Good poems/rap verses/book excerpts (do not troll)

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Total: 42
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[Verse 2: K-Rino]
Eventually I begin to see, all of the wickedness in the industry
Fell in love with the premise of getting it independently
Had the tendency to miss signals that God was sending me
But even though I suffered some losses it didn't hinder me
Witnessed many crazy dynamics be in an artist
Some said my lyrics were hard but thought that my beats were garbage
Even when I started getting popular still I was starving
Cars passing by me playing my music while I was walking
Rap not paying the bills, you're scared to open the mail
People wishing you success but inside hoping you fail
You've got a goal in mind with no means of achieving
It's lonely chasing a dream that only you seem to believe in

[Hook: Ronetta Spencer]
I have a hard time, chasing my dreams
I have to have a strong mind, when the water got deep
I had to go the whole nine, a lot of nights no sleep
I love it when it feels like, I'm on my own two feet

[Verse 3: K-Rino]
It's not many people who know, how truly deep it can go
Still receiving indecent proposals for features and shows
The cheapest promoters leach on the most seasoned of pros
And thoughts of leaving, I can list plenty reasons for those
Keeping composure is the secret we should impose
I heated that when the payout frequency slowed
I beat up the road seeking more music seeds I can sow
And it wasn't always available when I needed some dough
I'm still learning long as I've been in this, it switches up fast
You might ask how could I love something so vicious and bad
All I can say is when you find your gift stay on your note
If you master a situation you can shape the result
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Robot SPD 13 was near enough to be seen in detail now. His graceful, streamlined body threw out blazing highlights as he loped with easy speed across the broken ground.  His name was derived from his serial initials, of course, but it was apt, nevertheless, for the SPD models were among the fastest robots turned out by the United States Robot & Mechanical Men Corp. 

“Hey, Speedy,” howled Donovan, and waved a frantic hand.

“Speedy!” shouted Powell. “Come here!”

The distance between the men and the errant robot was being cut down momentarily  — more bythe efforts of Speedy than the slow plodding of the fifty-year-old antique mounts of Donovan and Powell.

They were close enough now to notice that Speedy’s gait included a peculiar rolling stagger, a noticeable side-to-side lurch — and then, as Powell waved his hand again and sent maximum juice into his compact headset radio sender, in preparation for another shout, Speedy looked up and saw them.

Speedy hopped to a halt and remained standing for a moment with just a tiny, unsteady weave, as though he were swaying in a light wind.

Powell yelled: “All right, Speedy. Come here, boy.”

Whereupon Speedy’s robot voice sounded in Powell’s earphones for the first time.

It said: “Hot dog, let’s play games. You catch me and I catch you; no love can cut our knife in two.

For I’m Little Buttercup, sweet Little Buttercup. Whoops!” Turning on his heel, he sped off in the direction from which he had come, with a speed and fury that kicked up gouts of baked dust.  And his last words as he receded into the distance were, “There grew a little flower ‘neath a great oak tree,” followed by a curious metallic clicking that might have been a robotic equivalent of a hiccup.

Donovan said weakly: “Where did he pick up the Gilbert and Sullivan?

Say, Greg, he... he’s drunk or something.”

“If you hadn’t told me,” was the bitter response, “I’d never realize it. Let’s get back to the cliff. I’m roasting.”

It was Powell who broke the desperate silence.

“In the first place,” he said, “Speedy isn’t drunk — not in the human sense  — because he’s a robot, and robots don’t get drunk. However, there’s something wrong with him which is the robotic equivalent of drunkenness”

“To me, he’s drunk,” stated Donovan, emphatically, “and all I know is that he thinks we’re playing games. And we’re not. It’s a matter of life and very gruesome death.”

“All right. Don’t hurry me. A robot’s only a robot. Once we find out what’s wrong with him, we can fix it and go on.”

“Once,” said Donovan, sourly.

Powell ignored him. “Speedy is perfectly adapted to normal Mercurian environment. But this region” — and his arm swept wide — “is definitely abnormal. There’s our clue.  Now where do these crystals come from? They might have formed from a slowly cooling liquid; but where would you get liquid so hot that it would cool in Mercury’s sun?”

“Volcanic action,” suggested Donovan, instantly, and Powell’s body tensed.

“Out of the mouths of sucklings,” he said in a small, strange voice and remained very still for five minutes.

Then, he said, “Listen, Mike, what did you say to Speedy when you sent him after the selenium?”

Donovan was taken aback. “Well damn it  — I don’t know. I just told him to get it.”

“Yes, I know, but how? Try to remember the exact words.”

“I said... uh... I said: ‘Speedy, we need some selenium. You can get it such-and-such a place. Go get it — that’s all. What more did you want me to say?”

“You didn’t put any urgency into the order, did you?”

“What for? It was pure routine.”

Powell sighed. “Well, it can’t be helped now— but we’re in a fine fix.” He had dismounted from his robot, and was sitting, back against the cliff. Donovan joined him and they linked arms: In the distance the burning sunlight seemed to wait cat-and-mouse for them, and just next them, the two giant robots w ere invisible but for the dull red of their photoelectric eyes that stared down at them, unblinking, unwavering and unconcerned.

Unconcerned! As was all this poisonous Mercury, as large in jinx as it was small in size.

Powell’s radio voice was tense in Donovan’s ear: “Now, look, let’s start with the three fundamental Rules of Robotics— the three rules that are built most deeply into a robot’s positronic brain.” In the darkness, his gloved fingers ticked off each point.

“We have: One, a robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.”


“Two,” continued Powell, “a robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.”


“And three, a robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.”

“Right! Now where are we?”

“Exactly at the explanation. The conflict between the various rules is ironed out by the different positronic potentials in the brain. We’ll say that a robot is walking into danger and knows it. The automatic potential that Rule 3 sets up turns him back. But suppose you order him to walk into that danger. In that case, Rule 2 sets up a counterpotential higher than the previous one and the robot follows orders at the risk of existence.”

“Well, I know that. What about it?”

“Let’s take Speedy’s case. Speedy is one of the latest models, extremely specialized, and as expensive as a battleship. It’s not a thing to be lightly destroyed”


“So Rule 3 has been strengthened — that was specifically mentioned, by the way, in the advance notices on the SPD models — so that his allergy to danger is unusually high.

