F€@® & L0√£

I’m at the age where I realize, 

Nothing, actually (Sublime)
Just say the words, tell me I’ll be okay. 

You don’t have to mean it, it ain’t gotta be true, you’ll never have to be accountable for what comes or goes, 

Just say the words. 

I tell my friend, she of open heart and hospitality, tell me my parenting will get easier, tell me it gets better. 

She says, yes.

 She says, I did it, you will too. 
I tell my son, he of 13 years and internet-trolling, if it’s not true, helpful or necessary, 

Don’t fucking say it. 

He says, okay Dad. 

He says, I understand. 
I tell my wife, she of magical unicornism and poetry-inducing madness, 

I will always give what I have, I will work until I drop, to give us, I say, to give you, 

To provide for you, my girl, wife, dream, goddess, queen, 

My endless frustration

To give you home and hearth and love and food and bandwidth and hot coffee and cold air when it’s hot outside, 

I will give what I am to a job that takes all I have, to earn this place I see, this golden fantasy where you smile and we have a door with a lock, behind which we remember our youth and we expose our eternal truth

She says, wherever. She says, I got you. 

She says, be happy and I will. 

She says, we got this, love. 

We got this love, love, we have our love to rely upon, she says and she shows and sometimes she needs reassurance but,

She knows. 

Tell me, say the words. 

I will say the words. 
Even when I have trouble believing myself. 
You’re going to get through this. 

I’m going to get through this. 

We’re going to be okay. 
We got this. 

💚

Through A Mist

I will not see your face with my eyes, nor touch your hands with my own. 

I will never hear your voice outside of my dreams, I cannot watch you live. 

A life is not made of time. 

Supposing I knew you, I weep in secrecy for what I might have known. 

I can tell the story of what may have been and what was, I can interpret my intuitive emotions into language and create a space for you in the hearts that might understand. 

When I was twelve I had a kitten, he ran away before he was two months old. 

When I was nineteen I had a crush on a girl that didn’t return the favor. 

When I was thirty-two I forced life to my will and captured love and family. 

When you were-

When you were-

You weren’t. 

Perhaps I didn’t do it right, maybe a mistake on my part left you on the other side of the veil. It could be that I wish it was my fault, I’ve always been more comfortable wearing blame than my own face. It could be that random chance left me an unintended consequences. 

When you were… No. 

You were not, you were almost. 

I will never forget your name, the sound that means my smile. I will never let go of your possibility. I will be what is, I will be your life. You exist in me. 

I will hold your image, bouncing curls and sad eyes over a glowing, crooked smile. 

I will say your name in privacy, I will call your name through the mist of what might have been until my lungs stop drawing breath and my mind can finally let go. 

There is at least a small chance, still, that this life is my dream and one day I will wake to find that nothing was lost. 

Momma Said

 

  I was raised by a single mother and three sisters. My first friend was a girl. Most of my friends have been females. We had cats, a lot of girl cats. I’ve read a lot of books written by women. I’ve listened to (and loved) songs written and recorded by women. I’ve had really close friends and their mothers always liked me. 

This, in no way, makes me an authority on women. 

I have a wife, a daughter, and several female friends.

 I have eyes, ears and a working brain.

 I have reasoned my way to an understanding, betwixt my brain and my balls, a truce between thought and urge, a de-militarized zone between my mind and my dick. 

I have three sons. I tell them, several times a day, what my mother taught me –

“Keep your hands off of your weiner and off of other people.”

It’s not enough to say, act this way in public. 

The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.(John Wooden)

My oldest son is 13. I know that the raging river of hormonal metamorphosis is starting. I know that soon his pecker is going to be his main focus. Puberty is a difficult time. We change from children into children with sexual urges. 

I tell my son, leave it alone. Wash it when it’s dirty, and otherwise, try to ignore it. 

I know, I know… This isn’t part of the patriarchal dialogue. This doesn’t fit into the way that we see male physiology. 

