles? I sign my name but I'll never get out. I am mocked and musing at tortoise speed. Headless while improvising. Purring at any example of continue or extremity or coolness of mind, meddling, or temptation. I rock, bellowing. Talk, sending shivers up my spine. I'm cramped, and one thousand fore-words and after words that split like a million large chunks of spit, grime, and *****; **** and more ****. I might even be standing now. I could be a candle, in England, a kingdom, in Palo Alto, a rook in St. Petersburg. Mottled by giants or sleepless nights, I could be the Eiffel Tower or the Statue of Liberty, a heated marble flower or the figure dying to be carved out. I'm veering off highways, I'm belittling myself: this heathen of the unforgettable, the bog man and bow-tied vagrant of dross falsification and dross despair. I am at the sea shore, tide-righted and tongue-tide, bilingual, and multi-inhibited by sweat, spit, quaffs of sea salt, lake water, and the like. Rotten wergild ridden- stitched of a poor man's ringworm and his tattered top hat and knee-holed trousers. I'm at the sea shore, with the cucumbers dying, the rain coming in sideways, the drifts and the sandbars twisting and turning. I'm at the sea shore with the light house bruise-bending the sweet ships of victory out backwards into the backwaters of a mislead moonlight; guitars playing, beeps disappearing, pianos swept like black coffees on green walled night clubs, arenose and eroding, grainy and distraught, bleeding and well, just bleeding.






I'm at the sea shore, the coastline calling. I've got rocks in my pockets, ******* and two lines left in the letter. I’m at the sea shore, my mouth is a ghost. I've seen nothing but darkness. I'm at the seashore, second picnic table, bench facing the squat and gobble, the tin roof and riled weir near the roadside. .2 and I'm still here with my bouquet wading and waiting. I'm at the sea shore and there's nobody here. My inches are growing shorter by the second, cold, whet by the sunset, its moon men, their heavy claws and bi-laws overthrowing and throwing me out. The thorns stick. The tyrannosaurs scream. I'm at the sea shore, plateau, left bedside to write three more letters. Sign my name and there's nobody here.

I'm at the sea shore: here are my lips, my palms (both of them facing up), here are my legs (twine and all), my torso, and my head shooting sideways. I'm at the seashore and this is my grave, this is my purposeful calotype, my hide and go seek, my show and tell, my forever. .2 and forever and never ending. I was just one dream away come and keep me. I'm at the sea shore come and see me and seam me. I'm without nothing, the sky has drifted, the sea is leaving, my seat is a matchbox and I'm all wound up. The snow settling, the ice box and its glory taken for granted. I'm at the sea shore and there's nobody here. The room with its white sets of furniture, the lilies, the Chanel, the masonite paintings, the bed, your ribbon of darker on light, the throw rug **** carpet, pink walled sister's room, and the couch at the top of the stairs. I'm at the sea shore, my windows opened wide, my skin thrown with threat, rhinoceri, reddish bruises bent of cerise staled sunsets. I'm at the sea shore and there's nobody here. I'm at the plateau and there isn't a single ship. There are the rocks below and I'm counting. My caveats all implored and my goodbyes written. I'm in my bed and the sleep never set in. I'm name dropping God and there's nobody there. I'm in a chair with my hands on a keyboard, listening to Danish throb-rock, horse-riding into candle light on a wicked wedding of wild words and teary-eyed gazes and gazers. Bent by the rocking and the torment, the wild and the weird, the horror and everything horrifying. There is this shadow looking over my shoulder. I'm all alone but I feel like you're here.



Part II




I wake up in Panama. The axe there. Sleeping on the floors in the guest bedroom, the floor of the garden shed, the choir closet, the rut of dirt at the end of the flower bed; just a towel, grayish-blue, alone, lawnmower at my side, and sky blue setting all around. I was a family man. No I just taste bits of dirt watching a quiet and contrary feeling of cool limestone wrap over and about my arms and my legs. Lungs battered by snapping tongues, and ancient conversations; I think it was the Malaysian Express. Mom quieted. Sister quieted. Father wept. And is still weeping. Never have I heard such horrifying and un-kindly words.-----------------------It's going to take giant steel cavernous explorations of the nose, brain cell after brain cell quartered, giant ******* quaffs of alcohol, harboring false lanterns and even worse chemicals. Inhalations and more inhalations. I'm going to need to leap, flight, drop into bodies of waters from air planes and swallow capsules of psychotropics, sedatives beyond recalcitrance. I'm requiring shock treatments and shock values. Periodic elements and galvanized steel drums. Malevolence and more malevolence. Forest walks, and why am I still in Panama. I don't want to talk, to sleep, to dream, to play stale-mating games of chess, checkers, Monopoly, or anything Risk involving. I can't sleep, eat, treaty or retreat. I'm wickeded by temptations of grandeur and threats of anomaly, widening only in proverb and swept only by opposing endeavors. Horrified, enveloped, pictured and persuaded by the evilest of haunts, spirits, and match head weeping women. I can't even open my mouth without hearing voices anymore. The colors are beginning to be enormous and I still can't swim. I couldn't drown with my ears open if I kept my nose dry and my mouth full of a plane ticket and first class beanstalk to elysian fields. It's pervasive and I'm purveyed. It's unquantifiable. It's the epitomizing and the epitome. I have my epaulets set for turbulent battles though I still can't fend off night. Speak and I might remember. Hear and it's second rite. Sea attacks, oceans roaring, lakes swallowing me whole. Grand bodies of waters and faces and arms appendages, crowns and more crowns and more crowns and more crowns and more crowns and I'm still shaking, and I'm still just a button. And I still can't sleep. And I'm still waiting.

It is night. The moon ripening, peeling back his face. Writhing. Seamed by the beauty of the nocturne, his ways made by sun, sky, and stars. Rolled and rampant. Moved across the plateau of the air, and its even and coolly majestic wanton shades of twilight. It heads off mountains, is swept as the plains of beauty, their faces in wild and feral growths. Bent and bolded, indelible and facing off Roman Empires too gladly well in inked and whet tips of bolder hands to soothe them forth.-----------Here in their grand and grandiose furnaces of the heart, whipped tails and tall fables fettered and tarnished in gold’s and lime. Here with their mothers' doting. Here with their Jimi Hendrix and poor poetry and stand-up downtrodden wergild and retardation. I don't give a ****. I could weep for the ***** if they even had hair half as fine as my own. I am real now. Limited by nothing. Served by no worship or warship. My flotilla serves tostadas at full-price. So now we have a game going.-----------------------------------------------------------­------------------------  My cowlick is not Sinatra's and it certainly doesn't beat women. As a matter of factotum and of writ and bylaw. I'm running down words more quickly than the stanza's of Longfellow. I'm moving subtexts like Eliot. I'm rampant and gaining speed. Methamphetamine and five star meats. Alfalfa and pea tendrils. Loves and the lovers I fall over and apart on. Heroes and my fortune over told and ever telling. Moving in arc light and keeping a warm glow.

the fish line caves. the shimmy and the shake. Bluegrass music and big wafting bell tones. snakes and the river, hands on the heads, through the hair; I look straight at the Pacific. I hate plastic flowers, those inanimate stems and machine-processed flesh tones. Waltzing the state divide. I am hooked on the intrepid doom of startling ego. I let it rake into my spine. It's hooves are heavy and singe and bind like manacles all over me. My first, my last, my favorite lover. I'm stalemating in the bathtub. Harnessing Crystal Lite and making rose gardens out of CD inserts and leaf covers. I'm fascinated by magic and gods. Guns and hunters. Thieving and mold, and laundry, and stereotypes, and great stereos, and boom-boxes, and the hi-fi nightlife of Chicago, roasting on a pith and meaty flame, built like a horror story five feet tall and laced with ruggedness and small needles. My skin is a chromium orchid and the grizzly subtext of a Nick Cave tune. I've allowed myself to be over-amplified, to mistake in falsetto and vice versa. To writhe on the heavy metallic reverberations of an altercated palpitation. The heart is the lonely hunted. First the waterproof matchsticks, then the water, the bowie knife, crass grasses and hard-necked pitch-hitters and phony friends; for doing lunch in the park on a frozen pond, I play like I invented blonde and really none of my **** even smells like gold.--------------------- There are the tales of false worship. I heard a street vendor sell a story about Ovid that was worse than local politics. As far as intermittent and esoteric histories go I'm the king of the present, second stage act in the shadow of the sideshow. Tonight I'm greeting the characters with Vaseline. For their love of music and their love of philosophy. For their twilight choirs and their skinny women who wear black antler masks and PVC and polyurethane body suits standing in inner-city gardens chanting. For their chanting. The pacific. For the fish line caves. For the buzzing and the kazoos. For the alfalfa and the three fathers of blue, red, and yellow. For the state of the nation. But still mostly working for the state of equality, more than a room for one’s own.-------------------------------------------------------------­------"Rice milk for all of you." " Kensington and whittled spirits."
(Doppelganger enters stage left)MAN: Prism state, flash of the golden arc. Beastly flowers and teeming woodlands. Heir to the throes and heir to the throng.----------------------------------------------------------­--------------- The sheep meadow press in the house of affection. The terns on my hem or the hide in my beak; all across the steel girder and whipping ******* the windows facing out. The mystery gaze that seers the diplopic eye. Still its opening shunned. I put a cage over it and carry it like a child through Haight-Ashbury. At times I hint that I'm bored, but there is no letting of blood or rattle of hope. When you live with a risk you begin at times to identify with the routes. Above the regional converse, the two on two or the two on four. At times for reasons of sadness but usually its just exhaustion. At times before the come and go gets to you, but usually that is wrong and they get to you first. Lathering up in a small cerulean piece of sky at the end turnabout of a dirt road
Ben Jones Feb 2013
One day
Woke up feeling randy
No one else was handy
What's to do?
Get dressed
Satisfy the horn
With badly acted ****
On pay per view
Hopes sink
Cable's on the blink
But twitter lends a helping hand
Bang, bang, come and have a *******
Gain entrance on demand

Have a *******
Come and have a *******
It's a *******
Come and have a *******

Went out
Followed the directions
Battling erections
All the while
Red cheeks
Granny at the bus stop
Let her vision drop
Then cracked a smile
Half four
Knocking at the door
It opens and a voice proclaims
"Bang, bang, come and have a *******
We've far too many dames"

The host was a sight to see
Not far over seventy
And wrapped in a silk dressing gown
I thought I would walk away
But saw that the sky was grey
And it star-
-ted *******
It down

Stepped in
Blinded by a deep gloom
Ushered to a dark room
Curtains shut
Deep breath
Air is old and musty
Carpet feeling crusty
Underfoot
Sprawled there
Women lying bare
And fellas with their organs free
Bang, bang, cover up your ****, ****
Regain your decency

Pretty *******
Pretty ****** *******
****** *******
Pretty ****** *******

Look round
Writhing on the ground
With squishy little sounds
But something's odd
Fat lass
Itching at her *** crack
Isn't that a *******?
Oh my god!
Jaw drops
Granny from the bus stop
Wearing nothing but a grin
Bang, bang, pretty ****** *******
What ******* let her in?

She's nothing but skin and bone
With ribs like a xylophone
At least several decades too old
To use the vernacular
It's like bumming Dracula
She's wiry
She's wizened
She's cold

Oh (pretty) no (******)
Rasping on my ****
With fingers like a sock
Filled up with ice
No (scary) chance (hairy)
Giving her the slip
My todger's in a grip
Just like a vice
It (saggy) seems (baggy)
Like she's in a dream
While scraping with her ancient hand
Bang, bang, ****** ****** *******
My sore and swollen gland

