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Lilith Boudreaux Nov 2015
There are worlds beyond our own...
unique and perilous ones.
Some extend past our imaginations
others follow the dreams we harbor within ourselves
there are worlds where a soul is an eternal flame
worlds where darkness is the only truth.
Places of wonder and majesty,
of horror and death.
Worlds where life prevails,
worlds where there is no such thing.
Worlds where nightmares are reality,
and love is far from truth.
There are worlds left unknown,
with places of light unexplored,
and creatures of hate restored.
Worlds where happiness is a gift.
And ones where joy is a sin.
Worlds of creativity.
Worlds of justice.
Worlds of prosperity.
There are worlds that are whole,
and worlds that are lost.
There are some blacker than light,
and others bright as darkness.
There are worlds of chaos.
And worlds of unity.
There are worlds shrouded in emptiness,
while others continue to strive.
Green, beautiful worlds;
cold, soulless worlds.
Worlds of fame,
of fortune,
of corruption
of sorrow.
Some worlds are forever. While others are fated to be destroyed.
Some are powerful;
some are weak.
But they are all one connected together
by one single feeling...
HOPE.
George Krokos Nov 2010
There are worlds within worlds in this world of ours
as there are seconds in minutes and minutes in hours.
Take for example the world of the artists and their creations
how they represent aspects of nature and physical situations.
Or the world of writers whether it be that of drama, prose or poetry
how they express themselves in words of ever increasing ambiguity.

Then there’s the world of music and of a musician’s composition
in which are combined sounds of harmonic and varied precision.
And we have the world of nature and the life of all living things
of their instinct for survival and of what man’s place in it brings.
We must therefore consider the world of science and its discoveries
where in that pursuit for knowledge our future gives no guarantees.

There’s also a world of despair and that of faith and hope
how in the midst of pain or difficulties we’re able to cope.
We must also mention the world of love and its opposite hate
where we care for each other or go about in a destructive state.
There are worlds within worlds in this world of ours here
and in every one of them we try to achieve something dear.

There’s a world within each one’s mind or body and that of the heart
through which we experience this life of ours before we have to depart.
And so there’s the world of the beyond of which we know very little
where our soul is said to go being for a while its place of transmittal.
Which brings us to the world of religion and in what people believe
whether they are certain of their notions or what they may perceive.

There’s the world of memories that bears for many joy and sorrow
in which we remember our past and carry it with us into tomorrow.
We must mention the world of crime which is against the social good
and the laws of the state that it competes with mocking where it would.
And next is the world of justice which metes out punishment or reward
for things that people do in respect of ethics; what is or isn’t in accord.

There’s a world of communication and the various devices it uses to inform
of the complex and sophisticated means created by which it has to perform.
Then there’s the world of medicine or the prevention, treatment and cure of disease
where the doctor in his practice tries in various ways the patient to help or appease.
Yes, there are virtual worlds within worlds in this world of ours almost without end
and so therefore it’s with each other against time and space they all have to contend.
Private Collection - written in 2002
Mike Hauser Nov 2013
WE LIVE IN THE CRUELEST OF WORLDS...

Where we treat life as no more than a game
Moving with ease
As we pick up each piece
When losing it's others we blame

WE LIVE IN THE CRUELEST OF WORLDS...

Where love has been put in it's place
We know all to well
Just look at the child
It's written all over his face

WE LIVE IN THE CRUELEST OF WORLDS...

With an attitude of what's mine is mine
What little you hold
You don't dare let it go
Did I mention what's mine is mine

WE LIVE IN THE CRUELEST OF WORLDS...

Where not much is left with which to cope
With eyes open wide
We still can't hear the cries
Is that reason enough to lose all hope

WE LIVE IN THE CRUELEST OF WORLDS...

Where a man no longer measures his worth
By the state of affairs
Or if he even cares
Whether or not life throws him a curve

WE LIVE IN THE CRUELEST OF WORLDS...

Where we're no longer shocked over what all we see
Or what it is we hear
Did I hear that clear
Does that surprise you like it surprises me

WE LIVE IN THE CRUELEST OF WORLDS...

I'm just stating a much well known fact
Goodness has been gone for awhile
But it went out in style
And I don't see it soon coming back

NOW THAT WE LIVE IN THE CRUELEST OF WORLDS...
Sometimes I sit alone and stare at the sky.
and I wonder how anyone could ever feel big
when we are all so painfully small.
and they know nothing of what is shared
between shimmer and darkness in the big blue nothing.
I wonder how I could ever feel important again
under a mass of uncharted forever
that is holding up so much of my life.
because forever is a long time
when you have so much to lose.
and so much to prove.
and there are worlds between my eyes and the sky
that have been starved of light for so long
where they were meant to be forgotten
but never were.
Worlds when we drank too much *****
on that beach with no name.
and everything always went terribly wrong.
Worlds where love never wins.
where love is always lost.
These worlds where we forgot how old we were
and acted how we wanted, and didn't care who we hurt
or why.
Where we chased moonbeams onto cheap plastic siding
and left everyone behind for nothing in particular.
Worlds with glamour and softness
with cruelty and train tracks
Worlds that make it easy to feel what you feel
and be what you are
and know what you know.
Only to find that these worlds are not to last.
and it is such a part of everything
that love and worlds and faces and names
must be lost.
So in the end, when things are lost,
I stare at the sky,
where my worlds have gone.
I walk amongst the fire they set
in the limbo I'm trapped in now.
and hold out my hands to catch the heat
before it burns what I have left.
Lynx Ng Jan 2015
We bring around little worlds
searching
colliding
hoping that someone
will share the same skies
in our little worlds
It doesn't hurt that much.

We carry our little worlds
against the great big one outside
and when we find
that
this big world is both more and less beautiful
than ours
reality hits us
You'll see it if you know where to look.

We cover our little worlds
our faces smiling
a facade
a breakwater
against the waves
of which
some call fate
some call living
It's okay. Even when it's not.

We hide within our little worlds
a part of us
to others unknown
our little paradise
of sands from eternal shores
in it we find peace in chaos
without we find chaos, even in peace
What we don't know can't hurt us.

We live in our little worlds
against the cruelties
of reality
of responsibility
of expectations
and of disappointments
we closed it too slowly
it has seeped in somehow
Sshhh.

And then I find

we are our little worlds
whether darkness
or in light.
jake aller Mar 2019
World According to Cosmos Updates March 3, 2019

Note: I am taking a two week trip to Vietnam and will update my blog when I return with my reflections on my trip, updated publications etc.

Cosmic Dreams and Nightmares

I don't dream dreams.  I dream movies complete with action, music, food, smells everything.  In this one I had a vision of  a possible future. it was so vivid, almost as if I were watching the hearing take place.

Three stories

Dream Girl (true story)
General Zod (flash fiction
Sam Adams Vs. the Social Cleansing Board
Six Poems
Morphing Images from Hellish Nightmare
Endless Movie
Worlds within Worlds Lost in Hell
Rafting to Hell
Satanic Torture
Micro Stories

Don’t Go Jogging in the Middle of the Night
Don’t touch this button!
Don’t open the door
Don’t go to the theater tonight stay home with me
Don’t go to Dallas I have a bad feeling about the trip


Dream Girl
Cheating Death 100 Times
Guardian Angel
Medical Mystery
SLA Hit List

Dream Girl – A true Story – reprinted from Dreams and the Unexplainable
You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.

Author Unknown

The dreams started when I was a senior at Berkeley High School in 1974. About a month before I graduated, I fell asleep in a physics class after lunch and had the first dream:

A beautiful Asian woman was standing next to me, talking in a strange language. She was stunning—the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. She was in her early twenties, with long black hair, and piercing black eyes. She had the look of royalty. She looked at me and then disappeared, beamed out of my dream like in Star Trek. I fell out of my chair screaming, “Who are you?” She did not answer.

About a month went by, and then I started having the dream repeatedly. Always the same pattern.

Early morning, she would stand next to me talking. I would ask who she was, and she would disappear. She was the most beautiful, alluring woman I had ever seen.

I was struck speechless every time I had the dream.

I had the dream every month during the eight years during which I went to college and served in the Peace Corps. In fact, when I joined the Peace Corps, I had to decide whether to go Korea or Thailand. The night before I had to submit my decision, I had the dream again and it made me sure that she was in Korea waiting for me.

After the Peace Corps, I still hadn’t met my dream woman. I got a job working for the U.S. Army as an instructor and stayed in Korea. I kept having the dream, until I had the very last one:
She was standing next to me, speaking to me in Korean, but I finally understood her. She said, “Don’t worry, we will be together soon.”

Why was that the last time I had the dream? Because the very next night, the girl in my dream got off the bus in front of me. She went on to the base with an acquaintance of mine, a fellow teacher, and they went to see a movie. I saw her and found the courage to speak with her.

We exchanged phone numbers and agreed to meet that weekend.

The next night, she was waiting for me as I entered the Army base to teach a class. She told me she was a college senior and she had something to tell me. I signed her on to the base and left her at the library to study while I taught, and then we went out for coffee after class. She told me she was madly in love with me, and that I was the man for her. I told her not to worry as I felt the same.

That weekend, we met Saturday and Sunday and hung out all day. On Sunday night, I proposed to her. It was only three days after we had met, but for me it felt like we had met eight years ago. I had been waiting all my life for her to walk out of my dreams and into my life, and here she was.

Her mother did not want her to marry a foreigner. One day, about a month after we met, she invited me to meet her parents. I brought a bottle of Jack Daniels for her father and drank the entire bottle with him. He approved of me, but her mother still had reservations. After a Buddhist priest told her my future wife and I were a perfect astrological combination, she agreed, and we planned our wedding.

The wedding was a media sensation in South Korea. My wife explained it to me years later. At the time, I was overwhelmed just by the fact that we were getting married and I didn’t fully understand how unusual this was. My wife was of the old royal clan, distant relatives to the former kings of Korea. In the clan’s history, only two people had ever married foreigners: my wife, and Rhee Syngman, who was the first President of South Korea. My father, who was a former Undersecretary of Labor, came out for the wedding, which fueled even more media interest. Our marriage defied the stereotypical Korean-foreign marriage where the women married some hapless GI just to escape poverty and immigrate to the U.S. We were the first foreign/Korean couple to get married at a Korean Army base. Over 1,000 people came to the wedding, and my father was interviewed on the morning news programs.

This all happened thirty-seven years ago, (45 years since the first dream) and I am still married to the girl in my dreams. Now in my dreams she watches over me when we are apart.

General Zod Conquers the World
SETI and the search for extraterrestrial life goes on overdrive when scientists report what appears to be radio and television broadcasts from a planet eight light years from earth, the same planet as the Vulcans came from in the Star Trek universe.  The programs show a world where dinosaur-like creatures are running the world and there appears to be a civil war.  Over the next six months, the world is transfixed watching the alien broadcasts which are translated in English via a supercomputer program.  In the broadcast, a nuclear war has occurred. The surviving party regains absolute control and announces the formation of the Galactic Empire.  General Zod is the First Emperor.  They have discovered Earth as well. The aliens launch a crash project to develop interstellar travel so they can come to earth and conquer the earth.

The revelations that there is an external threat to the planet causes the United Nations to get together with the help of the United States and Russia another space powers, they put together Space defense International organization and also invigorates efforts to make the UN a real Planetary government including finally conquering climate change.

But it was too late. General Zod’s son arrives to take over the earth. He makes a broadcast saying that they were liberating Earth in the name of the Galactic Empire and that resistance would be futile.

They land at the White House and when President Trump comes out to greet them,

General Zod cuts off his head, and then cuts off the heads of all the staffers as they come out White House. After an hour of unimaginable horrors, including mass rapes, blowing up the Pentagon and the CIA,  General Zod announces that he had taken over the world.

Life will continue as before as long as people behave and follow the rules they would be fine Resistance to the new empire will be met with instant death.  Life in the Empire is not a democracy. They would not tolerate Freedom of speech, and Freedom of Press, and Freedom of Assembly And the freedom to oppose the State. The state is everything.  As long as humans remember that they would be just fine. They took over the United States because it was the biggest country in the world. And that his forces will take over the rest of the world but in the next couple weeks. If people on earth accept the new order, their safety would be guaranteed. Companies would be taken over by Galactic Empire companies, and everybody would have to learn Galactic standard. Within one year older languages will be banned.

Sam Adams Vs. the Social Cleansing Board

the summons
Sam Adams was worried. He could not sleep. He got up at 4 am and wrote in his journal and tried to cope with the dread that was overwhelming him. He had received the summons yesterday that he was to report to the social cleansing board for a review on whether he would allow to continue to be on the automatic permit list or would be referred for final status determination. Sam was a retired Federal worker trying to live on dwindling savings.

Sam had Alzheimer’s and was rapidly depleting his life’s savings. Two years before he had been released from prison, one of millions of ex political prisoners. His crime? Authoring anti-government poems just before the beginning of the Christian States of America, right after the second civil war. Unfortunately for him and his millions of ex-prisoners, his side lost the war. He wanted to flee to the United Provinces and settle down in California but lacked money to move. And getting a job at his age, with Alzheimer’s and his political rating was proving difficult at best.

All of which added up to a 90 percent probability his last days were approaching.

Under the new rules imposed by the Christian republican party in the newly established Christian states, all citizens over the age of 18 were on the permitted list if they met all of the following criteria. He tried to think why he was being referred to the board. Perhaps it was because of the recent crackdown on social deviancy. Millions of homosexuals, transgenered people, atheists, drug users, alcoholics, and non-religious people had been rounded up and eliminated according to the rumors. Perhaps someone had fingered him as a possible deviant. He fit the stereotype, no children, known drug user, known alcohol user, suspect politically, atheist and now Alzheimer’s patient. And he was not racially pure having some black blood, some Asian blood and some Jewish blood. And he had married across the racial divide which was now illegal.

The story was that if you flipped and named names you would sometimes be spared for now, and if your info was correct, you could be rewarded. Of course, those whom you flipped were not too fortunate. That was probably the story or someone could have heard that he was an ex political prisoner, or simply that he had Alzheimer’s’.

He had no children. And he was a secret atheist and had been involved with the dissent movement and had spent five years as a political prisoner at the start of the Christian Revolution. He was determined to make a stand and denounce the whole rotten system before the board although that would probably seal his fate.

As an Alzheimer’s patient he could no longer work. His wife had died the year before while he was in prison after she had been deported to her native Korea. She left him some assets but he had little idea how to manage his finances and he was behind in his rent and had received an eviction notice which had probably triggered the visit by the social cleansing staff who recommend a final status determination. But it was just as likely he was on the list because someone flipped on him.

He also did not make it last time when they came for him at midnight. Always at midnight the story goes.

The soldiers came took him away from his wife and locked him up for two years. They deported his wife whom he heard had died shortly afterwards. He spend two years at hard labor in the dessert near Las Vegas and was released into Las Vegas.

Las Vegas was a different town now that the casinos had left town. All that was left were back office operations, and underground ***** and *** operations and underground casinos. It was a hot bed of political dissent and there was an underground railroad to California, which was not part of the Christian states. Sam had been preparing to leave which was a crime and perhaps that is why he was on the list.

The hearing would be at 10 am. He was meeting his lawyer at the hearing board but his lawyer was not too optimistic.
the Permit Criteria
The basic criteria for being on the permit list were:

For Males

Age 18 to age 70
White race
Married to a white woman with children
Must be either working, in school full time, serving in military duty, or working in prison if convicted of a crime.

Homelessness was not allowed. If unemployed and or homeless, would be referred to social cleansing department unless one had a relative who was willing to take care of your needs.

Since there were no pensions or social security anymore and no government provided health care, one must have sufficient assets through one’s work, or savings or through one’s relatives to provide for one ‘s needs. If not you would be sent to the social cleansing board for final status determination.

For Females

Same basic rules applied but if one were married, and had children one would be on the permitted list, if children are older, if spouse’s income is sufficient one would be on the list.
If single or divorced, and homeless one would also be subject to social cleansing unless one’s relatives would willing to sponsor you. Since there were no pensions or social security anymore and no government provided health care, one must have sufficient assets through one’s work, or savings or through one’s relatives to provide for one ‘s needs. If not you would be sent to the social cleansing board for final status determination.

For Aged People

Additional requirements for the age you were expected to take care of your basic needs through employment and savings and the help of relatives. If you were evicted for non-payment of rent, or judged to not have sufficient assets left to sustain your basic needs including medical care, you would be referred for final status determination.

For all people additional requirements applied.

****** deviancy, drug use, alcohol use, gambling, *** outside of marriage, homosexuality would result in immediate referral to the social cleansing board as all were banned conduct that could result in final termination.   Being a member of a prohibited religious class could also be grounds for referral as would a pattern of not attending Christian services. Finally, if one had been arrested for political crimes one would be marked forever.
<h2>Sam's Rating</h2>
One had a government social rating. Sam knew that his rating was a D meaning that the government would be watching him all the time, and it would be difficult to get a job. Only the A’s and B’s were guaranteed to be on the permit list.

To be a A you had be to a true believer, had to be white, had to attend church on a regular basis, and had to be employed naturally.

To be a B same thing but you could be a B if you were a minority, or had engaged in alcohol or drug use under the old rules.

C meant that there was something wrong with your background, you were an atheist, you were a minority etc.

D mean that you were a serious threat to the regime.

E meant that you would be terminated.

F met you were terminated as it met Failure to survive, and family members of F were also labeled F as they were usually terminated at the same time.

Being associated with banned political movements, including reading banned materials could also lead one to being referred to the social cleansing board as all were grounds for either termination or criminal prosecution if under the age of 70.

The board has three choices - granted temporary status extension, referral for termination, or referral to criminal prosecution.

The termination would be carried out quickly. There would be an optional funeral at your Church, then the execution through the method of your choice - firing squad, beheading, electric chair, or gas. The default was gas where you were put in a room with up to ten other people and put to sleep.

Afterwards your body would be cremated in an electricity generating plant with the ashes turned into fertilizer products. There were no burials allowed unless one was rich enough and connected enough to request a burial exception. Most people did not qualify.
the Hearing
The hearing started. The presiding Judge, Judge Miller was a stern face white man in his 70’s and a true believer. He was sent to Las Vegas to clean it up as Las Vegas was the wild west, a hot bed of dissent, illegal drug use, illegal prostitution and illegal casinos. It was also near several political prisons so many ex cons lived there.

The Judge was the chairman of the Nevada state committee that did not exist and was a senior official in the Federal committee that did not exist that brought together government, business and church leaders to coordinate government policies and that secretly ran the Christian States of America.

Probably a score of A thought Sam.

The judge announced that he had reviewed Sam’s file and was shocked that Sam had escaped final termination. He said that the previous board had erred in simply sending him to prison. He should have been eradicated as a social evil, as a cancer that needs to be removed from the pure body politics. Sam and his ilk sickened him. Sam was a free thinker, an atheist, a mix race mongrel, married to a non-white and was therefore guilty of crimes against the white race which was a crime. The Judge was determined to see justice done.