I’ve seen it my whole life, from myself to my brothers and friends to men on television shows to literary characters and society says, men can’t help it. Dicks run the world. A man can’t control his penis. 

That’s the most ridiculous bullshit ever. 

My younger sons are constantly fiddling with their fidget-sticks. I tell them to stop. 

All three of my sons put their hands on others without permission. 

I tell them to stop. 

The two subjects are related. 

There is a need for boundaries. People need to respect the difference between “mine” and “yours”. Men, especially. We need a new dynamic in this world. 

We need to understand, men. 

Men, boys, all those that identify as male. 

We need to stop using that as an excuse for terrible actions. We need to create a boundary between our minds and our cocks. 

I know that the idea is quite foreign to most men, but I promise you that you won’t become female, or gay, or invisible, or alien, or a giant block of cheddar cheese, you won’t stop being a person. 

In fact, if that’s your fear, I challenge you to really think about that. We have ruled all of human history, we proud beasts with our mighty cocks and our dangling testes. Our physical strength and sexual virility has literally conquered the earth. 

Of course, along the way, we also destroyed and degraded most of humanity. We’ve cheapened life and made existence a filthy parade of dicks being dicks to dicks, one dick United in dickhood, with a dick-tatorship created by dicks, for dicks and about dicks. We’ve even got a ranking system based on money, which makes a whole lot of sense, because money helps dick the world over every day. 

The point here, the one I’m trying to make, is that I’m a Dad. I tell my sons to leave their dicks in their pants and to keep their hands off of other people. 

And my instructions mean dick. 

When my wife tells them, they listen. 

So we use that. Momma said, don’t play with your weiner. Momma said, don’t touch other people without permission. Don’t touch their things, their bodies, don’t touch them with your hands or your weiners. Don’t take pictures of your weiner and send it to people. That’s a dick move. 

My Momma said, you were born with a brain and a weiner and every day you have to choose which one is in charge. 

I’ve chosen both ways, through my almost forty years. 

My dick, well… He’s a dick. He doesn’t care about right and wrong. He doesn’t choose wisely, based on rational thought and integrity. He chooses to seek gratification. That is how dicks are programmed. 

My mind chooses more wisely. I choose compassion, love, integrity, poetry. I choose art, literature, romance, friendship, family. My mind is kind, my mind is interested in other minds and their thoughts, choices, interests. 

https://youtu.be/8APUM-b4-ns

I’m not standing here trying to convince all men that their dicks don’t matter. 

I’m saying that being a decent person means more than a dick. 

Momma said, be proud of what you do, not what you have. 

I’m not standing here, telling the world that I’m “not one of those men” 

I have used my maleness for male purposes in life. I have never forced myself on anyone, but I have certainly enjoyed male privilege in my life. I have a dick, which is like being a rich white guy in the U.S.  The world has been controlled by dicks so long that I don’t have any way to know if I’m “one of those”

 I do know that I have a choice. 

I do know that my sons have a choice. 

Make choices with brain. 

Make fuck with dick. 

Keep your hands to yourself, and use your brain more than your penis. 

Please. 

Anniversary

He took the microphone and walked to the center of the dance floor with her, as everyone pushed back. She clutched her dress nervously, never liking the spotlight.
The music started, and she smiled like the sun breaking through clouds. ‘Butterfly’ had long been one of ‘their’ songs, he would sing to her in front of people with no fear, and seeing him free made her happy, so he kept doing it.

he sat down next to her hospital bed, again. the chemo treatment always took so much out of her that she slept for hours afterward. he sat and waited for her to wake up every time. lately it had been longer each time, he would sit, and watch her sleep. the pain showed on her face even though she was drugged for pain… the brain never let anything happen without noticing.