Granny bang bang
Granny granny *******
Granny *******
Granny ***** *******

Knock, knock
Coppers at the door
Go crawling on the floor
And off at speed
What fun
Looking at the punters
Myriad of munters
As they flee'd
Cold, wet
Drowning in regret
With trousers round my knees I stand
Bang bang ****** ****** *******
Next time I'll use my hand
Bang bang ****** ****** *******
Next time I'll use my haaaaaaaaaaaaaaand!
entablature archetypal wrangle arguable arraign arrest ascribe arsenal article artificial artisan ascension austere askance obliquely aspire assail assault assay assert diligence obsequious assimilate stigma perspicacious astute asunder atman atrium attrition intrepid autonomous avarice avert avocation azimuth azure abbreviate aberrant abhorrent relinquish loathe abstinence abstention  abysmal accelerate accordance accoutrement accrue exasperate acquaintance baccalaureate bacillus backbite baggage ballistic baluster bandolier banister barrage barranca barrier bartizan basilica bastion batholiths bathyscaphe battalion batten battle bauble ***** beastly ******* beckon beacon bazaar bizarre Bedouin beguile behavior beleaguer belligerent belvedere berserk beseech bewilder bezant bicker bigamy bight bilk billet billiard billow biogenic biscuit bivouac blatancy blizzard bodacious boggle bollix bombardier boudoir bouquet butte boutique bower brassier mesa breach breech brochure brogue brooch broach bruise brusque buccaneer buffoon bureau buttress buxom caffeine cauldron calisthenics calligraphy callous camouflage campaign campanile cannery cannibal canny cantaloupe cantankerous cantilever capacity capillary capricious carbohydrate caricature carnivorous carouse carriage cartography casserole cassette cataclysm catastrophe cache categorical caterwaul cavalier cauliflower celerity alacrity cellophane cellulose cemetery centennial cereal cerebellum ceremonial cesarean cessation chaff challenge champagne chandelier changeable chaparral charade chargeable chassis chateau chauffer chauvinism Cheshire chiaroscuro chicanery chiffon chigger chrysanthemum cipher circuit citadel clairvoyant clastic clique coalesce coercible coincidental colloquial colossal column combustible communicable community commute complacency compulsory comradery conceit conceal concession confetti conglomerate conjugal connive connoisseur consensus constellation consummate continuity contrivance convalesce convenient convertible convolution copasetic copious corduroy coriolis cornucopia corollary corpse corpuscle correlate correspondent corridor corroborate corrosion corrugate corrupt costume counselor countenance counterfeit courageous courier courtesy covert covetous cranny crease credenza credulity crescent ******* criterion crochet crocodile croissant crotchety crucial cruel cryptic cuddle cuisine cul-de-sac culinary culpable culvert cumbrous cummerbund ******* cunning curare curiosity curtilage curtsy curvaceous custody cylindrical cymbal cynicism cyst dabble daffodil daiquiri damsel dastardly dazzle deceit debilitate debonair debris debutant decency decipher decimate deconcentrate decorum decrepit dedicate defamation defendable defensible deference deficient deficit definitive defoliate delectable deliberate delicatessen delinquent delirious demarcate dementia demolish demure denigrate dentil denunciation deplorable depreciate dereliction derisory derrick descent desirable despair desperate despicable despondent destine deterrent detonate deviance devisal devisor devour dexterous diabolicalness diagnosis dialogue diamond diaphragm diarrhea dichondra dawdle differentia difficulty diffuse dilapidate dilate dilemma diligent dilute diminutive dinghy dinosaur director  dirigible disadvantageous disastrous disperse disciplinary discomfiture discordant discotheque discreet discrete discrepancy disgust disguise dishevel dispersal dissect dissention dissertation dissident dissipate dissolve dissonant distillate distortion distraught disturbance divvy docile docket doctrinal dodder ***** eccentric linguistics domical dominate domineer dominion dossier doubloon douse drawl dreary dubious dulcet dungeon duodenum duress dwindle dynamism dynasty ebullition echinoderm eclectic ecliptic economist ecumenism edifice editor educe effervesce efficacious egalitarian elaborate elapsed eerie elegy eligible eliminate elite elixir elongate elucidate elusion eluviation emaciate embarrass embassy embellish embezzle embroidery embryo emissary emollient emphatic enchilada encore encumbrance endeavor endogenous endure engender ensemble enthusiast entourage entrepreneur epaulet epitome erratic erroneous escapade esophagus espionage esplanade etcetera ethereal etiquette eucalyptus eulogy exaggerate exacerbate excellency exhilarate expectant exquisite facetious Fahrenheit fallacy fanion fealty feisty frisky felicitous fenestration ferocious fertile fervent fickle fictitious fiery finesse finial fjord flaccid fledge flippant flirtatious flivver fluctuate follicle forbearance forbiddance forehand forebode forceps forfeit
forgo forlorn formidable foundry foyer fracas fraught frivolous frolic frontier funnel copious furrow fuselage fusillade futile forgone frivolity frolic galaxy galleon galoot galore galoshes gambit gangrene ganglion gargantuan gargoyle gardenia garret garrote gasolier gatling gawky gazebo gazelle gazette geezer geisha gendarme generosity genre genteel gentry genuine geodesic geranium gesticulate ghastly giggle ****** gimmick giraffe gizzard glacier glamour glimmer glimpse glisten glottis gluteus gluttony glyph gnarly gnaw goddess godling gorgeous gorilla gory gossamer gourd gouts gracious gradient granary grandeur granulation grapple gratify gratuitous gregarious grenade committee grievance griffin gristle grotesque gristly grotto grouch groupie grisly grovel grudge gruel gruesome gubernatorial guerrilla guffaw guidable guidon guile guillotine gullet gymnasium gyrate habitable hacienda haggard halibut halitosis hallelujah hallow halyard hammock harangue harass harried hasp hatred haughty hearth hedonism hegira heinous hegemony hemisphere hemophilia hemorrhage herbivorous hereditary heresy heritage heroine hesitate hibiscus hidden hideous hieroglyphic highfalutin high-rise hilarity hippopotamus hoarse holler holocaust holster homicidal horror hosiery hurricane hydrant hydraulic hydronic hyena hygiene hyphen hypnotize hypochondria hypocrisy hypocrite hypotenuse hysteria idiocy igloo ignoramus ignore illicit illiterate illustrate imbecile immaculate immaterial immature immersible immigrant immune impasse impeccable impedance impenetrable impervious imperfect implement implicate implicit important impressible innately inert impression impugn inadequate inanimate inauspicious incandescent incantation incarcerate incentive incinerator inclusion incoercible incompressible incontrovertible controversy indefatigable inconvertible inconvincible incorruptible indices indictment indigent indigestion digestible indignant indiscretion indiscreet indisiplined indiscernible inducible inebriate ineffable inefficacy ineludible inexorable inexpiable inextricable infallible infatuation inferior inflammatory inflexible infuriate inimitable iniquitous infuse infusion ingenuity ingratiate inimical innards innocence innovate innumerable inoculation insatiable insectivorous insincerity insinuation inspection inspirator instability installation insurance insufferable insufficiency insurrection insupportable integrity intellect intelligence intemperance intension interaction interception intercession interdiction interface interference interpolate interrogate interrupt intersperse intervene interstice intractable intergalactic intransigent intravenous intrepid intricate intrigue introductory introject intrude inundate invective invariable invertebrate investigate intuitive invertible investiture inveterate inviable invidious inviolate invigorate invincible invoke invocation invalidate involute invulnerable impregnable ionosphere ipso-facto irascible iridescent eradicable irrational irredeemable irrefragable irrefutable irregular anomalous irrelevant irreproachable irrepressible irresistible irrevocable irreverent irresponsible irritative irrigate irritability isolable isosceles isostasy  issuance isthmus italicize iterative itinerary interjection ******* jackhammer jackknife jackpot jackrabbit jaguar jai alai jalopy jalousie jamboree Japanese jacquerie Jacobin jargonize jaunt javelin jealous jehoshaphat jeopardy jocular jouncy journal jubilant jubilee judgment judicature judicious juggernaut jugular juke julep juncture junta jurisprudence juvenilia juxtaposition kahuna kalpa kamikaze kerf kangaroo karat ken katzenjammer katydid kempt kerosene kewpie khaki kibitz kibosh kilter kimono kinesiology kleptomaniac knell knowledge knuckle kook kowtow kulak kyrie labyrinth laccolith laceration lackadaisical laconic lacunar lacquer lagging laissez-faire lamprey languish lanyard lapidary laputan larceny lariat laryngeal larynx lascivious latent latter lattice latrine launderette lavatory laxity lechery legacy bequeath legend leister lei leisure lemming leniency lentic leopard lethal lethargy lettuce leviathan levitate lexical liable levity liaison libation liberate licentious lieutenant ligament lilac limnetic limousine limpid lineage lynchpin lineolate lingerie lingual liniment linoleum liquefy litany literacy lithesome littoral lizard loath local loiter longevous loquacity lottery louver lucidity lucrative ludicrous luminary lummox lurid luscious lyricism machinator machinelike machismo macrocosm besmirched machiavellian mackerel mademoiselle maelstrom maggoty magisterial magnanimous magnifico maintenance malaprop malarkey malediction malamute malicious malign malinger malleable mandarin maneuver mange maniacal mannequin manure manzanita maquette maraca maraschino marauder marbleize marbly marionette marmalade marquee marquetry marrow marshal marshmallow martyr mascara masochism massacre matriarchy maudlin mausoleum maxillary mayonnaise meager meandrous medial medieval megalith mediocre Mediterranean megalomania melancholy melee membrane memorabilia menagerie mercenary mendacity meritorious mesmeric mesquite metallurgy metaphor meticulous metronome metropolitan mezzanine micrometer midriff mien demeanor millennium minarets minion minuscule minutia misanthropic miscellaneous mistletoe moccasin modus operandi monaural mongrel monotony morgue morose morsel moribund mortgage mosaic mosque mosquito motley mottle mucous membrane mucus mullion multifarious munificent museum musketeer mutable mustache mutineer myopic myrmidon mystique naïve narcissism narcosis narrate nausea navigable Neanderthal necklace needle nefarious negligible nemesis neophyte nertsy  nerve-racking nestle nether newfangled nocturnal nonchalant non sequitur normative Norwegian nostalgic nuisance nullify obedient obeisance obelisk obese objectify oblate oblique obliterate oblivious obsess obsolete obsolescence obstacle obstinate occupy occurrence ocelot odious oedipal officiate ogle ogre oligarchy omelet omnificent omniscient ontological argument oodles oomph opaque operable operative opossum optimal orangutan orchard orchestra ordinance oregano orgiastic oriel oriole ornery orphan osculate ostensive ostrich osteology oust overwhelm overwrought oyster pachyderm pacific pageant painstaking palate palaver libel palette pallet palomino pamphleteer panorama pantheism parapet paradigm papier-mâché paraffin paralyze parishioner parliament parody parquetry parsimonious pasteurize pathogenic payola ******* pediment pendant pendentives penicillin pennant pentathlon perception percussion perennial parameter perimeter peripheral peristalsis permissible pernicious perron perseverance persistent persona persnickety personnel persuasion petite pertinacious pessimistic pestilent pestle petticoat petulant phallus phantasmagoria pharaoh pharmaceutical peasant philander phenomenal philosopher phlegm phoenix phooey phosphoresce physique picayune picturesque piety pilfer finagle pilaster pillage pineapple pinnacle piquant pique piteous pitiful pittance pizzazz placate placenta plagiarism plaintiff plateau platypus plausible plinth plunderous pluvial poinsettia pollutant polygamy pommel ponderous portico portiere portentous prairie precipitous predecessor predicate predilection preeminent preempt preferential premier preparation preposition prerogative presumption pretentious preternatural privilege proclivity prodigious proffer progenitor progeny promissory promontory propellant propensity propound proselyte prospectus protégé protocol protuberant pseudonym  ptomaine pulchritudinous pursuant pygmy pylon python qualm quarrel quarry quash queer quell querulous quibble quitter quixotic rabbet rabbit rabbi radiant rambunctious rancor rankle raspberry rethink rebellion recant recital reconcile redundant referral reglet relevant reluctant remiss reminiscent remnant rendezvous renegade repartee reprieve repertoire repetitious reprehensive reprisal repugnant rescind reservoir resistant resurgence resurrect revelry reverie retaliate reticent retrieve retrograde reveille reverberation reversible reversion rhapsody rhetoric rheumatism rhinoceros rhinoceri rhubarb ribaldry ricochet riddance rigmarole risqué rive rollick Romanesque Rosicrucian rotisserie rotunda rogue roulette rubato ruminate rusticate sabotage sabbat saboteur sacrilege sadomasochist salacious salmon salutatory samurai sapphire sarcasm sarcophagus sardonic sarsaparilla sassafras sassy satiate satirical saturate saunter savoir-faire savvy scabbard scaffold scalawag scarcity scathe scenario scenic schism sciatic nerve ******* scintillate scissor scourge scrawny scrimmage scribble scruffy scrounge scrumptious scrunch scrupulous scrutiny scurry scythe sedition seethe seismic self-applause seltzer semiporcelain seniority sensible sensual separate sepulcher sequel sequin sequoia serape serenade sheaves serendipity  servant settee shabby shackle shanghai shanty shellac shenanigan Sherlock shirk shish kebob shoulder shrapnel shriek shrubbery shtick shush shyster Siamese sibyl significant simile simplicity simultaneous sinewy siphon skeptic skiff skillet skirmish skullduggery slaughter ****** sleeve sleuth slither slough sluice smart aleck  smidgen  smithereens  smolder  smorgasbord snazzy sneer snide snivel snorkel sobriety socioeconomic sojourn solder soldier solemn solicit soluble solvent sombrero somersault soothe soprano sophisticate sophomore sortie soufflé sousaphone ***** spiel souvenir sovereign spaghetti spandrel sparrow spatter sphinx spatula species specific spectacle spectral spelt sphincter spinach spinneret spiritual splatter splitting splurge spry  splutter sporadic sprawl sprinkler spree sprightly squawk spurious sputter  squabble squalor squander squeak squeal squeamish squeeze squiggle squinch squirrel stable squoosh stabilizer stagnant stagnate stalactite stalagmite stammer stampede stationary stationery statue statuesque statute staunch stealthy stein stellar stench stencil stoic steppe sterile stickler stifle stimulant stingy stirrup stolid strafe straggle strangulate stratagem strategy strenuous stretch strident stringent strudel streusel strychnine studious stultify stupe stupefy stupendous special stylus stymie styptic sublimate subliminal submergible substitute submersible subpoena subsequent subsidiary substantiate suburb subversion success succession succinct succor succulent succumb sufferance suffocate suggest suicidal sully sultry sumptuous sundae sundry superfluous superior supersede superstitious surreal supplicate surrender surrogate survey surveillance suspension suspicion sustenance swarthy ******* swath swear sweaty swelter swerve swindle swivel swizzle sycamore syllable symphony symposium symptom syndicate syndrome synonym synonymous synopsis synthetic syphilis syringe syrup suffrage tableau tabloid tacit tambourine tandem tangible tarantula tarot taunt technique telekinesis temperamental temperance thence temporal temporary tenuous tequila terrace terrain terrific terrify tetanus tether thatch thistle thither through though throat throttle thwack thwart ticklish tiffany timbre tirade titillate toboggan tolerant tongue top-notch topography  tortoise trauma tortuous torturous tourist tracery tournament tourniquet trachea traffic tragedy tragic traipse traitor tranquility transcend travesty transcribe treachery treatise trellis trepidation trestle trinket triplicate triumphant trivial troglodyte troubadour  trousers truncate tumultuous tundra turbid turpitude turquoise tutelage twixt twiddle twitter tycoon tyke typhoon tyrannical tyrannize tyranny umbrella unfulfilled unanimous usury undulate unequivocally unguent urethra unprecedented unscrupulous untenable unwieldy utterance vaccinate vagary valance valiant vandal variety vehement veldt veneer vendetta venetian vengeance vernacular versatile version vertebra vicinity victual vigilante villain vincible vinyl violate vitality vivacious volition voluminous voluptuous ****** vulnerable wahine waiver wallaby warble warrant wayfarer weasel wheedle wheezy weird whilst whistle whither whittle whoopee whoopla wistful whither wizen wont worse worst xanadu yowl yucca zephyr zeppelin zucchini extraversion embezzlement euthanasia extortion obscure carousing marauder aptitude ribaldry rigmarole chicanery shenanigans capers antics escapade crafty cunning cleaver connive furtive sneaky stealthy plunderous pillaging usurper pilferous wheedling finagler longevous loquacity derisory deplorable critical decimations tithe cynic frivolity frolic derriere easel emasculate emaciate linguistic depravity berate scold scorn scoff rail rebukeness  brawl vapid hamster spleen sequiter sequacious sequesterous flatulence impressible herbaceous impropriety veneration ignoble fatuous phatic journey acrid pungent fetid fiendness gamut ire irascible graffiti irk tedium diminutive minutia iota iterative reiteration self inductive interpolations objectified interstitial extrapolation trepidation tumultuous tortuous adjunct turpitude salient viable seethe conflagration lexical etymology idolatrous affectionate ****** caress craw swell surge flow flux amorous enamor endear ardent ardor cajole piquant poignant prescient puissant presage apex crux citadel pinnacle vertex vortex matrix ****** peak languishing lurid larcenous licentious lascivious squanderous squaloring wallow in the furrow confluence wretched infelicitous trajectory sordid warp strong raw war resume quirkness ***** tinker **** fink stink ******* eccentric pinky suit idiomatic cognate somatalogy virtuoso concurrent intemperance obsessive habitual addicts psychosomatic pathological