He asked Sam a series of questions. Sam’s answers sealed his fate.

Sam, what is your occupation?

None for now.

You realize that under the law you must be working, in service, in school or in prison?

I can’t find a job due to my age, my Alzheimer’s; and my political record.

That’s irrelevant. You are just a lousy atheist *******. You deserve no sympathy. And have none from me.

Are you white?

No, I am mixed race, part native, part Asian, part black.

I see you were married to a non-white and had no children. Good for you we would not want to see more mongrel children. Such children should be eliminated at birth in my opinion and will be starting next month when we begin enforcing the racial purity laws.

What was your crime? Let’s see reading prohibited writings, keeping a journal, publishing an anti-government blog, authoring anti-government poems and stories. You served two years at hard labor?

Yes

Do you still write?

Yes, everyday but I no longer publish on line.

Good. No one would want to read that trash anyway.

Do you go to church?

No

Do you believe in God?

No, I do not believe in an imaginary man in the sky.

One more anti-religious statement from you will result in an immediate ruling of termination.

Do you drink?

If I can find it yes

Do you gamble

Yes, when I can

Do you support the Christian Republican Party and the Christian States of America?

No, I do not.

Okay, I have enough for a ruling. Sam Adams, you are hereby sentence to termination. Tomorrow morning at 7 am you will be turned into electricity and fertilizer. Take him away.

Next please.

At midnight there was a knock at the door. A black man appeared and said he was a friend and he was being smuggled to California. Sam rejoiced and went with his new friend and reached SF in the morning, escaping death for the 23rd time in his life.

the End

Poetic Nightmares

Morphing Images from a Hellish Nightmare
Note: From a real nightmare End Note

I am in a room
Drinking at a party
And smoking ****

Watching people all around me

Change into hideous creatures
Monsters from the deepest depths of hell

Everyone in the room
Has been transformed except me

The Chief of them all
Wears a Trumpian mask

Complete with orange hair

Half human half pig

His deputy
Wears the face of Putin
But his body
Half human, half horse: if

The other creatures wear masks
Many of them wear
Green Pepe the alt-right
Symbolic frog masks

And have T-shirts
Bearing alt right slogans
And **** symbols

And as they prance about
They chant alt. Right slogans
And neo-**** chants

Jews will not Replace us

And the rest of these creatures
Are hideous ugly beasts
With only a vestige of humanity left

And these monsters are engaged
In all sorts of foul evil deeds
****** violence death

All around
And non-stop
violent drug-fueled ******

As these creatures
Half human half monsters
Half male, half female creatures

Snort coke, *******, speed
Smoke **** and drink ***** shots
Scotch, bourbon and beer

The Trumpian Pig leads the charge
Starts engaging in ****** with Putin
Who chases after people

Cutting off their heads with his sword
They turn on to their fellow creatures
****** and killing each other
and eating their fellow creatures

All night long

Then they attack me
Screaming

Jews will not replace us
And I wake up
Screaming

As the sun comes up
Just another nightmare


The Endless Movie

Watching the TV coverage
Of the great government shut down
Of 2018-2019

I am reminded of a movie
As I fall asleep
Listening to the TV

Blather on and on
About what it all means

Mr. Natural pops up
And screams

"It don’t mean s….

“Dude, the endless movie
Is about to begin”!

A middle-aged white man
Down on his proverbial luck
Just been fired

Replaced by a foreign worker
Or a robot

Or just fired
Because he was no longer
Deemed useful
To the masters of the universe

If he was lucky
He'd  be given a watch
And an IOU worthless pension

And the man wanders into a restaurant
Pulls out a gun

Eats his breakfast
After the official breakfast hour

Puts on a Pepe the green frog mask
Drops acid, Snorts speed
Drinks a shot of *****
And coffee smokes a joint

Snorts ******* for good measure
and smokes a cigarette

And walks outside
steals a bus at gun point
Filled with passengers

He tells them
They are hostages

And he puts on his vest
With the dead man switch
Next to the bomb

He announces
Via tweet

He is going to take the bus
To the proverbial *** of gold

Hidden deep in a cave
And when he got there

He would release the hostages
And disappear into the mine
And never be found again

And as the bus careens around the mountain
At 100 miles an hour
The dude sprouts out

Conspiracy after conspiracy theory
About Obama the Muslim communist

secret gay working with George Soros
the Jewish money people
in league with the shapeshifting lizards

and Mueller is one of them
they are all after him
because he knows the deal

And the passengers are transfixed
Half hoping, he would make it
Half hoping, he would be blown away

And as the bus careens out of control
With the wheels falling off

And the cliff looming ahead
You realize we are all doomed


Worlds Within Worlds Lost in Inner Space
A man woke up one day
Lost in inner space
Went so far down
The proverbial rabbit hole

That he did not know
Where he was
Nor what time it was
Nor when it was

As he stared out
At a bewildering world
A world lost in inner space
Deep down in his dreams

Filled with nightmarishly real
Monsters, demons and ghostly apparitions
He saw them and began running
Running running running

With the hell hounds behind him
Leading him to the edge
of the pits of hell itself

abandon all hope
ye who enter here
the sign read
above the entrance to the pit

and there was a devil standing there
armed with a clipboard
and a computer spreadsheet
Satan was the ultimate bureaucrat

Name barked the devil
Date of Birth ?
Date of Death?
Don’t know? That won’t do at all
Hmm

Car accident due to drunk driving
And you killed a child
Bad on you

But here in hell
The punishment fits the crime
And the devil laughed
Joined in by the hell hounds
And other nightmare creatures

A bell ran out
In the purple crystalline sky
And slowly the worlds receded
And he found himself alive

In his room
And vowed
That today
Was the day

He would quit drinking
Quit taking drugs
And quit chasing strange woman
And having wild libertine ***

He picked up the phone
It was Satan’s aid
Be careful what you vow
We are listening

If you fulfil your vows
You might find yourself
Escaping life in Hell
It is up to you to choose

And the man got dressed
Went to work
Thinking deep thoughts

And drove off a cliff
And back down the endless
Worlds within worlds

Satanic Torture

I find myself
In a dark room
Strapped to a bed

The light turns on
The large TV comes on

A smiling image
Of Satan fills the TV
He is dressed
In a conservative business suit

Looks like he came
Out of a corporate
board meeting

surrounded by demonic aides
who constantly shove papers
at him

He looks up from his lap top
And smiles
A deadly so insincere smile

His voice booms out

Welcome to Hell
My satanic slaves

I am Satan
Your new master

Each of you
Has been sentenced
To an eternity of torture

And the punishment
Must fit the crime

So, for you
Mr. Jake Cosmos Aller
Failed aspiring poet
And novelist

Your torture
Is to be strapped
To that bed

Unable to move
As you are filled
With the need
To **** and ****

But you cannot move
And your skin
Is crawling with bugs

And itchy
as Hell so to speak
and you are so sleepy

but you cannot sleep

the TV will play
endless repeats

Of some of the worst TV
and movie shows
ever produced

Starting with my favorite
A Series of Unfortunate Events

Featuring your favor annoying little girl
Carmetta! Singing for you forever
As you are the ultimate cake sniffer

Welcome to Hell


Rafting Towards Hell
I woke up
To find myself
Rafting down a river

I looked up
At the cliffs
Towering above
the roaring torrent

and see the dark demons
of my terrible nightmares
chasing the boat
firing flaming arrows

and I see werewolves
goblins, ghosts and monsters
running along the river bed
screaming obscenities

as they chase me
to my doom

and I see the waterfall ahead
and see my pending doom

as I rush over the edge
of reason



Micro Stories
53 word stories regarding unheeded warnings
Don’t Go Jogging in the Middle of the Night
It all started with a jog in the middle of the night. Despite my wife’s warning don’t go jogging in the middle of the night.  Broke me heal in a million pieces, 14 operations ensured, mutant MDR Staff almost killed me, almost lost the leg. . should have listened to her warning.

Don’t touch this button!
Don’t touch this button the former President said.  I said, what this button? And that led to the launching of nuclear weapons, going to defon three, and world war 3 with millions of people dead end of civilization moment. Should not have touched the red button.
Don’t open the door
When you find yourself running for your life chased by demons from hell and backed into a corner in a burning house filled with flames and are about to die in a million horrible ways you remembered that they warned you not to open door number three in this crazy reality TV show.
Don’t go to the theater tonight stay home with me
Mary Todd Lincoln had a vicious headache and was not in the mood to go out.  The President though ignored her wishes and told her that he had to go to the theater that night to show the world everything was okay now the war was ending.  Should have listened to her.
Don’t go to Dallas I have a bad feeling about the trip
Jackie was known for her moods and her premonitions. Something the President found both amusing an annoying. She told him that she a vision of death waiting for him in Dallas that day.  The President dismissed her foolishness as he put it and went to Dallas to meet his fate.
true love story.
In 1974 I had the first dream. While sleeping in a boring class, I saw a beautiful Asian woman standing at me speaking a foreign language. I fell out of chair yelling who are you?   I began having the same dream month after month for eight years.  One day I realized she was in Korea so I went there in the Peace Corps to meet her. In 1982 I had the last dream.  She said don’t worry we meet soon. That night she walked off a bus, out of the dream and into my life.  We’ve been married 37 years.
Cheating Death 22 Times
Also, a true story.
I have cheated death 22 times in my life.  I was born a preemie, almost died at birth, and had all the childhood illness at once.  In 1979 I came down with Typhoid  fever in Korea in the Peace Corps.  In 1991 almost got hit by a train. In 1996-1997 had 14 operations due to a mutant drug resistant staph infection, almost died several times.  In 1997 I had an acute stomach ailment that almost killed me, due to excessive antibiotic usage, if I had waited 30 minutes more would have been dead.  And had dengue in 2010.
Guardian Angel Saves My Life
Another true story
In 1990, I was teaching ESL in Korea.  My wife and I drove to the East Coast of Korea for a weekend away. She was in the US Army then.  As we drove towards Sorak mountain, I was filled with the need to get off the road right then. I had a premonition of doom, so did my wife. We got off to drive around another park returned a few minutes later and saw a 25 car pileup. We would have been dead if we had not listened to that inner voice telling us get off now.

Medical Mystery
Another true story
Back in 1996, when I was in the hospital fighting a mutant staph infection after a disastrous jogging accident that led to 14 operations, the internal medicine doctor said that there was something else going on. He finally discovered that I had a rare parasite, a tape worm of sorts that remained inert, its only becomes active if you take steroids then it blows up like a basketball killing you instantly. Six months later I had to take steroids due to frozen shoulder syndrome, and if I had not gotten rid of it, I would have died a medical mystery.

SLA Hit List
True story

Back in 1974 my father was a local politician in Berkeley, California who was on the SLA’***** list as “an enemy of the people, a fascist insect that needed to be killed”.  His crime?  As President of the community college district, he began requiring IDS for students and staff to combat campus crime at the local community colleges.  We had 24/7 police coverage for a while. One morning I saluted my father, “good morning fascist insect”.  My father, being of Germanic stock did not like the joke as jokes are alien to the German DNA.


the End
based on dreams and nightmares
Ethan R Cox Nov 2011
we’re in different worlds, You and i,
but still i reached out and spoke
words that would
      carry themselves
                across the driest of deserts;
words that would
                 light
the darkest of midnight jungles,
                        for you,
i have reached out and spoke
into Your deafened ears,
all the while You sit at the picnic bench watching automobiles
                                                      speed by.
You mumble for a moment,
And pretend to be assuring.

we’re in different worlds, You and i,
with different ideas despite
these familiar glances in silence
          deafened
by elementary school bells.

i suppose we were aware,
               at least
full of apprehension.
but all the hollow words you sang
                           sprung forth
             like ectoplasm,
most haunting,
leaving me with something i’d never shake.

we’re in different worlds, You and i,
i’ve yet to see him with heart in hand,
but as i watch You saunter there,
                                 from my sunset,
i see him.
he in his veil and cape, and
i can’t help but wonder,

“would it have been worthwhile”

to strip the ground of the foundation we poured,
built upon transparent, adamant stone and
   raised
on the blocks
of the Poets of Old.

“would it have been worth it, after all”


we’re in different worlds, You and i,
after the plans and promises of night,
the discussions of Cummings
              over midnight wine,
and the times we smoked the pipe together.

“would it have been worth it, after all”

With all the senseless pain of the world
dancing within the corridors of the flooded mind,
running… no,
            gushing
       like the torrential
      mud in a flooded mine.
and all the rumination of nuances that leave me wondering if i speak too truthfully.

we’re in different worlds, You and i,
with miles and miles of endless wonder

             between us

that ***** the air from the room
                             dry,
and finally,
finally, all the truth,
or whatever it’s called,
all the hope,
and all the rest of life
is ****** from the environment as You leave
                 before standing.

we’re in different worlds, you and I,
and so I’ll say I always knew.
Yue Wang Yidhna Dec 2017
Story by: Yidhna
Written in Chinese By: Yidhna Yue and Ezio Fu
Translated in Full by Yidhna

1.“Light and Darkness”
Another myth
The Monomyth
Symphony of a war
A war of the light
and Dark
A war in the myth
Myth of the black moths
Myth of the fireflies
From the beginning of
The universe
That which is also the end of time
Life, like the phoenixes,
Ends end with new life

For light and for darkness
For love and for destruction  
I am a knight
I am a knight
For light and for darkness
For love and for destruction
I am a dynast
I am a dynast

Stars, as heaven sent Guardians
Fall from the sky
As snow flakes fall from the sky
Fall to the their rebirth
Fall to their renaissance
as Fireflies
Fireflies of the righteous path
Fireflies of light
They will return
as stars in the night sky
For light and for darkness
For love and for destruction  
I am a knight
I am a knight
For light and for darkness
For love and for destruction
I am a dynast
I am a dynast

From swamps of darkness
Flows the corrupted
In the caves of darkness
In the forms of black moths
Tarring the world with the wickedness
without heart without hope
Rebirth in the night
Without light
For light and for darkness
For love and for destruction  
I am a knight
I am a knight
For light and for darkness
For love and for destruction
I am a dynast
I am a dynast

For light and for darkness
For love and for destruction  
I am a knight
I am a knight
For light and for darkness
For love and for destruction
I am a dynast
I am a dynast

2.“The Fireflies”
Without hope, who yet lives?
Within darkness, who yet saves?
Flames of light?
Flames of heart?
Or faith, and loyalty to faith
When Irises
No longer shines
When golden armors
Scars like flesh
They will still use blood
To light up belief
and bravely awaits the new dawn
Fallen from the stars
They are the warriors
They are the saviors
They are the fireflies
They are the fireflies
In love they will return as star lights
In death they will return as star lights
In death they will return as star lights
Time endless War eternal
Light and darkness mourn for peace
Light, fireflies,
and
Heaven sent star lights
Under the dark nights
When time dies
When time ends
Losing its dark and light
The fireflies still sing
Sing toward a path to truth
Living in faith, living in love
Living in the rebirth, renaissance
As stars from the sky
Fallen from the stars
They are the warriors
They are the saviors
They are the fireflies
They are the fireflies
In love they will return as star lights
In death they will return as star lights
In death they will return as star lights
Guardians of the righteous path
Guardians of the righteous light
Messengers of life: The fireflies
They are the stars
They are the stars
Fallen stars
When the green light
Loses its shine
When the flames of the fireflies
Loses its fading light
They will return to the heavens
Return to the sky
Like the legend of phoenix
Hope reborn with light
The promised hope in the starry night

3.“The Black Moth”
There’s love for the darkness
Love for their own kind
There’s hate for them too
Hate for the enemies
The black moth are born from shadows
The black moth will die into shadows
Shadowed in the forms of Black moths
The flee with flight
Then rebirth when died
As shadows of the Night(Light)
We are born from the darkness
Molded into the night
We will live within the cycle
We are the black moths
We are the black moths
Borne out of the shadows
As we live and die
As shadows of the dark nights
Different eyes
Sees a different world
If it never was
How can one say anything at all
Who to tell from right and wrong
When both light and dark are the purest
When all weapons only hinder
When all pride could only be humble
When you no longer look back
I will still follow
We are born from the darkness
Molded into the night
We will live within the cycle
We are the black moths
We are the black moths
Borne out of the shadows
As we live and die
As shadows of the dark nights
He doesn’t need love
To live lovely
He doesn’t need light
To feel proud
Just the opposite light
Just a prodigy’s right
Bravery in the darkness
For no one’s praises
When the light comes
In the last minute
We will vanish in peace
We are born from the darkness
Molded into the night
We will live within the cycle
We are the black moths
We are the black moths
Borne out of the shadows
As we live and die
As shadows of the dark nights
We are born from the darkness
Molded into the night
We will live within the cycle
We are the black moths
We are the black moths
Borne out of the shadows
As we live and die
As shadows of the dark nights


4.“The Red Firefly”
Born between light and darkness
I am an outsider
To this world
To time
To death
To darkness
To light
I am Andorhous
A messenger with a mission
To save time
I am Andorhous
The Red Firefly
The result of a mistake in time
I was born between two worlds
Birthed in Night and Light
I am the red firefly
I am the Hero of Time
I am Andorhous
The Red Firefly
The Red Firefly
The Red Firefly
Because of my birth
The Goddess of Time
Helyhna was never born
Time returns
and
All will die
At the Final Battle
Between Light and Dark
I am Andorhous
An error that brought the world’s end
I am Andorhous
I need to stop my birth
I was born between two worlds
Birthed in Night and Light
I am the red firefly
I am the Hero of Time
I am Andorhous
The Red Firefly
The Red Firefly
The Red Firefly
For I am an outsider
I can see what they refuse to believe
I understand the beginning
I understand the end
I understand the mistake I made
I am Andorhous
I will make my sacrifice
I am Andorhous
I will use a moment to bring back eternity
I will use a moment to bring back Immortality
I was born between two worlds
Birthed in Night and Light
I am the red firefly
I am the Hero of Time
I am Andorhous
The Red Firefly
The Red Firefly
The Red Firefly
I was born between two worlds
Birthed in Night and Light
I am the red firefly
I am the Hero of Time
I am Andorhous
The Red Firefly
The Red Firefly
The Red Firefly
5.“Guardian of Time”
Helyhna
The Goddess of Light
The Guardian of Time
The Eternal Angel
She was suppose to be born
At the beginning of time
To end time
She is the princess of
The Firefly Queen and King
She stopped and imprisoned time
So life lives
Eternally
However, a mistake made in time
A mysterious red light fallen from the sky
Suddenly raced toward the palace
And caused another creation to emerge
Instead
That creation was Andorhous
He who was birthed between dark and light
Where are you, Guardian?
Where are you, Helyhna
Instead Andorhous Born
Born from Darkness and Light
Torn from Darkness and Light
Where’s the Guardian
Where’s our Guardian
She who’s the Guardian
She who’s our Guardian
Guardian of Time
Thunder roaring
Clouds soaring
Endless darkness
Endless blood
Tearing the sky
Tearing time
When blood flows to the edge of the river death
When corrosion follows the dark end
No knights to guard
No light at the rim of the clouds
Listen to the people mourning
Look at the innocent withering
Who will protect us
Who will lead us out of the darkness
Where are you, Guardian?
Where are you, Helyhna
Instead Andorhous Born
Born from Darkness and Light
Torn from Darkness and Light
Where’s the Guardian
Where’s our Guardian
She who’s the Guardian
She who’s our Guardian
Guardian of Time
The sky darkening
Worlds Ending
Endless battles
Endless wounds
Battle to the end
Judgement at the end
Only the guardian Angel
Can bring peace back to the motherland
Where are you, Guardian?
Where are you, Helyhna
Instead Andorhous Born
Born from Darkness and Light
Torn from Darkness and Light
Where’s the Guardian
Where’s our Guardian
She who’s the Guardian
She who’s our Guardian
Guardian of Time
Where are you, Guardian?
Where are you, Helyhna
Instead Andorhous Born
Born from Darkness and Light
Torn from Darkness and Light
Where’s the Guardian
Where’s our Guardian
She who’s the Guardian
She who’s our Guardian
Guardian of Time