He slowly danced around her as he sang, touching her shoulder then pressing up behind her, spinning away and leaning toward her as he sang the sexy words to her- always, only her.
She began to loosen up a little, swaying back and forth and staring at his eyes and mouth as he sang, reaching up to caress his cheek, then yanking on his beard lightly with a mischievous grin. He started really feeling his voice as he got further into the song, serenading his love on their anniversary.

she woke from her drugged sleep to see him sitting next to her, as always. “Hi, love” she said. he rubbed her hand softly in his grasp, looking at her face without meeting her eyes. she noticed the evasion, of course. she always saw everything he felt.
“what’s wrong, baby?” she asked, squeezing his fingers softly, as firmly as she could.
“they said it’s over”, he whispered. he continued looking at her hand, caressing her fingers lightly. “they said hospice care is the only option left.”
she smiled, a wry, half-smile. she had known this was coming. the fight had been long and painful, and each step had been a step backwards. a step toward death. she tried to make him smile, tried to put the old familiar sarcastic tone in her voice, “what do they know?”
it came out weakly, quivering, feeling every bit as sad as she felt.
he looked at her eyes then, his eyes glowing with fervent emotion. “I won’t let it happen this way, baby.”

Then he got to the part of the song where lyrics disappear in favor of scat- and he stumbled. Trying to find the rhythm again, he did a very poor imitation of the singer.
It was agonizingly painful. The look of delight which had painted every face in the room turned to embarassment and sympathy as he kept going.

the plane ride was awful. fourteen hours from San Francisco to Greece, with several painful moments along the way. he held her hand as they landed, and said, “we made it baby. we made it.”

A voice broke out of the back of the room, “Stop, that’s not right.”
Shocked gasps spread across the room as horrified onlookers all turned to the owner of the voice. Her angry face stabbed daggers through the low light, livid that someone had interrupted her husband’s loving but awful singing.
A slight figure walked forward, wearing his signature hat, holding a guitar. Recognition turned all the shock to outright disbelief as everyone assembled realized who it was. She looked over to her husband to see a huge grin across his face as he looked back at her. Understanding followed immediately, as she realized what her husband had done.

they walked slowly out onto the beach, white sand gleaming in the sunlight. she was barely alive, but his love carried her all the way to the waterline, where they sat down in the clear blue waves. he cradled her body against his, her now frail body leaning against his healthy bulk. she nestled her face against his neck as he held her, water washing against their hips as they sat in the gentle surf. he whispered imagined tales of their life to her, telling her of all the things they would have done, explaining all the adventures they were going to miss. they sat there for the entire day, he whispering in her ear, she feeling her life slowly fade from her body as the water took their stories away into the Mediterranean.

The singer walked over to the couple, and said, “Can I help?”
They quickly gave assent, he laughing and she with her eyes wide. She mouthed the singer’s name as she went into her husband’s arms, shaking her head. She smiled up at him, tears glistening in their beautiful home before escaping down her cheeks.
The singer looked at the band, and signaled them to resume, then he picked up right where the man had faltered, scatting through the difficult part. The happy couple danced through the end of the song, and everyone joined them, The singer played their other songs, all of them, and had the man join in on a few parts.
After the music stopped, the man once again took the microphone. He walked to the center of the floor with his wife again, and raised the microphone to his mouth.

she stopped moving just after night fell. he sat there with her as the moon rose, soft white light shining and reflecting off the water as they sat. beginning to shiver with cold as darkness surrounded her, he told her now, still form, the story of their love- stories of imagined times being painted on an invisible canvas. after he finished, he stood up, cradling her lifeless form close to his chest. he walked slowly up to the resort hotel, mentally preparing for the job ahead- the last duties he had as a husband, seeing to her body’s last disposal. the tears flowed freely down his face as he walked, her body not much more than a bundle of sticks in cloth. the disease had taken away all of her substance.