psychopaths diabolically maniacal dementia panoramic tableau tediously meticulous laboriously beleaguering excruciating exacerbation autonomous avarice oscillating ostracism adrenergic analeptic adumbrate obdurate aberrance genocidal xenophobic prospectus personification of sartorial perfection visage picturesque vision of spectral grace picture of positive prosthesis protractive analysis cyborg ebullition ne plus ultra monad cybernetics prognosis prognostication clambering clamorous clangor hectic mayhem pulverize annihilate pompous bombastic query squash squawk squish squirm sprocket squeal squelch staunch statuesque steadfast steep stench stint strategic logistical tactician stratum stolid stoic stodgy viscid tumult stray streaky stretch strenuous striated strident stringent strive structural strut subjugate subjective substratum substantiate subterfuge subvert sultry sulk sundry superlative superfluous superficial syllogism soliloquy superovulation superfluity superfetation superfecundation suspicion swig superstratum sycophant ingratiating surrogate suspension swindle swallow swanky swath swill sympathetic symbolic synapse synchronous syncopate synoptic synectics syndrome synonym syntax systematic larceny lecher oligarchy ribaldry rigmarole intoxicate tangential tectonics tantamount telepathy tantalize throng tactile taint talisman talesman squabble brash torment temerarious terminus thrall torpid torpor torque tousle  traduce transform transubstantiate transpire transmute transmogrify transport trapezium traverse treason tremulous trendy trivia trifles trounce turgor truculent tuft turf turbid turgid tussle twain twang twinge twerp twit twitch tweak **** procedure vernacular posthumous spasmolytic propagate prolific proliferative profusion profundity proliferate profligate cogent fecund secund secular thick trick quick mystical silhouette sojourn excursion genre engender jaunt pilgrimage prophet trek waver wrought waxy waylay weave weary web wedge ***** wend whang whet whimsical whir whinny whereupon whish whisk whoosh whizbang whoop whorl wield wile wilco wild whence wingspread wiry wiseacre wherewithal rapacity wolf whistle wrath wraith wrack worship wrest wretch wring wriggle wry shyster shylock phone roan tone zone bone hone loan drone known own moan cone done groan koan gnome dream gleam cream seam beam          team serene ravine green gene careen tellurian terrene quaff query quiescent radishes reciprocate raunchy raspy rascal rampant rampage ravage ****** ravish rebuke rebuff rend reave recourse reconnaissance reconnoiter rectify recompense rectitude reconcile regime reintegrate relegate rejuvenate remission remonstrance reparation replication reprieve reprisal nocturnal emission repose remunerate resonant retort revelation revision grandiloquence cleft fissure crevasse rift rill robust rouge niche
crack tromp stomp chasm crevice trudge rostrum rout roust row ruckus sagacious salacious sapient satiric sarcastic sartorial sartorius scalawag screed scrutable contemptible scurvy scuttlebutt seditious seduction sect segregant sequacious psychic reverie subterfuge serenade sequiter serendipity shuck shylock sibilant shush signet simulation siren skeptic sleek slick slinky snare ****** sneeze sneer snide smug intrados loquacity spandrel iambic sonorous spatial spatiotemporal telemetry spectral spry spectrum speculate solicitor sprout spoof specular splendiferous sporadic spurt binge spree ***** squalid forte fortitude Gumby emit war  time raw umbrage ultraism ultimatum unary unbridled uncanny unanimous ambiguous biased unabated uncharted articulate deviating undertow congenial feint feign unity predicate unprecedented paradigm unscrupulous brash dire unfathomable unlimited urchin usurp utmost utilize fluctuate vague vacuous vanity vanquish vantage veer vast advent veracity verbatim vertex vortex vertigo vestige vex vigor vitalize virile vicissitude viscous visceral virtuous virulence vital virago vivacious vivid livid splurgeness stag vituperatively vociferous volition void voracity waft vulturine wacky waifs wainscot waive wallah itinerant wand wane lavish wanton wonderlust warrantee warn warp warlock warren wastrel wastage warranty dicker insidiously sinister flagrant verity maniac pack mendacity abscissa ordinate yacht yearn yaw yare yen yelp yin yonder yoni yore yours yolk zany zest zeal  zenith zingy zooid treatise hyperbolic lingam blasphemous farcical fugueness and estranged ensemble orchestration rendition various assorted forms of related stranger weirdness traveling down this obtusely overt contusion in my vehicular contrivance convection convolution abalone absolute acceptance accurately acquiesce acquire actually adamant additional adequately adherence affiliation affinity against aggressive allegiance although allusions amendable analogous analysis anchor ancient animation annihilation appeared approach appropriately archaic assembler assimilation assuage attain attempts attendant attribute audience aura auspicious authoritarian authoritative barbeque before belligerent binary blazing Buddha bulwark carousel ceaselessly ceremony chaos character charisma Christmas chronological cite classification classify clutter cocoon cognation cognizant comment communal complete conceive conceptual conclusion conducive conquered consciousness constituent construction continuum contrarily convenient corporeal collage creates credibility crystalline culture curious curriculum decadent decide deferred deified deity deliberately delineate deluded delusion demagoguery democratically descriptions desire destroy destructively develop dialectic dictates difficult diffuse disappeared ecstasy ecstatic efficiency elaborate elliptical empathy endeavor engaging equipment escape especially essence eventually evolutionally excellence excitement expectorant expedience experience extraneous extremity façade facet fashions fever flatten forgotten frailty framework gapping glimpse grandiose graphically groan growing hedonistically hierarchy hobby holocaust homogenous hovering ideology imagination immaturity immediate imperative impertinence important inadvertency inapplicable indispensable individually infancy initiate innate interpreters intervene intricacy intrinsic irrelevance jagged kaleidoscope lit literally lose ludicrous macabre minstrel meld mischievous model monstrous mores myriad mystic necessity negativity Newtonian normalcy nuance nullify obnoxious obscure obvious occasional officiate ominous omnipotent oppose optimizes oscillating ostracism paradoxically partially participants pebbles perceive pervasive phenomena portrayal posses preceding pretty prevalent pregnant primitive prism processional progress prominent proprietor psychic psychological purpose pyramid quandary rational receptacle recumbent redemption refused reiterate relatively relativity relevant reminiscent renaissance revere schemes schizophrenia separately sequence serious severe socially spontaneous stalwart stimulus stomach struggle stunned succession superimpose supplement suppose surround swimming switch symmetry sync taubla tapestry tenacious tendency tyrant terrestrial torrential totally tomorrow transient turbulence tyrannical ulterior ultimate universally unwarranted vicious weather yankee whether soliloquy amenity ambivalence ameliorate aggrandize aghast agrapha barnacle gerrymander jasper jasmine obfuscate obdurate castigate metaphysique cyborg appliance intrepid intrigue mystique impetus volition gumption motivation inspiration metaphor parable leprechaun leniency secund hefty endogenous exogenous lozenge irrefragable recalcitrance fecund jaded seal ordinand obdurate aberrance ignominious interface consent imbroglio embroilment lethargy impressionism agitator treacherous lurid allure obstreperously abstruse subconscious squanderous squalid anomalous punitive incendiary infrangible extemporaneous incognito (succubus , incubus) incongruous incredulous indemnify indigenous infernal infidel iniquitous secular funky spunky Rosicrucian epicurean phlegm levity levee lubricious loath loathe frigid **** ******* lick fenestration dire ****** brash crass rash aggrandize tactile acuity bridge rude crude bandy randy monad positive indenture obnoxious obtrusive obtusely overt indemnities annuities cavalier dawdling gallivant bought naught fought caught ought dribble rip zip gig blond entropy catalyst cohort cavort chronological sublime purvey pander meandrous extravagant exorbitance ***** vicarious endear eccentric cognate frolic frivolity fawn agnate aggregate junction function conjunction conjecture conjugation adjunct contiguous constituency cohesive coercion covert maestro maitre d mastoid newel minx murk monad muss muggy mull mirador bartizan musky meager demonstrative anarchy iconoclasm misnomer mimicry minaret mimetic monocracy pungent mordant mnemonics mangle maim mutilate mesomerism morpheme nepotism nurture vexation anxiety vindictiveness vendetta moot void null meringue laconic obliterate papaya proboscis podiatry polemist porcupine palindrome pandemonium presumptive procureness ploy **** paltry pander paphian pummel puny presage felicity parley parturient potpourri partisan peccavi verity goad penumbral platitude platonic proxy photic pharos perdurable preemptory posh perfunctory perilymph phoneme phenetic phantom permeate proximity phantasm phalanstry delusory apparition pietism oviparous expiate vindicate extricate  exonerate absolve posthumous prehensile prerogative presumptive prestissimo preterite retroactive primacy prevaricate equivocate primordium primeval puissance  pristine prescience prompt prodigious protagonist prurient pyre lurid pshaw guffaw purlin purloin quirk pith quark ***** tip put temerarious userp asymptote pirate tiny hat  thief tine slow slide slim hide me effigy infinitesimal slink slick paw
flaw craw claw heuristic swum cuckold climb locuna live **** sly **** sequacious expeditious sequesterous glove glaive glade
don’t dale  otter glue equestrian gog rift cog gone lean had good gold ride ode *** house pine low law earth *** guilty slime negligent torrentially torrid tortuously tempestuous einzeln function truckness presumptive procureness ploy **** off the line cyborg cylon live antonym exogamous dimorphism pry rap gape homogeny gap dudely cruel incredulity ergo apropos ipso-facto pith tip push where keeky geek peek peep glib jive gawk talk dudely cruel off the line but off it !  pit ego colossal incredible fantastic great outrageous amazing fabulous terrific stupendous splendiferous glorious God grandiose orgiastic magnificent ne plus ultra astounding astonishing bodacious marvelous exuberantly ecstatic subliminal nostalgic allusions subordinate ancillary conjectures similar analogous configurations exotically ****** quixotic render proof orchestration rendition unicorn railway mainsail ebullition monad girdle thigh spasmolytic heuristic sartorious sartorial discrepancy amendment rip reave rive tear rend esoteric erudite beleaguer hype synch torque your ringer occipital sync ubiquitous eucharistic oblation obeisance oblate obelisk ubiquitous edifice ******* efficacious salacious lubricious sagacious expeditious grief  orgiastic paroxysmal orthogenesis overture repertoire quagmire quandary poshly plush lushly lustful longevous loquacity hunky-dory harbinger guzzle gyro gyre exult heuristic awkward humph haberdashery hauberk huarache bourgeoisie dichotomy greave zealot goatee cavalier humerus gumption hors d’oeuvres coalescent hysterically delirious coercion nullify correspondence corral coral architrave archaeology ardent ardor arduous awry askew asinine altruistic allure allude alluvium aloof egress effulgence ephemeral apathetic anxiety antonym existential exigency exodus expiate esoteric exacerbate evoke exact exult excerpt exorbitance cajole argent apriori arbitrate appliqué aqueduct presumptuous prestige precocious precursor preempt predilection premises premonition preoccupy preponderance prescient pretentious perineum peristyle perpetuity pervade pertinent portent elicit pursuance putrid quasi queasy quaver quarrel rampart ransack voracious rapport ratchet raucous ravenous reciprocal rectitude emanate imminent perdition erudite erogenous scarp lambent reticent vehement auspicious austere consternation construe contingent convection convolution convenient cocoon coerce collaboration collude vacuum vacillate vestibule vicarious recalcitrant repudiate resend resilient resonance purvey wreak writhe wreath fortuitous fulminate fuscous cudgel futurity gable gallivant gallant embellish gauntlet scavenge scandalous scarify scatter schlieren scholarly scoundrel scowl unmelodious scramble scrabble scraggly craggy cephalic fallacious fallible absurd cutaneous synthesis commission extreme  conscientious adherent proponent subtlety diligent receive interesting abhorred exorbitant arrangement intelligence surprisingly important encompass contributes asymmetrical excellent elliptical collaboration straddled collapsible spanned feasible oriented pervasive artistry instructor precursor innovate adrenergic adumbrate queasy acclimatize accommodate acceptive accordant accrue accusation acrimony actuarial acuity adduce adjective adjunct admonish adroit aerobic aesthetic prosaic affiliate affluence aggravate aggregate agnate agonize airy albeit alchemy allege allegiance allegorical alleviate allocution ambience ambivalence amenity amenable anaclitic analgesia anacrusis analeptic anathema subordinate ancillary anecdotist animism animosity annulet announce anomaly anonymity antagonize antecedent subsequent antefix antenna anterior pathos antipathy antithesis aperture appall adorn pertain appreciate aquifer arbiter arbitrage arboreal frantic pedantic febrile fanatic quixotic hegira to xanadu frenetic zealot zeal eucharistic oblation occipital ubiquitous omnipresence opulent effluent affluence larcenous overture orgiastic paroxysmal ornithology orthogenisis gleam sheen English bird treacherous lecherous asinine dumb foolish stupid inane ignoramus absurd idiotically imbecilic silly unintelligent dense dingy crazy insane quasi slow epos epitomize epochal era gemma schema lemma jargon idiom colloquialism vernaculars peer quay pier pair appearance insipid vapid insidiously insolent pompously bombastic blatant flagrant chaparral epopee pseudopodia actuator militantly mercenary covert adumbrate intimate obfuscate abet abeyance proxy fugue edict advocate détente anticipate angary amentia terse inabsentia expurgation imputation impugn exculpate eugenic euphenics incumbent incipient accidence acoustics acquittance amore malign asperse amok amuck allegorist pervert aspect aorist wrist expiate asylum epigynous anovulant antenatal antidote antiquity antitrust antithetical argufy apartheid apocalyptic apologist apothecary apomixis appreciate aposteriori apostrophe protractive analysis parabola avidity liberty concise tine albeit life still arrogance coherent abandon abate abash abase abdicate abduction abject abominable abominate abomination abound abrogation absolution absorption accentual accession accede accessible accommodate accomplice accomplish accrual accursed acerbity acrimony accredit accustomed actuality actuate addle adamant adjutant adventive adultery adulterate adventure adversity advertent adulteration venturesome advocacy eyrie aerie aerial affix affront aggressive agile acuity tactile nimble agnostic agog agonist aghast avid avarice agrarian curtilage Arian airhead peterbrain alacrity alchemize alibi allegation allegory gorge ally allocate aloof altercation ambition amatory prelude amaze amateur  ambidextrous ambient amble amiable amicable amorist amulet analeptic analgesia analytics anathema android amalgamated anemometry animism annals chronicles annex annul annoy anonymity antecedent arcade armature arson articulate ascension assiduity asperity asynchrony augmentation audible auger aural areola auspice austerity authenticate autonomic astronomical enumeration auxiliary avenge avert economist autonomist autonomy aviatrix axiom avow avouch bifurcate bigamy bend bind bent bisexual berate bereft hype due behave behaviorism ******* behest bereave beholden biologism bureaucratize circumvent conscribe bacchae backslide backswept badland baddy bagnio baize balky ball hawk balmy bambino bamboozle banal bandwagon baneful banishment bankruptcy banter bandy barbarism barbarous barratry base pay bang bash bastardy bawdry lewd obscene ***** bawl beamish beatitude ****** beat beautiful bedlam beggary begrudge befuddle perplex behalf beleaguer beneficiary benevolence benighted bequeath bequest berth betroth bevy birth bitchery bivouac blabber blandish coax blah blither blare blazon bleak blear blighter bliss bloomy blot blunder blotch blooper bludgeon gag blurt blush bluster bonkers bosh boulevard bout brat browse brunt brute buck passer buffet bungle bungalow bunk bunt buoyancy burglarize burnish burp belch burlesque bureaucratize sorrowful lamentation baleful caterwaul
true clench closet queen constitution provocative soap menagerie melee cirrus camorra caboodle cabotage cabriole cacophony