At the same time, when you sent him out after the selenium, you gave him his order casually and without special emphasis, so that the Rule 2 potential set-up was rather weak. Now, hold on; I’m just stating facts.”

“All right, go ahead. I think I get it.”

“You see how it works, don’t you? There’s some sort of danger centering at the selenium pool. It increases as he approaches, and at a certain distance from it the Rule 3 potential, unusually high to start with, exactly balances the Rule 2 potential, unusually low to start with.”

Donovan rose to his feet in excitement. “ And it strikes an equilibrium. I see. Rule 3 drives himback and Rule 2 drives him forward –”

“So he follows a circle around the selenium pool, staying on the locus of all points of potential equilibrium. And unless we do something about it, he’ll stay on that circle forever, giving us the good old runaround.” Then, more thoughtfully: “And that, by the way, is what makes him drunk.  At potential equilibrium, half the positronic paths of his brain are out of kilter. I’m not a robot specialist, but that seems obvious. Probably he’s lost control of just those parts of his voluntary mechanism that a human drunk has. Ve-e-ery pretty.”

“But what’s the danger? If we knew what he was running from –”?

“You suggested it. Volcanic action. Somewhere right above the selenium pool is a seepage of gas from the bowels of Mercury. Sulphur dioxide, carbon dioxide — and carbon monoxide. Lots of it and at this temperature.”

Donovan gulped audibly. “Carbon monoxide plus iron gives the volatile iron carbonyl.”

“And a robot,” added Powell, “is essentially iron.” Then, grimly: “There’s nothing like deduction.  We’ve determined everything about our problem but the solution. We can’t get the selenium ourselves. It’s still too far. We can’t send these robot horses, because they can’t go themselves, and they can’t carry us fast enough to keep us from crisping. And we can’t catch Speedy, because the dope thinks we’re playing games, and he can run sixty miles to our four.”

“If one of us goes,” began Donovan, tentatively, “and comes back cooked, there’ll still be the other.”

“Yes,” came the sarcastic reply, “it would be a most tender sacrifice — except that a person would be in no condition to give orders before he ever reached the pool, and I don’t think the robots would ever turn back to the cliff without orders. Figure it out! We’re two or three miles from the pool — call it two —the robot travels at four miles an hour; and we can last twenty minutes in our suits. It isn’t only the heat, remember. Solar radiation out here in the ultraviolet and below is poison.”

“Um-m-m,” said Donovan, “ten minutes short.”

“As good as an eternity. And another thing, in order for Rule 3 potential to have stopped Speedy where it did, there must be an appreciable amount of carbon monoxide in the metal-vapor atmosphere—and there must be an appreciable corrosive action therefore. He’s been out hoursnow — and how do we know when a knee joint, for instance, won’t be thrown out of kilter and keel him over. It’s not only a question of thinking — we’ve got to think fast!”

Deep, dark, dank, dismal silence!

Donovan broke it, voice trembling in an effort to keep itself emotionless. He said: “As long as we can’t increase Rule 2 potential by giving further orders, how about working the other way? If we increase the danger, we increase Rule 3 potential and drive him backward.”

Powell’s visiplate had turned toward him in a silent question.

“You see,” came the cautious explanation, “all we need to do to drive him out of his rut is to increase the concentration of carbon monoxide in his vi cinity. Well, back at the Station there’s a complete analytical laboratory.”

“Naturally,” assented Powell. “It’s a Mining Station.”

“All right. There must be pounds of oxalic acid for calcium precipitations.”

“Holy space! Mike, you’re a genius.”

Issac Asimov, I, Robot

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--> @oromagi
Nice one.
I always liked the story, Reason, in I, Robot.
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--> @Lemming
It's the first time Asimov really lays out the 3 laws which then frames so  many future great deduction scenes in the Robot series
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Back up, you too close you need to back up
We've been rolling up the backwoods
This blunt is not filled with tobacco
Chop the top on that da capo
Press the button watch it act up
I'm the one that other rappers
Let them also make a master

[Verse 1]
But pussy don't make you the man
Neither does poppin' the bands
Or talking follows on the gram
I know they sleeping, if I see another kid napping then I'll make them get in the van
Maybe sedan, uh, maybe someday, you wake up drunk in the trunk of a wraith
Hollywood Boulevard bumping the bass
I love it just look at the look on my face
They got me jogging in place
I'm bout to run out of patience
I see you running my place
Ooh, that's a cute imitation
This is a new simulation
No longer stuck in the matrix
I do not fuck with the playlist, fuck all the radio stations

Back up, you too close you need to back up
We've been rolling up the backwoods
This blunt is not filled with tobacco

[Verse 2]
Yeah, I need more negative feedback
Yeah, I wanna read that
This is debate, I want the hate, I really mean that, bring me the beat back
Okay it took me a minute to see that's how you getting to sell out arenas
Shooting my shot at a Bella Hadid, and you do not get a rebuttal or read back
I must admit I've been getting noted
I book up Gigi I didn't know her
I know the devil he on my shoulder
500 horses they in the motor
Hottest tamales in California
Colder than Yachty in Minnesota
I get to pick them in any order
No I do not spend a penny on them
I'm the one saving my dividends
I'm trying to upgrade the residence
I need the Franklin's, I need my Reagan's
Man to be honest I don't know my presidents
That doesn't mean that I'm giving in
You and the bitches are synonym
Don't give a fuck about what your opinion is

Ah, you got the hits
You are no man, why are you selling your 6
You do not call me a check, now Imma get rich
Call on label and tell them to suck on my dick
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Debates: 343
Posts: 10,476
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[Verse 3]
They call me privileged, y'all can't admit that I'm gifted
I did it without a label's assistance, I made the business decisions
I overcame the addictions, lived in the streets, got evicted
Kicked it with killers and strippers, but still my vision was different
I bought a mic, started spitting, produced the beats and I mixed it
I turned my hand into a fist and flipped a bird to the system
I prayed I'd finish my mission and keep my image consistent
I fixed the parts that were missing and switched the gas and the pistons
It's mathematics and physics, I had to travel the distance
I had to add some ambition and then subtract my suspicions
I wanted castles and riches, headed for caskets or prisons
I battled glasses of liquor and cabinets packed with prescriptions