Voice trembling, he said, “You have been my life. You are every word and every poem and every song, all the words and thoughts I have been trying to wrap around your heart. You have lifted me from my grave, given me safety and inspiration, you have held me through every storm that has ever raged in my soul. I would marry you again, every day, just to hear you promise to be mine. You are the only place I have ever wanted to be, and I am yours forever. As long as I exist, I will be needing you.”

they took her body away, and he sat alone in the hotel room. they had dreamed for so long of being here, in Santorini. they had not foreseen the path life had chosen for them- their journey here had been only a defiant gesture. he sat in the room, unable to sleep without her. he cried without sound, sitting on the end of the bed. there was no solace for him, no hope of home. his only home had died in his arms, and there was no longer a reason for him to hold his sadness back. finally free of hope, his lifelong melancholy flowed through him, as he dissolved over and over in his hotel room in paradise. he held a photo of her, smiling at him, and repeated over and over again, “I love you, my soul.”

Beaming at him, shining at him, looking at him as though he were the only thing that existed, smiled as wide as she could, and said,

“Likewise.”

First


From the moment of first awareness until death, I only get to see life from one perspective. 

It’s the same for you, no matter how empathetic you may be, no matter how understanding, you can never truly know what others think. Just what they say, what they do. All of that is interpreted by your mind, colored by your experiences, your emotions, so the truth is
there is not one TRUTH
everyone gets their own version
Knowing this doesn’t make much difference, right?  We still have to interact with each other, to see ourself. I am formless without confirmation. There is a balance to be found, between how I perceive myself, and how you see me, and in the middle lies all of human history, societal standards, religion, politics, and all the other devices invented by humans. We are taught how to act, how to pretend to be a part of the collective. We are criticized and degraded when we step outside of the accepted norms, we are punished for shining our own light, instead of dimming to the lowest common denominator.
I ask of you a simple question, without an easy answer:

Can you, will you

put yourself first on your own list?

Some will say it’s selfish, and somehow wrong. 

I wonder, if you do not put yourself first, if you always take care of another’s want before your own need, 

who will put you first? 

Is there another you, who will come to take care of your wants, while you see to someone else, and so on? 
I can only live my life,walk my path, I can only see through my eyes. 

It’s the same for you. 

I want you to just consider for a moment,

being yourself. 

I know that put up your defenses, saying that. What do I know about you? How could I say you are anything other than yourself?
What could I possibly know about hiding ?
Day by day,you bite down on the words you wanted to say. You stop yourself from showing the way you feel. You hide away that child that still lives inside you. You clamp down on the “foolish dreams” or ” silly feelings” or any of the cruel labels we put around our hearts. 
Can you understand that nobody speaks for you, if you remain silent.

Nobody else can feel your feelings, nobody else can stand up to your attackers, and degraders, and conformers, nobody is going to save you from the costume you’ve put yourself into. 
What do you look like, in your mind? In your heart? What did you want to be, when you were eight years old? When did you give up, and allow ” the rules ” to paint you to look just like everyone else?
It’s such a silly thing to say, You are unique, just like everyone else, but it’s true. 

At least, in my version of life, it’s true. 
I want you to do something today, that is only for you. Do something, say something, BE something, that is only for you. If you feel the desire, and see an opportunity, encourage someone else to do the same. 
Love ya, kid.

This Is What You’ll Say

I am three months and a week from my fortieth birthday and I miss my mom. 

I am the father of three crazy, beautiful, intelligent boys and I miss my grandmother. 

I am living a love story with a girl I met when I was eight years old and I miss my sister. 

I am working on being able to reconnect with my daughter and I miss my daughter. 

The other night I was talking with my wife about dying. It’s not unusual to do this, we have had rough lives and her mom died a month ago. She and I have a deep understanding of the temporary state of life and, honestly, sometimes life is rough enough for us that we each consider that it would be easier to end. 

I’m not going to kill myself. My wife isn’t going to kill herself. 

We talk. We argue. We cry together, sometimes. We care about each other, and because we each have some self-loathing we usually care more about each other than we do for ourselves. 

Sorry… I get sidetracked. 

So we’re talking, lying in bed, and I ask, 

“What will you say to the kids if I die?” 

She starts to say that she’ll tell them I loved them and they’ll get through it, and they-

“No.” I said, “What will you say to Aidan?”