cadge cahoots cagey cairn calamitous calculate calibrate  caliginous caliper calyx callet cameo campestral canard candid candidacy candelabra candor canker can’t canter canteen canoe capitation captivate capture carapace caribous carnal carnival carny cartomancy casque castellated caste castle catacomb catatonic phonics caustic cavernous celibate censor centric centrifugal centripetal certify cervixes cestus chalet chalice chameleon changling chaperone charlatan chary chaste chastise chastity cheeky cherish chesty chide ***** chintzy chivalrous chinch chomp choose chortle chromatic chronic intrinsic chroma chump chutzpa chute cinch conciliatory ciliary ciliate citadel citation civility clank clammy clang clairaudience taciturn reticent classify inveterate claudication cloven cleft cliché click clinch clement clip clique ******* cloak & dagger clobber clog clone clonk cloth clothe clothier cloture redolent clout cluck clump clumsy clunk coadunate coalition coadjutor coaster brake coax cochlea chronology inundate **** coexist anachronism coercive coitus coincide collinear collateral collegiate collision collusion coma combinatorics comfy  commandeer  commensurate comensal commend commerce commence commodious commotion compatible compensatory competitive compile complexional complicity comply connotation compost composure compunction compulsory concatenate concoct catenary concubinage condolence condemn condescending conducive cavalcade confidant confession confirmatory confiscate conformity confrontation congruence congeal congenial conjure connection connivance connote conquest conscript consequence conservatism consistent console consolidate consort conspire contagium contention continuity controvert conveyor copulative cordial cordon cornucopia coup couth coy crag cranky craven cringe crud culminate cumulate cursive credulity credulous infidel gullible diatonic perturbed derogate edict delict rage tirade irate vehemence denouement denounce tire dervish dictatorial diction proof desolate deontology Kant indenture defray detinue douceur amuse disseminate eustachian daft dainty damnify dapper dastardly dauntless daymare dead heat dead horse debauch debacle decadent debauchee decamp declamatory declension decorticate deductive default defeasance defenestration defunct defrock deformacy degeneracy deft deforce hipster mesmeric deification deist deleterious delimit deltoid delve deluge delusion delirious demimonde demesne demiurge demoniac demonetize demonstrable denizen denegation denigration demur demure despot desperation destine despise detect determinative determinism detersive deterrent detest determinacy detectaphone devout devoid detract desultory detrimental detour deviate deviant devastate devotion devious devisee devolution devolve developer dialectic dharma diagnosis prognosis matriculate diacritical differentia diffraction digenesis dignitize dignitary dilly diligence ***** dilemma dilapidate diminution **** ding diphtheria diphthong dent dirge dirk disaffirm discontinuity disclaim discern discord disconsolate discourteous discredit discontinuance discretion discriminate distain disenfranchise disenchant disencumber disenthrall disembody disgorge disgrace dishonest disguise disengage disinfestant disjunct disillusion disinfectant dislodge dismal disloyal disoblige disobey disparity disparage dismantle dismay dispatch dispel dispersive disproof dispute disrupt dissertation disrepair dissipate distillate distort distract ditto ditty diverge divaricate divert divest divulge dominion doohickey dormer doss dowdy doughty dowry drastic douse drat dray dread drawl dreary drippy drifty drivel droll drown drowsy drudge plan dubious dude dudgeon dulcify duct ductile drakeness ducky duel dull dusky tawny dynamic dwelling dwindle derisive bombastic primordial integumence parenthetically pragmatically prosaically practically protractively portion premise portent pervasive perpitude phenomena hierarchy predicate metaphysique endoskeleton ectomorphic dour droll dismal dank dreary bleak stark Electra complex lore epigone epigraph epsilon epistaxis epilation earnest earthshaker earthward earwitness eclectic ebonize electroacoustics ciphony ebullience eccentricity echelon echoic eddy edgy edify edit educe edition eerie edacious effectuate effeminate effete efficient efflux effrontery effluent effusion ego defense eidetic ejecta elaborate elapse electioneer curtail elocution elucidate elegant eloquence Elysium emancipation manumission detinue osteopathy elucubrate emasculate emaciate embark embargo emanate emblazon emote embellish elusive enhance embracive embouchure emergent emendator embryology emit emissary emitine jacquerie empathy empennage emphasis emphatic emigrant empirical emulate emunctory encephalic enclitic yuck junk funky junkies enchant enchain enclosure encroach encrustation encumber endergonic endorse endowment enduro enfetter enforce energetic enemy enema enervate engender engage propensity preternatural proclivity prestidigitation gesticulation equilibrate equilibrium equilibrist preterite rendition retroactive engross engulf enhance enjoin enlightenment enlist impressed enormous ennoble enrich  ensheathe enshroud ensnare ensnarl entanglement enthrall enthusiasm entice entity enthuse entrap entreat entrance enunciate envoy envy envisage epigynous epigraphy cipher epilogue episodic epitaph epistolary epithet equate equestrian equity equivocal equivocate eradicate erosion eroticism errancy erratic erroneous ersatz erumpent erudition erythron epistemology espalier essentialism progressivism esprit espy estimator estrus estuary etcetera ethnic ethos ethic eternal ethereal eugenic euphenics eustachian tube salpinx euthenics euthanasia evacuate evaluate evasive eventuate evaporate evict evident evil evert evolve exact exaction exult exaggerate exasperate excel excerpt exception exclaim exclude exculpate excursion excuse execration execution exempt exhume exile exhaustive exhibitionism exhilarate exegesis exert exonerate expense expletive explicit exploitation exponent export exposition exserted exposure expound expurgate ubiquitous extemporize extenuate exterminate extensive externalize extinct extort extradition extrasensory extraordinary extol extract exuberate extrude foible fasciculation twitch flinch fenestra Fabian falchion falangist Phillip felly ferro falsie **** fess fink out festinate ***** bustle fourragrere fimbria feduciary fabricant fable fabulist façade facile facilitate facsimile facture faena fain fairing fallopian fallow fascinator fash fatalism fastidious fastuous fatidic fatigue Faustian fatuity faux pas feasible faze ******* facilitate feline feeler ferocity fertile fervid fervor fetor fetus fetology fetish feverish fester fetation fetch fiat fief fiasco feticide obnoxious fiacre figment fickle fictitious fiddling fidelity fidgety fierce fiesta  filch filly filthy finale finesse fingertip finicky fang finite firmament flabbergast fixation flak flashy flagitious ******
flashpoint paroxysmal retrograde flaunt flasher flask flat flap flaw fledge flee fleece fleet fleshy flighty flick flexible flimsy  
flimflam fling flinty florid flora ****** flourish flotsam  flub fluke flurry flush focalize foist footing foray forfeiture forgery foreign
forensic formalize format formica formulate fornication forsooth forswear perjurious fortify forte fortissimo fortuity forum abjure
abnegation fossil fosterling four flush frame up freaky frazzle frenulum fret frigidity frigate frill fringe fritter frontal fructify fruition frump frugal fuel fulcrum fulgurous fulham sable furor furring brazen furtive fustigate future perfect fuchsia find roan gauntlet gamut gatecrasher havoc glass jaw glare glass eye gabber gadzooks gaff gaga gage gaggle gag rule gainful gainsay gait gala gale gall gallery gallivant gallop galvanic gambrel roof gander gammon garb garish garble garnishment garrulous garter gasp **** gaudy gauge gaunt gavel gear fad gee haw gemma gender genealogist geotropism germinate gestation ghost writer ghoul gig gigantic gill gimmick gimp girlish gist gizzard glaive glamorize glance glaze glean glint glitch gloat globe gloomy glitter glom glob glop glorify gloss glower glutton glum slum glue hue gluteal gnash aphorism adage gnosticism gnome goggle gnomic gold digger psychic golem gore gorge gown gossipy gouge grasp greedy frigid gremlin greave grieve grin grime grim grind gripe ***** groom gross grit groin grove grout growl grumpy grunt guck gruntle guide guile guild guilty guise gull gulch gully gunk gushy gust gussy up gulp gusset gush gustatory gung ** gusto gutsy gyne gyre gynecocracy gyve guy  aceimnorsuvwx  bdfhklt  fgjpqyz atheist goblin Godiva grog hang up disinter gamet zygote hunks hunkers haunches black white life death lithe heart rending miserly greedy stingy frugal habitation propinquity habituate hackamore hagride hairbreadth halftrack hallucinosis hamstring handicapper handless hangin hand woven hanker hanky panky haphazardry hari kiri **** harangue harass harbinger harem oviparous residual harmonic harpy harsh hast hassle haggle hasty pudding haugh haunt haversack haversian canal hawk hazard heady heal headway heap hearing hearty heave heathen heavenly heavy duty heft heir heinous heifer heist helix enliven glue hellion helm hemlock hence heredity primitive anachronistic hangover heretical heritage hermit recluse heresy primordial integumence skull hernia hue hex heuristic hirsute hireling ally hint **** hoard hoax hitch hoist hokey hoot horizon hornswoggle horologist hostile hostage housebreak huckster hovel huff humeral hurtle hustle hutz pah homage homogeny exogamy hone honesty honkies hooky hutch hypercritical hypotaxis hysterics incoercible idiosyncrasy impugn idolatry ileum imagism idempotent ides ichor icky icon ics ictus ideational identity crisis matrix idea iffy ignescent illustrious immaterialize imitation inextremis immanentism immolation mollify impeach impedance impecunious impassion immutable retrograde recumbence inabsentia impious impenitence impinge implore impotent paroxysm impressment impute impromptu impoverish improvident imprudent improvise imputation inanely inanimate inauguration incorrigible inappreciative inconsequential irreverence inconsolably disconsolate irreparably irreconcilable incorporeity ideally ideogram inferential illicit incarnate incestuous inch incident converse incipient incite incognita incommodious incompliant incommunicado indagate incursion incus incumbent indecorous indecent exposure indecipherable indefeasible indenture indictable  indicative indignant indiscrete indite indolence indubitable induce indulgent industrious ineffectual inane inert inertia infamy infanticide infest infinitesimal inflect inflict infringe encroach infrastructure inflation influential informant inimical iniquitous innumerable innuendo inquisitor injunction injudicious inkling innocuous insolent insidious insipid inept phatic volatile instigate insinuate instinct intangible interdict intentional interject intimate intimidate intricacy intrigue intrinsic intrepid introspection introvert intrusive intuitive inviolate invade inundate invalid inventive inveigh inure defeasance foist isomorphic isthmus fistula jabber jackal jackleg jag jaunt jeer jerkin jest jetty jettison jiffy jig jilt jive job jack jolt josh jostle joust jovial judicious juggernaut jugglery jumble jumpy junctural jungle junk ****** jurisdiction justice justification jute jutty juvenile delinquency juxtaposition kale kalimba kangaroo court kaput karate karst kayo keel keep kempt kept keynesianism kick in **** kindle kinetic kink kist **** kleenex kismet kirtle kith kithe kitsch klaxon knack knavery **** knout kobold koan kneed king cogent adroit lollygag lummox languorous lanyard limbus lotic loquacious lesbian lam labial lambaste lampoon landmark bilk lang syne languish languid languor larder larky larvicide larynx lascivious lateral latent recumbent lapel laud lavish layette lecher leeward leer leech legacy legate lefty lest lewd avant-garde levant avaricious liaison libido libertarian lien ligature lilt list lisp liturgy livid loiter loom loophole lubricity lubric lucent lugubrious yuck lunkhead dolt lurk luscious luster luxury lynch lysis legerity lemma lickspittle limnetic ankh maverick mare liberum marabou machete machinate machiavelianism magniloquent macroevolution macrogamete Magdalene mantis mantra maniacal manubrium mare’s nest maenad majuscule maladjustive malfeasance maleficent malefactor malevolence mash malm malocclusion manipular manifesto mastectomy maw manacle manifest Manitou mana marrow pith manumission constitution marsupial mare nostrum masseur pervade perpitude quark master plan master race mastoid glitch exiguous skimpy scanty sparse masticate matriarchy matriculate escutcheon nombril mere mathematics matrix matinee impetus maxim axiom meatus minimax mediation mediocre medley metabolic meddle ménage a trios menagerie mendacity meroblastic menial meiosis meliorate memorandum memoir memento mori menace mesne menarche menorrhagia meninx mesh mesomerism mesne lord metal methodical meticulous mettle miasma microcosm militia mingy minion koan mirage mire misnomer modality mockery ****** mongrel monstrance morbid morose mortify mortise martingale motivity musky mushy murky muse mutuality muzzle myopia mystique mesomorphic nabob nadir narcosis nark native natty navaid necking pilaster neigh neuter neutrino nexus ****** nihilism nimbus nimiety nitty gritty noisome nominalism nonconformity non sequiter nooky noose nostalgia nostrum notch notion notorious noumenon nous nuance nubile nymph nympholepsy numinous ***** obliquity oblivion ubiquity eucharistic oblation obligee oasis oath obbligato obligatory obliterate obnoxious obscene obstreperously abstruse exude obviate ochlocracy odium odalisque ominous awesome omnivorous onerous onus opprobrium opprobrious optimal opulence orifice ornate orotund ostensible osteopathy oust outlier overawe overt **** ozone procurator pagan palingenetic pallid pallor paragon pagoda palpitate pander pandemic panhandling paraphrase paternoster pathetic paunch pavilion pawky peachy peculiar pedagog pedal pedantic peart peccant peeve perception intuition peremptory perdition perdurable detinue perfective
perfidy perforce periphery perjure perk permeate permute perorate perpetual perpetrate perpetuity perplexity persecute
perspicacious perspiration pertinent perturb ******* pesky perky pester pestilence petrify petrous phalanges juggernaut              
phenomenal phylogeny phobic phony photosensitize phrenic physicality ***** physicalism pick pictorial pious piety piffle pilgrimage pinion pithy placate placid plaint planetoid plasma platitude platonic plenipotentiary plucky plunderous poach plenary plummet polemic polyphonic postulate pouch polyandry polygamy populist pounce popsicle potentate pout practicable chatter prattle precarious precedence precess precious predetermined predicament preen prelusive premonition prefix preposterous prevail prevalent presumptuous **** prim priority depravation probity prodigious profane promulgate proffered prohibitive projective promiscuity propagandize propagate prophetic prosthetic propinquity prophylaxis protocol proprietous propitious haggard proxemics prosecutor prospectus protensive proximity pummel pundit prejudice piranha punitive purgatorial purificatory putschist kitsch quag quantum jump quarrelsome quarterstaff Quetzalcoatl quickie quirt quoit rescind reverb revile mnemonics retuse rabble rachis raconteur ratification radial radix raffish raft ragamuffin railroad raiment rake ramify ramet ramus rank rancid **** rapper rapt rapture rarefy rarified rave ravel raw raze razzle-dazzle razzmatazz realm ream reap rebuttal rebuff rebuke receptaculum recital recess reconcile recondite recourse recriminate rectilinear rectify rectitude recumbent recuperate recursive redeem redolent refer reek reeve reflective reflex refraction refulgence refuge refuse relativistic reliquiae remedy remorseless remnant repertory replicate reproach reptilian repugnant repulse repulsion rescissory residue resignation resolute restitution retraction restriction restraint resuscitate reticent retentive retinue retreat retribution revel reverberation reversal revert revulsion rhapsodic rhombus rhomboid rictus ridgy rifle riff rigorous ritzy rival roan roam roar rive robust rodent rodeo roguery rollick frolic romp rote rouge rout ******* rubble rubric rumpus rumor rural ruse rustle Ruth sitzkrieg superciliary supercilious surfeit suture bravo bravado seminal vesicle sacerdotalism sacroiliac sagacious saga safari saguaro salpinx salubrious salvo salve sanction sanctify sanguine sashay satchel satiate saucy savory scads scalpel scandalize scapula **** schmaltz schlep schnook scorn scour scoff scowl scow scram scrounge screak scud **** scuz seclude ****** seer selfish seminiferous senility sedition smear sycophant sensitize sensorium sentiment sequester sequential servile sham shindig shoddy singular screech situate skedaddle skew sketchy skittish skivvies slang slight slogan slovenly slouch sneaky snub soffit solvency sophistic spangle spar spawn spew squall squamous steeple logistical tactician strategy stupor subjunctive suborn subvert the clarity of criticism can create credibility comprehension can cause conducive consciousness supremacy surly burly squirrelly schema temporize tai pan tup trochlea ulna taboo taciturn tacit tacky tact talus tamper tang tamp tangible tangential tank tankard tassel tawny ****** telepathic temerity telos tenable tenet ternary terra-cotta testy topos tiercel theocracy tempting thew tizzy trite thirl throng thundering tantrum tonic torso topsy-turvy torus tour de force touristic **** tout tragus tractive trance tranquil traject transcend trample transducer transfix transgress transition transposition transude transpire treasure treason trek trenchant tremendous tributary trigeminal  trollop triumph tropic tropism troth trough tractable tract strumpet trove trump trustless tribunal twang tweeze twinge twirl twaddle tunic typecast tyrannical tyrannosaur traction padness tyrant tympanum twist ukase ultraism ultima ratio ultrastructure uglify umbilicus umbra umbrage unabridged unconditional unambiguous unanimity uncanny unceremonious uninucleat union unique unison unity farce sham unmannered unremitting unspeakable upsurge upstage urchin urbanist usherette usufruct travesty usury utensil ****** utmost ut uvea utter uvula utility uxorious usurp surreptitious vagabond vagarious vagile vagrant vagrancy vale valor validate vampire vanguard vas deferens vast vaunt vector venery venial veranda venture verbalist verboten verdant verdict verge vertebration verve vexatious fierce vigil vigorous vile vilify villainous vindicate violent virtue vitalist ***** vituperative vogue vomitus volunteer vouch vulcanization vulturous vulgarism weld **** volume decimate wahoo waive wangle wee weepy welch whammy war wharfage whereof whereupon wherein wherefore whereon wherewithal whine whopper wild goose chase wishy washy wisp woeful wrathy wrought wrong xenophile ******* fornication phantasmagoria fluent voluble yammer yelp yes man yummy zany zealotry zilch zing zombie zooidal zoom zounds zygomatic contiguous constituency confluence contiguity continuum concurrence conjunction conjugation métier quintessential
There was a motion on the floor for the nomination of a proxy to be my epigone.  I feared I didn't have enough votes to challenge so I filibustered.
J Chicago May 2015
o halogen light with CD
and cassette holder
how your ribs they envelop
a promise of symphony
as you stand tall and straight
like a guard at the gate
you relieve all my troubles
with your blinding light bubbles
you brighten my day
keep the shadows away
though your color is lightless
you make me so nightless
your a wiry lifeline
steals perception of time
how quick the hours fly by
i'll never know
top of your glow
to the tip of my toe
your electric insides
could frizzle the tides
and your mental effect...
well...
it gives me good rides
hahaha good times! i wrote this at 15, baked as hell. skippin class to find enlightment.
Nat Lipstadt Oct 2013
The groove, the rut, and the cut
were walking down the street.