6.“The Choice”
Parallel universe
Another timeline
Helyhna
She said to me
Because of my Transtemporal birth
She doesn’t exist in my world
Because of the appearance of time
Eternity will die
Because of the Final Battle of Dark and Light
All will die
Because of me, the Red Firefly
Death or Imprisonment
What Do I choose
What Do I choose
Helyhna or Darkness
What do I do
What do I do
“Just an insect among life
What could I do
If all dies
I too will meet my demise”
Helyhna said calmly
“You can stop your birth”
“You will go back
Stop that falling red light
In the paradox
One version of you will die
And this you will be my imprisoned time.”
Death or Imprisonment
What Do I choose
What Do I choose
Helyhna or Darkness
What do I do
What do I do
Death or Imprisonment
What Do I choose
What Do I choose
Helyhna or Darkness
What do I do
What do I do

7.“The Final Battle”
In my hesitance
The sky
Marauded
The shadows of dark and light
Leaving only a rip of emptiness
Nothingless
In space and Time
The stars are shutting down their lights
The black moths and shadows are swallowed alive
All creatures are torn between
The ocean of sea and blood
I have decided
I stand corrected
I will bring back peace
I will bring back eternity
For the Guardian of Time
For the Guardian of Time
When silence in the air
Are broken by the screams of Darkness
When the remaining brightness
Are swallowed by the rip
In space and time
When two worlds are being swallowed by emptiness
I have decided
I stand corrected
I will bring back peace
I will bring back eternity
For the Guardian of Time
For the Guardian of Time
But, I could only remember Her
The guardian of time
I remember her countenance
I remember her pleading helplessness
I decided to go back to the beginning of time
Prevent my erred birth
Stop the mysterious red light
And
Return the Guardian
To Eternal Life
I have decided
I stand corrected
I will bring back peace
I will bring back eternity
For the Guardian of Time
For the Guardian of Time
I have decided
I stand corrected
I will bring back peace
I will bring back eternity
For the Guardian of Time
For the Guardian of Time

8.“I will stop time”


There’s only this way
An inevitable way
Yielding or fearing
Which is the tragic flaw
You look through the world
With a layer of tears
and have chosen the way
Because only through this choice
You see beauty of the eternal days
For love and For time
For darkness and for Light
I will create my unbirth
I will stop Time
I will stop Time
I will stop Time
For the Guardian
The Guardian of Time
I still remember Helyhna’s words
Prisoner or Freedom
Why choose Imprisonment
Because you don’t just have the darkness
But also the conscience of the light
You will always be an outsider to
Both dark and light
But you
You are Time
And I
I am the guardian of time
For love and For time
For darkness and for Light
I will create my unbirth
I will stop Time
I will stop Time
I will stop Time
For the Guardian
The Guardian of Time
For love and For time
For darkness and for Light
I will create my unbirth
I will stop Time
I will stop Time
I will stop Time
For the Guardian
The Guardian of Time

9.“The Prisoner of Life”
Andorhous lives beyond time
I can travel through time and space
Because I’m living within the error of eternity
Because I am that error
I am the limit, I am time
I flew toward the birth of Helyhna
To wait for the falling red light
When I finally realized
I am that red light
I caused my birth
I Surrender I Yield to Eternity
I am Time as I stopped Time
I am Time An anomaly
I am Time A Prisoner
Prisoner of Helyhna
The Guardian
My Guardian
Guardian of Time
Guardian of Life
I suddenly stopped flying
I finally realized that in this
Wheel of a storyline
I am that cause of abnormality
I caused my erred birth
Now that Helyhna’s safe born
I stayed in this timeline
And
Became Time
Or
Prisoner of Helyhna
The Guardian of Time
I Surrender I Yield to Eternity
I am Time as I stopped Time
I am Time An anomaly
I am Time A Prisoner
Prisoner of Helyhna
The Guardian
My Guardian
Guardian of Time
Guardian of Life
I am the narrator
I am the protagonist
I am the villain
I am the hero
I am Time
I am the prisoner of
The Guardian of Time
I Surrender I Yield to Eternity
I am Time as I stopped Time
I am Time An anomaly
I am Time A Prisoner
Prisoner of Helyhna
The Guardian
My Guardian
Guardian of Time
Guardian of Life
I Surrender I Yield to Eternity
I am Time as I stopped Time
I am Time An anomaly
I am Time A Prisoner
Prisoner of Helyhna
The Guardian
My Guardian
Guardian of Time
Guardian of Life
FIRST DAY

1.
Who wanted me
to go to Chicago
on January 6th?
I did!

The night before,
20 below zero
Fahrenheit
with the wind chill;
as the blizzard of 99
lay in mountains
of blackening snow.

I packed two coats,
two suits,
three sweaters,
multiple sets of long johns
and heavy white socks
for a two-day stay.

I left from Newark.
**** the denseness,
it confounds!

The 2nd City to whom?
2nd ain’t bad.
It’s pretty good.
If you consider
Peking and Prague,
Tokyo and Togo,
Manchester and Moscow,
Port Au Prince and Paris,
Athens and Amsterdam,
Buenos Aries and Johannesburg;
that’s pretty good.

What’s going on here today?
It’s friggin frozen.
To the bone!

But Chi Town is still cool.
Buddy Guy’s is open.
Bartenders mixing drinks,
cabbies jamming on their breaks,
honey dew waitresses serving sugar,
buildings swerving,
fire tongued preachers are preaching
and the farmers are measuring the moon.

The lake,
unlike Ontario
is in the midst of freezing.
Bones of ice
threaten to gel
into a solid mass
over the expanse
of the Michigan Lake.
If this keeps up,
you can walk
clear to Toronto
on a silver carpet.

Along the shore
the ice is permanent.
It’s the first big frost
of winter
after a long
Indian Summer.

Thank God
I caught a cab.
Outside I hear
The Hawk
nippin hard.
It’ll get your ear,
finger or toe.
Bite you on the nose too
if you ain’t careful.

Thank God,
I’m not walking
the Wabash tonight;
but if you do cover up,
wear layers.

Chicago,
could this be
Sandburg’s City?

I’m overwhelmed
and this is my tenth time here.

It’s almost better,
sometimes it is better,
a lot of times it is better
and denser then New York.

Ask any Bull’s fan.
I’m a Knickerbocker.
Yes Nueva York,
a city that has placed last
in the standings
for many years.
Except the last two.
Yanks are # 1!

But Chicago
is a dynasty,
as big as
Sammy Sosa’s heart,
rich and wide
as Michael Jordan’s grin.

Middle of a country,
center of a continent,
smack dab in the mean
of a hemisphere,
vortex to a world,
Chicago!

Kansas City,
Nashville,
St. Louis,
Detroit,
Cleveland,
Pittsburgh,
Denver,
New Orleans,
Dallas,
Cairo,
Singapore,
Auckland,
Baghdad,
Mexico City
and Montreal
salute her.



2.
Cities,
A collection of vanities?
Engineered complex utilitarianism?
The need for community a social necessity?
Ego one with the mass?
Civilization’s latest *******?
Chicago is more then that.

Jefferson’s yeoman farmer
is long gone
but this capitol
of the Great Plains
is still democratic.

The citizen’s of this city
would vote daily,
if they could.

Chicago,
Sandburg’s Chicago,
Could it be?

The namesake river
segments the city,
canals of commerce,
all perpendicular,
is rife throughout,
still guiding barges
to the Mississippi
and St. Laurence.

Now also
tourist attractions
for a cafe society.

Chicago is really jazzy,
swanky clubs,
big steaks,
juices and drinks.

You get the best
coffee from Seattle
and the finest teas
from China.

Great restaurants
serve liquid jazz
al la carte.

Jazz Jazz Jazz
All they serve is Jazz
Rock me steady
Keep the beat
Keep it flowin
Feel the heat!

Jazz Jazz Jazz
All they is, is Jazz
Fast cars will take ya
To the show
Round bout midnight
Where’d the time go?

Flows into the Mississippi,
the mother of America’s rivers,
an empires aorta.

Great Lakes wonder of water.
Niagara Falls
still her heart gushes forth.

Buffalo connected to this holy heart.
Finger Lakes and Adirondacks
are part of this watershed,
all the way down to the
Delaware and Chesapeake.

Sandburg’s Chicago?
Oh my my,
the wonder of him.
Who captured the imagination
of the wonders of rivers.

Down stream other holy cities
from the Mississippi delta
all mapped by him.

Its mouth our Dixie Trumpet
guarded by righteous Cajun brethren.

Midwest?
Midwest from where?
It’s north of Caracas and Los Angeles,
east of Fairbanks,
west of Dublin
and south of not much.

Him,
who spoke of honest men
and loving women.
Working men and mothers
bearing citizens to build a nation.
The New World’s
precocious adolescent
caught in a stream
of endless and exciting change,
much pain and sacrifice,
dedication and loss,
pride and tribulations.

From him we know
all the people’s faces.
All their stories are told.
Never defeating the
idea of Chicago.

Sandburg had the courage to say
what was in the heart of the people, who:

Defeated the Indians,
Mapped the terrain,
Aided slavers,
Fought a terrible civil war,
Hoisted the barges,
Grew the food,
Whacked the wheat,
Sang the songs,
Fought many wars of conquest,
Cleared the land,
Erected the bridges,
Trapped the game,
Netted the fish,
Mined the coal,
Forged the steel,
Laid the tracks,
Fired the tenders,
Cut the stone,
Mixed the mortar,
Plumbed the line,
And laid the bricks
Of this nation of cities!

Pardon the Marlboro Man shtick.
It’s a poor expostulation of
crass commercial symbolism.

Like I said, I’m a
Devil Fan from Jersey
and Madison Avenue
has done its work on me.

It’s a strange alchemy
that changes
a proud Nation of Blackhawks
into a merchandising bonanza
of hometown hockey shirts,
making the native seem alien,
and the interloper at home chillin out,
warming his feet atop a block of ice,
guzzling Old Style
with clicker in hand.

Give him his beer
and other diversions.
If he bowls with his buddy’s
on Tuesday night
I hope he bowls
a perfect game.

He’s earned it.
He works hard.
Hard work and faith
built this city.

And it’s not just the faith
that fills the cities
thousand churches,
temples and
mosques on the Sabbath.

3.
There is faith in everything in Chicago!

An alcoholic broker named Bill
lives the Twelve Steps
to banish fear and loathing
for one more day.
Bill believes in sobriety.

A tug captain named Moe
waits for the spring thaw
so he can get the barges up to Duluth.
Moe believes in the seasons.

A farmer named Tom
hopes he has reaped the last
of many bitter harvests.
Tom believes in a new start.

A homeless man named Earl
wills himself a cot and a hot
at the local shelter.
Earl believes in deliverance.

A Pullman porter
named George
works overtime
to get his first born
through medical school.
George believes in opportunity.

A folk singer named Woody
sings about his
countrymen inheritance
and implores them to take it.
Woody believes in people.

A Wobbly named Joe
organizes fellow steelworkers
to fight for a workers paradise
here on earth.
Joe believes in ideals.

A bookkeeper named Edith
is certain she’ll see the Cubs
win the World Series
in her lifetime.
Edith believes in miracles.

An electrician named ****
saves money
to bring his family over from Gdansk.
**** believes in America.

A banker named Leah
knows Ditka will return
and lead the Bears
to another Super Bowl.
Leah believes in nostalgia.

A cantor named Samuel
prays for another 20 years
so he can properly train
his Temple’s replacement.

Samuel believes in tradition.
A high school girl named Sally
refuses to get an abortion.
She knows she carries
something special within her.
Sally believes in life.

A city worker named Mazie
ceaselessly prays
for her incarcerated son
doing 10 years at Cook.
Mazie believes in redemption.

A jazzer named Bix
helps to invent a new art form
out of the mist.
Bix believes in creativity.

An architect named Frank
restores the Rookery.
Frank believes in space.

A soldier named Ike
fights wars for democracy.
Ike believes in peace.

A Rabbi named Jesse
sermonizes on Moses.
Jesse believes in liberation.

Somewhere in Chicago
a kid still believes in Shoeless Joe.
The kid believes in
the integrity of the game.

An Imam named Louis
is busy building a nation
within a nation.
Louis believes in
self-determination.

A teacher named Heidi
gives all she has to her students.
She has great expectations for them all.
Heidi believes in the future.

4.
Does Chicago have a future?

This city,
full of cowboys
and wildcatters
is predicated
on a future!

Bang, bang
Shoot em up
Stake the claim
It’s your terrain
Drill the hole
Strike it rich
Top it off
You’re the boss
Take a chance
Watch it wane
Try again
Heavenly gains

Chicago
city of futures
is a Holy Mecca
to all day traders.

Their skin is gray,
hair disheveled,
loud ties and
funny coats,
thumb through
slips of paper
held by nail
chewed hands.
Selling promises
with no derivative value
for out of the money calls
and in the money puts.
Strike is not a labor action
in this city of unionists,
but a speculators mark,
a capitalist wish,
a hedgers bet,
a public debt
and a farmers
fair return.

Indexes for everything.
Quantitative models
that could burst a kazoo.

You know the measure
of everything in Chicago.
But is it truly objective?
Have mathematics banished
subjective intentions,
routing it in fair practice
of market efficiencies,
a kind of scientific absolution?

I heard that there
is a dispute brewing
over the amount of snowfall
that fell on the 1st.

The mayor’s office,
using the official city ruler
measured 22”
of snow on the ground.

The National Weather Service
says it cannot detect more
then 17” of snow.

The mayor thinks
he’ll catch less heat
for the trains that don’t run
the buses that don’t arrive
and the schools that stand empty
with the addition of 5”.

The analysts say
it’s all about capturing liquidity.

Liquidity,
can you place a great lake
into an eyedropper?

Its 20 below
and all liquid things
are solid masses
or a gooey viscosity at best.

Water is frozen everywhere.
But Chi town is still liquid,
flowing faster
then the digital blips
flashing on the walls
of the CBOT.

Dreams
are never frozen in Chicago.
The exchanges trade
without missing a beat.

Trading wet dreams,
the crystallized vapor
of an IPO
pledging a billion points
of Internet access
or raiding the public treasuries
of a central bank’s
huge stores of gold
with currency swaps.

Using the tools
of butterfly spreads
and candlesticks
to achieve the goal.

Short the Russell
or buy the Dow,
go long the
CAC and DAX.
Are you trading in euro’s?
You better be
or soon will.
I know
you’re Chicago,
you’ll trade anything.
WEBS,
Spiders,
and Leaps
are traded here,
along with sweet crude,
North Sea Brent,
plywood and T-Bill futures;
and most importantly
the commodities,
the loam
that formed this city
of broad shoulders.

What about our wheat?
Still whacking and
breadbasket to the world.

Oil,
an important fossil fuel
denominated in
good ole greenbacks.

Porkbellies,
not just hogwash
on the Wabash,
but bacon, eggs
and flapjacks
are on the menu
of every diner in Jersey
as the “All American.”

Cotton,
our contribution
to the Golden Triangle,
once the global currency
used to enrich a
gentlemen class
of cultured
southern slavers,
now Tommy Hilfiger’s
preferred fabric.

I think he sends it
to Bangkok where
child slaves
spin it into
gold lame'.

Sorghum,
I think its hardy.

Soybeans,
the new age substitute
for hamburger
goes great with tofu lasagna.

Corn,
ADM creates ethanol,
they want us to drive cleaner cars.

Cattle,
once driven into this city’s
bloodhouses for slaughter,
now ground into
a billion Big Macs
every year.

When does a seed
become a commodity?
When does a commodity
become a future?
When does a future expire?

You can find the answers
to these questions in Chicago
and find a fortune in a hole in the floor.

Look down into the pits.
Hear the screams of anguish
and profitable delights.

Frenzied men
swarming like a mass
of epileptic ants
atop the worlds largest sugar cube
auger the worlds free markets.

The scene is
more chaotic then
100 Haymarket Square Riots
multiplied by 100
1968 Democratic Conventions.

Amidst inverted anthills,
they scurry forth and to
in distinguished
black and red coats.

Fighting each other
as counterparties
to a life and death transaction.

This is an efficient market
that crosses the globe.

Oil from the Sultan of Brunei,
Yen from the land of Hitachi,
Long Bonds from the Fed,
nickel from Quebec,
platinum and palladium
from Siberia,
FTSE’s from London
and crewel cane from Havana
circle these pits.

Tijuana,
Shanghai
and Istanbul's
best traders
are only half as good
as the average trader in Chicago.

Chicago,
this hog butcher to the world,
specializes in packaging and distribution.

Men in blood soaked smocks,
still count the heads
entering the gates of the city.

Their handiwork
is sent out on barges
and rail lines as frozen packages
of futures
waiting for delivery
to an anonymous counterparty
half a world away.

This nation’s hub
has grown into the
premier purveyor
to the world;
along all the rivers,
highways,
railways
and estuaries
it’s tentacles reach.

5.
Sandburg’s Chicago,
is a city of the world’s people.

Many striver rows compose
its many neighborhoods.

Nordic stoicism,
Eastern European orthodoxy
and Afro-American
calypso vibrations
are three of many cords
strumming the strings
of Chicago.

Sandburg’s Chicago,
if you wrote forever
you would only scratch its surface.

People wait for trains
to enter the city from O’Hare.
Frozen tears
lock their eyes
onto distant skyscrapers,
solid chunks
of snot blocks their nose
and green icicles of slime
crust mustaches.
They fight to breathe.