[Verse 4]
And still these fucking rappers wanna sneak diss
All over my Facebook, always tryna tweet shit
I ain't gonna keep this a secret, my marketing genius
The algorithm triggered by exploiting your weakness
And y'all can call me clickbait and gimmicks, I call me rich
A million monthly listens on Spotify, suck my dick
I'm about to drop a couple million dollars on the crib
Quarter million on a whip, I just sent my mom a grip
And first of all, I heard it all, I could write a perfect song
I Google the net worth of rappers hating, and I don't respond
Middle finger from a private jet, I don't give a single flying fuck
Every single person I have met: pussy in person, on Twitter they tough

[Verse 5]
Yo, if rappers wanna beef, I got the roast pan
Put 'em in the dirt like a fucking UFO crash
Double time rappers mad I murder it with slow raps
All they do is go fast, turn 'em to some ghost with the most facts
Slow clap, pulling triggers quickly with no blowback
Cracking under pressure like a cold glass, no fence
Jealous that I rose fast, y'all are on the rollback
Look at your career: it's a joke, man
Promise that I won't laugh, say you got the smoke, can't afford gas
Oh man, so sad, you record your album in a closet full of clothes with a notepad
Strong on the outside, muscles with no bone mass
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Posts: 4,963
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The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

-Psalm 23
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Posts: 10,476
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Thirteen thousand in Portugal, that's arena talk
You still on your Training Day, you Ethan Hawke
Rappers with your get rich quick scheme gimmicks
Instead of hating you should focus on your sixteenth minute
We are not side by side, ain't no split-screen image
I'ma be around forever like a Springsteen ticket
I'm just bathing in success, yeah I rinse clean with it
I put my best foot forward like a Nowitzki pivot
I got blitzkrieg critics
They ain't wastin' no time
But I ain't wastin' no money, so I pay 'em no mind
That's a lie, I be snappin'
That's my fault, I'm adjustin' to people spreadin' lies about me
Just hatin' and judging
For the sake of discussion, in the hopes of some clout
Shit's been stressful, I just need some pretty hoes with some mouth
Put my home in the South, 10K square feet
Name your favorite rappers now, let's play "where's he?"
Probably chasin' a hit, probably lost in LA
Probably paying for likes, probably paying for plays
Probably owns a Corolla, but probably rents the Aventador
Business manager furious, like "What the fuck did you spend that for?"
Fuck y'all though, I'ma keep on winnin'
I got angels all around me, y'all can keep on sinnin'
'Cause ain't no way y'all are fuckin' up my light light
I spent two million just on taxes, somethin' light light
In hindsight, I was right all along, life of a don
Writin' songs, all those hooks were a fight to get on
You gotta see it way before it happens, yes yes
I'ma be the greatest, I won't settle for next best
Got your girl in her birthday suit, that's best dressed
Plus she likes girls too like Ellen DeGeneres
First class Emirates that's how I'm flyin'
SUVs on the tarmac, that's how I'm arrivin'
Presidential treatment, ooh this life so good
White skin, they can't believe that I got friends in the hood
I know the love songs and melodies throw y'all off
Don't give a fuck about your face tats, we know y'all soft
People we know with face tats got them for a reason
You use them for the gang culture aesthetic, you reachin'
A lot of kids are poppin' xans and sippin' lean now
A lot of rappers using Instagram to teach how
A lot of kids OD'ed that you don't read 'bout
'Cause they don't follow rappers, they just follow fiends now
But I'm the bad guy for callin' it out
I come in clutch with the truth, y'all are stallin' it out
I only get in trouble when I say the truth
Which means you gettin' fed lies everyday, you fools
Do your research before you try and speak on my name
Rappers wearing CZs and leasing the chains
The beats classic, I amaze myself
I'm a boss, I'm a owner, yeah I pay myself
Fuck the capes of society, I saved myself
Even after all the millions bitch, I stayed myself
I still take my mom with me, Bugus still right here
New people think my buzz got here in a lightyear
Fuck y'all, this ain't a Toy Story
I eat Nigerian, save some moimoi for me
Yeah, lot of y'all girls I coulda hit
But I'm the type to pass the pussy to stay home and cut a hit
Never fuck a chick at her house, she got exes
I just bought a crib, I got guns, I got exits
Cameras at the entrance
Try if you want to
Bugus told me, "God forbid they get you, I got you"
I'm an idol, people treat me like Billy
Singin' and rappin' goin' platinum, people treat me like Drizzy
Take the studio with me
Set up shop in the telly
I've watched a lot of rappers talk but then they flop like Belly
There ain't shit you can tell me, you can save that shit
Fake convos before favors, I hate that shit
Yesterday turned down a 150,000
I ain't trippin' 'bout it
I get that every week like allowance
From my independent catalog
Fuck these rec league rappers tryna battle 'Bron
Stay in your lane, this is big business
Move bitch, get back like Chris Bridges
I remember only sellin' like six tickets
Now I make the girls crazy like Sid Vicious
I coulda played it different, coulda silenced all my truths
Coulda buddied up with rappers for the sake of looking cool
But it's not in me to be fake, I can't do it
I can see through it, man this game is translucent
They twist the truth for the headline drama
Clicks create traffic, traffic creates dollars
The sheep believe it, they ain't up on game yet
Smooth rides ain't as fun to watch as trainwrecks (damn)
Controversy is currency, controversy is clout
That's why my haters keep my name in their mouth
Y'all are hopeless, this is a decade of devotion
It's hard to stop my movement when I'm already in motion
This ain't luck, this is by design
I had to work in the dark for my light to shine
A lot of people are dope, they just quit too soon
A lot of rappers go broke, 'cause they got rich too soon (damn)
My confidence plus my success is just a mirror for some
It forces them to look around and see what they haven't done
That's a line for any hater, y'all are mad at yourselves
Judging every move I make, y'all distractin' yourselves
You could do this shit too if you wanted
But you would rather sit around and bitch and make comments
Oh well, suit yourself, be miserable
I'm country-hoppin' in a jet, that's the visual
I saw this coming in my hoodie with the plaid flannel
I bet on myself, yeah I had to gamble
I feel like I'm half god, half mammal
Bitch I turned my life into the Travel Channel
I'm not home, I'm in Stockholm
With heated floors and the beds with the soft foam
It's like clockwork watching sore losers poke their heads out
Every time I big myself up, they get stressed out
I'm the best out, yeah I said it
Self-made millionaire, you know what's up with the credits
I'm the best out, yeah I said it
Self-made millionaire, you know what's up with the credits
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Debates: 343
Posts: 10,476
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[Verse 1: Joell Ortiz]
You can't tell me shit, I'm in this bitch takin' Belve' sips
Feeling like the only one who truly knew Joell'd be rich
I'm walking in the 40 feeling 26 as I watch heavy wrist pull-ups, push-ups and dips 20 a clip
In my tank top looking like the old fif
Enemy killer on my hip
Guess that's why they call it a fo' fifth
Jump in my new whip
Bumping some old shit, grown shit
Fahrenheit cologne shit, oh shit
The first half deposits from them shows hit
Bank teller cougar looking at your boy ferocious
No miss, I'm a married man
Wife badder than arrival time of ambulances
In the hood with traffic jams after them cannons blam
Digital scale with shake on it going hand to hand
Now business deals we shake on, it's still a hand to hand
But different though
Careful how you livin' bro
I keep business on my mind and stay minding my business, yo