As good friends do oft,
Cousin in name and in shape,
They strode sided, but said not a word.
Still understood that three
So different, nonetheless, one design.

The cut was old yet still bled
From time to time.
The groove and the rut, always in touch,
T'issued spear-carriers, armed and
Loving, dabbed and blotted the cut clotted.
For that is what the friends are 'the for,'
For the clotting, the knitting and the closing.

The bleeding came when it came,
They jested that they could never leave him,
For tho he bled regular, there was no schedule,
No knowing the when, but the why, that they
Understood. They would not have left him anyway
Exception of course now and then, but leave
Their man, their cuz, was not to be conceived.

The rut was long, thin, you had to look down
To see his full length, for he grew bottom-down,
Every day another ring, another inch, on the soles
Notched, they dared not, count them, so many days
Rutted in the tedium of a blood count of unable,
Incapable of being broken, his enemy, arch, was his friend.
Tedium his companion, his drug dealer,
When groove and cut were at work, failing to supervise.

Rut could only sigh. Sole solitary sound, except for the
Quiet ringing only he could hear, rings forming,
Day after day, and he could not count that high,
So instead each rut was given a name,
For blessed endless the world of words that say
I am a daily existence, nothing more, nothing but less.

The groove, hero to the cut and the rut,
Had his moments.
But he had secrets he did not share with them,
But as an outside-looker-in, I was privy to the
Privy of everything.

The groove was oval, wiry, snakey shaped,
But prone when prone to twisty turns when
Objects like objectives met, in counter ed.
But when groove was grooving,
There was full blown full mo, the world observed.

Strict silence for the poems that
Shook lose from his frame,
Bad his eyes, wept he,
Lines of ones and twosies,
Fat and wide his fame,
For when the groove was
Cooing and cooling,
Life infused him and sips of tea,
Each transformed into the heat of ooh and the ahh,
When the cup was empty, he had his finished 'aha,'
Of a new parting, gift giving in his heart.
For he she see saw the angle of simple, and thus could
Groove on grooving.

The rut and the cut were happy for him,
Watch with incredible incredulity and an itty bitty
Jealousy of which they never rudely spoke.
But they would board his poetry-train sled,
Down they rode, the white snow
Of being a a lookalike groovy kid,
Even if and but, for just a few minutes.

Everyone loved groovy, and watch his every movie,
Licked the whiskey wooden snowball words from his lips,
but would not admit they kept them hid,
So they could be reread when they were at home
In the closet with flashlight, and the weeping was easy.

The three cuz went to the carnival.
Fun house with mirrors that made you look like
Who You really were.

But not them, for "the for" was different,
For when they strode sided before those mirrors,
They could plainly see that the
Groove, the rut the cut
Looked exactly alike,
Exactly alike,
All looked
Like
me.
For Rebecca, just because.
Created October 19th, 2013
Gigi Tiji Oct 2015
Oh cute little thing
I like your contour

you look pretty funny when you're cold
you get these lovely wrinkles
especially in the middle region
nearly dendritic
more like the cracks in the earth

and your satchel breathes on its own
like a brain if it had lungs for itself
but more like an amoebic celestial body squirming around in some primordial goop
I think that's pretty cool

you're a pink and brown mushroom emerging from a forest of black wiry moss

concentrated around you and
all growing in your direction

almost lifting you up and out
and then further away fading

the way the water gets clearer
above a sand bar

and then a great convergence
a crashing of two great waves
against each other

forming a wall of spindly tendrils
before the whirlpool
Odysseus struggles needs to prove to himself world he is talented painter determined to achieve recognition goes from art dealer to art dealer seeking support one dealer says Schwartzpilgrim stop changing settle on 1 style you can be known for what you’re doing now is good stick with it call me in 6 months with 300 drawings just like these another dealer says Odys you must learn great art is a **** beneath bed sheets another dealer says Modigliani knew how to paint flesh paint like Modigliani you need to learn more about painting Schwartzpilgrim you’re too young inexperienced another dealer says thank you for your interest in our gallery we’re not taking on any new painters at this time Odysseus knows there are people so much more talented better looking than him he feels inadequate intimidated

thinks to himself sister Penny is right female wish list is curse Bayli haunts she alone always be my ideal until i met Reiko Lee now Reiko Lee Furshe holds me captive i long for her voice eyes shoulders wiry delicateness crazy outrageous humor fiery ****** appetite i need to tear apart wish list leave myself open need to learn to seek inner beauty let anatomy fall where it will need to cultivate new standards it’s difficult to see with different eyes i am so biased how do i do this?