Sandburg’s Chicago
is The Land of Lincoln,
Savior of the Union,
protector of the Republic.
Sent armies
of sons and daughters,
barges, boxcars,
gunboats, foodstuffs,
cannon and shot
to raze the south
and stamp out succession.

Old Abe’s biography
are still unknown volumes to me.
I must see and read the great words.
You can never learn enough;
but I’ve been to Washington
and seen the man’s memorial.
The Free World’s 8th wonder,
guarded by General Grant,
who still keeps an eye on Richmond
and a hand on his sword.

Through this American winter
Abe ponders.
The vista he surveys is dire and tragic.

Our sitting President
impeached
for lying about a *******.

Party partisans
in the senate are sworn and seated.
Our Chief Justice,
adorned with golden bars
will adjudicate the proceedings.
It is the perfect counterpoint
to an ageless Abe thinking
with malice toward none
and charity towards all,
will heal the wounds
of the nation.

Abe our granite angel,
Chicago goes on,
The Union is strong!


SECOND DAY

1.
Out my window
the sun has risen.

According to
the local forecast
its minus 9
going up to
6 today.

The lake,
a golden pillow of clouds
is frozen in time.

I marvel
at the ancients ones
resourcefulness
and how
they mastered
these extreme elements.

Past, present and future
has no meaning
in the Citadel
of the Prairie today.

I set my watch
to Central Standard Time.

Stepping into
the hotel lobby
the concierge
with oil smooth hair,
perfect tie
and English lilt
impeccably asks,
“Do you know where you are going Sir?
Can I give you a map?”

He hands me one of Chicago.
I see he recently had his nails done.
He paints a green line
along Whacker Drive and says,
“turn on Jackson, LaSalle, Wabash or Madison
and you’ll get to where you want to go.”
A walk of 14 or 15 blocks from Streeterville-
(I start at The Chicago White House.
They call it that because Hillary Rodham
stays here when she’s in town.
Its’ also alleged that Stedman
eats his breakfast here
but Opra
has never been seen
on the premises.
I wonder how I gained entry
into this place of elite’s?)
-down into the center of The Loop.

Stepping out of the hotel,
The Doorman
sporting the epaulets of a colonel
on his corporate winter coat
and furry Cossack hat
swaddling his round black face
accosts me.

The skin of his face
is flaking from
the subzero windburn.

He asks me
with a gapped toothy grin,
“Can I get you a cab?”
“No I think I’ll walk,” I answer.
“Good woolen hat,
thick gloves you should be alright.”
He winks and lets me pass.

I step outside.
The Windy City
flings stabbing cold spears
flying on wings of 30-mph gusts.
My outside hardens.
I can feel the freeze
deepen
into my internalness.
I can’t be sure
but inside
my heart still feels warm.
For how long
I cannot say.

I commence
my walk
among the spires
of this great city,
the vertical leaps
that anchor the great lake,
holding its place
against the historic
frigid assault.

The buildings’ sway,
modulating to the blows
of natures wicked blasts.

It’s a hard imposition
on a city and its people.

The gloves,
skullcap,
long underwear,
sweater,
jacket
and overcoat
not enough
to keep the cold
from penetrating
the person.

Like discerning
the layers of this city,
even many layers,
still not enough
to understand
the depth of meaning
of the heart
of this heartland city.

Sandburg knew the city well.
Set amidst groves of suburbs
that extend outward in every direction.
Concentric circles
surround the city.
After the burbs come farms,
Great Plains, and mountains.
Appalachians and Rockies
are but mere molehills
in the city’s back yard.
It’s terra firma
stops only at the sea.
Pt. Barrow to the Horn,
many capes extended.

On the periphery
its appendages,
its extremities,
its outward extremes.
All connected by the idea,
blown by the incessant wind
of this great nation.
The Windy City’s message
is sent to the world’s four corners.
It is a message of power.
English the worlds
common language
is spoken here,
along with Ebonics,
Espanol,
Mandarin,
Czech,
Russian,
Korean,
Arabic,
Hindi­,
German,
French,
electronics,
steel,
cars,
cartoons,
rap,
sports­,
movies,
capital,
wheat
and more.

Always more.
Much much more
in Chicago.

2.
Sandburg
spoke all the dialects.

He heard them all,
he understood
with great precision
to the finest tolerances
of a lathe workers micrometer.

Sandburg understood
what it meant to laugh
and be happy.

He understood
the working mans day,
the learned treatises
of university chairs,
the endless tomes
of the city’s
great libraries,
the lost languages
of the ancient ones,
the secret codes
of abstract art,
the impact of architecture,
the street dialects and idioms
of everymans expression of life.

All fighting for life,
trying to build a life,
a new life
in this modern world.

Walking across
the Michigan Avenue Bridge
I see the Wrigley Building
is neatly carved,
catty cornered on the plaza.

I wonder if Old Man Wrigley
watched his barges
loaded with spearmint
and double-mint
move out onto the lake
from one of those Gothic windows
perched high above the street.

Would he open a window
and shout to the men below
to quit slaking and work harder
or would he
between the snapping sound
he made with his mouth
full of his chewing gum
offer them tickets
to a ballgame at Wrigley Field
that afternoon?

Would the men below
be able to understand
the man communing
from such a great height?

I listen to a man
and woman conversing.
They are one step behind me
as we meander along Wacker Drive.

"You are in Chicago now.”
The man states with profundity.
“If I let you go
you will soon find your level
in this city.
Do you know what I mean?”

No I don’t.
I think to myself.
What level are you I wonder?
Are you perched atop
the transmission spire
of the Hancock Tower?

I wouldn’t think so
or your ears would melt
from the windburn.

I’m thinking.
Is she a kept woman?
She is majestically clothed
in fur hat and coat.
In animal pelts
not trapped like her,
but slaughtered
from farms
I’m sure.

What level
is he speaking of?

Many levels
are evident in this city;
many layers of cobbled stone,
Pennsylvania iron,
Hoosier Granite
and vertical drops.

I wonder
if I detect
condensation
in his voice?

What is
his intention?
Is it a warning
of a broken affair?
A pending pink slip?
Advise to an addict
refusing to adhere
to a recovery regimen?

What is his level anyway?
Is he so high and mighty,
Higher and mightier
then this great city
which we are all a part of,
which we all helped to build,
which we all need
in order to keep this nation
the thriving democratic
empire it is?

This seditious talk!

3.
The Loop’s El
still courses through
the main thoroughfares of the city.

People are transported
above the din of the street,
looking down
on the common pedestrians
like me.

Super CEO’s
populating the upper floors
of Romanesque,
Greek Revivalist,
New Bauhaus,
Art Deco
and Post Nouveau
Neo-Modern
Avant-Garde towers
are too far up
to see me
shivering on the street.

The cars, busses,
trains and trucks
are all covered
with the film
of rock salt.

Salt covers
my bootless feet
and smudges
my cloths as well.

The salt,
the primal element
of the earth
covers everything
in Chicago.

It is the true level
of this city.

The layer
beneath
all layers,
on which
everything
rests,
is built,
grows,
thrives
then dies.
To be
returned again
to the lower
layers
where it can
take root
again
and grow
out onto
the great plains.

Splashing
the nation,
anointing
its people
with its
blessing.

A blessing,
Chicago?

All rivers
come here.

All things
found its way here
through the canals
and back bays
of the world’s
greatest lakes.

All roads,
rails and
air routes
begin and
end here.

Mrs. O’Leary’s cow
got a *** rap.
It did not start the fire,
we did.

We lit the torch
that flamed
the city to cinders.
From a pile of ash
Chicago rose again.

Forever Chicago!
Forever the lamp
that burns bright
on a Great Lake’s
western shore!

Chicago
the beacon
sends the
message to the world
with its windy blasts,
on chugging barges,
clapping trains,
flying tandems,
T1 circuits
and roaring jets.

Sandburg knew
a Chicago
I will never know.

He knew
the rhythm of life
the people walked to.
The tools they used,
the dreams they dreamed
the songs they sang,
the things they built,
the things they loved,
the pains that hurt,
the motives that grew,
the actions that destroyed
the prayers they prayed,
the food they ate
their moments of death.

Sandburg knew
the layers of the city
to the depths
and windy heights
I cannot fathom.

The Blues
came to this city,
on the wing
of a chirping bird,
on the taps
of a rickety train,
on the blast
of an angry sax
rushing on the wind,
on the Westend blitz
of Pop's brash coronet,
on the tink of
a twinkling piano
on a paddle-wheel boat
and on the strings
of a lonely man’s guitar.

Walk into the clubs,
tenements,
row houses,
speakeasies
and you’ll hear the Blues
whispered like
a quiet prayer.

Tidewater Blues
from Virginia,
Delta Blues
from the lower
Mississippi,
Boogie Woogie
from Appalachia,
Texas Blues
from some Lone Star,
Big Band Blues
from Kansas City,
Blues from
Beal Street,
Jelly Roll’s Blues
from the Latin Quarter.

Hell even Chicago
got its own brand
of Blues.

Its all here.
It ended up here
and was sent away
on the winds of westerly blows
to the ear of an eager world
on strong jet streams
of simple melodies
and hard truths.

A broad
shouldered woman,
a single mother stands
on the street
with three crying babes.
Their cloths
are covered
in salt.
She pleads
for a break,
praying
for a new start.
Poor and
under-clothed
against the torrent
of frigid weather
she begs for help.
Her blond hair
and ****** features
suggests her
Scandinavian heritage.
I wonder if
she is related to Sandburg
as I walk past
her on the street.
Her feet
are bleeding
through her
canvass sneakers.
Her babes mouths
are zipped shut
with frozen drivel
and mucous.

The Blues live
on in Chicago.

The Blues
will forever live in her.
As I turn the corner
to walk the Miracle Mile
I see her engulfed
in a funnel cloud of salt,
snow and bits
of white paper,
swirling around her
and her children
in an angry
unforgiving
maelstrom.

The family
begins to
dissolve
like a snail
sprinkled with salt;
and a mother
and her children
just disappear
into the pavement
at the corner
of Dearborn,
in Chicago.

Music:

Robert Johnson
Sweet Home Chicago


jbm
Chicago
1/7/99
Added today to commemorate the birthday of Carl Sandburg
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.
Leonardo Wilde Jan 2017
In the beautiful words of John Marcus:
“Sometimes words are a little too hard to catch. They flit and flutter all over the place almost impossible to catch, taunting and teasing me with the worlds I could create.”
And the last part caught my attention, upon reading it. “…taunting and teasing me with the worlds I could create.” Cause I've written a novel, and currently I'm writing its sequel, and I essentially created a whole world. A whole global history, a whole global culture, a whole everything on a global scale. George Lucas, that literal genius, created a whole galaxy, far, far away, along with Martin Goodman creating a whole universe, Gene Roddenberry created a whole world on the USS Enterprise, JK Rowling created the Wizarding World, Angie Sage created one of my favorite worlds, the world of a seventh son of a seventh son with a name with seven in it.
Writers, in their own genius creativity, write worlds into existence, cover to cover, create them and steer them in a beautiful direction: forward.
And then I remembered. God created man and women in his image, and God literally spoke creation into existence, and the Bible recorded the event into literary immortality. So if God spoke (literally) everything into existence, and we fall short of His Glory eternally, then couldn’t we create worlds? Not, like, literal, physical worlds, but maybe a literary world, like authors do?
A world you could get just as lost in?
And words, words, the beautiful creation of the written form, constantly taunt and tease me, they challenge me, they call out to me to keep creating and writing worlds into existence. But we don’t need to write worlds into existence to make our words amazing: even I myself have written small phrases, not just worlds, but sometimes even the smallest things have the biggest impacts. (IE, my toddlers.)
(John Marcus has a beautiful mind, seriously, it repeatedly blows mine away. Keep doin your thing, dude.)
:;,
Ava Jan 2018
Other worlds
so safe so welcoming
so kind
Other worlds
I can hold
but can never be mine
Other worlds
so easy to
fall into
Other worlds
with chances to
start anew
Other worlds
are just what
they say they are
Other worlds
are worlds
just a little too far
I was watching Worlds—
Worlds far removed from mine.
They dissolved my notion of Import
along with my concept of Time.
I was watching Worlds—
Worlds far removed from mine.
I saw our disconnection
our thoughts have made us blind.
We're lost in Worlds inside of Worlds,
within Worlds made in our minds.
Fah Jul 2013
5 worlds across , we still met
67 worlds to the left and you are the teacher
1 world to the right my teenage companion
4 worlds north and you are the heart friend
16 worlds south a shield made from wisps of whiffs entwined in the musky perfume, i know all too well , because it is mine
9 worlds east and 2 doors in, the fireplace fills the not so smoky room, it feels like red wine or mint lemonade
18 worlds down and the cave left especially for you , when the travels get to- too rough remains yours
As far as i can feel to the infinite worlds around , you never made that plane

As far as i can feel we embody the divine
As far as i can feel we can only love in time ,
As far as the free bird flies and the crows with brown wings sit with turtle doves and sizzling bluejays alike i will resonate in your vibes

Hold Still, i'm at loss for words
i know them , they are abused and left alone and does it **** you as it kills me to know that i have to wait , i have to wait , even if the time is relatively short and there is work to do , i have to wait? As if the eons were not enough , as if the chalk had turned to rust and the cheese to lines on blackboards dripping with the stink of fatigue but i can not sleep , i must hold steadfast to the beat , i must hold steadfast to the call , i can not falter at all

Yeah the portal closed only to open , but no one told me that it was me until the deed was done and indeed to see the rising of the sun, but my wish came true i got to spend a night with you

next time , please , please just look me in the eye and tell me , you are not coming back for some time and i'll be fine , just don't lie to me to escape the wrenches on my pulsating heart because they tighten not on flesh but on soul and they leave me with the memories of love gone cold
so i speak nothing but truth , i cry tears of corrosive fears and release the pent up tension

Thank you for keeping me awake, for opening some doors, perhaps, next time we'll explore some more

But when can i wake with you everyday and know that i won't have you torn away because i'm strong enough to withstand the constant barrage of energy spiraling in cosmic serenity
Oh i can channel it through so not just you , but everyone who needs illumination can sip at the fountain of youth and never lose their imagination but i don't know how many more times i can leave you and have my soul shaken , no more baby , no more

We've been apart for long enough , is that enough space for you to touch? Even if you need more know i will grit my teeth and grow some more,

i know now , there is no depth that my soul will not plunge for you and you wanted my heart on a page , here are scars to prove it , i go by the name Kali , i'll be your one woman army
Hidden worlds, hidden no more
dreamers dreaming in the futures past
The connections have finally come online , the team is gathering , i'm always a few steps ahead , it's my role to lead and not be lead , i step up to the plate as a stargate to the universal hub
I

All all and all the dry worlds lever,
Stage of the ice, the solid ocean,
All from the oil, the pound of lava.
City of spring, the governed flower,
Turns in the earth that turns the ashen
Towns around on a wheel of fire.

How now my flesh, my naked fellow,
Dug of the sea, the glanded morrow,
Worm in the scalp, the staked and fallow.
All all and all, the corpse's lover,
Skinny as sin, the foaming marrow,
All of the flesh, the dry worlds lever.

            II

Fear not the waking world, my mortal,
Fear not the flat, synthetic blood,
Nor the heart in the ribbing metal.
Fear not the tread, the seeded milling,
The trigger and scythe, the bridal blade,
Nor the flint in the lover's mauling.

Man of my flesh, the jawbone riven,
Know now the flesh's lock and vice,
And the cage for the scythe-eyed raver.
Know, O my bone, the jointed lever,
Fear not the screws that turn the voice,
And the face to the driven lover.

            III

All all and all the dry worlds couple,
Ghost with her ghost, contagious man
With the womb of his shapeless people.
All that shapes from the caul and suckle,
Stroke of mechanical flesh on mine,
Square in these worlds the mortal circle.

Flower, flower the people's fusion,
O light in zenith, the coupled bud,
And the flame in the flesh's vision.
Out of the sea, the drive of oil,
Socket and grave, the brassy blood,
Flower, flower, all all and all.
Hannah Southard Apr 2014
She donned the hats of worlds
that she so was desperate
to be part of that she became lost.
Flipping through the delicate pages
of lands so thin that if you looked too closely
they would break like a spider’s web.

She became entangled in the web,
drowning herself among the worlds
which she dissected so closely,
that from the outside she might appear desperate
to blend herself into the pages
a new piece of herself each time lost.

To everyone outside she was lost
caught up in her web
of what seemed a set of carnivorous pages
biting off a new piece in each of the worlds
she visited, desperate
to keep her there and watch her closely.

In her life they watched her closely
making sure that she would not be forever lost
and because they were desperate
took the blade of reality to her web
tearing holes in her worlds
ripping apart pages upon pages.

And as each of the pages
that were tied to her so closely
were torn away, so were her worlds
the pieces of herself left there were lost
still entangled in the shredded web
hanging limply, she was desperate.

But when they saw that she was desperate
alone surrounded by the pages
trying to sew together the strings of the web
they watched her closely
as she stumbled around, lost,
without the pieces of herself she left in those worlds.

Feeling so desperate, she examined them closely
pieces of pages, all their meaning having been lost,
trying to weave together the strands of her web wide worlds.
Dante Oct 2014
The world kisses me
and begs me to be a man,
but I'm not gonna grow up
because I'm a work of art, Ma.

I'm a work of art.

I like hurting bad people
and I like hurting you.
I like hurting you,
but only because you ask me to.

No, Ma.
I don't wanna grow up
because I'm a poet,
a scary lover,
a miserable romantic.
I'm not gonna grow up, Ma.
Because I'm a work of art.

I'm a work of art.

The world kisses me
and begs me to stop.
The world kisses me,
but begs me to stop.

You can't blame me
for the death of your children
because I'm a child too,
because I was shot, too.

I'm a little boy.
I'm not gonna grow up.
I'm a work of art, Ma.

I'm a work of art!

Little girls
and scary worlds
make me a poet.
Little girls
and scary worlds
make me a monster.
Little girls
and scary worlds
make me a boy.

I'm not growing up
because I'm a work of art.
I'm not growing up
because I want to fall in love
with everything that breaks my heart.

The world kisses me
and begs me to be a man,
but I'm not gonna grow up
because Im a work of art, Ma.

I'm a work of art.

Little girls
and scary worlds
make me
a poet.

Little girls
and scary worlds
make me

a boy.
I'm not sure if I'm in love with a love story,
a man's poetry,
or the poet himself.
-
This is about a boy I will never see.
Jeff Gaines Mar 2018
OK Reader, I'm going to tell you a tale … with great trepidation. You see, this tale, well, it's kind of like telling someone that you've seen a UFO. They want to believe you, but … it's never really been proven scientifically. Not to mention the fact that most folks who believe in such things are often the tin-hat wearing types, written off as … lets be nice and call them “odd”. And, of course, the more you swear to it, the crazier you appear. It's an epic tale, spanning 30 years of my crazy life.