[Chorus: KXNG Crooked]
Somebody said, "Get your money young man"
I was walking in a store
Triple OG by the door
He looked up and he said, "Yo! Get your money young man"
But be careful how you make it
'Cause them people wanna take it
Leave your bank account naked
"Get your money young man"
Now the roles done changed
I'm giving these kids game
I tell 'em the same thing, "Get your money young man"
And there's six million ways to get it
Choose one

[Verse 2: KXNG Crooked]
The cabinets were bare
Mama could barely prepare the recipes
I got on my grizzly then go get the honey
Wanted more than the bare necessities
The air, the seven seas, the land
I traveled every place on the face of the earth
To repair discrepancies in my generational curse
Went everywhere for extra cheese
So drop your diss song
You'll be a wrap over wax like record sleeves
When the heckler sneeze
We ain't playing with celebrities
Y'all playing, we the referees
Flexing our expertise
Used to slang and peddle death
Got the amphetamines from a Blood
That's red and meth
Niggas went from Haile Selassie to Emeril Lagasse
Whippin' work, ghetto chef
Ballin', tryna catch a check
But falling down Heaven steps
Do better, this a new letter to whoever's next
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"New radar contact. Designate Raid-2-"
"What?" snapped Baker. Next came a call from the fighters.
"Clipper Base, this is Slugger Lead. I have a visual on my target." The squadron commander was trying to examine the target on his long-range TV camera. When he spoke, the anguish in his voice was manifest. "Warning, warning, this is not a Badger. We've been shooting at Kelt missiles!"
"Raid-2 is seventy-three aircraft, bearing two-one-seven, range one-three-zero miles. We have a Big Bulge radar tracking the formation," said the CIC talker.
Toland cringed as the new contacts were plotted. "Admiral, we've been had."
The group tactical warfare officer was pale as he toggled his microphone. "Air Warning Red. Weapons free! Threat axis is two-one-seven. All ships turn as necessary to unmask batteries."
The Tomcats had all been drawn off, leaving the formation practically naked. The only armed fighters over the formation were Foch's eight Crusaders, long since retired from the American inventory. On a terse command from their carrier, they went to afterburner and rocketed southwest toward the Backfires. Too late.
The Bear already had a clear picture of the American formations. The Russians could not determine ship type, but they could tell large from small, and identify the missile cruiser Ticonderoga by her distinctive radar emissions. The carriers would be close to her. The Bear relayed the information to her consorts. A minute later, the seventy Backfire bombers launched their hundred forty AS-6 Kingfish missiles and turned north at full military power. The Kingfish was nothing like the Kelt. Powered by a liquid-fuel rocket engine, it accelerated to nine hundred knots and began its descent, its radar-homing head tracking on a preprogrammed target area ten miles wide. Every ship in the center of the formation had several missiles assigned.
"Vampire, Vampire!" the CIC talker said aboard Ticonderoga. "We have numerous incoming missiles. Weapons free."
The group antiair warfare officer ordered the cruiser's Aegis weapons system into full automatic mode. Tico had been built with this exact situation in mind. Her powerful radar/computer system immediately identified the incoming missiles as hostile and assigned each a priority of destruction. The computer was completely on its own, free to fire on its electronic will at anything diagnosed as a threat. Numbers, symbols, and vectors paraded across the master tactical display. The fore and aft twin missile launchers trained out at the first targets and awaited the orders to fire. Aegis was state-of-the-art, the best SAM system yet devised, but it had one major weakness: Tico carried only ninety-six SM2 surface-to-air missiles; there were one hundred forty incoming Kingfish. The computer had not been programmed to think about that.
Aboard Nimitz, Toland could feel the carrier heeling into a radical turn, her engines advanced to flank speed, driving the massive warship at over thirty-five knots. Her nuclear-powered escorts, Virginia and California, were also tracking the Kingfish, their own missiles trained out on their launchers.
The Kingfish were at eight thousand feet, one hundred miles out, covering a mile every four seconds. Each had now selected a target, choosing the largest within their fields of view. Nimitz was the nearest large ship, with her missile-ship escorts to her north.
Tico launched her first quartet of missiles as the targets reached a range of ninety-nine miles. The rockets exploded into the air, leaving a trail of pale gray smoke. They had barely cleared the launch rails when the mounts went vertical and swiveled to receive their reloads. The load-and-fire time was under eight seconds. The cruiser would average one missile fired every two seconds. Just over three minutes later, her missile magazines were empty. The cruiser emerged from the base of an enormous gray arch of smoke. Her only remaining defenses were her gun systems.
The SAMs raced in at their targets with a closing speed of over two thousand miles per hour, directed in by the reflected waves of the ship's own fire-control radars. At a range of a hundred fifty yards from their targets, the warheads detonated. The Aegis system did quite well. Just over 60 percent of the targets were destroyed. There were now eighty-two incoming missiles targeted on a total of eight ships.
Other missile-equipped ships joined the fray. In several cases two or three missiles were sent for the same target, usually killing it. The number of incoming "vampires" dropped to seventy, then sixty, but the number was not dropping quickly enough. The identity of the targets was now known to everyone. Powerful active jamming equipment came on. Ships began a radical series of maneuvers like some stylized dance, with scant attention paid to station-keeping. Collision at sea was now the least of anyone's worries. When the Kingfish got to within twenty miles, every ship in the formation began to fire off chaff rockets, which filled the air with millions of aluminized Mylar fragments that fluttered on the air, creating dozens of new targets for the missiles to select from. Some of the Kingfish lost lock with their targets and started chasing Mylar ghosts. Two of them got lost, and selected new targets on the far side of the formation.
The radar picture on Nimitz suddenly was obscured. What had been discrete pips designating the positions of ships in the formation became shapeless clouds. Only the missiles stayed constant: inverted V-shapes, with line vectors to designate direction and speed. The last wave of SAMs killed three more. The vampire count was down to forty-one. Toland counted five heading for Nimitz Topside, the final defensive weapons were now tracking the targets. These were the CIWS, 20mm Gatling guns, radar-equipped to explode incoming missiles at a range of under two thousand yards. Designed to operate in a fully automatic mode, the two after gun mounts on the carrier angled up and began to track the first pair of incoming Kingfish. The portside mount fired first, the six-barrel cannon making a sound like that of an enormous zipper. Its radar system tracked the target, and tracked the outgoing slugs, adjusting fire to make the two meet.
The leading Kingfish exploded eight hundred yards from Nimitz's port quarter. The thousand kilograms of high explosive rocked the ship. Toland felt it, wondering if the ship had been hit. Around him, the CIC crewmen were concentrating frantically on their jobs. One target track vanished from the screen. Four left.
The next Kingfish approached the carrier's bow and was blasted out of the sky by the forward CIWS, too close aboard. Fragments ripped across the carrier's deck, killing a dozen exposed crewmen.
Number three was decoyed by a chaff cloud and ran straight into the sea half a mile behind the carrier. The warhead caused the carrier to vibrate and raised a column of water a thousand feet into the air.
The fourth and fifth missiles came in from aft, not a hundred yards apart. The after gun mount tracked on both, but couldn't decide which to engage first. It went into Reset mode and petulantly didn't engage any. The missiles hit within a second of one another, one on the after port corner of the flight deck, the other on the number two arrestor wire.
Toland was thrown fifteen feet, and slammed against a radar console. Next he saw a wall of pink flame that washed briefly over him. Then came the noises. First the thunder of the explosion. Then the screams. The after CIC bulkhead was no longer there; instead there was a mass of flame. Men twenty feet away were ablaze, staggering and screaming before his eyes. Toland's only thought was escape. He bolted for the watertight door. It opened miraculously under his hand and he ran to starboard. The ship's fire-suppression systems were already on, showering everything with a curtain of saltwater. His skin burned from it as he emerged, hair and uniform singed, to the flight deck catwalk. A sailor directed a water hose on him, nearly knocking him over the side.
"Fire in CIC!" Toland gasped.
"What the hell ain't!" the sailor screamed.
Toland fell to his knees and looked outboard. Foch had been to their north, he remembered. Now there was a pillar of smoke. As he watched, the last Kingfish was detonated a hundred feet over Saratoga's flight deck. The carrier seemed undamaged. Three miles away, Ticonderoga's after superstructure was shredded and ablaze from a rocket that had blown up within yards of her. On the horizon a ball of flame announced the destruction of yet another-my God, Toland thought, might that be Saipan? She had two thousand Marines aboard...
"Get forward, you dumbass!" a firefighter yelled at him. Another man emerged to the catwalk.
"Toland, you all right?" It was Captain Svenson, his shirt torn away and his chest bleeding from a half-dozen cuts.
"Yes, sir," Bob answered.
"Get to the bridge. Tell 'em to put the wind on the starboard beam. Move!" Svenson jumped up onto the flight deck.
Toland did likewise, racing forward. The deck was awash in firefighting foam, slippery as oil. Toland ran recklessly, falling hard on the deck before he reached the carrier's island. He was in the pilothouse in under a minute.
"Captain says put the wind on the starboard beam!" Toland said.
"It is on the fucking beam!" the executive officer snapped back. The bridge deck was covered with broken glass. "How's the skipper?"
"Alive. He's aft with the fire."
"And who the hell are you?" the XO demanded.
"Toland, group intel. I was in CIC."
"Then you're one lucky bastard. That second bird hit fifty yards from you. Captain got out? Anyone else?"
"I don't know. Burning like hell."
"Looks like you caught part of it, Commander."
Bob's face felt as if he'd shaved with a piece of glass. His eyebrows crumpled to his touch. "Flashburns, I guess. I'll be okay. What do you want me to do?"
The XO pointed to Toland's water wings. "Can you conn the ship.? Okay, do it. Nothing left to run into anyway. I'm going aft to take charge of the fire. Communications are out, radar's out, but the engines are okay and the hull's in good shape. Mr. Bice has the deck. Mr. Toland has the conn," XO announced as he left.
Toland hadn't conned anything bigger than a Boston Whaler in over ten years, and now he had a damaged carrier. He took a pair of binoculars and looked around to see what ships were nearby. What he saw chilled him.
Saratoga was the only ship that looked intact, but on second glance her radar mast was askew. Foch was lower in the water than she ought to have been, and ablaze from bow to stem.
"Where's Saipan?"
"Blew up like a fucking firework," Commander Bice replied. "Holy Jesus, there were twenty-five hundred men aboard! Tico took one close aboard. Foch took three hits, looks like she's gone. Two frigates and a destroyer gone, too-just fucking gone, man! Who fucked up? You were in CIC, right? Who fucked up?"