Aidan is our six-year-old hurricane. He is overly emotional (like me), he is overly intellectual for his age (like I was), he is and has been over-the-top expressive and reactive to everything, all the time (like me). 

I am the only one he will listen to. I am the lifeline that pulls him in when he is flailing. I am his hope, because he knows I understand him. I am his, and he is mine and we both know that we need each other. 

So I asked my wife, “What will you tell Aidan?” 

She doesn’t know. She made me promise not to kill myself, she’s convinced that if I died she will wither up like a tomato plant in Fresno during August (it’s hot).

She doesn’t know how to get through Aidan’s maze. He doesn’t know how to interact with her. She loves him as fiercely as she can, and he loves her as insanely as any boy has loved his mother, and they clash. Two storms fighting for control, and they usually both end up very upset. 

Sorry… I digress. 

What would she say to him? 

Daddy died and now you have to figure things out yourself. All the chaotic emotion raging through your mind are now yours alone, the only one that knows the way through is gone. 

So here I am, just in case. 

Aidan, if it’s time for you to read this, then I’m not coming home. I’m sorry. 

I need you to know so many things that I didn’t get a chance to tell you. I have all of these dreams for you, so many hopes and ideas of how you will live. 

I can’t start telling you those, for two reasons. First, if I start, I’ll never stop. Second, my dreams for you aren’t big enough for you. 

You’re going to make mistakes. You will do things the wrong way. This is a necessity. Doing things the right way doesn’t teach you much, if anything at all. Don’t be afraid of being wrong. You will get stronger, smarter, better because you won’t want to do things wrong over and over. Do your best when you can. Just do… Don’t let fear of failure stop you from trying. 

I don’t regret anything I’ve done. My only regrets are things I didn’t do. Things I didn’t say. Chances I was too scared to take. Be better than that. 

Don’t let anger be your go-to reaction. Your emotions make you angry, not getting your way makes you angry, being sad or being tired or being hungry or being bored or being ignored or embarrassed or basically everything except music and candy make you angry and I’m telling you in absolute terms, this is going to hurt you. Learn to let anger slide past while your other emotions load up. If your reaction is sadness, be sad. If you’re embarrassed, smile and laugh because it makes embarrassment go away. If you’re going to be angry all of the time, you will make your life so much harder than it needs to be. 

Enjoy the little things, and chase the big things. Little joys are where happiness lives. Eat the cookie. Play the game. Laugh at the stupid joke. You can’t focus only on the big Happy. 

Set goals and work for them. You need a direction and it needs to be your choice. Find the thing that makes your heart beat faster, the thing that makes your brain feel like fire, and just do that. Act, sing, dance, create, do whatever makes you, you. Don’t get so caught up in comfortable happiness that you lose track of your path. 

Be prepared for things to hurt you but don’t worry about the hurt before it comes. You will always recover and the things that hurt deserve to hurt. 

When you love someone, all you can do is give that person your love and hope. You can’t make them into what you want them to be, you don’t get to choose who they are or how they will love you. You can decide what you will allow but you cannot make people give you what you need. 

Sleep when you’re tired, and when you wake up, get up. Don’t lay around doing nothing. It makes your mind stagnant. 

Eat when you’re hungry and when you feel you’ve had enough, stop. 

When you miss me, remember me. Think of the times we shared. Think about my smile, my laugh, my voice talking to you. Think about the way we connected. Remember the things about me that make you feel good, loved, special.

Because you are good. 

Because you are loved. 

Because you are special. 

Don’t ever, not for one moment, believe that I am gone. I am right here, thinking of you. You’re asleep and your brothers and Mom are sleeping, and it’s quiet. I’m thinking of you, and my heart is wrapped around you, and I will always be right here in this moment. 

Can you see me, son? I’m smiling, and loving you, and I will be, 

always. 

In Difference


I don’t know you. 