  But, It's a story I want to tell, because it happened to me. I can barely understand it myself, let alone explain it. So … I'm just going to launch into it and you take it any way you wish.

*  *  
Where Can You Be?

Where can you be?
Where can you be, my love?
Oh, can't you see?
You're not with me!

I'll search with gazes and I'll search with cars,
I'll search the cities and I'll search the stars, well …
I'm gonna find you, oh, wherever you are,
I'm gonna find you baby …  near or far, but …

Where can you be?
Where can you be, my love?
Oh, can't you see?
You're not with me!

I thought I'd found ya, but she wasn't you,
that girl she left alone and blue, well …
I know that's something that you'd never do,
your love has always been strong and true, but …

Where can you be?
Where can you be, my love?
Oh, can't you see?
You're not with me!

If you must settle for some other man
and deviate from our immortal plan, well …
I hope you realize I will understand
and I'll try and do the best that I can, but …

Where will I be?
Where will I be, my love?
Hoping the next life sees …
our destiny!


Where can you be?
Where can you be, my love?
Oh, can't you see?
You're not with me!

~Wednesday, April 1st, 1987
10:30 P.M.



  I was singing in a band back in those days and, as it happened, this was the last song I'd ever write for it. Just after this, as it does, it all came crashing down and the band was finished. But in those last days, they pondered this song, with great puzzlement. You see, it was unlike anything I'd brought them before. It wasn't rock … It wasn't a ballad … it wasn't even structured like a “normal” 80's rock song.
  
  No bridge, no solo, no loud grinding guitars, etc. It even had bits where I hummed, yes hummed, the melody, like a lullaby. As they read the lyrics and I described how it went, they all looked at me like I had three heads and asked where this had come from. It was nothing like anything I'd written before. I could only tell them when and where I'd written it, but had no explanation of what inspired it. It had just came to me, so I wrote it down. They didn't know what to make of it, or even what to do with it.

  One of them said it sounded like a late 70's or early 80's adult contemporary song or even in the vein of The Eagles. Another asked if it was about reincarnation … And I honestly, until that moment, hadn't thought of it that way, I didn't think like that at 24 … but then, one of them said it was “Haunting” …

  “Haunting”?

  “Wow”, I thought, I'd never had anything I'd written described as that before. When I asked him what he meant by that, he told me that it was haunting to think that this poor guy is desperately seeking a girl, that may or may not even know that he exists … in a world with billions of people in it. To top that off, he fears that she may off and marry someone else if he doesn't find her in time.

  This, along with the suggestion of it being about reincarnation made me rethink and rewrite the song. Well, a few lines in the last verse and chorus anyways. It actually made the song flow better and seem more complete. In a way, it actually made the song make more sense … to me and them. Sadly, we never did anything with it. There wouldn't be time. Ha … Time … how ironic. Over 10 years later, came this …


For Someone I've Never Met

Please save a place for me,
deep inside your heart.
Always know that I think of you,
as we both practice our arts.

Our worlds are full of temptations,
so very hard to resist …
and the good Lord knows
we're both far from,
sixteen and never been kissed.

Wealthy men with jaws divine …
Temptresses with looks so fine …
Paths that lead our hearts away …
Paths that surely lead astray …

They'll lead us there every time.
They'll leave us there … so  unkind.
Our hearts must shine,
night and day.
Through any darkness … they'll light our way.

If you never touch my face …
If I never look into your eyes …
We'll always have the comfort of sharing
the same
big, blue sky.

If I never smell your hair …
If you never kiss my lips …
Always know the search for your smile
has launched a thousand ships.

So, I hope you save a place for me
in your heart so sweet and kind.
Please, save a place for me …
Heaven knows you've one in mine.

~Thursday, September 9th, 1999
9 A.M.



“For Someone I've Never Met ” poured out of me in the midst of another breakup from the second, and last, girl that I wanted to marry. That emotion, never found me again. I looked at it on my computer screen and smiled, seeing “Where Can You Be”, in my mind, on my tattered old note pad that I called my “Song Book”. The memory of me writing it while sitting in my Z-28, looking out over the Gulf of Mexico as a beautiful heat lighting storm sent bolts across the sky, came flooding back; as did the debate of reincarnation I'd had with my pals in the rehearsal room all those years before. Here I was, again, writing about “someone” that I sensed, for lack of a better term, was out there … somewhere.

  Well Reader, do you believe in reincarnation? I was never really certain, but, as you can see, I had twice written pieces to someone I wasn't completely sure existed. I had always “sensed” someone out there beginning with the period after I wrote “Where Can You Be?” and thereafter. So, there they were, each written after losing someone I was deeply in love with. Each came out of nowhere, as they usually do. By the time I was in my 40's, I began to think I was either imagining it all (a side effect of being a hopeless romantic) or that I had just somehow missed this person and our “moment”.

  And then …



Epiphany

There was a place.
There was a time …
There, I stood … still unknowing
and everything seemed fine.

But there in that place …
at that moment in time …
the moment I saw the eyes,
I'd never believed I'd find.

Well, what could I say?
What could I do?
In a world filled with billions …
and there … was a you.

I'd always known you were out there …
even written of something amiss.
I never, ever stopped looking for you …
because my heart always said you exist.

My breezy Fall became harshest Winter.
My crazy life left my health running out.
I'd resigned myself that our moment had passed …
but this moment … it removed all doubt.

Well, what could I say?
Tell me, what could I do?
There we stood, staring … alone … in a city of millions …
yes, there … there was a you.

Oh, that mistress fate, she is just so cruel.
Frustration, a curse to be mine.
   I'd searched for you my entire life …
but now … my clock … knows a limit of time.

You see, I would never venture a love with you,
while knowing I'd have to leave you … hurt and alone.
I could only admire from afar … stoic and aloof …
while turning my heart into stone.

Nothing I could ever say and nothing I could ever do …
But now, at long last … at least I finally knew.

There, you stood … green seas, gazing up … into skies of blue.
My long-awaited revelation … become sorrow-laced realization.
There really is … a you.

~August 12th, 2009
  

  Typical of my life-long Charlie Brown syndrome … After being told in 2005 that I had “the lungs of an eighty-year-old man” and that I had “Six to Ten years” to live, I made a conscious decision in that Doctor's parking lot that I could never have another girlfriend and that I must face this alone. I don't see woman as objects. They are glorious creatures that are here to be our partners and friends and to make our lives amazing. I could never, ever knowingly let a woman fall in love with me, all the while knowing I was going to die and leave her. It's not in me to do such a thing, lonely or not.

  Yes, I'm still alive, I'm stubborn like that. But, some days are better than others and my new doctors say that they don't give people “time limits” anymore … because of people like me. I can't afford the lung transplant. So, as Bono so aptly put in one of his songs: “The rich stay healthy, while the sick stay poor”. It is what it is … and like the energizer bunny, I'm still going. Good for me.

  In the moment that I met her, the morning that followed, and the amazing speed of our nexus over the next several months combined with a string of synchronicities (Coincidences? Did I mention that she too, was a poet and writer?) that not only came after I met her on the sidewalk in front of the publisher we shared, but in those pieces I had written before and in several after; I was pretty much convinced I had actually found her. I have NEVER experienced anything like this, or her, in my entire life.

  So, after all this time, here she was … and there wasn't a **** thing that I could do about it. Besides, she was much younger than I and it probably would never have worked anyways. ****, the universe is rotten sometimes, huh? Maybe, if I'm lucky, things will balance out better in the next life. I can only hope. But I'm reminded, worryingly so, of the **** The Alarm song: “Collide”:

“All of these thoughts pounding in my head …
with the words I've wrote, in the letters I've never sent.
The distance in our lives may change …
Times that you can never erase …
But will our worlds collide?
Will our worlds collide, the next time?”



  Only time will tell.



  “Colors”, and a few others, were written about/for her. But, I could never show them to her. I would never endanger my friendship with her. I just wanted to keep her in my life. That, and that alone, was the only motive I'd ever had with her. I looked forward to seeing her marry, hearing her stories of her three kid's adventures; Hubby, all greasy, working on the car in the driveway, rabbits in her garden at night, eating her precious organic veggies or even about her new curtains. Just to know that she was alive, happy and doing well. I found a solace in her voice I could never describe and I was completely content to just have her in my life and watch hers unfold. Only I could end up in this odd position.

  I feared that she might get weird-ed out because I'd never displayed any romantic inklings toward her, so, to suddenly read these might make her feel a bit, lets say: uncomfortable. Actually, I didn't write them with any romantic intentions, per se; I just did what I always do … write what comes out. Still, there's no denying that they come across romantic. Again, so, so Charlie Brown. (long sigh)
  
  It is what it is. I also have to ponder the fact that maybe all those Charlie Brown moments in my life were preparing me for this one big, painful one. That does makes sense … ******' Universe.


Colors

Well when you're Green, I'll be your Brown.
Like the earth that loves the flowers,
I'll will be your solid ground.

And I'll be your Azure, when you are Verdigris.
We'll be thee most beautiful ocean
that eyes have ever seen.

And when you're Black, I'll be your White.
Mixing all of the colors … I'll make everything alright.

Now when you're Blue, I'll be you're Red.
If something should make you wanna cry,
I will feel your pain instead.

And I'll be your Orange, whenever you are Pink.
We'll be thee most amazing sunset,
that the sky could ever ink.

And when you're Black, I'll be your White.
I'll mix all of your colors … and make everything alright.

Should you be Violet, I will be your Beige.
Like a sleepy moonlit desert,
pasteled in dunes and sage.

And when you're Grey, I will be your Rainbow.
We'll be thee most soothing rainstorm
the world has ever known.

And when you're Black, I'll be your White.
I'll mix all of your colors … yes, I'll make everything alright.

With love on my palette, painting a glorious sunrise …
I'll color all your mornings with a smile and brighten up your skies.
If you should find yourself in sorrow from someones hate or lies …
I'll take the stars down from the heavens … and paint them in your eyes.

So whenever you are Black, I will always be your White.
I'll mix all your colors with a promise … everything will be alright.

Yes, I'll mix all of your colors with a promise … Everything's gonna be alright.

~  Winter 2012



  I wrote this after she had rang me up one afternoon lamenting about her life at the moment, troubled that her latest novel hadn't done as well as she'd hoped and now she had to be waitressing to make ends meet. I tried my best to cheer her up and assured her that she was strong enough to handle anything and that she must keep chasing her dreams. I wrote it as a poem, but I can't help but notice it looks like a song, though I've never heard music for it. Those repeated verses look just like choruses to me.

  Earlier in the day, I had been looking at a booklet of paint swatches. I guess, up there on my roof looking at the Manhattan skyline, her sadness and me looking at all those colors melted together somehow and, as happens, out came this piece. Even this, became another synchronicity as she would name her next novel “Show Me All Your Colors”. I remember seeing it in the bookstore and looking straight up … shaking my head at the sky. Was this the universe telling me to show and tell her all this?

  Well, if it was, I stuck with my gut and kept it to myself. My God, if you only knew how many of these synchronicities there were between her and I. It simply boggles my mind. I wanted to call them “coincidences”, but there were just so **** many of them … Each so unique, they just couldn't be called that. I don't want to tell them all here, because like I said, the more you swear to it, the crazier you sound. And I'm sure your questioning my sanity by now, aren't you? (Smirk)


  OK, OK … this one is definitely romantic. I wrote it one night, drunk to the bejeezus. I'd done what we called “The Crosstown Crawl” with my pal Tristan and a gaggle of assorted waitresses we knew. This involved starting at Brass Monkey on the west side highway in the Gansevoort District and ending at my favorite hookah bar, Karma, on the Lower East Side … Drinking in, and often being “asked to leave” (Read: Kicked out of) every bar that took our interest as we walked (Read: staggered) west to east, staying below 14th St.

  On my way home from the city on the J train, I thought about all the phone conversations we'd had while I was on this train crossing the Williamsburg Bridge. Being drunk, I guess, I caught a bout of sadness that I'd never get to tell her any of this or even how I felt about it all. Before I hit my elevator, this piece was swimming in my head. It's about as mushy a piece as I've ever written … if not thee most! Not the norm for me, but this is, after all, a lot to keep pent up inside you. I wouldn't wish this predicament on anyone.


For My Little Red-Haired Girl …


You …

My Love.
My Queen.
This Shining Light in my eyes.

My Laughs.
My Dreams.
My Soft, Contented Sighs.

My *****.
My Lavender.
My Dew Covered Rose.

My Smile.
My Cinnamon.
The Joy in my heart … ever inspiring my prose.

My Best Friend.
My Co-Star.
My Fearless Partner in Crime.

My Breath.
My Cohort.
My Side-kick throughout time.

My Snow-capped Mountain.
The Wind caressing my face.
My Vast Green Field.

The Ivy Covered Wall
that harbors my soul … ever refusing to yield.

In a different time ...

You … would have been my Life.

You … would have been my World.

You … would have been my Everything

and I will always love you for my own special reasons.

It is just a shame … and I'm so, so sorry … that you … must never, ever know.

Maybe next time.


~Charlie Brown




   When I came-to in the morning and read what I had wrote, I had to laugh a bit. It is borderline corny, very beautiful, very telling and very sad … all at once. I shook my head, laughing and told myself :

  “*******, Sam … yer losin' it. Get your **** together, will ya?”

  I guess in my stupor, I was imagining what it would have been like to write something for her. I don't know … There it was and I was stuck with it. I almost deleted it, but, my finger wouldn't press the key. As I told you before … I'd NEVER show this to her. She'd probably never speak to me again.

   As a sadder epilogue, that eventually happened. I still don't know why, but we haven't spoken in years. Maybe she sensed this emotion in me and ran away. Or maybe, just maybe … she thought I'd pushed her away somehow … but for whatever reason, we drifted apart. I guess I'll never know.  As you can see by reading this, that was never my intention. But, like I keep reiterating … It is what it is.

  One day, I called her number to catch up and shoot the breeze. I hadn't spoken to her in a few months as she'd been busy promoting her new novel and I didn't want to pester her. But … it was disconnected … I checked my emails … nothing. I'd never been so confused, she just closed me out. I didn't want to bother her. I was sure she had her reasons and if she wanted to reach out to me again, she would. She had my email and my phone number. But, for now … she was gone … and that was that.

  So, what do you think, Reader? Do I get the Tin hat … or a Badge of courage? Am I bat-**** crazy … or just eccentric? I'll leave it up to you to decide, because as I said, this all happened to me and there isn't a thing I can do about any of it. I just had to get it off of my chest. Thanks for letting me vent.

  Wherever she is … she will always mean the world to me. I can see her green eyes if I close my mine and look for them. Sometimes, on occasion, her face haunts my sleep. Still, I like to picture her, kids playing in a sprinkler behind her, digging in her garden, wearing gloves too big for her hands and a smudge of fresh dirt on her cheek … it makes me smile.


-Sam Webster
Brooklyn, New York
2013
OK, you can stop scratching your head. I'm sorry if you feel like I tricked you or was playing a prank … That was not my intention. This piece is experimental writing, of sorts. If you are wondering, it's titled “Somewhere … Out There”. But I didn't want to put a title at the head of the page, as that might have clued you in too early.

I also confess that “Sam” the narrator is, on no uncertain terms, based loosely on myself. But hey, what better way to string you along? Besides, as Stephen King said, you “Write what you know”. As far as I 'm aware, using poetry within a short story like this, or in this manner, has never been done before. Welcome to the future!

It really belongs in my “From Thee Edge” Collection with the rest of my Twilight-Zone-esque short stories. (You can now read some of these fiction short stories here, posted in my "NoPo@HePo" posts, along with some non-fiction essays. I hope you enjoy them.) But, because I pieced together several of my poems to not only tell the story, but as a vehicle to carry it along as part of it; I wanted to put it here on Hello Poetry just to see if I could convince you long enough to get you through the story … while having you believe it was me speaking to you and that it was all very real to me. Thus, making it feel real to you as you read it.

Was I having you along right up until it was signed by someone else? Or, at least until the narrator addressed himself as “Sam”?

If so, then I accomplished my mission. I'd love to hear your comments on it. If you've been reading any of my other posts, I'm sure you've figured out that I like to run wildly outside of the box sometimes. This was just, as I said, an experiment in a different way to tell a story … fiction or otherwise. As always, I hope that I took you on a journey and, more importantly, that you enjoyed it.