Odysseus muses with Reiko’s ghost 6 months since separation lights candles burns incense opens bottle of red wine pours glass for her and himself sips watches her glass while he makes toasts speaks elaborately of her beauty charm cites reasons why each of them does not need the other why couldn’t you have been the one? what is it about me you didn’t like? what did i do wrong? pours another glass begins talking louder ending in rage why aren’t you here? why? what went so terribly wrong? i love you where are you? how come you’re not here with me tonight? looks at her glass sees she has not even taken sip feels slightly drunk fearful he has sunk too deep  gets up staggers to bed sniffs blanket for traces of her tonight is their anniversary his only excuse

telephone rings sometime in late july hi it’s me Reiko how’ve you been Odys? he questions Reiko Lee? uh yes Odys it’s meee your stray puppy Reiko’s voice sounds playful tender Odys are you there? what’s up? let me come over **** and ******* please he speaks into receiver Reiko Lee is dead hangs up wonders if he has done right thing paces room writes a woman like that you tell yourself you do not need  ignore her deny her let her pass because if you admit how much you want her you become fugitive in chains running from dogs men with guns a woman like that is all you need a woman like that is motive seed chance of a lifetime a woman like that takes chances at twice your speed a woman like that keeps you guessing hoping waiting a woman like that leaves you destitute you cannot have her because she possesses you a woman like that is a wanted woman

decides to move finds new place blocks away apartment on lill street changes telephone number in his heart he knows nothing more thrilling beautiful than joyous girl yet he attracts women who seek abuse because they see themselves in him because he lets them try to mend his abused mind because he misuses them so well reaching finding joyous girl looms impossible breakup feeds venting bitter fires

the most dangerous woman eludes meall other women are too attainable chinese green tea gestapo limousine it doesn’t matter that you don’t understand that is the line darling dangling darjeeling your lips bleeding your ***** on fire imagine i am running sprinting in relay race just up ahead i’m about to pass baton this is life expectancy of poet indonesian cigarettes made of clove leaves i held your wrists pinned your fragile body to floor strummed you like guitar while other men looked on i knew one of them would take you next

miranda comes out on verandah with lemonade on hot summer day hair blows free in breeze leans back against beam softly hums inside time bomb ticks somewhere fly caught in room knocking itself against window ricocheting off corners  buzzing crisscross ceiling floor miranda sips just enough so lips are wet eyelids flutter like butterfly wings ******* swell in heat of midday sun she calls to us with hand stirs more sugar in lemonade late afternoon when fly is caught entangled in spider’s web buzzing is muffled ice has melted lemonade watery we are dozing in hammocks rocking chairs miranda is changing dress perfuming thighs crafting character in mirror screen door slams she looks up recognizing it is only wind sun is sinking orange ball spider crawls fixing aim grabs thread swings in for **** we are passed out in grass at dusk lights around verandah beam on miranda appears wearing low-neck dress with one strap down breath heavy with anise invites us inside giggling shyly as we follow timeless newsreel vision men hard at work war room spins as fly ***** desperately spider opens legs miranda lies arched on bed eyes weaving

he gets drunk loudly sings she must be some kind of witch flying in the wind she must be some kind of ***** to dig this grave i’m in he rhymes it was just another **** stunt forgive me for speaking so blunt she was just being a lady no need to get crazy it was just another **** stunt he scribbles she gets ****** hair styled eyebrows plucked nails done walks out new woman miss fox Mrs. G. Fox madame de faux meeting the girls for lunch wearing her pearls writing her name in swirls talking up a storm pack of women is worse than pack of hungry wolves wolves stop at carrion women carve combs out of bones

Cal is driving Odysseus sits in passenger seat heading to pit & pendulum for cocktails it is raining down hard Odysseus looks out beyond sweeping windshield wipers sees red cowboy boots the ones they found together at flea market there she is Reiko Lee Furshe arisen from wasteland Odysseus tells Cal to stop car turns to see her she is running across street his hand reaches for car door handle what’s happening? Cal demands are you there? i can’t stop cars behind me! this is crazy Odys what’s going on? i’m not stopping! Odysseus stares through rear window frozen watching her disappear behind red brick wall in pouring rain

ghost girl it’s difficult to write in comatose passage apart i am in theater of mirrors with empty seat beside me black hole inside me itinerary of fears i’m seeing dancer but haunted by you look in your eyes smell on your fingers clonking up stairs of your wooden clog shoes feelings we dared plans we knew might never come true la laahh la lay la lay dee la lady of shady lagoon weeping willow pisces moon like India ink you’ve left indelible stain i fumble in dark of empress’s tomb like necrophiliac i grip onto memory stroke ashes of you lantern licorice amethyst bone you are gliding in your canoe cutting through mist swirling whirlpools that untangle themselves behind you dancing nearer to flame la shady lady does pirouettes in rain
The poem of the mind in the act of finding
What will suffice. It has not always had
To find: the scene was set; it repeated what
Was in the script.
Then the theatre was changed
To something else. Its past was a souvenir.

It has to be living, to learn the speech of the place.
It has to face the men of the time and to meet
The women of the time. It has to think about war
And it has to find what will suffice. It has
To construct a new stage. It has to be on that stage,
And, like an insatiable actor, slowly and
With meditation, speak words that in the ear,
In the delicatest ear of the mind, repeat,
Exactly, that which it wants to hear, at the sound
Of which, an invisible audience listens,
Not to the play, but to itself, expressed
In an emotion as of two people, as of two
Emotions becoming one. The actor is
A metaphysician in the dark, twanging
An instrument, twanging a wiry string that gives
Sounds passing through sudden rightnesses, wholly
Containing the mind, below which it cannot descend,
Beyond which it has no will to rise.
It must
Be the finding of a satisfaction, and may
Be of a man skating, a woman dancing, a woman
Combing. The poem of the act of the mind.
Haberdashery hauberk harbinger harangue equilibrist, harpy harsh hast severities.
Inane inert inertia innate, juxtaposition maenad ethos affinities.
Putrid quasi queasy pathos, emanate imminent perdition acerbities.

Agnate aggregate anathema android amalgamated, predication contract.
Glutton paradoxical dichotomy greaves, gauntlets gamut catalyst abstracts.
Ambidextrous amatory prelude amaze, analeptic adrenergic analgesia analytics extract.  Annex annul.  

Clairaudience clairvoyant omnipresence presage, omnipotent omnificent omniscience.
Pantheism parapet paradigm intuition, prognosticating prosthesis prediction.
Prolific profuseness profundity prosaic, nimbus nimiety nitty gritty, intrados rubato.

Venerable divinatory deity deify veneration, delineate demagoguery ecstasy, agonist agog.
Dream gleam cream seam beam team, serene ravine green gene careen, obscene demean.
Empiricise the existentialisms in the demagoguery of godhead aspiration.
Corporeal anaclitic apex inveterate embezzlement extroversion, acuity alacrity extortion.
Extraneous extemporaneous, ominous phenomena portrayal spontaneous synchronous, aorist actuator.

Endergonic protensive integration extrapolation interpolations investiture elicits.
Scenario synopsis synthesis syncopation, harmony rhymes rhythm.
Synchronous transition transposition interlude, summerial derivation cognition.
                                                      ­­                                                                ­ ­              
Irk-ness ire aerie altruism allegorical, autonomous avarice oscillating ostracism.
Pandemonium obdurate temerity impunity, impending preponderance onus, numinous illuminism quintessential frolic.
Amorous ardent argent arduous enamor endear, plenary putschist volatile phatic.
Conveyor controvert deft mesmeric deification deist dissertation.
Drastic premise portent pervasive embellish, elusive enhance enchant, engender enthrall.
Perpetuation euphenic euthenics, exude emote concoct recalcitrance regalia, irrefragable preternatural ne plus ultra prurient.
Vernaculars opulent myriad, aesthetic stratagem venial vexatious, astral projection conjuring levity apothegms.

Incite epistemological illuminism, accoutrements umbrage ultraism incognito trajectory extant.
Scandalous scavenger squalid anomalous punitive, heuristic manumission exigency.
Ostensible proclivity prodigious querulous, rambunctious repertoire rigmarole scenic schism sooth.
Ascribe arsenal crucial critical, abhorrent abstinence blatancy berserk, alacritous celerity brogue.
Ceremonial chicanery dynamism fealty, indefatigable incontrovertible ingenuity ingratiate inimical impugn.
Innovate integrity intricate invective convolution, licentious metaphor convection obeisance.
Splurge-ness spry sporadic sprawl, spurious staunch succinct stymie tacit, irate tirade treatise vehement escapade tedium.

Probity irascibly veracious audacity mendacity gumption.
Paphian peccavi preternatural proclivity gesticulation articulation prestidigitation.
Fantastication fantasia fabulist façade, glimmer glisten translucent refulgence.
Subliminally subjunctive nostalgic allusion analogies eidetic’s mnemonics.
Metaphysical mystique’s evolutionally metamorphic futurity fatidic.
Adroit agile nimble tactile acuity prescience capacity intrigue.
Unadulteratedly fornicatious fabrications, portentous ethereal etiquette.
Nose agnate somatology morphology metamorphic, cognition epistemology pragmatics.
Ontological ontogeny causality exigence integumence equivocal.
Innocuous noumenal verity ***** affectation intentions.

Adumbrate intimate obfuscate preterite rendition intimidate.
Logistical tactician spatiotemporal terrestrial equestrian telemetries, physicality’s terrene traverse tellurian terrain.
Vaunt-ness verve’s lucidly illusive, intrepid yare’s predilection predication.
Apriori a posteriori apostrophe shards shroud, innately inert inherency interstitial endemics.                  

Irk-ness ire Zen, graffiti mantra mantis, diminutive minutia iotas inductive interpolation asperities.
Hypercritically mitigating dialectics hypotaxis.
Vituperatively vociferous eerie strident irrefragable orotund  sonorous felicities.
Diacritical diction dharma apomixis.
Chutzpah panache spontaneous generation complicity, gambit alluvium aloof succor.

Demarcate mirador bartizan panorama, stalwart bastion bulwark tableau, dexterous gargoyle disguise gimmick camouflage.
Decipher coercible coalesce corrupt costume counselor chameleon charlatan chaperone entourage.
Cryptic evocative emulation scenarios siren skeptic, cynical demonic gremlin greaves curtilage.
Zesty zingy zippy zeal zenithal azimuth elaborate elliptical empathy endeavor entity entice.

Clambering clamorous clangor strategic systematic propagate prolific, wield wile treatise expose’.
Aural auspice austerity  axiom conscribe, perplex beleaguer beggary, coax cacophony clout, concatenate chronology.
Erumpent erudition evident evil evert, extol fervor flinty florid, fructify impromptu innuendo juncture.
Kinetic supremacy temporize tractive fluent, precious precess predetermined predatory predicament, gyro gyre.
Horizon hornswoggle huckster, hokey hoot ornery honkies.

Horologist hackamore relative rationality.
Decorum dastardly dazzle deceit, demolish demur, annihilate denigrate.
Armature arcade doughty, panacea parallax serendipity servant serenade.
Personification of sartorial perfection, picturesque visage of spectral grace.
Cosmic enigma rational relativity.

Housebreak huckster squabble brash, hovel huff.
Ghastly gruesome grotesque grisly groaty gnarly grotto grouch compunction.
Caustic cavernous celibate catatonic phonics, apex crux axis matrix cortex cephalic.
Blasphemous farcical fugue-ness and estranged ensemble orchestration acoustics.
Rendition: various assorted forms of related stranger weirdness.
Conjugation coercion junction function, adjunct conjunction conjecture.
Concoct deontology ontogeny, ontological enclitic osteopathy.
Anticipate angary amentia, tiercel theocracy.
Phrenic sensorium sentiment paragon tangible.
Covert aspersion avidity, coherent avid avarice, allegory allocate amatory prelude annex annul.

Tantamount telepathy tantalize talisman talesman, prerogative presumptive judicature.
Subpoena parameter perimeter peripherals prophylaxis protocol.
Real deal seal, sail bail, bailiff rake-ness rail.
Yoni yore yare, leeward lecher leer lingam, menagerie melee hyperbolic milieu thesis, métier quintessential fulham.
Dangle wrangle mangle jangle tangle angle.
Hysterically delirious zany nertsy bonkers bluster boggle.
Gyrate, austere askance obliquely, aspire assail askew.

Cosmic origins metamorphosis implosion contractions revision, blond entropy catalyst.
Cataclysm catastrophe holocaust trauma, inefficacy ineffable expiate.
Chaos cognizant conceive dialectic dictates in extremis extremity meld nuance.
Cryptic cipher circuit citadel clairvoyant sequitur.
Cajole fictitious fiery finesse, invoke fulmination gouts clout, curtilage endeavor iterative itinerary.
Ersatz fiat fulcrum fulgurous indemnify indigenous infernal infidel iniquitous.
Electroacoustic ciphony  Electra complex lore, occipital ubiquity synch.
Psychosomatic psychokinesis cybernetics, penumbral platitude platonic proxy photic.
Assimilate stigma perspicacious, astute asunder atman pulchritudinous.
        
Decadent arrogant pompously bombastic blatant flagrant chaparral.
Diabolically maniacal dementia brusque macabre abruptness.
Swarthy beastly antithetical anathema ******* belligerent, savvy irate berserk-ness tirade.
Ulterior aghast agitator incongruous dire, perdurable peremptory primacy arbitrate zealot.
Cantankerously sorcerous insidiously sinister alchemy cauldron, pernicious visceral pathogenic, virulence truculence.
Ideational hideously horrible horrendously heinous ghastly abysmal abjection.
Perpetuity pervade rampart ransack oblation erogenous scarp lambent actuarial arbitrage.
Exserted protuberant pseudopodia actuator, odious aorist militantly mercenary.