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The eight French Crusaders were just making contact with the Backfires. The Russian bombers were on afterburner and were nearly as fast as the fighters. The carrier pilots had all heard their ship go off the air and were consumed with rage at what had happened, no longer the cool professionals who drove fighters off ships. Only ten Backfires were within their reach. They got six of them with their missiles and damaged two more before they had to break off.
USS Caron, the senior undamaged ship, tracked the Russians on her radar, calling Britain for fighters to intercept them on the trip home. But the Russians had anticipated this, and detoured far west of the British Isles, meeting their tankers four hundred miles west of Norway.
Already the Russians were evaluating the results of their mission. The first major battle of modem carriers and missile-armed bombers had been won and lost. Both sides knew which was which.
The fire on Nimitz was out within an hour. With no aircraft aboard, there were few combustibles about, and the ship's firefighting abilities equaled that of a large city. Toland brought her back to an easterly course. Saratoga was recovering aircraft, refueling them, and sending all but the fighters to the beach. Three frigates and a destroyer lingered to recover survivors, as the large ships turned back toward Europe.
"All ahead full," Svenson ordered from his seat on the bridge. "Toland, you all right?"
"No complaints." No point in it, the ship's hospital was more than full with hundreds of major injury cases. h hundreds of major injury cases. There was no count of the dead yet, and Toland didn't want to think about that.
"You were right," the captain said, his voice angry and subdued. "You were right. They made it too easy and we fell for it."
"There'll be another day, Captain.,,
"You're Goddamned right there will! We're heading for Southampton.
See if the Brits can fix anything this big. My regulars are still busy aft. Think you can handle the conn a little longer?"
"Yes, sir. "
Nimitz and her nuclear escorts bent on full speed, nearly forty knots, and rapidly left the formation behind. A reckless move, racing too fast for antisubmarine patrols, but a submarine would have to move quickly indeed to catch them.

Tom Clancy, Red Storm Rising

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We'd been decelerating at two gravities for almost nine days when the battle began.

Lying on our couches being miserable, all we felt were two soft bumps, missiles being released. Some eight hours later, the squawk box crackled:

"Attention, all crew. This is the captain."  Quinsana, the pilot, was only a lieutenant, but was allowed to call himself captain aboard the vessel, where he outranked all of us, even Captain Stott. "You grunts in the cargo hold can listen, too. 

"We just engaged the enemy with two fifty-gigaton tachyon missiles and have destroyed both the enemy vessel and another object which it had launched approximately three microseconds before.

"The enemy has been trying to overtake us for the past 179 hours, ship time.  At the time of the engagement, the enemy was moving at a little over half the speed of light, relative to Aleph, and was only about thirty AU's from Earth's Hope.  It was moving at .47c relative to us, and thus we would have been coincident in space-time"- rammed!-' 'in a little more than nine hours. The missiles were launched at 0719 ship's time, and destroyed the enemy at 1540, both tachyon bombs detonating within a thousand klicks of the enemy objects."

"The two missiles were a type whose propulsion system was itself only a barely-controlled tachyon bomb. They accelerated at a constant rate of 100 gees, and were traveling at a relativistic speed by the time the nearby mass of the enemy ship detonated them.

"We expect no further interference from enemy vessels. Our velocity with respect to Aleph will be zero in another five hours; we will then begin the journey back. The return will take twenty-seven days. "

General moans and dejected cussing. Everybody knew all that already, of course; but we didn't care to be reminded of it.

So after another month of logy calisthenics and drill, at a constant two gravities, we got our first look at the planet we were going to attack.

Invaders from outer space, yes sir.