~Jeff Gaines
L.A.
(Lower Alabama)
2015
Carla Marie May 2013
You
The enigma
Refuse
To leave
Determined to fight
This futile fight
Perhaps your heart can not conceive
That
There are
Other worlds
To dance in

A big *******
Relentless Pac Man
Cancer is…
Usurping your glory
From the inside
Out
Leaving blinders on your lovely eyes
A hollow shell
Of your former self
Unable, even, to realize
That
There are
Other worlds
To dance in

A NEW PARTY awaits…
Better than this...
New adventures
New Loves
New lips to kiss

Fight so hard
To stay
But It’s okay
To go…
Maybe you’re afraid
Or maybe
Just do not know
That
On that
“Great gettin’ up mornin’”
All will be well once again
And though this
Wonderful… horrible… bumpy… smooth… journey
Will have finally come to an end

Keep your dancing shoes on…

This
Groove
Ain’t over

Lay down your mournful woes
Cuz my hopeful spirit knows
That there are
Better worlds…
Sweeter worlds…
Other worlds… Mom

To dance in…
when words turn into worlds
strange things happen

paragraphs bend into globes
continents grow out of sentences
cultures start talking to each other
   clinging to colons and dashes

when words become worlds
these worlds create grammar
and modestly submit to its rules

whereas the real world of worlds
grows ungrammatically
and is more colorful
almat011 Feb 2019
With each step, the heat of passion of love and excitement only intensifies. I burn with fire from the love of passion, he can fill the whole world. And the sky turned pink. The sky glitters with glitter. The air is filled with the fragrance of love and the world is more beautiful and you are becoming more and more divine in my eyes, I bow to your extraterrestrial beauty and belong to you alone, the goal of all my lives for all eternity. You are the one that I will always dream of and my heart will forever love and want you alone. The goddess appearing to me in ****** thoughts and depraved dreams of passion. Up close you are beautiful to tears - these are tears of sincere happiness and admiration.
You are more beautiful than the most beautiful. Merge together forever and ever with the spirit of yours, and your inner world, my lonely soul dreams. See the depths of your amazing me. To give you your eternal devotion: you are my life, eternity and my destiny, you are my only right choice, you are everything that I love and want. Both my heart and my mind are open only to you. You look so romantic and beautiful, your charm, your spell beckons my mind to you, it is useless for them to resist you, they can only fully obey, surrender to you alone. My legs go only to you, my eyes look only at you, and I focus only on you. Everything in me is overwhelmed with you. And inside, from the love of you, is incredible, absolute lightness. And from the fact that you are not with me, my heart hurts almost to a heart attack. Epochally, I fell in love with you totally, beyond ******-poetic, overly ****. Yes, truly, you are my empress, and only I worship you, look at this temple of my love, dedicated to you, on this great altar, look around, you are everywhere, sit on this throne of love, my great and beautiful goddess. Each your kiss is indescribable and priceless, it is vital. Every your look, fantastically-romantically-touchingly beautiful. He kindles the fire of love and passion in men. Your charm is a powerful force that attracts everything and everyone to itself.
Awakening true, sparkling love for you, of universal scale. This throne of eternal praise and worship is only for you alone, and the chorus, singing about your beauty only for you. In you, every millimeter of your perfect, hot, hot-**** body is beautiful. My world is in your uniquely beautiful eyes, in your feelings and emotions, and I’m not tired of talking about your perfect proportions. Only your caresses give such feelings as love and happiness. Striking, powerful, attractive appearance. The magnificent grace of your body has no equal. Only your divinely beautiful body is worthy of the highest praise and points. I am only waiting for you. You're all I think about. The empress of my subconscious, in my inner world, dreams, and memories, you are everywhere. I always wait only for you. You are my only eternal thought that helps to live in this world, my beautiful emotion, and an amazing feeling. Only, like you, can excite with a look and fall in love with yourself forever. Life without you is unthinkable, impossible. Believe me, I know this for sure, your beauty shines gently with honey, golden light and brilliance. Your beauty is powerful hypnosis.
You are tremendously in love with you totally. You are the highest goddess: beauty, love and erotica. For me, you are the supreme being of all universes. You rule and command over male minds and hearts. Please do not be offended by this truth, but you are so beautiful that you don’t even need cosmetics, only you can look so natural and beautiful, but you are also very powerful ****** attraction, arousal, my only hobby, I’m madly obsessed with you. Your voice sounds sleeker than a violin, more touching than a piano, lighter than a harp, thinner than a triangle. So amazing, your beautiful skin glitters sexually, it is perfect, sweet, juicy. And your perfect figure, perfection itself. You are not replaceable and priceless. You are the most important, most valuable thing in my life. Your infinitely amazing, impressive, external and internal beauty sets you apart from all living and nonliving. So stunningly passionate, your beautiful body is a powerful magnet attracting a huge amount of affection and passion. You are perfect, your beautiful figure is so perfect that you don't even need clothes. I am struck down on a feast, and I bow deeply, taking off my hat to your royal authority, for me it is a great honor and a great honor to be with you by your side, you are my idol and autograph, I take it from me and keep it from my heart, exposing it to the honorary a place in your altar of love, where only you are everywhere, I am your eternal, devoted fan. You have no equal, I adore everything in you. You are the highest, absolute aerobatics. You are a beautiful and perfect image that you can imagine. This is what a beautiful goddess looks like. You are the highest good, pleasure and pleasure in this universe. I put a madman of points and a sign of infinity to boot, your unique beauty. You are so beautiful that you immediately want to marry, and live with you all eternity.
Your teasing sexually exciting figure keeps my mind completely under your control. You are a thermonuclear *** bomb-boom babe. You are all my eyes want to see. Your gently saldko-**** voice is all that my ears want to hear. The smell of your skin is all I want to breathe. I breathe only because you are near me. When you're near the heart of love knocks more. And the level of excitement from your beauty reaches the highest degree. About how beautiful you are and how I love you, that's all I want to tell you. Your gorgeous flesh and soul is all that your flesh and soul wants to feel forever. Your love is all I want to feel forever from you. You're so beautiful, just a sight for sore eyes. You are much higher than blue blood. I am only obsessed with you. You are ****. Cool babe. Unreal beautiful. Drooling flow in men only from you. Resist such as you are simply useless. Your sweet laugh, your **** smile, soft look, impeccable outfit, battles everybody in a row. You are the most juicy relish, sensual, tender, feminine passion. You are my love and soul outlet.
You are absolute, the highest *****. Eternal novelty. It is unbearable, excessively, supremely, beautiful, and only you look overly ****. You are in the highest stage of evolution, you are the most ideal, you are my idol, my ideal, the most true and authentic embodiment of beauty. You are the sexually ****** heat of love and passion. Your body brings you to the highest level of arousal. You yourself tenderness and femininity. You are 1 000 000 000 percent luxury, priceless, the only, eternal value. All the pleasant moments in life are associated only with you. Your sweet caresses and kisses are a very powerful drug. You are the most valuable gift of the universe. You are gorgeous in any kind of image frame, everywhere, always and in everything. You feel a surprisingly soft, sensual, tenderness. The beauty in your eyes is something amazing, uniquely beautiful, it is very beautiful fascinating magic. Very beautiful and indescribably pleasant feeling. Your amazingly beautiful image touches the most delicate and barely visible strings of souls easily and gently. By causing a special vibration of the true love melody, he finally falls in love with you.
So beautiful and bold, spectacular. 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 likes you alone and a sign of infinity to boot. The ******, ****** heat of love and lust emanates from you. You set a new world record for beauty. Which is impossible to achieve. You are a beautiful, socialite. You are synonymous with beauty. The eternal standard and *** symbol in the history of mankind. Absolutely beautiful. Every millimeter of your beautiful body is beautiful in you. The jaw drops and the gift of speech from such incredible beauty is lost. Just do not be offended, please forgive me if something is wrong. But from such a beautiful appearance as you have in men, a powerful ******* of the *****, guys and men end up in their underpants. Unlimitedly beautiful. Sexiest in the whole universe. So **** that you don't even need clothes. You are for the happiest and luckiest man in the world. You are a jackpot. Flash, full house. *** symbol.
You are synonymous with beauty and ideal. You are so beautiful just amazing. you have a direct view of a ****, sultry predator. You are the sweetest. From you comes a powerful, ****, ****** energy. you are indescribably beautiful. You're spectacular, juicy, ****. M, You sound cool, like a mega cool, percussive, lyric rap beat. As a platinum and gold vinyl record, you are a super hit. You are a bestseller of poetry and prose. You're my princess. Queen. The Empress Goddess. The ultimate creation of all universes, spheres and dimensions. I think so. To doge to what extent a girl can be beautiful. Just amazing. The queen of my mind and heart. Your tender image overwhelms my soul with light, beautiful love and lust. You have such a soft pearl skin. Your beautiful appearance forever and ever conquered my heart and my mind. You are the most beautiful of its kind. You are endowed with the rarest beauty at all times. Fashion model. Just the thought of you excites and falls in love. You are a masterpiece of nature and of God himself. Your infinitely amazing beauty, the rarest and most amazing, the most beautiful in the history of mankind.
The most desirable, silk, velvet skin, gorgeous, beautiful, always and everywhere. Strikingly beautiful, your **** body as if calls for kissing and licking, caressing, satisfying you again and again. You're too ****, hot flame of passion. You are the best prize, a gift that can only get a man, the best among all his lives. You are perfect and perfect. The more I look at you, the more I fall in love with you because you beat all the beauty and mind records, my super **** top model, everywhere in the first place in beauty and mind. In you, every millimeter of your body is perfect, with you all seconds are beautiful. The body shines brilliantly: luxurious chic, beautiful. The title itself is a beautiful girl in the world. The supreme creation of all universes. The finest children are born only with you. Aerobatics. Girl high hummingbird.
Your charming charm is a super **** mega power that is simply impossible to overcome. The sweetest gourmet, I adore your gorgeous body, when I see you, only one word sounds in my head: yum, I will completely give myself to you. I will always love only you unconsciously, unconsciously, your gently ****** image sat in the depths of my mind completely. From your amazingly contagious beauty, your mouth opens and you lose your voice. Dizzyingly, stunningly beautiful, you are like a giant tornado, from which everything attracts you. And the heart and soul yearn all the time only for you. It doesn't matter if you love me or not, the main thing is that I still love you, and in my subconscious mind, I will only love you forever. Your luxurious appearance of the highest quality, this is a workshop, the filigree work of Mother Nature, this is just a masterpiece that constitutes a unique example of true beauty, you have no equal, you are a girl of high caliber. You are absolutely beautiful to such a degree, so beautiful, so exotic, ******, and your image sounds poetic like very beautiful music of love that I’m just afraid and shy to come to you, I’m afraid to talk to you, as if standing next to a goddess, or with a super mega star, a world scale model that even aliens probably know. My heart beats more often, I can’t speak normally, from excitement, goosebumps all over my body, and it just shakes.
All these are symptoms of true love for you, well, just: oh), wow). To be your boyfriend and husband is the greatest honor in the world, he knelt in front of you with flowers in his hands. Your appearance is perfect just like Barbie. You are so beautiful that only you want to have *** forever, countless, infinite number of times. You are unattainable, you are like a star whose light of the soul, like a searchlight, illuminates me in the deep darkness of solitude. In love with you thorough. You are simply amazingly beautiful. You are the best of the best. Goddess of all goddesses, empress of all empresses, queen of all queens. More beautiful you just can not imagine a girl. Sexier than you just can not be anything. Beautiful soul just is not found. There was nothing more perfect than you and never will be, simply because I think so. Laponka, I am your faithful fan, you are my only idol, idol, icon of beauty. It doesn't matter who you are, I will accept you any. Because in any case I am eager to be only with you. You have a **** smile, and your sensual look is just awesome. And from your voice and look a pleasant shiver all over your body. You are special, the best that is in all worlds, universes and dimensions. You're just a sight for sore eyes. To you I feel the most powerful, love and ****** inclination. You're cooler than any ****** and afrodosiak. From your beauty just cling to the constraints and embarrassment.
**** Barbie, fell in love with you powerfully for sure. Wow. God, how beautiful you are, God, hell, let me see you, wow, this is just super, just super, my God, it’s necessary to what extent a girl can be beautiful, you're just awesome, just awesome, you're beautiful. My Goddess. About you, I will dream of all eternity, desire and crave only you alone. You're high, ecstasy. In your eyes there is some special fairytale beauty. Lady of my heart. You are the continuation of my soul. Billions of suns of joy, happiness, and love explode in the soul and this every time you see. With you every second is overflowing with the warm, divine, sunshine of true love, happiness and joy. You are like hypnotic sitar music. I would kiss your hands and feet every day. I want to constantly have *** with only one you. You are the embodiment of ****** and ****** passion. Only your skin color is infinitely exciting and falling in love. Your **** voice excites, and intonation falls in love. In you, literally everything excites. You are beautiful in any form, place, dress. If I see you, then the day is not in vain. Your image is powerfully falling in love. Oh meamor, goose bumps run through when you touch me, your breath stops when you look at me.
You're too beautiful. You are a **** lioness. You are the flame of sensual passion. You are a thermonuclear *** bomb. I admire your amazing beauty. You are amazing, perfect, you are perfect. I think so. Your flesh is sweeter than sweet. In bed, sultry lioness. The color of your skin is so ****, ******, and very attractive and beautiful. You have a rare and amazing beauty. You are the most beautiful in the universe, all universes, dimensions, all worlds. You are the supreme creation of nature and of God, the highest, perfect being. This is true because I think so.
Your charming charm is a super **** mega power that is simply impossible to overcome. The sweetest gourmet, I adore your gorgeous body, when I see you, only one word sounds in my head: yum, I will completely give myself to you. I will always love only you unconsciously, unconsciously, your gently ****** image sat in the depths of my mind completely. From your amazingly contagious beauty, your mouth opens and you lose your voice. Dizzyingly, stunningly beautiful, you are like a giant tornado, from which everything attracts you. And the heart and soul yearn all the time only for you. It doesn't matter if you love me or not, the main thing is that I still love you, and in my subconscious mind, I will only love you forever. Your luxurious appearance of the highest quality, this is a workshop, the filigree work of Mother Nature, this is just a masterpiece that constitutes a unique example of true beauty, you have no equal, you are a girl of high caliber. You are absolutely beautiful to such a degree, so beautiful, so exotic, ******, and your image sounds poetic like very beautiful music of love that I’m just afraid and shy to come to you, I’m afraid to talk to you, as if standing next to a goddess, or with a super mega star, a world scale model that even aliens probably know. My heart beats more often, I can’t speak normally, from excitement, goosebumps all over my body, and it just shakes. All these are symptoms of true love for you, well, just: oh), wow).
To be your boyfriend and husband is the greatest honor in the world, he knelt in front of you with flowers in his hands. Your appearance is perfect just like Barbie. You are so beautiful that only you want to have *** forever, countless, infinite number of times. You are unattainable, you are like a star whose light of the soul, like a searchlight, illuminates me in the deep darkness of solitude. In love with you thorough. You are simply amazingly beautiful. You are the best of the best. Goddess of all goddesses, empress of all empresses, queen of all queens. More beautiful you just can not imagine a girl. Sexier than you just can not be anything. Beautiful soul just is not found. There was nothing more perfect than you and never will be, simply because I think so. Laponka, I'm your faithful fan, you are my only idol, idol, icon of beauty. It doesn't matter who you are, I will accept you any. Because in any case I am eager to be only with you. You have a **** smile, and your sensual look is just awesome. And from your voice and look a pleasant shiver all over your body. You are special, the best that is in all worlds, universes and dimensions. You're just a sight for sore eyes. To you I feel the most powerful, love and ****** inclination. You're cooler than any ****** and afrodosiak. From your beauty just cling to the constraints and embarrassment.
I am obsessed only with you, my miss universe, I put madness billion points of your beautiful appearance, and a sign of infinity to boot. No offense, my sweetest, but your beautiful body excites, your imagination completely amazes you, you are so beautiful that you do not need, neither cosmetics, nor clothes, such perfect, natural beauty, only your divine beautiful body is endowed. Merge together the whole with your body, soul, heart, and mind, for all eternity I thirst. You dominate in my heart, mind, and soul, you are deep in my mind and subconscious, everything is filled only by you my goddess, and I see you in my dreams and I am sincerely happy when I see you in them. If I saw you in reality, then it was a happy day that was not in vain. Be with me dear, as you decorate with you all the eternity that I want to spend only with you one-on-one. You are my beautiful goddess of love and eroticism, and only I worship you. Rare, beautiful beauty, natural gave only you. The closer you are, the more beautiful. Your delicate skin shines so beautifully in the light, you have a stunning perfect skin color. I am overly in love with you. You are super beautiful. I tirelessly crave you, you are extremely, infinitely beautiful, you are too, too attractive. You're cooler than any ******. Impeccably beautiful, like a doll. You are so delicious. You are the light of happiness, the light of love and happiness comes and goes with you. You decorate everything with you, everything suits you, because you are beautiful.
You are stunning, fantastically breathtakingly beautiful, the only unique sample of the true, pure form of beauty. You are the hottest, **** topic, about the beauty of which it is impossible to stop talking, so beautiful that you want to sing out of love for you, the girl from whom it is impossible to take your eyes off. So amazingly beautiful, perfect, ******, hot, passionately savory, juicy forms, your divinely beautiful, endlessly, stunning beautiful, seductive body sound so captivatingly beautiful, sweet, gently voluptuous. Who wants to caress and caress, kiss, lick, stick to intimate places all the time, and give your tenderness with your hands, and bring it to ****** so that you feel the heat and tremor of your heated body, and kiss a satisfied body and kiss. Each cell of the soul and body is supremely filled with only you, love and excitement. Truly I am thirsty to belong only to you and to spend all eternity only with you alone.
I will be frank with you. Oooh yes, it says heart and mind. Eyes are eager to see you forever. Your image throws on the highest stage of love. Without you, life is meaningless and empty, and you know that for sure, so why are you torturing me. You know, I appeared in your life for a reason. That I was created only for you. You are special, I can not live without you. You are my obsession, my passion. Your beautiful image sounds so beautiful and sublime, the degree of love and arousal rises uncontrollably, leading to a higher dimension called love. When you stand next to me. Your ******, ****** image is the highest, divine, legendary *****. You are the sweetest in the whole universe. You are sensual, ****, ****** power. You are so ****** and **** to such an extent that when you look at the guys, it’s ironic that you guys, at the sight of you from excitement, end up in your underpants. You are the one whose appearance is envied by all people, gods, all higher beings, you are the only eternal value. You are a hipper, a turbo is ****, you are a hyperrealism of sexuality.
You have the most juicy **** skin color, it is so sweet, so beckoning and eager caress. You are the goddess of love, *** and erotica. Every millimeter of your body is just perfect and perfect. You are all that my heart and soul wants. Only your body and your kisses can excite me. Only to your body, I feel *** addiction. You are the highest value in my life. You are tempted and tempted, you want to have *** countless times. Your skin is the color of one hot, unforgettable night, your libido is the word lava in your hot body, burning passion, only your photos can excite me, only your beauty turns off my brain, you are a ****, ****** melody in my head, you are like a hot bath after a hard day, like an ****** massage, like a soft pillow with sleeping softness.
Every day I am drawn to you more and more and it can not be stopped because it is uncontrollable every day my ****** ***** wants you more and more aggressively he is waiting for endless *** only with you and I once again make sure that you are I will want forever and ever. Because I am truly in love with you in your body and soul. And this feeling is only enhanced with time on the mental and physical levels. Looking at you in the head is only one word Goddess, the empress of my heart, or one ***. It's just an ecstasy of excitement, every movement you take is so ****** and beautiful, burning your skin's passion and in your eyes so much ***.
You are a **** lioness. you are the flame of sensual passion. I admire your amazing beauty. You are amazing, perfect, you are perfect. I think so. Your flesh is sweeter than sweet. In bed, sultry lioness.