There’s no cheat sheet for life. We each get our own instruction manual when we’re born, but it’s written in a language we have to learn. 

I can remember a story about a boy, he grew into me. That memory is meaningless in my life, despite being the only foundation I have to define myself. 

What I know of myself today is that I am capable of things I never expected. I am talented and strong. I am expressive and openly emotional. 

Those few things don’t define me. 

I am mid-way through a life expectancy, and I have yet to figure out how I belong in my own life, beyond a very strong attachment to my current situation. 

I choose to let my emotional reactions to experiences be the prow of my ship. I cut the waters of my journey with how I feel. I direct my path by what feels right to me. 

I am secure in this choice. It suits me. 

I have been faced with opposition to my choice for as long as I have existed. Close or distant, family or friends, I have been told how wrong I am, over and over. 

I have not, I will not allow anyone else to choose my path. 

My path must be travelled by my feet. Nobody else is required to live my life. 

I don’t know you, and I don’t know how you have chosen, and with all due respect, 

I don’t give a damn what you choose. 

Your choices may impact my life. 

Mine might impact yours. 

We are not solitary islands, separated by oceans. We are interactive and interdependent in this reality. We are pieces of a global machine. 

My choices will be mine, and yours will be yours, and that is just fine with me. 

So give me your indifference, in this difference. 

We have our own lives to fuck up. 

One Poor Correspondent

Isolated is not a good way to be. 

Asking for reassurance from friends, I got some really wonderful feels. 

I matter, even if I can’t see it all the time. 

A poem is not just words, it’s the condensed emotions pressing into a mind through phrases that mean more than they say, it’s a slice of a soul given without a price and received without boundary. 

A poet is not just someone that writes poems… It takes a deeper disturbance in the mind. 

I don’t call myself a poet. 

I am disturbed. I am damaged. I am paying attention to every goddamned word and feeling and eye-flutter. I am reading tea leaves and watching the wind play with flower petals. 

I am trying to write a life, here. 

I am trying to feel everything. 

I am hurting myself on purpose, for the sake of…

Poetry? 

I am colossally fuckered up, in here. 

I appreciate how I seem to others. 

I am thankful for the love that floods my life, the tide that lifts all boats. 

I am also suffering greatly, for loving what has been lost. For losing what has been loved. For living a true life, and caring about the moments. 

I am also suffering from too little sleep and too much stress. 

I’ll be here, 

Even if I say goodbye. 

I promise. 

Eyes, Skies, Lies


 
It’s okay if you feel like these are just words on a screen, and if that obscures the obscene from your mental regime than I cannot fault your resolve and try to topple your walls, if it’s somethin strange in your neighborhood and you don’t call Ghostbusters than I’m not sure we can really connect. 
So. I see a lowered flag waving from your heart, and I want to help it fly boldly and proudly, to stand true and strong and somehow find light in private imagined darkened rooms, pre-emptively constructed tombs of doubt and despair, to climb up the ladders and fly up the stairs no matter how the stares and the glares might pierce you and demean, your challenges accepted, you are coming clean.
] tell me what you need
And I will provide
When they read of my love for her they look above her but none could ever be supreme to her she is my queen to serve and my life is what she deserves to burn if she wants fire I’m fuel, an uncontested duel of whatever you want and what I’m willing to do, but I would sell my child’s organs for you because my skies are all lies covering a thin disguise and my eyes cannot pry from locked doors and closed minds what truth in my life I should not leave behind.  
i can’t say anything anymore without thinking of how it sounds, 
 
is there a gentle touch inside us all which might propel some form emotional evolution, some type of redistribution of values and ideas which have been seen to be false; perhaps on a cold day all men shiver, and time is a package which never remains undelivered, but the hearts of all creatures are designed with a purpose, to live the next fraction of a second before your life muscles contract, every breath is gone with no guarantee of payback.
At times I think the whole world has gone crazy and at times I know there is no world or any crazy which is crazier than the thought of a placebo effect and we still won’t believe that we are what we perceive…is there any sense to any of these insane pursuits which scuff up our boots and leave us bereft, clinging to the small pieces left from the last time we loved and got broken again. 
someday all the doubts that live in my head will be silenced for good and I will believe what I cannot deny. 
Maybe.

