by Wes Hansen


   Drawing by Wes Hansen


The Beekeeper


 My true name – my Medicine name,

is Walks With Turtle.

And if, one day, someone were to inquire,

tell them I just came to see the garden,

but they told me there is no room here

for thorns.

It took them fifty years to tell me;

by then I knew the Beekeeper.


There was a painting, a large painting

which I started before I could finish

properly; I was dispossessed at the time.

In the painting there was a valley, a

broad valley, a very broad valley between

two streams of mesa such that a

Surrealist might enjoy. It was a

broad valley and the mesas all looked

edible in a chancy – perhaps psychedelic,

sort of way. They were evil like twinkies,

all fluff and syrupy goo, and there were black

knights on black horses serving the

Dark Lord of Disintegration

(I was dispossessed at the time) riding down

out of the fluff into the broad valley,

each carrying a long, lethal, black lance

and they were attacking the White Buffalo

and their intent was

to Kill.


The Buffalo, all White but for a redness

about here and there from lanced wounds,

was defending the Feminine Mound in the

Center ( the Center shall hold) of the broad valley,

destroying black knights and their steeds of evil

with compassionate fury and the mound,

the Feminine Mound, was surrounded by bones,

a bone yard, a charnel ground, and the

Lord and Lady were dancing there.

Of course they were


In the foreground of the painting, well within

the radius of the charnel ground, there was a warrior,

historical rather than mythical, a Marine

infantryman decked out for combat patrol.

But the Marine was disintegrating into a

self-organized cloud of polymorphic shapes

in all the bright colors. The cloud, an organized self,

was moving in a purposeful manner, tracing out

a global pattern in phase space which terminated

at/with the Oceanic realm, where myth becomes


As these polymorphic shapes embraced the Oceanic

they burst, they burst open at the forward end,

the purposeful end, and fully formed adult

butterflies emerged, colorful butterflies floating free.


There, just within the boundary of the Oceanic

was a black knight cowering on the ground

and towering above him a true Warrior, a

Spiritual Warrior, fully bearded and naked

but for a blood-red langouti, the sword of

death and discrimination drawn at his side

but his gaze and physical demeanor questioning

the Oceanic: Why? Why the death, the conflict, the

constant tension between brothers? Why the



I was in the Marine Corps, a member of the Walking Dead, when it all began. I was intrigued

by the “Wall of Honor.” I had read the stories, each one several times, and was mesmerized

by the implied intensity, the brilliance of action thoroughly engaged without regard for

personal continuity. Many of those honored were mere boys, innocent fodder in a game

they couldn’t have possibly understood. But they cried berserkir and were carried to Val

Halla by their very own Valkyrie. I had dreams while browsing that hallway . . . boy did I have



The girl drove an ice cream truck. She came through Camp Horno on a regular schedule and

every time she did the barracks would empty. The girl was beautiful; her features were

classically Nordic, framed by a velvety mane of black hair, and her eyes, a dark, penetrating,

blue, a blue of the cold northern sea. The Marines bought her ice cream, not because they

wanted ice cream, but because they wanted to believe she had come through just to see

them; they were capturing successive moments directed towards a hopeful future. I rarely

bought ice cream from the girl but I was certainly intrigued by her beauty.


The girl had an exquisite tattoo of a White Buffalo on her right shoulder; it was almost

psychedelic and clearly significant. One day, after purchasing an ice cream sandwich, I asked

the girl, “What does the White Buffalo mean?” She told me that, to her, it represented the

wisdom of innocence. I chuckled and replied, “It would seem to me those two words are

mutually exclusive.” “Do you think so,” she asked? I said, “Well yeah, but I’ll have to give it

some thought.”


We went to the field shortly after this discourse and I didn’t see the girl for a while. After we

returned from our field exercise, I went out to say hello the next time she came around. I

gave her a book, a collection of poems written by patients in a mental hospital. She told me

she couldn’t take the book, “I’m moving back to South Dakota,” she said. “Take it anyway,” I

replied, “perhaps you’ll find some innocent wisdom among the passages.” She laughed and

took the book. I never thought I’d see her again.


The civil war started with a bunch of riots. A young man was beat to death by overzealous

law enforcement and the law officers were acquitted of any wrong doing. The unrest spread

across the whole country, like wildfire. A good number of my fellow Marines deserted to the

civil side; they said, to them, it was a matter of loyalty, loyalty to the hood and the larger

community represented by the hood ideal. I really didn’t know what to do in the beginning.

I had joined the Marine Corps searching for the experience, the experience represented by

the “Wall of Honor,” Stephen Cranes “Red Badge of Courage.” It seems foolish when I reflect

back but I had never considered the experience could involve the intended destruction of

my own people, as if it is somehow justified otherwise. In the end I stayed with the Marine

Corps and tried not to think too deeply about the justification for my own actions and the

actions of those around me.