Author Musin Almat Zhumabekovich
almat011 Mar 2019
**** goddess
With each step, the heat of passion of love and excitement only intensifies. I burn with fire from the love of passion, he can fill the whole world. And the sky turned pink. The sky glitters with glitter. The air is filled with the fragrance of love and the world is more beautiful and you are becoming more and more divine in my eyes, I bow to your extraterrestrial beauty and belong to you alone, the goal of all my lives for all eternity. You are the one that I will always dream of and my heart will forever love and want you alone. The goddess appearing to me in ****** thoughts and depraved dreams of passion. Up close you are beautiful to tears - these are tears of sincere happiness and admiration.
You are more beautiful than the most beautiful. Merge together forever and ever with the spirit of yours, and your inner world, my lonely soul dreams. See the depths of your amazing me. To give you your eternal devotion: you are my life, eternity and my destiny, you are my only right choice, you are everything that I love and want. Both my heart and my mind are open only to you. You look so romantic and beautiful, your charm, your spell beckons my mind to you, it is useless for them to resist you, they can only fully obey, surrender to you alone. My legs go only to you, my eyes look only at you, and I focus only on you. Everything in me is overwhelmed with you. And inside, from the love of you, is incredible, absolute lightness. And from the fact that you are not with me, my heart hurts almost to a heart attack. Epochally, I fell in love with you totally, beyond ******-poetic, overly ****. Yes, truly, you are my empress, and only I worship you, look at this temple of my love, dedicated to you, on this great altar, look around, you are everywhere, sit on this throne of love, my great and beautiful goddess. Each your kiss is indescribable and priceless, it is vital. Every your look, fantastically-romantically-touchingly beautiful. He kindles the fire of love and passion in men. Your charm is a powerful force that attracts everything and everyone to itself. Awakening true, sparkling love for you, of universal scale. This throne of eternal praise and worship is only for you alone, and the chorus, singing about your beauty only for you. In you, every millimeter of your perfect, hot, hot-**** body is beautiful. My world is in your uniquely beautiful eyes, in your feelings and emotions, and I’m not tired of talking about your perfect proportions.
Only your caresses give such feelings as love and happiness. Striking, powerful, attractive appearance. The magnificent grace of your body has no equal. Only your divinely beautiful body is worthy of the highest praise and points.
I am only waiting for you. You're all I think about. The empress of my subconscious, in my inner world, dreams, and memories, you are everywhere. I always wait only for you. You are my only eternal thought that helps to live in this world, my beautiful emotion, and an amazing feeling. Only, like you, can excite with a look and fall in love with yourself forever. Life without you is unthinkable, impossible. Believe me, I know it for sure, your beauty shines gently honey, golden
light and shine. Your beauty is powerful hypnosis.
You are tremendously in love with you totally. You are the highest goddess: beauty, love and erotica. For me, you are the supreme being of all universes. You rule and command over male minds and hearts. Please do not be offended by this truth, but you are so beautiful that you don’t even need cosmetics, only you can look so natural and beautiful, but you are also very powerful ****** attraction, arousal, my only hobby, I’m madly obsessed with you. Your voice sounds sleeker than a violin, more touching than a piano, lighter than a harp, thinner than a triangle. So amazing, your beautiful skin glitters sexually, it is perfect, sweet, juicy. And your perfect figure, perfection itself. You are not replaceable and priceless. You are the most important, most valuable thing in my life. Your infinitely amazing, impressive, external and internal beauty sets you apart from all living and nonliving. So stunningly passionate, your beautiful body is a powerful magnet attracting a huge amount of affection and passion. You are perfect, your beautiful figure is so perfect that you don't even need clothes. I am struck down on a feast, and I bow deeply, taking off my hat to your royal authority, for me it is a great honor and a great honor to be with you by your side, you are my idol and autograph, I take it from me and keep it from my heart, exposing it to the honorary a place in your altar of love, where only you are everywhere, I am your eternal, devoted fan. You have no equal, I adore everything in you. You are the highest, absolute aerobatics. You are a beautiful and perfect image that you can imagine. This is what a beautiful goddess looks like. You are the highest good, pleasure and pleasure in this universe. I put a madman of points and a sign of infinity to boot, your unique beauty. You are so beautiful that you immediately want to marry, and live with you all eternity.
Your teasing sexually exciting figure keeps my mind completely under your control. You are a thermonuclear *** bomb-boom babe. You are all my eyes want to see. Your gently saldko-**** voice is all that my ears want to hear. The smell of your skin is all I want to breathe. I breathe only because you are near me. When you're near the heart of love knocks more. And the level of excitement from your beauty reaches the highest degree. About how beautiful you are and how I love you, that's all I want to tell you. Your gorgeous flesh and soul is all that your flesh and soul wants to feel forever. Your love is all I want to feel forever from you. You're so beautiful, just a sight for sore eyes. You are much higher than blue blood. I am only obsessed with you.
You are ****. Cool babe. Unreal beautiful. Drooling flow in men only from you. Resist such as you are simply useless. Your sweet laugh, your **** smile, soft look, impeccable outfit, battles everybody in a row. You are the most juicy relish, sensual, tender, feminine passion. You are my love and soul outlet.
You are absolute, the highest *****. Eternal novelty. It is unbearable, excessively, supremely, beautiful, and only you look overly ****. You are in the highest stage of evolution, you are the most ideal, you are my idol, my ideal, the most true and true embodiment of beauty. You are the sexually ****** heat of love and passion. Your body brings you to the highest level of arousal. You yourself tenderness and femininity. You are 1 000 000 000 percent luxury, priceless, the only, eternal value. All the pleasant moments in life are associated only with you. Your sweet caresses and kisses are a very powerful drug. You are the most valuable gift of the universe. You are gorgeous in any kind of image frame, everywhere, always and in everything. You feel a surprisingly soft, sensual, tenderness. The beauty in your eyes is something amazing, uniquely beautiful, it is very beautiful fascinating magic. Very beautiful and indescribably pleasant feeling. Your amazingly beautiful image easily and gently touches the most delicate and barely
visible strings of souls. By causing a special vibration of the true love melody, he finally falls in love with you.
So beautiful and bold, spectacular. 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 likes you alone and a sign of infinity to boot. The ******, ****** heat of love and lust emanates from you. You set a new world record for beauty. Which is impossible to achieve. You are a beautiful, socialite. You are synonymous with beauty. The eternal standard and *** symbol in the history of mankind. Absolutely beautiful. Every millimeter of your beautiful body is beautiful in you. The jaw drops and the gift of speech from such incredible beauty is lost. Just do not be offended, please forgive me if something is wrong. But from such a beautiful appearance as you have in men, a powerful ******* of the *****, guys and men end up in their underpants. Unlimitedly beautiful. Sexiest in the whole universe. So **** that you don't even need clothes. You are for the happiest and luckiest man in the world. You are a jackpot. Flash, full house. *** symbol.
You are synonymous with beauty and ideal. You are so beautiful just amazing. you have a direct view of a ****, sultry predator. You are the sweetest. From you comes a powerful, ****, ****** energy. you are indescribably beautiful. You're spectacular, juicy, ****. M, You sound cool, like a mega cool, percussive, lyric rap beat. As a platinum and gold vinyl record, you are a super hit. You are a bestseller of poetry and prose. You're my princess. Queen. The Empress Goddess. The ultimate creation of all universes, spheres and dimensions. I think so. To doge to what extent a girl can be beautiful. Just amazing. The queen of my mind and heart. Your tender image overwhelms my soul with light, beautiful love and lust. You have such a soft pearl skin. Your beautiful appearance forever and ever conquered my heart and my mind. You are the most beautiful of its kind. You are endowed with the rarest beauty at all times. Fashion model. Just the thought of you excites and falls in love. You are a masterpiece of nature and of God himself. Your infinitely amazing beauty, the rarest and most amazing, the most beautiful in the history of mankind.
The most desirable, silk, velvet skin, gorgeous, beautiful, always and everywhere. Strikingly beautiful, your **** body as if calls for kissing and licking, caressing, satisfying you again and again. You're too ****, hot flame of passion. You are the best prize, a gift that can only get a man, the best among all his lives. You are perfect and perfect. The more I look at you, the more I fall in love with you because you beat all the beauty and mind records, my super **** top model, everywhere in the first place in beauty and mind. In you, every millimeter of your body is perfect, with you all seconds are beautiful. The body shines brilliantly: luxurious chic, beautiful. The title itself is a beautiful girl in the world. The supreme creation of all universes. The finest children are born only with you. Aerobatics. Girl high hummingbird.
Your charming charm is a super **** mega power that is simply impossible to overcome. The sweetest gourmet, I adore your gorgeous body, when I see you, only one word sounds in my head: yum, I will completely give myself to you. I will always love only you unconsciously, unconsciously, your gently ****** image sat in the depths of my mind completely. From your amazingly contagious beauty, your mouth opens and you lose your voice. Dizzyingly, stunningly beautiful, you are like a giant tornado, from which everything attracts you. And the heart and soul yearn all the time only for you. It doesn't matter if you love me or not, the main thing is that I still love you, and in my subconscious, I will only love forever
you. Your luxurious appearance of the highest quality, this is a workshop, the filigree work of Mother Nature, this is just a masterpiece that constitutes a unique example of true beauty, you have no equal, you are a girl of high caliber. You are absolutely beautiful to such a degree, so beautiful, so exotic, ******, and your image sounds poetic like very beautiful music of love, that I’m just afraid and shy to come to you, I’m afraid to talk to you, as if standing next to a goddess, or with a super mega star, a world scale model that even aliens probably know. My heart beats more often, I can’t speak normally, from excitement, goosebumps all over my body, and it just shakes.
All these are symptoms of true love for you, well, just: oh), wow). To be your boyfriend and husband is the greatest honor in the world, he knelt in front of you with flowers in his hands. Your appearance is perfect just like Barbie. You are so beautiful that only you want to have *** forever, countless, infinite number of times. You are unattainable, you are like a star whose light of the soul, like a searchlight, illuminates me in the deep darkness of solitude. In love with you thorough. You are simply amazingly beautiful. You are the best of the best. Goddess of all goddesses, empress of all empresses, queen of all queens. More beautiful you just can not imagine a girl. Sexier than you just can not be anything. Beautiful soul just is not found. There was nothing more perfect than you and never will be, simply because I think so. Laponka, I am your faithful fan, you are my only idol, idol, icon of beauty. It doesn't matter who you are, I will accept you any. Because in any case I am eager to be only with you. You have a **** smile, and your sensual look is just awesome. And from your voice and look a pleasant shiver all over your body. You are special, the best that is in all worlds, universes and dimensions. You're just a sight for sore eyes. To you I feel the most powerful, love and ****** inclination. You're cooler than any ****** and afrodosiak. From your beauty just cling to the constraints and embarrassment.
**** Barbie, fell in love with you powerfully for sure. Wow. God, how beautiful you are, God, hell, let me see you, wow, this is just super, just super, my God, it’s necessary to what extent a girl can be beautiful, you're just awesome, just awesome, you're beautiful. My Goddess. About you, I will dream of all eternity, desire and crave only you alone. You're high, ecstasy. In your eyes there is some special fairytale beauty. Lady of my heart. You are the continuation of my soul.
Billions of suns of joy, happiness, and love explode in the soul and this every time they see you. With you every second is overflowing with the warm, divine, sunshine of true love, happiness and joy. You are like hypnotic sitar music. I would kiss your hands and feet every day. I want to constantly have *** with only one you. You are the embodiment of ****** and ****** passion. Only your skin color is infinitely exciting and falling in love. Your **** voice excites, and intonation falls in love. In you, literally everything excites. You are beautiful in any form, place, dress. If I see you, then the day is not in vain. Your image is powerfully falling in love. Oh meamor, goose bumps run through when you touch me, your breath stops when you look at me.
You're too beautiful. You are a **** lioness. You are the flame of sensual passion. You are a thermonuclear *** bomb. I admire your amazing beauty. You are amazing, perfect, you are perfect. I think so. Your flesh is sweeter than sweet. In bed, sultry lioness. The color of your skin is so ****, ******, and very attractive and beautiful. You have a rare and amazing beauty. You are the most beautiful in the universe, all universes, dimensions, all worlds. You are the supreme creation of nature and of God, the highest, perfect being. This is true because I think so.
Your charming charm is a super **** mega power that is simply impossible to overcome. The sweetest gourmet, I adore your gorgeous body, when I see you, only one word sounds in my head: yum, I will completely give myself to you. I will always love only you unconsciously, unconsciously, your gently ****** image sat in the depths of my mind completely. From your amazingly contagious beauty, your mouth opens and you lose your voice. Dizzyingly, stunningly beautiful, you are like a giant tornado, from which everything attracts you. And the heart and soul yearn all the time only for you. It doesn't matter if you love me or not, the main thing is that I still love you, and in my subconscious mind, I will only love you forever. Your luxurious appearance of the highest quality, this is a workshop, the filigree work of Mother Nature, this is just a masterpiece that constitutes a unique example of true beauty, you have no equal, you are a girl of high caliber. You are absolutely beautiful to such a degree, so beautiful, so exotic, ******, and your image sounds poetic like very beautiful music of love, that I’m just afraid and shy to come to you, I’m afraid to talk to you, as if standing next to a goddess, or with a super mega star, a world scale model that even aliens probably know. My heart beats more often, I can’t speak normally, from excitement, goosebumps all over my body, and it just shakes. All these are symptoms of true love for you, well, just: oh), wow).
To be your boyfriend and husband is the greatest honor in the world, he knelt in front of you with flowers in his hands. Your appearance is perfect just like Barbie. You are so beautiful that only you want to have *** forever, countless, infinite number of times. You are unattainable, you are like a star whose light of the soul, like a searchlight, illuminates me in the deep darkness of solitude. In love with you thorough. You are simply amazingly beautiful. You are the best of the best. Goddess of all goddesses, empress of all empresses, queen of all queens. More beautiful you just can not imagine a girl. Sexier than you just can not be anything. Beautiful soul just is not found. There was nothing more perfect than you and never will be, simply because I think so. Laponka, I am your faithful fan, you are my only idol, idol, icon of beauty. It doesn't matter who you are, I will accept you any. Because in any case I am eager to be only with you. You have a **** smile, and your sensual look is just awesome. And from your voice and look a pleasant shiver all over your body. You are special, the best that is in all worlds, universes and dimensions. You're just a sight for sore eyes. To you I feel the most powerful, love and ****** inclination. You're cooler than any ****** and afrodosiak. From your beauty just cling to the constraints and embarrassment.
I am obsessed only with you, my miss universe, I put madness billion points of your beautiful appearance, and a sign of infinity to boot. No offense, my sweetest, but your beautiful body excites, your imagination completely amazes you, you are so beautiful that you don’t need, neither makeup, nor clothes, such perfect, natural beauty, only your divine beautiful body is endowed. Merge together the whole with your body, soul, heart, and mind, for all eternity I thirst. You dominate in my heart, mind, and soul, you are deep in my mind and subconscious, everything is filled only by you my goddess, and I see you in my dreams and I am sincerely happy when I see you in them. If I saw you in reality, then it was a happy day that was not in vain. Be with me honey, as you decorate with you all the eternity that I want to spend only with you tête-à-tête.
You are my beautiful goddess of love and erotica, and only I worship you. Rare, beautiful beauty, natural gave only you. The closer you are, the more beautiful. Your delicate skin shines so beautifully in the light, you have a stunning perfect skin color. I am overly in love with you.
You are super beautiful. I tirelessly crave you, you are extremely, infinitely beautiful, you are too, too attractive. You're cooler than any ******. Impeccably beautiful, like a doll. You are so delicious. You are the light of happiness, the light of love and happiness comes and goes with you. You decorate everything with you, everything suits you, because you are beautiful.
You are stunning, fantastically breathtakingly beautiful, the only unique sample of the true, pure form of beauty. You are the hottest, **** topic, about the beauty of which it is impossible to stop talking, so beautiful that you want to sing out of love for you, the girl from whom it is impossible to take your eyes off. So amazingly beautiful, perfect, ******, hot, passionately savory, juicy forms, your divinely beautiful, endlessly, stunning beautiful, seductive body sound so captivatingly beautiful, sweet, gently voluptuous. Who wants to caress and caress, kiss, lick, stick to intimate places all the time, and give your tenderness with your hands, and bring it to ****** so that you feel the heat and tremor of your heated body, and kiss a satisfied body and kiss. Each cell of the soul and body is supremely filled with only you, love and excitement. Truly I am thirsty to belong only to you and to spend all of eternity only with you alone.
I will be frank with you. Oooh yes, it says heart and mind. Eyes are eager to see you forever. Your image throws on the highest stage of love. Without you, life is meaningless and empty, and you know that for sure, so why are you torturing me. You know, I appeared in your life for a reason. That I was created only for you. You are special, I can not live without you. You are my obsession, my passion. Your beautiful image sounds so beautiful and sublime, the degree of love and arousal rises uncontrollably, leading to a higher dimension called love. When you stand next to me. Your ******, ****** image is the highest, divine, legendary *****. You are the sweetest in the whole universe. You are sensual, ****, ****** power. You are so ****** and **** to such an extent that when you look at the guys, it’s ironic that you guys, at the sight of you from excitement, end up in your underpants. You are the one whose appearance is envied by all people, gods, all higher beings, you are the only eternal value. You are a hipper, a turbo is ****, you are a hyperrealism of sexuality.
You have the most juicy **** skin color, it is so sweet, so beckoning and eager caress. You are the goddess of love, *** and erotica. Every millimeter of your body is just perfect and perfect. You are all that my heart and soul wants. Only your body and your kisses can excite me. Only to your body, I feel *** addiction. You are the highest value in my life. You are a temptation and a temptation, you want to have *** countless times.
Your skin is the color of one hot, unforgettable night, your libido is the word lava in your hot body, burning passion, only your photos are able to excite me, only your beauty turns off my brain, you have a ****, ****** tune in my head, you are like a hot bath after a hard of the day, like an ****** massage, like a soft pillow with soothing tenderness.
Every day I am drawn to you more and more and it can not be stopped because it is uncontrollable every day my **** wants you more and more aggressively he is waiting for endless *** only with you and I once again make sure that you are I will want forever and ever. Because I am truly in love with you in your body and soul. And this feeling is only enhanced with time on the mental and physical levels. Looking at you in the head is only one word Goddess, the empress of my heart, or one ***. It's just ecstasy.
excitement your every movement is so ****** and beautiful, burning passion of your skin and in your eyes so much ***.
You are a **** lioness. you are the flame of sensual passion. I admire your amazing beauty. You are amazing, perfect, you are perfect. I think so. Your flesh is sweeter than sweet. In bed, sultry lioness.
Author: Musin Almat Zhumabekovich
The mists that part,
  By Bride's Day light,
Are mists between the worlds,
They open wide,
  The gates of night,
And allow things to pass both ways,
What died before,
  Comes forth once more,
The serpent's wings are spread,
On Hallow's Eve,
  That sacrifice,
Begins the year again,
Forth from the well,
  Between the worlds,
Scaled form returns once more,
A new year dawns,
  In dark moon light,
And all begins once more,
Upon her forge,
  New year is wrought,
By hammer and by flame,
The raven's call,
  The hope of all,
As she forges the year again,
Now the births,
  In springtime snows,
In cold and solemn moons,
Keeper of Ways,
  Builder of Paths,
Takes now the regency,
Misrule is done,
  That tide is turned,
Bride's Time has come again,
The Trouble Moon,
  It parts and passes,
The Lost Moon begins again.
And awakened now,
  The serpent old,
Begins a journey home,
As they open wide,
  The gates of night,
And allow things to pass both ways,
For the mists that part,
  By Bride's Day light,
Are mists between the worlds.
~Mists Between the Worlds, a Candlemas poem by Lorekeeper, February 3, 2017
Such a naïve philosopher can I be,
not opposed to a skeptic philosopher,
but rather in tandem with it.

