Highland Hallucinations

by Nick Anthony

Lanky four-legged beasts,
Macabre silhouettes in the morning light,
Cast shadows into the icy valley below,
Prolonging the slumber, if only for a second,
Of the yet-snoozing in their colorful caves.

The creatures slowly creep skyward,
Laboriously climbing to the rocky ridge,
Taking long strides with gaunt forelegs
No thicker than sticks and just as straight.
It seems the giraffe of Broadway gave up the spotlight
To graze the vertical savanna of Japan’s mountains.
Packing our gear, we head out on safari.

At the top of a peak in pursuit of game,
We are ambushed by Mr. Boss-man,
Tapping his foot and pointing at his Rolex,
And are at a loss to explain to him
Why we are late to this morning’s mountain meeting!

Saved by the bell as it tolls for quitting time,
We clock out and continue up the ridge
Away from the corporate world of nightmares,
To higher places and stranger things.

Around a bend emerges a sword master,
Armed with a wooden katana:
Sheathed, but at the ready.
He rushes by in retreat from the enemy,
A pump and juicy tomato-demon
Overly ripened by the high-altitude sun.
The sensei hops down on boulder tops
As the tomato rolls to meet him
And duel above the campground,
As an orange-robed Shinto priest
Shrieks the blow-by-blow from a megaphone
In a mantra monotone as taiko boom like mountain thunder.

I listen to the roaring crowd
And am filled with a queer unease.
The brutal sun continues to beat down,
Frying my skin and sapping my energy.
I realize their is no one around,
No cheering to be heard.
Only the cold wind rushing up the valley,
Carrying the toxic, sulphur laden air,
Spewing from the volcanic vents of Hell Valley below.


This was inspired by the strange things we encountered on our hike the other day. We didn’t see giraffes, our boss, or a demon, but there was a man in a suit at the peak of Mt. Bessan, an old bearded fellow carrying a sword, and an extremely sunburnt man. That and the rancid smell of rotten eggs all day is enough to make anyone a little crazy…

Thank you for reading! Please leave a comment and read more at Rafiki’s Nikki!

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