Joe Haldeman, The Forever War
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Out front, George Pickett had ridden out before the whole division, was making a speech, but he was too far away and none of the men could hear. Then Pickett raised his sword. The order came down the line. Armistead, his voice never strong, bawled hoarsely, with all his force, “All right now, boys, for your wives, your sweethearts, for Virginia! At route step, forward, ho!
He drew his sword, pointed it toward the ridge.
The brigade began to move.
He heard a chattering begin in the ranks. Someone seemed to be trying to tell a story. A man said, “Save your breath, boy.” They moved in the tall grass, Garnett’s whole line in front of them. The grass was trampled now, here and there a part in the line as men stepped aside to avoid a dead body, lost the day before. Armistead could still see nothing, nothing but the backs of the troops before him. He saw one man falter, looking to the right, gray-faced, to the sergeant who was watching him, had evidently been warned against him, now lifted a rifle and pointed it that way and the man got back into line.
The Northern artillery opened up, as if it had been asleep, or pulled back to lure them in. Massive wave of fire rolled over from the left. Pettigrew was getting it, then on the right batteries on the Rocky Hill were firing on Kemper. Garnett not yet really touched. Nothing much coming this way. But we didn’t drive off any Yankee guns. Win’s doing. He made them cease fire, knowing soon we’d be in the open. Guns to the left and right, nothing much in the center. Garnett’s doing well.
He began to see. They were coming out into the open, up to where the ground dipped toward the Emmitsburg Road. Now to the left he could see the great mass of Pettigrew’s division, with Trimble coming up behind him, advancing in superb order, line after line, a stunning sight, red battle flags, row on row. Could not see Pettigrew, nor Trimble. The line must be a mile long. A mile of men, armed and coming, the earth shuddering with their movement, with the sound of the guns. A shell exploded in Garnett’s line, another; gaps began to appear. Armistead heard the sergeants’ hoarse “Close it up, close it up,” and behind him he heard his own men coming and a voice saying calmly, cheerily, “Steady, boys, steady, there now, you can see the enemy, now you aint blind anymore, now you know exactly where’s to go, aint that fine?” A voice said hollowly, “That’s just fine.”
But the artillery sound was blossoming. A whole new set of batteries opened up; he could see smoke rolling across the top of the hill, and no counterfire from behind, no Southern batteries. God, he thought, they’re out of ammunition. But no, of course not; they just don’t like firing over our heads. And even as he thought of that he saw a battery moving out of the woods to his left, being rushed up to support the line. And then the first shell struck near him, percussion, killing a mass of men to his right rear, his own men, and from then on the shells came down increasingly, as the first fat drops of an advancing storm, but it was not truly bad. Close it up, close it up. Gaps in front, the newly dead, piles of red meat. One man down holding his stomach, blood pouring out of him like a butchered pig, young face, only a boy, the man bending over him trying to help, a sergeant screaming, “Damn it, I said close it up.”
Kemper’s brigade, ahead and to the right, was getting it. The batteries on the Rocky Hill were enfilading him, shooting right down his line, sometimes with solid shot, and you could see the damn black balls bouncing along like bowling balls, and here and there, in the air, tumbling over and over like a blood-spouting cartwheel, a piece of a man.
Armistead turned to look back. Solid line behind him, God bless them, coming on. Not so bad, now, is it? We’ll do it, with God’s help. Coming, they are, to a man. All good men here. He turned back to the front. Garnett’s men were nearing the road. He could see old Dick, still there, on the great black horse. And then the first storm of musketry: the line of skirmishers. He winced. Could not see, but knew. Long line of men in blue, lined, waiting, their sights set, waiting, and now the first line of gray is near, clear, nearer, unmissable, an officer screams, if they’re soldiers at all they cannot miss, and they’re Hancock’s men. Armistead saw a visible waver pass through the ranks in front of him. Close it up, close it up. The line seemed to have drifted slightly to the left. Heavy roll of musket fire now. The march slowing. He saw Garnett move down, thought for a moment, but no, he was moving down into that one swale, the protected area Pickett had spoken of. Armistead halted the men. Stood incredibly still in the open field with the artillery coming down like hail, great bloody hail. To the left, two hundred yards away, Pettigrew’s men were slowing. Some of the men in front had stopped to fire. No point in that, too soon, too soon. Pickett’s left oblique began. The whole line shifted left, moving to join with Pettigrew’s flank, to close the gap. It was beautifully done, superbly done, under fire, in the face of the enemy. Armistead felt enormous pride, his chest filled and stuffed with a furious love. He peered left, could not see Trimble. But they were closing in, the great mass converging. Now he moved up and he could see the clump of trees, the one tree like an umbrella, Lee’s objective, and then it was gone in smoke.
Garnett’s boys had reached the road. They were slowing, taking down rails. Musket fire was beginning to reach them. The great noise increased, beating of wings in the air. More dead men: a long neat line of dead, like a shattered fence. And now the canister, oh God, he shuddered, millions of metal balls whirring through the air like startled quail, murderous quail, and now for the first time there was screaming, very bad sounds to hear. He began to move past wounded struggling to the rear, men falling out to help, heard the sergeants ordering the men back into line, saw gray faces as he passed, eyes sick with fear, but the line moved on. Dress it up, close it up. He looked back for a moment and walked backward up the long rise, looking backward at his line, coming steadily, slowly, heads down as if into the wind, then he turned back to face the front.
To the right the line was breaking. He saw the line falter, the men beginning to clump together. Massed fire from there. In the smoke he could see a blue line. Kemper’s boys were shifting this way, slowing. Armistead was closing in. He saw a horse coming down through the smoke: Kemper. Riding. Because Garnett rode. Still alive, even on the horse. But there was blood on his shoulder, blood on his face, his arm hung limp, he had no sword. He rode to Armistead, face streaked and gray, screaming something Armistead could not hear, then came up closer and turned, waving the bloody arm.
“Got to come up, come up, help me, in God’s name. They’re flanking me, they’re coming down on the right and firing right into us, the line’s breaking, we’ve got to have help.”
Armistead yelled encouragement; Kemper tried to explain. They could not hear each other. A shell blew very close, on the far side of the horse, and Armistead, partially shielded, saw black fragments rush by, saw Kemper nearly fall. He grabbed Kemper’s hand, screaming, “I’ll double-time.” Kemper said, “Come quick, come quick, for God’s sake,” and reined the horse up and turned back to the right. And beyond him Armistead saw a long blue line, Union boys out in the open, kneeling and firing from the right, and beyond that violent light of rows of cannon, and another flight of canister passed over. Kemper’s men had stopped to fire, were drifting left. Too much smoke to see. Armistead turned, called his aides, took off the old black felt and put it on the tip of his sword and raised it high in the air. He called for double-time, double-time; the cry went down the line. The men began to run. He saw the line waver, ragged now, long legs beginning to eat up the ground, shorter legs falling behind, gaps appearing, men actually seeming to disappear, just to vanish out of the line, leaving a stunned vacancy, and the line slowly closing again, close it up, close it up, beginning to ripple and fold but still a line, still moving forward in the smoke and the beating noise.