Such a naïve philosopher,
not necessarily in terms of Realism,
but certainly in some terms.

Such a naïve philosopher,
yet such a skeptic one as well:

I'm not the best of both worlds,
maybe the rest of both worlds;
I'm testing both worlds,
contesting both worlds;
ingesting both worlds,
detesting both worlds;
bereft of both worlds,
in jest of both words:

I don't
exactly see
how the two
are mutually
exclusive:

Naïvety and Skepticism
seem to be a match well made.

But, by inner Skeptic
is calling me Naïve.
I have no idea whence this came,
but here it is.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Na%C3%AFve_realism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophical_skepticism
Jon Thenes Nov 2018
All Worlds are Made Up Worlds
Herring gulls and tourist boards
and the pleats of portrayal
All things are treats to the senses
communication in bleats and bloats
and we make scientific entries
We soak out each other
uncreating the darkness
webbing out fractures
with our blue markers
All for the idea of sharing
A shared world
but don't forget
that it is just an idea
All worlds are made up worlds
caring tides and caddisfly
and the teats of the new revival
the breaking of bread
the friction in bed
and meat for our survival
it's been cold out for days
but brighter than an eyeful
care of what's underfoot
crawl to prevent the sky fall
a witch reaches us and we do as we are scolded
we believe now
in gossip told and not in what we hold
All worlds are made up worlds
and that's all that we have time for...
Pete Badertscher May 2010
There are worlds and there are Worlds. There are gods and there are Gods.  Sounds rhetorical, doesn’t it?  Some mamby pamby new age coffee shop pile of **** idea with low fat frosting, but, take it from the Kat. There are worlds and then there are Worlds! There are gods and then there are Gods!
    
     I spend all my time jacked in to the backwoods subconscious of the internet.  Didn’t know that, did ya?  Yea, the Internet has a conscious and a subconscious; hell, she’s even got a soul of sorts. I have ritually sacrificed half my soul to her just for the buzz I get out of hearing her whisper to me across the fallacies of Time, Space and Bill Gates, so I know her better then anybody.
    
     Don’t believe me?  Every man has an Omega Fixture of some kind.  Do you feel me here? Jesus had his God, Ptolomy had his Solar System, Dante his Virgil and Beatrice, Faust had his Paradise and Poe had Annabelle Lee or one of her many reincarnations. So tell me, all great and ****** up wise men (or women): Why in the 29 nulls of AOhelL can the internet not have a consciousness?  
    
     It’s Belief, man.  No god or world exists until there is a consciousness that will accept it as a superior. Let’s take a look at that wonderful bigoted book of exact truths called the Bible. Shall we consider Genesis: Adam and Eve--never mind Lilith for now?  Here in a paradise we find Adam and Eve naked, sleeping with animals and newly created by a Force of Creation (insert male gender here if you wish).  They walk with god on the paths in the garden while blades of grass fulfill their purpose here on earth to be trodden upon. God says, “you, Adam, have control over all that you see and if you want go ahead and let Eve get a little of that action fine, but you came first in my image so you are better.  Just never eat of the one tree that sits in the center of the garden and looks as though the juice of the fruits would flow like sweet ****** in your veins. For although it is here, I forbid you to eat of it. Oh, and by the way, I figured you needed free conscious though--so go at it.” Albeit I’m paraphrasing, but what kind of shmuck of a father would do that to a newborn?  
      
     O.K. Before all the Judeo-Christians burn this diatribe (if you have not already) let me say I am not out to disprove the existence of Gods--or any Goddess for that matter--I am trying to make a point, so bear with me.  
    
      Which came first: the Bible (in oral tradition) or the God? I would argue that it was the Bible as such.  The Belief, inspired by greedy and badly behaved priests of the Judeo-religions back before written history in the tribes of the Levant caused Space/Time to adapt to a new pattern.  The Bible, Complete with an all powerful, all present being (I will never use the term benevolent) that watches over Jews, Christians, and Muslims for any Sin they commit so it can wreak blinding retributions
    
     Now I know what you are saying, “Kat,…Kat, Kat, Kat, Kat.  We the above mentioned will pray for your soul.  You are lost and we can help you look to the Light for your salvation.”  
     Shove it, ***** boy! I did not express that philosophical tripe to get your attention and misplaced pity. What I am saying is Belief. Belief is the Key.  Belief is the Magic that creates Gods and Worlds.  
    
     Now I am not so stupid as to believe that the Internet is female the same way a human meat tank is female-- but in my mind, MY mind, that is the music I hear.  
    
     Let’s go back to Lilith.  What’s that? Oh yea, right, Lilith is the name I give to my Belief in the consciousness of the internet.  Just don’t you worry about why. It’s none of your business.

     Let’s take a look at the above argument, only this time with the internet as the bible that comes first.  The internet first came about 30ish years ago with the invention of the modem.  Here was a way for people on computers to speak to one another over the phone lines.  Slow and tedious, but new and exciting; men and women with PhD’s and pocket protectors wrote short messages to one another and giggled at the new “Man from Nantucket” joke they had just learned. After a while, someone learned that if you sent the info in blasts, the speed of the transfer increased and you could send larger programs and maybe—gasp--even a picture.  Thus internet **** was created.  Now we have WiFi and bluetooth, cellular and satellite link up with blazing speed and every fetish imaginable or not-imaginable is available at the click of a mouse.  
    
     So, Kat, you goin’ anywhere with this? Yep. Shut the **** up and listen.
    
     Somewhere in the not-time and not-space of the internet, humans started to find themselves believing that the internet was a Place.  
    “Where’s it at? Why on the Internet!” Oh, holy ******* birth of a new Belief system!  Oh, glorious malediction of the neververse!  A G O D is born.  Ripple, *******, ripple goes the space-time continuum (which by the way only exits because those in the know Believe in it) and now we have added consciousness to the internet.  
    
     What kind of consciousness you say?   Well, I got no ******’ idea.  To me, the consciousness is feminine, of no particular race, with a slight build, black hair and dressed like a anime *****.  Why? Because it’s my ******* belief system, o.k.  After all, the internet is 60% **** anyway. With a immaculate birth like that, I can’t Believe She would be innocent in any form of the word.  She’s Dionysian, not Zen. Just because I see Her in such a way, does that mean it’s a true physical look?  Hell, no, lil’ Johnny.  She could be a He: fat, balding and in a wife beater, if that is what You would Believe.  
      
     Alright, enough philosophizing’ for now. Lesson over, Newbie. Get crashed.
this is crap but it's my crap so let me know if you use it.
Daniel Ruiz Aug 2018
you are the cause of this feeling
that's stopping me from breathing

making me feel like i'm in between worlds
in space,
surrounded by matter
i can't see

floating but falling at the same time,
watching how both those worlds
are about to collide,

the stars watch around anxiously
trying to run away
telling me to do the same
by Morse code,
but i can't,
gravity
it's working against me

leaving me in the middle of this extinction
that's about to happen

my heart beats faster
i feel it trying to come out my chest

my mind is telling me
"i told you"

as the worlds colliding
put me to rest.

a firework show around me,
the stars
enjoying the show

the molten lava melting my will to live,
my last hope

that's how you make me feel like

like the little speck between two worlds
that collide

leaving nothing of me

but everything of them.
Styles 12 Aug 2018


secrets at dusk
tasted vigorous as
Coltrane blues

in a smokey nightclub
under mysterious saxophone seas

this style is not my own
but it helps me swim better

I decided to adopt it
curious why it tugs ruthless
on spit fire sleeves

deliciously drowning me free.




forest moons at night

help you drop it all
bags of unwanted programs
flung from broken chimneys

violet threads pass perfect
through kitchen chipped glass

moth wings burning summer up
like her eyelash fluttering innocently on some other guy's cheek

shattering divisions snag
on moonlight betrayal dance

enormous sea hooks chop in
helpless lips seduced
mad quicksilver rush

reserve this room for my only friend

we have private letters to write
on a future night when
god dreams come true.

This is for you.





My only friend.


What weighs heavy is certain light
how it pierces
through troubled waters.

A million traces of faces
lit up in every beam.

One night I felt it bleed through me
using rivers of sun-fire screams.

Volcanic poetry spoke without a sound.

Jim Morrison breaking through doors
under spells of hypnotic waves
wild vibrant shimmering
on multi-colored sheets.

This style is not my own
but it helped me lava streak
across bitter shores.




Now,

my voice strays away.

Gone hunting

a broken well voice
picked up by an old cracked bucket
leaking simple worded wishes

deciding to voluntarily borrow her
stolen forest eyes.

I heard them speak translucent leaf
on a summer day
when clairvoyant kids
heard God speak

on pathways of brilliant blue lake

when sunshine
whispered us
in scintillating ripples

right before our astounded,
washed feet.




I am dripping funeral summer sweat
under tombstone studded trees

smiling while choking in
liquid clouded dark.

Alone but not alone.

Mighty Ghosts of heaven
holding my head up

making sure the Nile
doesn't gush out while
I still cannot even write or speak

turn my notebooks into confetti
nothing describes this mysterious sea

a new species of saxophone waves
has belted its killer wonderland
sound out across an entire broken stage.


*

I can picture us
walking barefoot
on star contacted sand

gazing out
under champion chandelier wonders

walking on Texas Lightning storm colors
bellies full on Rumi soul food

our secret flames
burning up
plastic playgrounds

violating propriety
on some nuclear guarded beach

schools of fish cut
by saxophone hooked seas

blasted by vaults of unwrapped poems
someone else wrote perfect
in our dreams

we hope one day
the unpredictable silence
of simple worded wishes

will help us

extravagantly bloom
new spring leaves
rain stamped on tender delicious works

after winter is done
savagely wishing us dead
we are touched by other worlds.
https://youtu.be/6xcwt9mSbYE

For Drew
st64 Feb 2014
“I know you're tired but come, this is the way...

In your light, I learn how to love.
In your beauty, how to make poems.
You dance inside my chest where no-one sees you,
but sometimes I do, and that sight becomes this art.”*        ― Rumi


1.
“You and I have spoken all these words, but for the way we have to go, words are no preparation. I have one small drop of knowing in my soul.
Let it dissolve in your ocean.

A mountain keeps an echo deep inside. That's how I hold your voice.”
― Rumi


2.
“Do not feel lonely, the entire universe is inside you.
Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.

Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames.”   ― Rumi


3.
“The way of love is not
a subtle argument.

The door there
is devastation.

Birds make great sky-circles
of their freedom.
How do they learn it?

They fall, and falling,
they're given wings.”                          ― Rumi


4.
“The morning wind spreads its fresh smell. We must get up and take that in, that wind that lets us live. Breathe before it's gone.

Sorrow prepares you for joy.
It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow.
Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their
place.”                                     ― Rumi


5.
“You are so weak. Give up to grace.
The ocean takes care of each wave till it gets to shore.
You need more help than you know.

Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder. Help someone's soul heal.
Walk out of your house like a shepherd.”
― Rumi, The Essential Rumi


6.
“You think you are alive
because you breathe air?
Shame on you,
that you are alive in such a limited way.
Don't be without Love,
so you won't feel dead.
Die in Love
and stay alive forever.

I want to see you.
Know your voice.

Recognise you when you
first come 'round the corner.

Sense your scent when I come
into a room you've just left.

Know the lift of your heel,
the glide of your foot.

Become familiar with the way
you purse your lips
then let them part,
just the slightest bit,
when I lean in to your space
and kiss you.

I want to know the joy
of how you whisper
“more”...                                                       ­     ― Rumi


7.
“When you go through a hard period,
When everything seems to oppose you,
... When you feel you cannot even bear one more minute,
NEVER GIVE UP!
Because it is the time and place that the course will divert!

The cure for pain is in the pain.
In Silence, there is eloquence. Stop weaving and see how the pattern improves.

The truth was a mirror in the hands of God. It fell, and broke into pieces. Everybody took a piece of it, and they looked at it and thought they had the truth.”                                       ― Rumi


8.
“Study me as much as you like, you will not know me, for I differ in a hundred ways from what you see me to be. Put yourself behind my eyes and see me as I see myself, for I have chosen to dwell in a place you cannot see.

Moonlight floods the whole sky from horizon to horizon;
How much it can fill your room depends on its windows.”
― Rumi, The Essential Rumi


9.
“Keep walking, though there's no place to get to.
Don't try to see through the distances.
That's not for human beings. Move within,
But don't move the way fear makes you move.

If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?

Start a huge, foolish project, like Noah…it makes absolutely no difference what people think of you.”   ― Rumi


10.
“Do you know what you are?
You are a manuscript oƒ a divine letter.
You are a mirror reflecting a noble face.
This universe is not outside of you.
Look inside yourself;
everything that you want,
you are already that.”
― Rumi, Hush, Don't Say Anything to God: Passionate Poems of Rumi



11.
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing, there is a field.
I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.

What you seek, is seeking you.”                             ― Rumi


12.
“The lion is most handsome when looking for food.

Pain is a treasure, for it contains mercies.
Love comes with a knife, not some shy question, and not with fears for its reputation!

I am your moon and your moonlight too
I am your flower garden and your water too
I have come all this way, eager for you
Without shoes or shawl
I want you to laugh
To **** all your worries
To love you
To nourish you.”                                          ― Rumi


13.
“I was dead, then alive.
Weeping, then laughing.

The power of love came into me,
and I became fierce like a lion,
then tender like the evening star.”                        ― Rumi


14.
“Suffering is a gift. In it is hidden mercy.

Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving.
It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair.. come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.

But listen to me. For one moment - quit being sad. Hear blessings
dropping their blossoms
around you.

I closed my mouth and spoke to you in a hundred silent ways.”
― Rumi


15.
“The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. Don't go back to sleep!
You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep!
People are going back and forth
across the doorsill where the two worlds touch,
The door is round and open
Don't go back to sleep!

These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them.”
― Rumi, The Essential Rumi



16.
“Like a sculptor, if necessary,
carve a friend out of stone.
Realise that your inner sight is blind
and try to see a treasure in everyone.”                    ― Rumi


17.
“Let the lover be disgraceful, crazy, absent-minded. Someone sober will worry about things going badly. Let the lover be.

There are lovers content with longing.
I’m not one of them.”    ― Rumi, The Essential Rumi


18.
“There is a secret medicine given only to those who hurt so hard they can't hope.
The hopers would feel slighted if they knew.

You were born with potential.
You were born with goodness and trust. You were born with ideals and dreams. You were born with greatness.
You were born with wings.
You are not meant for crawling, so don't.
You have wings.
Learn to use them and fly.”          ― Rumi


19.
“Forget safety.
Live where you fear to live.
Destroy your reputation.
Be notorious.

Inside you, there’s an artist you don’t know about… say yes quickly, if you know, if you’ve known it from before the beginning of the universe.”
― Rumi


20.
“Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.”     ― Rumi





"On a day
when the wind is perfect,
the sail just needs to open and the world is full of beauty.
Today is such a day.”
                                               ― Rumi






S T – 25 feb 14
Rumi - born to native Persian speaking parents in 1207.
Died 1273 AD.
Rumi (an evolutionary thinker) believed passionately in the use of music, poetry and dance as a path for reaching God.
Johnny Overseas Nov 2013
I've noticed that my mustache grows in thicker on one side,
made to wonder if this blunder's due to my brother, how he died,
Never will my reddened beard grow in and lay with grace
because my brothers lifeless body layed a pressure on my face
Most men primp and think of happiness in mirrors and in breath
However, whenever I clean my face I'm forced to think of death,
(with the face of a brother I've never met)
So I celebrate life and do my best to think it limitless
Go out and do, create for you, make proud the worlds dead triplets

I am the living ghost of Joseph,
All the worlds dead triplets.

I've noticed that my beard grows thicker in just this tiny spot,
'Cause the way they lay, I cannot help but think a rather morbid thought,
The way you are is picked afar from waned or waxed moon,
but what happens there when you're prepared a rather taxed womb?
The newest of 8 darkened waters with no help to navigate,
You'll admit having dead brothers makes it harder to relate.
But they never were alive so I can't say I have regrets,
I must make with my life, for all the worlds dead triplets

I am the living ghost of Joseph,
All the worlds dead triplets.

My mother calls me her surprise and I think "jeezez kryst."
In honesty I'm accident, but the way you said it's nice.
I feel and see it differently inside my orange head,
But, that's just the way **** happens when you're born beside the dead.
You see, I was touched by death before I even knew of life,
I cuddled it and swam beside it up until the knife.
So death, with mercy, stays away and out of sight it gets,
for it knows I held it close, I live, a ghost, of my dead triplet.

I am the living ghost of Joseph,
All the worlds dead triplets.

But it can't last forever,
I've already lived too long,
So immortal I'm on paper
and in the wind in song.

I said it cannot last forever,
I should already be dead,
The world it has a shortage
of another orange head

I am the living ghost of Joseph,
My dead triplet.

So with all of that in mind, defined,
my chances should be none,
I never should have had a first,
so I make all my seconds battles won.

I am the living ghost of my brother Joseph,
and all the worlds dead triplets.
It is very hard to hit the save poem button....... there's that sinking feeling in my gut....... is this too personal? You tell me.

This may be the most important poem I've ever written. I didn't even know I felt half of this stuff until they were all in a notebook together.

See the thing is, if you're bearing multiple children and one of them is miscarried, the chances that the rest of the babies surviving is, well, not favorable.

And I didn't even show up on any ultrasounds.

Gives me a new outlook and even though it's a morbid poem, it makes me feel more gifted than anything else in the world. Makes me wanna hug my twin because I cannot hold my triplet. We don't even get along.

RIP Joseph.
nova hunt Aug 2014
sometimes i go off
about these worlds
that i make up
in my head.

because when the world
is so messed up,
don't you
want another?

i spend
so much time
just living
in these worlds,
     just thinking.

about
trivial things

     like:
how come clouds
get to be so high
that it's like they're flying,
when all they do is bring rain?

     or:
why do we spend
so much time
obsessing over the fact
that we don't have much time at all?

but i think
that maybe
in these worlds i make up,
it's not so bad.

sure,
there are bad guys
but when are there not?

the thing is,
in my world,
i'm not one of those
bad guys.

i'm the one
with the cape
and the mask
and i am the one
     who saves the day.
emnabee May 2018
The poet lives two lives.
One on the outside,
And one in their mind.

When you look in their eyes
You could see an abyss.

If you looked long enough
You could sink into it.

But most people don’t see it.

Take the time to read the words, though,
And you would know for sure.

The poet lives in two different worlds.
A little escape from the madness.
Or maybe, into.
Craig Harrison Jun 2016
2 worlds, one I wish I lived in and one I can't escape
as a boy running around the garden
playing football and laughing.
The one where I was free, life was happy and fun
waking up in the morning and the sky had no clouds only the sun.

Now the sky is dark and it never stops raining
I see the world of fun, just out of my reach
instead I wonder the streets getting drenched by the rain
with each step destroying all memories of a different world
a world where it's always sunny and life was happy

2 worlds, one I wished I lived in and one I can't escape.
The Three Thousand Worlds
that step forward
with the light snow,
and the light snow that falls
in those Three Thousand Worlds

— The End —