Wingspread wiry wiseacre wherewithal rapacity, implicit important juxtaposition.
Machismo equilibrist machinations, kinesiology kleptomaniac knell physique.
Ribaldry rigmarole rhubarb, risqué rive rollick.
Demeanor kamikaze kerf, megalomania misanthropies modus operandi genocidal xenophobic.
Heredity heritage heresy legacy, pseudonym multifarious nefarious nemesis.
Sepulcher stratagem pantheism parapet paradigm, psychosis neophyte, paragon proselyte.
Pilferous wheedling finagler, plunderous pillaging usurper, longevous loquacity lottery.
Rhapsody rhetoric rote raconteur newfangled nocturnal nonchalant sycophant.
Morose morsel moribund, lurid luscious lyricism lucidity lucrative.
Creative cleaver crafty cunning furtive sneaky stealthy connive.
Aphorism euphemism hegira to xanadu carousing marauder syllogism.
Swell surge flow flux craw crux, virago monad chaos character charisma.
Heuristic cavalier humeral, meager demonstrative anarchy iconoclasm, apropos ergo ipso-facto.
Plenary plenipotentiary omniscience presage, omnipotent directive ubiquity emanations.
Nous agnate ontological ontogeny, exegesis peroration.
Abeyance, exotically ****** quixotic ecstatically emphatic fanatic.
Orchestration rendition unicorn railway mainsail, awry askew askance.

Canny cogent fecund erudite sagacious sequacious conjuring mentality introjection conjugation coercions.
Avant-garde temporal abstract, scenario synopsis eclectic synectics.
Synaptic syntax syndrome aspersion, quagmire quandary poshly plush.
Physicality ***** pictorial, picturesque glyph, debauchery deviant profane ***** vicarious assertion exorbitance.
Mystical silhouette sojourn consortium sabbat conclave liaison, soiree tryst rendezvous symposium excursion compendium.
Incarnate cephalic phantasmagoria proximity parameter phantasm epitomize transitive transcendental syntactic semantics.
Resplendent radiant ephemeral effulgence translucent incandescent luster effluence, reflectively refractive azure opulence effusion.
Contentious pretentiously extravagant eccentric intransigent pedantic antics.
Guidon guile homogenous hovering imagination immaturity, exogamy incorporeity ideologies.
Pique poignant piquant puissant quiescence, obstreperously abstruse vagary plausibility’s cause.
Vivid intangible impetus instinct intrigue, livid lurid allusion.
Autonomous preterite discrepancy amendment emendations, transcendent accession ascensional in absentia expurgation exculpation.
I'm so lonely. Nobody loves me unless I over simplify. I think I'll take my martial arts trainee (Jaded seal ordinand) down to the corner and see if I can find a likely suspect to flash my badge at.
Graff1980 Apr 2015
I go dark
Blood pulsing
Foot falls fast
Furiously
Pounding the ground
Swimming before me
The night beckons
As it always does
I am not the wolf
But I howl
With centuries of fury
Angry
Lost
My tribe eons apart
My people
My truth
Bare skin broken
Like chords of history
Musical and painful
Thin and wiry
Spirit fiery
My ears thud
The wheat bends
Beneath my pace
I am the wind
Will not win
Nature’s race
But the chaff
Rises once more
Not separated
But part of the whole
I can fly
With no wings
I can soar
I am the drums
So I run
The poet
The child
The native
Burnt skin
To the edge of the world
Around then back again
Running
And running
Always running
JR Rhine Jan 2017
**** Middle-Aged Dad at the Water Park,
this is an ode to you.

**** Middle-Aged Dad at the Water Park
ambles behind
the kids sprawling out of the entrance
like baby spiders spilling
out of the crushed mother’s abdomen.

**** Middle-Aged Dad at the Waterpark
flip-flops his way to the lazy river,
shies his black Harley Davidson tanktop
to reveal his sunburnt
abdomious belly
flopping over his camo swim trunks.

He shakes off his flip-flops
and awkwardly wades in,
his hulking mass shifting with
each foot and tree trunk
of a leg smashing into
the shallow water,
sending shockwaves towards
screaming toddlers
in his wake.

Finding a vacant tube,
he turns his body around
and heaves himself
into the neon green donut
with considerable
and farcical
difficulty.

Mother at the pavilion
opens an eye from the lawn chair
and chuckles to herself,
applying another layer of sunscreen
over ruddy cancer-sensitive skin.

Sporting oblong racecar sunglasses
atop flushed puffy cheeks,
**** Middle-Aged Dad at the Waterpark
basks in the baking mid-summer sun
and the cool ****-ridden waters
he sinks his hands and feet into.

What is on his mind?
I imagine it is as close
to nothing
as he aims to get,

free from responsibility
like a wiry youth
he knew
from long ago.

The piercing screams of laughter
from ambulant children
splashing about him
are fruitless
in penetrating
his enclave.

He coasts about this way
for an eternity,
his red leather hide
burning in the hot sun
enwreathing his glasses.

Meanwhile,
mother reads
under the cool shade
of the pavilion,

the kids tumble down
slides and splash gleefully,
endlessly,

and life lingers on a moment
for a necessary
sojourn.

**** Middle-Aged Dad
awakens from his sun-cooked daze,
approaches the exit
and prepares himself
for his departure.

Waddling left and right,
he flops starboard
splashing magnificently
like a cannonball rolling off the deck
into the ocean.

His sunglasses leave him in the ruckus,
he gropes blindly
with chlorine-infested eyes,
til he grasps the visage
and stands up in the water.

His great body surges
from the waters,
fading tattoos gleam
along with a bald spot
in the sunlight.

He ambles through the waters—
water spilling out of rolls of fat
undulating in the motion—
and sensuously runs a baseball glove of a hand
through thinning hair.

His trunks bunch up around
firm, beefy buttocks
and a tired old *****,
thick tree trunk thighs,
ending its constriction just above
the wrinkled knot
of kneecaps.

Mother snapshots a photo
of the visage,
his fruits spilling about him
in perpetual glee,
his stolid look of authority,
wisdom, drive,
and endearment.

Years later,
the ambulant youths
on the cusp of adulthood

leaf through old photo albums
suddenly eyeing the Father piously
in a newfound awe,

aware of his gargantuan countenance
that shielded their efflorescence.

He was their sun,
he was their shade,
and their sky—

for he knew
when to plant,
and when to water,
and when to wait.

Running a thumb over
the diaphanous visage
exemplifying
an analog adolescence,

they jeer each other
over the Father,
secretly harboring
an amassing reverence
for the great figure,

the **** Middle-Aged Dad at the Water Park.
Danny Valdez Dec 2011
There were many times
When I came close to leaving my wife.
I would take some clothes
and my favorite movies with me
to my parent’s house,
dead set on not going back.
But then she would come over
And talk me out of it.
When it finally happened though
this is how it went down:
It was the Fourth of July
and I was driving home
from my job at a group home for the developmentally disabled,
Fireworks bursting all around me
up in the Arizona sky.
I was caught up in a full-blown panic attack
from the thought of my twelve-hour shift
the next day with no pain pills or any relief
whatsoever.
I have a severe back injury from a car wreck
and that day I had hurt it worse
moving someone from their wheelchair into the shower.
It felt like a railroad spike
had been rammed into the center of my spine.
Driving home
then walking up the stairs to our apartment
I couldn’t stop crying.
I had lost all control.
Walking in the front door,
my wife was cooking and my son crawled on the floor.
I went straight to the bathroom,
Needed to calm down and compose myself,
but I just couldn’t stop crying.
Hell I couldn’t even catch my breath.
My wife walked in.
“What’s wrong? Why are you crying?”
“I hurt my back really bad today at work … and I have a twelve-hour shift tomorrow
and no pain pills, no nothing. It just hurts so bad …”
She rolled her big blue eyes and scoffed at me.
“Ugh. That’s no reason to be ******* crying. Quit being a baby.”
Out the door she went with a slam.
THAT was my wife? My true love?
The thought drove me insane.
Growing old with her hateful eyes
always glaring at me.
I ate dinner in silence,
put the baby to bed
and smoked so much ****
I felt nothing
neither physical nor mental.
I couldn’t smoke **** before or at work, however,
I did have morals.
Those people in the group home were my responsibility.
The baby woke up crying around five a.m.
I had to start my shift at eight a.m.
It was the wife’s day off.
“Hey … hey … wake up. Can you get him? Please?”
“Arrgg. No. Just get up with him.” She groaned and rolled back over.
“Please? I gotta be up in two hours.”
“Ugh. NO. It’s my day off.”
“Exactly. You can take a nap with him later. I gotta work twelve hours today.”
“I said NO. I didn’t want a baby in the first place. Remember?”
She said that all the time. It made my blood ******’ boil.
“Then maybe you should’ve kept your ******* legs closed.”
I said
turning away from her, on my side
The baby kept crying,
screaming, now a blood-curdling sound.
The next thing I saw were
flashes
of red, black, and white
as her small, but bony,
rock hard fist
hit the side of my temple.
“YOU ******’ ****,” I screamed
jumping up and out of bed.
Picking the baby up,
he rested his little head on my shoulder,
and finally stopped crying.
I walked the floor,
pacing back and forth,
my back aching,
my head throbbing & pulsating
as the goose-egg lump
swelled.
She sat upright in bed.
Her arms crossed, her icy glare
burning a hole through my head.
She didn’t look the same anymore.
When we met
her eyes were full of good
burning churches
love.
Replaced now with
little saggy *******,
wiry, stringy, mess of hair—
like a Barbie doll left outside too long.
And that face
held so much hate.
My God, that face of hers.
She despised me.
Everything I did and said
just ****** her off.
From the bedroom window
I stood watching the cars
move along down the street,
thinking of it all.
The fights,
all the shiners, lumps, goose-eggs, cuts, and bruises
she had left on me over the past nine months.
When she used to look at me with those
big blue eyes,
there was love, lust, and a future.
Now it was hate, hate, hate
I thought of all this
watching those cars drive down the street
when it suddenly became clear to me,
I could be in one of those cars too.
Driving somewhere, anywhere, far from her.
My son, was my son
I'd always be there for him
and have my time with him.
But her time?
Our time?
It was up.
The switch in my mind was flipped. And broken off.
I kissed my son, put him on the bed and
went into the closet.
Getting my ****.
“No, no, no, no. You can’t leave. You CAN’T.”
She started to panic.
“Watch me. This is it, you hateful *****. Get out of my way.”
She ran behind me,
followed me down the stairs, all the way to the car,
shrieking, screaming continuously,
and slobbering and gasping for air,
throwing herself in my path.
Tears flowed
From her over sized eyes,
now filled with tiny red veins.
“We can go to counseling, we can work it out.”
“I don’t WANT to work it out. I don’t love you anymore.
Now would you get back upstairs? You left the baby all by himself up there.”
She didn’t hear me.
Just kept on trying to convince me.
I managed to get my clothes in the car,
but then she wouldn’t let me
close my door.
“I can’t believe this. I can’t believe you. You’re just leaving your child?”
“No. I’m leaving YOU. Now get back upstairs and be a mother.
You’re done being a wife.”
I had to pry her claws off the driver’s side door to leave.
Looking in the rear view
I saw her skinny body running up the stairs
back to our apartment
and the baby.

My first meal as a free man
was an egg & cheese biscuit.
I sat in my parked car
in the parking lot of a park
listening to my iPod
on shuffle.
“Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” by Bob Dylan
suddenly came on.
I took it as a sign
Come, Madam, come, all rest my powers defy,
          Until I labour, I in labour lie.
     The foe oft-times having the foe in sight,
  Is tired with standing though they never fight.
Off with that girdle, like heaven's zone glistering,
        But a far fairer world encompassing.
  Unpin that spangled breastplate which you wear,
That th' eyes of busy fools may be stopped there.
     Unlace yourself, for that harmonious chime
  Tells me from you, that now 'tis your bed time.
      Off with that happy busk, which I envy,
  That still can be, and still can stand so nigh.
Your gown going off, such beauteous state reveals,
As when from flowery meads th' hill's shadow steals.
        Off with that wiry coronet and show
      The hairy diadem which on you doth grow;
  Now off with those shoes, and then safely tread
   In this love's hallowed temple, this soft bed.
   In such white robes heaven's angels used to be
   Received by men; thou angel bring'st with thee
    A heaven like Mahomet's paradise; and though
     Ill spirits walk in white, we easily know
     By this these angels from an evil sprite,
Those set our hairs, but these our flesh upright.
      License my roving hands, and let them go
       Before, behind, between, above, below.
          O my America, my new found land,
  My kingdom, safeliest when with one man manned,
       My mine of precious stones, my empery,
     How blessed am I in this discovering thee!
      To enter in these bonds, is to be free;
    Then where my hand is set, my seal shall be.
      Full nakedness, all joys are due to thee
    As souls unbodied, bodies unclothed must be,
   To taste whole joys. Gems which you women use
   Are like Atlanta's *****, cast in men's views,
     That when a fool's eye lighteth on a gem,
    His earthly soul may covet theirs, not them.
  Like pictures, or like books' gay coverings made
      For laymen, are all women thus arrayed;
     Themselves are mystic books, which only we
       Whom their imputed grace will dignify
     Must see revealed. Then since I may know,
        As liberally, as to a midwife, show
  Thyself: cast all, yea, this white linen hence,
      Here is no penance, much less innocence.
     To teach thee, I am naked first, why then
  What needst thou have more covering than a man.
Nat Lipstadt Oct 2013
Yeah I am young once more morn late,
Call it the year of somebody's lord,
Call it nineteen sixty eight,
Hair to my shoulders
Makes me see better,
Parted down the middle,
The older black ladies,
On the new.york city subway,
One and all, bless me cause this Jew,
Looks just like Our Lord
In them Renaissance picture-books.

Ironically, that winter time,
I wear a white sheepskin jacket,
Purchased in the Old City of
Jerusalem, but don't tell'm that,
Cause they would have marched up to Harlem,
No telling what might've happened next...

Next summer reality intruded,
Money in pocket aid and ain't not enough,
Riding the bus on Euclid Ave.
To go downtown Cleveland, the Flats,
Drag racing and watching,
The river Cuyahoga burn,
Kinda of a bus drag, but very very, kinda cool.