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They came to the road. It was sunken into the field, choked like the bed of a stream with mounded men. Armistead jumped down, saw a boy in front of him, kneeling, crying, a row of men crouched under the far bank, an officer yelling, pounding with the flat of his sword. There was a house to the right, smoke pouring from the roof, a great clog of men jammed behind the house, but men were moving across the road and up toward the ridge. There was a boy on his knees on the road edge, staring upward toward the ridge, unmoving. Armistead touched him on the shoulder, said, “Come on, boy, come on.” The boy looked up with sick eyes, eyes soft and black like pieces of coal. Armistead said, “Come on, boy. What will you think of yourself tomorrow?”
The boy did not move. Armistead told an officer nearby; “Move these people out.” He climbed up the roadbank, over the gray rails on the far side, between two dead bodies, one a sergeant, face vaguely familiar, eyes open, very blue. Armistead stood high, trying to see.
Kemper’s men had come apart, drifting left. There was a mass ahead but it did not seem to be moving. Up there the wall was a terrible thing, flame and smoke. He had to squint to look at it, kept his head down, looked left, saw Pettigrew’s men still moving, but the neat lines were gone, growing confusion, the flags dropping, no Rebel yell now, no more screams of victory, the men falling here and there like trees before an invisible ax, you could see them go one by one and in clumps, suddenly, in among the columns of smoke from the shell. Far to the left he saw: Pettigrew’s men were running. He saw red flags streaming back to the rear. One of Pettigrew’s brigades had broken on the far left. Armistead raised his sword, saw that the sword had gone through the hat and the hat was now down near his hand. He put the hat up again, the sword point on a new place, started screaming, follow me, follow me, and began the long last walk toward the ridge. No need for hurry now, too tired to run, expecting to be hit at any moment. Over on the right no horse. Kemper was down, impossible to live up there. Armistead moved on, expecting to die, but was not hit. He moved closer to the wall up there, past mounds of bodies, no line any more, just men moving forward at different speeds, stopping to fire, stopping to die, drifting back like leaves blown from the fire ahead. Armistead thought: we won’t make it. He lifted the sword again, screaming, and moved on, closer, closer, but it was all coming apart; the whole world was dying. Armistead felt a blow in the thigh, stopped, looked down at blood on his right leg. But no pain. He could walk. He moved on. There was a horse coming down the ridge: great black horse with blood all over the chest, blood streaming through bubbly holes, blood on the saddle, dying eyes, smoke-gray at the muzzle: Garnett’s horse.
Armistead held to watch the horse go by, tried to touch it. He looked for Garnett ahead; he might be afoot, might still be alive. But vision was mistier. Much, much smoke. Closer now. He could see separate heads; he could see men firing over the wall. The charge had come to a halt; the attack had stopped. The men ahead were kneeling to fire at the blue men on the far side of the wall, firing at the gunners of the terrible cannon. Canister came down in floods, wiping bloody holes. A few flags tilted forward, but there was no motion; the men had stalled, unable to go on, still thirty yards from the wall and no visible halt, unable to advance, unwilling to run, a deadly paralysis.
Armistead stopped, looked. Pettigrew’s men were coming up on the left: not many, not enough. Here he had a few hundred. To the right Kemper’s brigade had broken, but some of the men still fired. Armistead paused for one long second. It’s impossible now, cannot be done; we have failed and it’s all done, all those boys are dead, it’s all done, and then he began to move forward automatically, instinctively, raising the black hat on the sword again, beginning to scream, “Virginians! With me! With me!” and he moved forward the last yards toward the wall, drawn by the pluck of that great force from within, for home, for country, and now the ground went by slowly, inexorably, like a great slow river, and the moment went by black and slow, close to the wall, closer, walking now on the backs of dead men, troops around beginning to move, yelling at last the wild Rebel yell, and the blue troops began to break from the fence. Armistead came up to the stone wall, and the blue boys were falling back. He felt a moment of incredible joy. A hot slap of air brushed his face, but he was not hit; to the right a great blast of canister and all the troops to his right were down, but then there was another rush, and Armistead leaped to the top of the wall, balanced high on the stones, seeing the blue troops running up the slope into the guns, and then he came down on the other side, had done it, had gotten inside the wall, and men moved in around him, screaming. And then he was hit, finally, in the side, doubling him. No pain at all, merely a nuisance. He moved toward a cannon the boys had just taken. Some blue troops had stopped near the trees above and were kneeling and firing; he saw the rifles aimed at him. Too weary now. He had made it all this way; this way was enough. He put an arm on the cannon to steady himself. But now there was a rush from the right. Blue troops were closing in. Armistead’s vision blurred; the world turned soft and still. He saw again: a bloody tangle, men fighting hand to hand. An officer was riding toward him; there was a violent blow. He saw the sky, swirling round and round, thank God no pain. A sense of vast release, of great peace. I came all the way up, I came over the wall …
He sat against something. The fight went on. He looked down at his chest, saw the blood. Tried to breathe, experimentally, but now he could feel the end coming, now for the first time he sensed the sliding toward the dark, a weakening, a closing, all things ending now slowly and steadily and peacefully. He closed his eyes, opened them. A voice said, “I was riding toward you, sir, trying to knock you down. You didn’t have a chance.”
He looked up: a Union officer. I am not captured, I am dying. He tried to see: help me, help me. He was lifted slightly.
Everywhere the dead. All his boys. Blue soldiers stood around him. Down the hill he could see the gray boys moving back, a few flags fluttering. He closed his eyes on the sight, sank down in the dark, ready for death, knew it was coming, but it did not come. Not quite yet. Death comes at its own speed. He looked into the blue sky, at the shattered trees. It may be for years, it may be forever … The officer was speaking. Armistead said, “Is General Hancock … would like to see General Hancock.”
A man said, “I’m sorry, sir. General Hancock has been hit.”
“No,” Armistead said. He closed his eyes. Not both of us. Not all of us. Sent to Mira Hancock, to be opened in the event of my death. But not both of us, please dear God …
He opened his eyes. Closer now. The long slow fall begins.
“Will you tell General Hancock … Can you hear me, son?”
“I can hear you, sir.”
“Will you tell General Hancock, please, that General Armistead sends his regrets. Will you tell him … how very sorry I am …”
The energy failed. He felt himself flicker. But it was a long slow falling, very quiet, very peaceful, rather still, but always the motion, the darkness closing in, and so he fell out of the light and away, far away, and was gone.