The rebel forces were surprisingly well put together and the war lasted for a considerable

duration; some would say it’s still on-going. My own experience culminated with a hard

fought battle in the Heartland, South Dakota’s badlands of all places. It was a brutal skirmish

reminiscent of Custer’s last. The Marine force and the rebel force were both thoroughly

decimated; there were only two survivors, myself and the girl. The girl had fought with the

rebels and she was covered in blood, mud, smoke, and grit but still thoroughly beautiful. We

approached one another and met on the top of a small rise. She looked at me, laughed, and

said, “I guess the people who wrote the poems in that book weren’t so crazy after all.” I

chuckled and replied, “No, I guess not.” The girl asked, “What do you suppose we should do

now?” “I don’t know,” I replied, “I guess we should call somebody.”


I took the girl’s hand and together we walked off the hill and to the highway; we headed

west towards the crossroads and a place called “Momma’s Diner.” When we got to the Diner

all seemed surprisingly normal, like there wasn’t even a war going on. The place was empty

except for a large, grandmotherly, black lady; she introduced herself as Momma and said all

she had available was coffee and grits. The girl and I told her that sounded delicious and I

asked if I could use her phone. Momma pointed to a corner and told me to go ahead, if I

could get a dial tone. The phone was working fine so I called 911 and told them about the

skirmish; they said they’d send somebody out. The girl and I finished our coffee and grits

but still no one had shown up so we took off. We headed north up the highway.


For several days we traveled along the highway without seeing anyone. Finally we came to a

small shanty town. On the very edge of town was a large, pieced together, shanty which

advertised itself as the “Last American Outpost.” As we approached the “Last American

Outpost” a small, twin engine, prop plane appeared in the sky; it was towing a wingless

wagon and having a hard time staying in the air. The girl and I stopped and watched with

utter dismay. The pilot was giving her all she had but all she had wasn’t quite enough and

the plane crashed into the side of a hill and burst into flame. The girl and I agreed it was a

bad omen but we went into the “Outpost” anyway.


The “Outpost” was pieced together from sea containers, shipping crates, and pieces of

corrugated metal. Inside was a long bar made from wooden planks situated on top of

wooden crates and empty wire spools. Behind the bar was an ancient woman; she was

topless and her old weathered skin was covered in faded tattoos. Beside her was a large

young man – a relative perhaps. He was shirtless as well and his entire upper body, head

included, was tattooed with an American flag motif. Beside and slightly behind him was a

younger girl – his sister perhaps – also topless and covered in tattoos, but her tattoos were

fresh, abstract, almost alien yet tribal, and all in Day-Glo or neon colors. None of them were

talkative at all. All they had to offer was homemade beer full of yeast and headaches but the

girl and I were happy to have that.

While the girl and I were drinking our beer, three young, gothic looking, individuals came


into the “Outpost.” They were all extremely pale in complexion but flushed with what

seemed excitement or anticipation. The girl and I immediately sensed a pending blood-

letting and were instantly aroused, suspicious, on-guard. I paid for the beer and asked the

bartender if there was a back way out. He took my money and pointed to a dark hallway.


The hallway was formed by add-ons to the shanty; each add-on had its own door, like a

hotel. The girl and I warily inched our way down the hallway and about halfway down, as we

were passing a door, the door flew open. There was a young girl standing in the doorway,

naked and covered in bruises; she looked at the girl and I, almost pleading with her

young/old eyes. I immediately knew that her reality was harsh but that helping her was

futile. A little piece of my soul shriveled up and died right there; I reached out to touch her

face and an old man, also naked, came running to the door. He grabbed the girl and pulled

her back into the room. Closing the door but for a crack he said, “Things here are none of

your business; you’re best just to move on.” And with heavy hearts the girl and I did just



When we got outside it was dark and we could see the fire from the burning plane wreck.

We ducked between two shanties and headed in that direction; we knew we were being

followed. We ran a convoluted course to the edge of town, into some woods, and along a

broad, slow moving, river. We could hear our pursuers and see their search lights probing

the woods. When they got too close we jumped into the river and the water was cold . . .

boy, was it cold. We ducked under the surface and swam downstream as far as our breath

would allow. We continued to float downstream long after we lost sight of the burning

plane wreckage. We emerged from the river at an old, abandoned, gravel pit. I gathered

some dry wood, built a fire, and the girl and I, shivering, took our wet clothes off and laid

them out by the fire to dry. The girl and I looked at one another, each admiring the other’s

naked beauty. We laughed with comfortable familiarity and fell into it; we lost ourselves in

one another; we made love for the first time.


At daybreak things were irrevocably changed between the two of us. We were now

consummated lovers, a beserkir and Valkyrie, a continuum of love manifest in a world of

madness. The whole world was changed, brighter, more colorful, distinct and hopeful. We

left the gravel pit and headed west on an old river road. We came to a highway and

shadowed it, heading southwest, away from the shanty town. We traveled for a long time

without incident; it was an all too brief period of gladness.

