Tag Archives: writing

From Slaughterhouse Five

By Kurt Vonnegut

“To the guards who walked up and down outside, each car became a single organism which ate and drank and excreted through its ventilators. It talked or sometimes yelled through its ventilators, too. In went water and loaves of black bread and sausage and cheese, and out came shit and piss and language. Human beings in there were excreting into steel helmets which were passed to the people at the ventilators who dumped them. Billy was a dumper. The human beings also passed canteens which guards would fill with water. When food came in, the human beings were quiet and trusting and beautiful. They shared.”

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From Fahrenheit 451

By Ray Bradbury

“I haven’t any friends. That’s supposed to prove I’m abnormal. But everyone I know is either shouting or dancing around like wild or beating up one another. Do you notice how people hurt each other nowadays?”

Porphyria’s Lover

By Robert Browning 

The rain set early in tonight,
The sullen wind was soon awake,
It tore the elm-tops down for spite,
and did its worst to vex the lake:
I listened with heart fit to break.
When glided in Porphyria; straight
She shut the cold out and the storm,
And kneeled and made the cheerless grate
Blaze up, and all the cottage warm;
Which done, she rose, and from her form
Withdrew the dripping cloak and shawl,
And laid her soiled gloves by, untied
Her hat and let the damp hair fall,
And, last, she sat down by my side
And called me. When no voice replied,
She put my arm about her waist,
And made her smooth white shoulder bare,
And all her yellow hair displaced,
And, stooping, made my cheek lie there,
And spread, o’er all, her yellow hair,
Murmuring how she loved me—she
Too weak, for all her heart’s endeavor,
To set its struggling passion free
From pride, and vainer ties dissever,
And give herself to me forever.
But passion sometimes would prevail,
Nor could tonight’s gay feast restrain
A sudden thought of one so pale
For love of her, and all in vain:
So, she was come through wind and rain.
Be sure I looked up at her eyes
Happy and proud; at last I knew
Porphyria worshiped me: surprise
Made my heart swell, and still it grew
While I debated what to do.
That moment she was mine, mine, fair,
Perfectly pure and good: I found
A thing to do, and all her hair
In one long yellow string I wound
Three times her little throat around,
And strangled her. No pain felt she;
I am quite sure she felt no pain.
As a shut bud that holds a bee,
I warily oped her lids: again
Laughed the blue eyes without a stain.
And I untightened next the tress
About her neck; her cheek once more
Blushed bright beneath my burning kiss:
I propped her head up as before
Only, this time my shoulder bore
Her head, which droops upon it still:
The smiling rosy little head,
So glad it has its utmost will,
That all it scorned at once is fled,
And I, its love, am gained instead!
Porphyria’s love: she guessed not how
Her darling one wish would be heard.
And thus we sit together now,
And all night long we have not stirred,
And yet God has not said a word!

From Slaughterhouse Five

By Kurt Vonnegut 

” ‘It would take another Earthling to explain it to you. Earthlings are the great explainers, explaining why this event is structured as it is, telling how other events may be achieved or avoided. I am a Tralfamadorian, seeing all time as you might see a stretch of the Rocky Mountains  All time is all time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations. It simply is. Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all, as I have said before, bugs in amber.’ ” 

John Henry

By Anonymous 

When John Henry was a little tiny baby
Sitting on his mama’s knee,
He picked up a hammer and a little piece of steel
Saying, “Hammer’s going to be the death of me, Lord, Lord,
    Hammer’s going to be the death of me.”

 

John Henry was a man just six feet high,
Nearly two feet and a half across his breast.
He’d hammer with a nine-pound hammer all day
And never get tired and want to rest, Lord, Lord,
    And never get tired and want to rest.

 

John Henry went up on the mountain
And he looked one eye straight up its side.
The mountain was so tall and John Henry was so small,
He laid down his hammer and he cried, “Lord, Lord,”
    He laid down his hammer and he cried.

 

John Henry said to his captain,
“Captain, you go to town,
Bring me back a TWELVE-pound hammer, please,
And I’ll beat that steam drill down, Lord, Lord,
    I’ll beat that steam drill down.”

 

The captain said to John Henry,
“I believe this mountain’s sinking in.”
But John Henry said, “Captain, just you stand aside–
It’s nothing but my hammer catching wind, Lord, Lord,
    It’s nothing but my hammer catching wind.”

 

John Henry said to his shaker,
“Shaker, boy, you better start to pray,
‘Cause if my TWELVE-pound hammer miss that little piece of steel,
Tomorrow’ll be your burying day, Lord, Lord,
    Tomorrow’ll be your burying day.”

 

John Henry said to his captain,
“A man is nothing but a man,
But before I let your steam drill beat me down,
I’d die with a hammer in my hand, Lord, Lord,
    I’d die with a hammer in my hand.”

 

The man that invented the steam drill,
He figured he was mighty high and fine,
But John Henry sunk the steel down fourteen feet
While the steam drill only made nine, Lord, Lord,
    The steam drill only made nine.

 

John Henry hammered on the right-hand side.
Steam drill kept driving on the left.
John Henry beat that steam drill down.
But he hammered his poor heart to death, Lord, Lord,
    He hammered his poor heart to death.

 

Well, they carried John Henry down the tunnel
And they laid his body in the sand.
Now every woman riding on a C and O train
Says, “There lies my steel-driving man, Lord, Lord,
    There lies my steel-driving man.”

The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner

By Randall Jarrell

From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State, 
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze. 
Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life, 
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters. 
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.