Glass & Gale pt IV

The sunlight through the clear stone was warm. The cub moved the stone side-to-side and watched the light change color. Red, yellow, green, blue, the cub lay on his side and pushed the stone with his paws. 

As the light turned yellow again, the cub heard something from above. Looking up into the trees around him, he spotted the falcon from the willow tree sitting on a branch high above the forest floor. The falcon watched him, unmoving. 

Their eyes locked and the cub felt something pass through his body, warmth spreading from his chest to his legs. Time seemed to stand still as the wolf and falcon gazed at each other. 

Pain shot through the wolf cub’s paw and his eyes darted quickly down. The clear stone had light shining through it, and where the light fell on some fallen pine needles, a bright red burst of heat was growing. 

Jumping back, the wolf cub watched in horror as the flame consumed the needles and started reaching up the nearby tree. The heat grew intense, billowing out from the flame and leaping up the tree trunk. 

One burning tree became two, then three. The fire seemed angry, lashing out at all of the world. 

The wolf cub ran. 

The fire chased. 

Reaching his pack’s den, the cub started howling and barking at his family. 

“Go! We must go!” 

His packmates looked at him as though he were mad and started yipping at him. 

“Why?” “What happened?” “What’s wrong?”

“What did you do?”

The last question was growled from the throat of his sire. A huge black and grey wolf, the pack leader stood a few paces away, hackles raised. 

What did you do?” 

The cub shrunk away, fearful of his sire’s anger. He had seen many times his sire challenged by other wolves, and every time the challengers had limped away bleeding, or died. 

“Fire,” the cub whined. “It comes.”

Sniffing the air, the pack leader stared the cub down. “What part of this do you own?”

“The clear stone, it let’s light through, and-”

A sharp growl cut off the rest of his words, and the pack leader leapt toward the cub. Bowling him over with a shoulder thrust, the great Wolf leaned in close and snapped his massive jaws at the young wolf. 

“Your fault. You, with your games. You have never been what you should be. This ends, now.”

Lunging toward the young wolf’s throat, jaws gaping, the big wolf was surprised by the younger wolf’s shoulder in his chest. A fierce push set the bigger wolf back on his heels, and the two started circling each other. 

“So, the pup wants to play,” the older beast spoke with derision. “Come at me, then, pup.” 

Feinting toward the young wolf’s face, then snapping at his flank, the big jaws ripped a gash along the young wolf’s side. 

Falling back, then quickly jumping toward his sire, the cub bit down hard on the big wolf’s front leg. Blood filled his mouth as he shook his head, and he heard a cracking noise as the leg broke in his jaws. 

As he let go, the bigger wolf turned and closed his jaws on the young wolf’s neck, just behind his shoulders. 

A sharp scream filled the air then, and a grey blur from the sky became the falcon, swooping down and burying her talons in the great wolf’s eyes. As she pulled away the older wolf snapped his jaws up at her, and found purchase in her leg. Stabbing with her beak, the falcon ripped the great wolf’s face open as she flew out of reach. 

Wounded grievously and blinded, the great wolf snarled and snapped his jaws aimlessly, hopping in a circle with his broken leg lifted. 

The young cub closed quickly, sinking his jaws into the soft throat of the old wolf. Clamping down and shaking, the cub tasted his sire’s life passing through his jaws. 

Motionless on the ground, the great wolf died with a small whimper, and the young wolf backed away. 

Looking around, he spotted the falcon on a branch above. Bleeding from her leg, she looked down at the blood-covered wolf. She gathered her strength and leapt into the air with a short squawk. 

The smell of smoke and the crackling of flames consuming the forest got the cub moving. With a final glance at his deceased sire, he raced after the falcon, through the forest.