After a while we came to an abandoned Arboretum. We were out of water so the girl and I


split up and went in search of a fresh water source. I found water and hollered at the girl but

didn’t receive an answering response. I filled up all of my containers and headed back to the

Arboretum entrance, our agreed upon rendezvous. When I walked out of the Arboretum I

was greeted with horror; a half dozen goths from the shanty town had the girl spread out in

the back of an old Ford truck and they were raping her; in a second I recognized them as

members of my own family. They were engaging in this violent act with obvious glee and

they were looking at me with evil contempt, gloating, apparently thinking I was too

cowardly. They hadn’t really known me for awhile, perhaps never had. The beserkir, the bear,

the destroyer, and in short order the goths, my family members, lay scattered, bloody, and

dead. I grabbed the girl and pulled her to me and she wept like a soul possessed. I stroked

her beautiful mane and did what I could to comfort her but there was no comfort; the world

was dark, gray, smeared, and futile.


After a while the girl looked at me with infinite sadness and said, “It’s no good; our fairy tale

is over. I can’t be with you any longer, from here into the indeterminate my journey is alone,

a cleansing.” I knew the girl’s soul and admired her heart so I could only smile in sad

resignation. “If ever you need me,” I said, “think of me with all the force of your beauty and

perhaps . . .” She gave me a last, tearful, smile before walking away and said, “Thanks, thanks

for that.”


Echoes of time in a brow furrowed

by insistent memories of ugliness

surrounded by misery infused with

suffering, an ache in a forgotten soul

caressed by a cradle of renewal promised

but never delivered, intrude on

thoughts indifferent as life.


The race to death transpires

in slow, drawn out, increments

inspiring hatred and revulsion

for the indifferent beast.


Nothing but a dog chained short

by unseen manipulations, can you

blame a man for hatred?


Fury harnessed and directed

to the gravest damage –

indifference . . .

smothered by indifference.


War takes its toll

in spite of hearts

hardened by indifference,

fortuitous indifference;

Fury, Rage, a beastly


Fury, Rage . . .

and blood.


I could write a Manifesto

but no one who read it

would survive.

Stare into the black heat

of indifference

and die like the rest.


Can I offer you a crumb?


Flowers sprout from the rotting corpse;

beauty, indifferent to the

feast of death, is a

momentary respite in the

dark pool of



Ideas, once brilliant,

crystalline, apparently magic,

transform under stress induced by


The vision, a pointless panacea,

swallowed by a black hole of



So cry foul and feed the Dark Heat;

I will pursue thee to the

pits of Hell, my home within,

and I will feed you to the


Dog eat dog I do entertain,

feral, surreal, destitute,

a starving parasite and you,

a snack before the feast . . .

the feast of indifference.


I am a monster.

Kill me before I eaten another!


Cry executioner and rape the

killing field; feed the gaping mouth of hunger –


Attack with brutal fury

and lethal rage or leave me

to my indifference,

savage, brutal, all consuming

indifference . . .


nothing is as it appears;

all is folly, pointless folly.


I no longer dream . . .


After the girl left I went to the desert and I stayed in the desert. It was my own cleansing, the

sickness bleached and dried by the incessant heat, a purge by flame. I wandered aimlessly

for what seemed an eternity. I experienced many adventures and came to know myself well

but it just wasn’t the same. One day, several years after losing the girl, I felt a tingling in the

depths of my mind, a presence. I rotated slowly until discovering the direction in which the

presence was most pronounced and then I started running.


I saw the carrion eaters from a long way off and I knew I was too late. I kept running anyway

and my precognition was rewarded with a gruesome sight. The girl lay dead and the carrion

eaters had already stolen her beautiful blue eyes. I collapsed and wept; I stroked her

beautiful hair and told her for the first time that I loved her. I was lost in grief for hours

which seemed eternal. I sat with her for days.


Finally, I became composed enough that I realized I needed to take care of the girl’s

decomposing body. I looked around, found a suitable location, and started to dig with my

knife. Barely had I begun when an ancient man, a grandfather among the First Peoples,

appeared and spoke to me in a strange language I somehow understood. “Stop your

digging,” he said, “The girl chose her manner of life and her manner of death. Her name was

Alluvia the Allmerciful and she was wise in her innocence. She deserves to be honored in

death by the traditions of old.” With the grandfather’s instruction, I prepared the girl’s body

in the ancient way; I surrendered her to the desert, closing the cycle.


After we were through with the last ceremony, after the last chant had been sung, I looked

at the grandfather and asked, “Where did you come from?” He looked at me rather

quizzically and replied, “I didn’t come from anywhere; I’ve always been here.” “Ah, yes,” I

replied, “I’m no longer dispossessed either.” At that the grandfather laughed until he started

to wheeze. When he recovered, he placed his hand on my shoulder and told me, “Keep

following the Shadow, as you have been, and you will be fine . . . you will be okay.” And then

he started to walk off, chanting in that same strange language, “On a visible breath I am

walking . . .” And as he walked away he transitioned into an infinite stream of multi-colored,

dancing, photons of energy, like a hooked light ray.