Summer next,
Worked in a Republic Steel mill,
They called me the Macaroni Kid,
Cause stoopidly I told them that is
What I et,, with ketchup Heinz sauce,
Desert, a heath bar!
Cause I was saving my pennies,
This college kid they loved to hate,
Caused he bicycled to work and
Wasn't one of them.


Put me, little ole wiry me,
In the boxcars,
Loading and loafing the
Rebar, twisted and straight,
Came it, sent it all over,
Me, black as a
Pennsylvania coal miner,
A San Fran homeless man.
To this day, can't get my
Fingernails really clean.

At night, me and the boys on the porch,
Gettin ******, ****, music and a view of
Cleveland East, the sirens rushing around,
To the houses on fire, the next ******.

First freaked us out,
Coming to get us,
Then it became the best, finest ***
"That was so stony cool" light show.
The girls looked like Joan Baez,
And if they didn't,
We still took 'em to bed,
Pretending it was Janis,
If Joan was busy
In the dorm room next store.

Hey babe,
Wanna come back to my dorm room,
And drink wine, listen to Blood Sweat and Tears,
Make some of our own,
Cause my roomie gone down to Canton,
To visit his cleaning lady mom.

I loved that guy liked he was the first
Real person I'd ever met.
On my first day, without asking,
Ran his hands both all over my head,
Looking for the horns on the Jews head,
According his parish priest, we all had'em,
God's official representative on the consecrated earth of
Ohio.

In those days, I applied to schools
Farthest away from home,
That the student discounted airfare was no more than
59bucks which I could afford so I could go back to
NYC, and find out what was really
"Happening" man.

The summer next, worked in the East Village,
Summer Office Boy for a big corporation
In a part of town where you could buy
Leather fringed vests and the headshops sold
The paraphernalia to get hookah high,
And if you hookah lookah right,
That wasn't the thing they sold for cash money.

Took my steel mill blues money,
Bot me a '65 red mustang car,
That needed to be jumped to get started,
Courtesy of the Cleveland special hell called
Midwest winter.

That car, the floor was made of cardboard,
The four cylinders were bolted to the car,
So when u opened the hood, you saw mostly
The pavement of the parking lot,
Some tiny engine,
In between holding on for dear life.
Always kept extra brake fluid in the trunk,
In case the leak got bad on the Heights.

Needed to do what I needed to do,
So I wrote a resume of whom I was,
And whom I ain't, so I could get me a
Real big time job.

More on that someday,
When the resume is resumed,
Getting updated, that will be kinda funny,
Cause it will run about 500 pages long.

Right now, strange,
I am hard by hard by the Frisco bay,
The Ferry Building and the tripartite
Disposal systems of three garbage cans,
And who should appear, but
Otis and Sara B., (live from the Fillmore)
Singing to me about a dock on this bay.

Got me those 'high flying blues,'
The kind that say;

"Lord, look at me here,
I'm rooted like a tree here,
Got those sit-down, can't cry,
Oh, Lord, gonna die blues."

Missing that dock of mine,
In the picture next to my invisible head.
You want to know my face?
Maybe when back east,
I'll find that photo of that long haired college boy,
Leaning in on, so proud against that red Mustang.

Right now all I got these here old vignettes,
True stories one and all,
Making me miss my dock, my shelter,
On that old adirondack chair,
Where my **** aches, and my mind fevered
With poems of love children and a life that
Tho dim recalled, I see it all so well.
Seems the Frisco water still "energized,"
Cause here I am every morning burning
A hole in my back, writing memories,
I never tole my family while working
The wriding shift that starts at 4:00 am.
-------
See: Nat Lipstadt · Oct 5
True Stories #1
--------
River burning,
See
http://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/63
-------
Sara Bareilles

Mar 12, 2011 -
Sara Bareilles, live at the Fillmore -

► 4:57► 4:57
www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLHB-LqvvxY
Feb 6, 2011 - Uploaded by Axel Noor
Sara Bareilles, live at the Fillmore - "(Sittin' on) the Dock of the Bay".
-----------
To many notes take the pleasure aaaway.
The stories spun from the threads of my life.

"The crazy painter from the streets,
Painted crazy patterns on your sheets,
And it's all over now baby blue
ottaross Aug 2013
It starts like a beige tuft of fibre
Protruding from a large burlap sack.
As we pull it from the hidden source
It gradually reveals itself.
Simple and unassuming,
A uniform, coloured strand
Which we gather up into a tidy ball.

Sometimes another strand is tied
Onto the one we pull.
A different colour?
A change of texture?
And so we pull that one anew,
We build another coil,
While the original strand awaits.
The interesting new thread,
Reveals itself from the hidden reservoir.

The fibre slides through our fingers.
Slowly, when there is resistance.
Quicker, when it comes loosely.
Now coarse and wiry
Now soft and slippery,
Now thick and tufted.
Tough Scottish highlands perhaps?
Or rural Ontario?

Sometimes the hidden source seems like it may be
A hand-knit sweater that we are pulling apart.
The strands are still kinked and twisted in places,
Echoing a memory of a shape it has held for years.

We recognize bits here and there too.
Colours and textures from our own story.
"I had a pair of socks like that."
"Remember our scarves from those cold childhood winters?"

The collection of small skeins increases.
From a sheep's fleece, yes, but now too
From Alpaca, camel and rabbit.
Cashmere from Pashmina goats in Nepal?

But at last the final strand comes free.
You feel the weight of the coiled wool,
And see the diversity of the colours.
And for each coil
We remember again how it appeared
How it felt.
How the strands
Came together
And apart.
Rainbow Nov 2012
I'm falling in love with a panther.
He caught my eye in the dark...
   or was he the dark?

Silky black powerful faraway huge
His shoulders rolled with a twist of his stride
Bringing him closer to electrify my side
   and give me a glimpse
   of his battle scars

Fingers of fur to tickle a laugh
Dark melancholy to beckon a past
I placed my hands on his whiskery face,
let them slide behind his agonized gates
Are those words that were spoke from me or him?

In his ambling walk lives a passionate heartbeat,
     in his hunted gaze the joyful sorrow of seeing and remaining unseen
     behind great sharp leaves and semi-permanent shadows

Warmblooded, crystal river, feeling panther
Not so unknown
Not so feared or shunned
What's this crimson breath in my throat?

To hear his cry a mile away
What is this wrenching, muddy pain in my soul, in my core,
      calling me like one I've known
      and yet never before?
Panther, please don't die

I turn just in time to see the darkness rolling over his tear-drenched side
Fall to my knees to catch his heavy head in my determined palms
      watch as his blood trickles from him to me,
      feel it absorb into the promise in my skin

When the soft pastel of day caresses his black silhouette,
      I place a wondering hand
      on his warm, lifting chest
Stroke my fingers along his chin to his ears
Peaceful shutters covering his eyes in temporary rest from The Chase,
      nothing to remind me of the danger
      but a flick of his sleeping paw

When I lay next to him with my back against his hard belly and my foot brushing back to still his,
       my heart finds its elusive case,
       my fingers his wiry, black fur
There is a panther heart in mine.

Muzzle near my neck and fire racing sanity
What is this love-shaped thing misting my mind?
Heavy, muscled body shifts and I brace myself for the end
Instead I find myself face to face with my other half

Gazing into a deep dark silky pool
        I can't explain
        can't seem to leave

Beautiful unexpected deep impassioned new
I think I've fallen in love
Eyes of my panther sad, understanding, wise, searching for something I don't have
I'd follow him into any jungle dark
       latte and chocolate
       coat and skin

Face to face yet with burning eyes straight ahead
I rest my hand on his thick dark neck as we walk side by side
My panther and me
Down a road neither can know, bound by something so sweetly unseen
r Jul 2014
I've been told
that I'm built like a fencepost
Kind of wiry
A few knobs here and there
A knot or two for character
I make a pretty good fence
Good at keeping things inside
Not letting things out
But now my shadow seems leaner
Not quite as tall in the morning sun
The soil around my feet eroding
Drying out isn't all it's cracked up to be
Staying straight ain't easy
The herd is getting restless
And the barbed wire on my back
is tearing me up inside.

r ~ 7/25/14
\¥/\
  |      |~|~|~|~|~|
/ \
Eriko May 2015
My mother, you see, dresses in armor
as if war waged everyday
her mind is a catapult
her expression contours
and her teeth jeers
at the end of the day she'll say, mo wakata?

sorry mother, not today

her bones juts and creaks
her body worn from strains of life
her wobbly, crooked knees strike one another
with every feeble step in strife

her cheeks cascade like eery angular cliffs
and a crow's nest of hair, wiry and black
tumbles down her head
mother, what can I do for you?

Born in Japan
and now married to a foreign land
in hands of a backwards society
who merely acts like jesting skeptics  
they treat her family as a minority
for what?

they whisper, look at her dark squinting eyes
tiny, wiry stature
and no-nonsense attitude
no, she's not cruel
she just knows better than most

but they'll never take time to look at her
or listen to her when she speaks
and at the end of the day she says , mo wakata?
I'm afraid I do not
okasan, gomennasai I say

yet grateful, I am, for the same angular eyes
wiry hair and handsome ethnicity
your iron will strives me to go farther, deeper
to explore ever crook, every
perk of what it is to be alive
I am starting to see life
with the same air of humility  

yet on those diamond occasions
when your fingernails sting of dirt
and poignant flowers barricade
the cold mess beyond
a garden of delicateness embedded in every touch
and moving with Asian maternity
stone paths weaves through
fabric of nature's vanity

her love is etched within the soil
I see her stooped body
outside my window
as she tends her garden
and at the end of the day, when she says mo wakata?

hai, mo wakata, okasaan I say

life is not a battle
but the will not to wilt away
and as you care your garden relentlessly
you were, in fact, caring for me

every flower planted in soil
no matter rain or grey smoky skies
it spreads its lovely petals
and remembers to drink in the sun
even if there is not a sun
to drink in
Linnea Dee Jun 2013
It's easy to write about warm people. It's simple to just let their love and compassion flow effortlessly out into the world. They stumble upon the perfect one, THE one, and fall in love even if they don't know it. And for a while they don't, because that's the beauty of it. They don't know, and then suddenly they do and they realize that they're complete and whole now, that they've found someone who fills the cracks in their soul.
It would not be so easy to write about someone who flat out refuses to admit that they are not already complete. Then he appeared. I couldn't see him, but I knew he was there. Oh, this is a game then, I thought. I'll see what I can figure out about you.
I'm Isaac.
I heard it so loud and clear. Shivering, I whispered, nice to meet you, Isaac. I let images flash through my mind as though I was trying to settle on the one that fit the personality walking at my heels. He's blonde. Which is odd. My characters aren't usually blonde. But he's blonde in a way that he can hide. At first I thought he'd walk slowly, shuffling his feet as though he was so focused on what was inside his mind that outside of it his coordination was all off. But then I realized he was keeping up with me, and I am quite a brisk walker. Isaac is one of those people who builds walls. He doesn't know it, but he does it. Everyone else notices. They notice, but they don't care. The only time people run into his walls are when they try to complement him on his playing.
Oh, did I mention he's a musician? That's why he's built the walls. As of now, I'm pretty sure he's a violinist.
But anyway, when people compliment him, try to tell him how the ways he plays that violin opened a well of feelings within them that they didn't know existed, he stares blankly. They blink, thank him again, and hurry off, wondering if the reason his blue eyes were so confused was that they'd lost their ocean of feeling to the music.
I wanted him to be chubby, perched somewhere on the border of adorable baby fat and visibly out of shape. But his shadow behind me is tall and bony. Not athletic, not chiseled or lean, just wiry. All sinew and nerves. Like when he plays, he might rip.
Then I'm home. Mom calls down stairs and asks how my day was. It was fine. Boring.
I know I left Isaac outside, but he doesn't want to come in. So it's okay.
So I've been reading this book by Anne Lamott and it's very inspiring. She's given me a lot to think about. One of those things is my characters. I love my characters. But I'm not sure I know them that well. I started thinking about the novel I wrote this August. The main characters' names are Ivy and Asher. I know some people go through and change the names of their characters in later drafts of their work, but I just have this feeling that those two aren't going to change. I know I've got a lot more to learn about them, but they are Ivy and Asher. I just knew when the names popped into my head that I had it. But Anne Lamott talks a lot about really listening and taking the time to get to know your characters: their tendencies, their bad habits, their loves, their favorite comfort foods, their least favorite music genres, and so on and so forth. Today as I was walking home from the train, someone popped into my head.
Christine May 2010
Bohemian goddesses stalking the coffeehouse
All wiry hair and flowing skirts
Points of view and opinions and self worth
How her soul craved to join them
Don headbands and sandals and learn to be like them
To play the bongos and be part of natures and kove what’s real
She wanted to feel her soul in the mass joining of the human spirit

She envisioned it, and it was beautiful.
How oft, when thou, my music, music play’st,
Upon that blessèd wood whose motion sounds
With thy sweet fingers when thou gently sway’st
The wiry concord that mine ear confounds,
Do I envy those jacks that nimble leap
To kiss the tender inward of thy hand,
Whilst my poor lips, which should that harvest reap,
At the wood’s boldness by thee blushing stand!
To be so tickled, they would change their state
And situation with those dancing chips
O’er whom thy fingers walk with gentle gait,
Making dead wood more blest than living lips.
    Since saucy jacks so happy are in this,
    Give them thy fingers, me thy lips to kiss.
Brendan Sansome May 2015
Mr McParland;
our Primary 4 teacher lived in Newry,
Northern Ireland.
Not a City in those days,
but a dangerous border town.
He had wiry hair like a blonde Afro.

Pat Jennings;
world class goalkeeper for his country,
was also born in Newry.
Our man claimed to know him,
and went to school with the green giant.
We believed without reproach.

Yours truly;
age 6 & 7, in the years of the Hunger Strikes,
born in Belfast.
I was enthralled because Pat was of another
world to kids reared in our divided times.
A symbol of hope on an island of doubt.

— The End —