Michael Shaara, The Killer Angels

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Can't you see? If a man could wail his own dirge before he dies,
he'd never finish.

To the guards.

Take her away, quickly!
Wall her up in the tomb,
you have your orders.
Abandon her there, alone,
and let her choose—
death or a buried life
with a good roof for shelter.
As for myself, my hands are clean.
This young girl—  dead or alive,
she will be stripped of her rights,
her stranger's rights,
here in the world above.

O tomb, my bridal-bed—my house,
my prison cut in the hollow rock,
my everlasting watch!
I'll soon be there,
soon embrace my own, 
the great growing family of our dead
Persephone has received
among her ghosts.

I, the last of them all,
the most reviled by far,
go down before
my destined time's run out.
But still I go, cherishing one good hope:
my arrival may be dear to father,
dear to you,  my mother,
dear to you, my loving brother, Eteocles—
When you died
I washed you with my hands,
I dressed you all,
I poured the sacred cups
across your tombs.
But now, Polynices,
because I laid your body
out as well, this,
this is my reward.   
Nevertheless I honored you—
the decent will admit it—
well and wisely too.

Never, I tell you,
if I had been the mother of children
or if my husband died,
exposed and rotting—
I'd never have taken
this ordeal upon myself,
never defied our people's will.
What law, you ask,
do I satisfy with what I say?
A husband dead,
there might have been another.
A child by another too,
if I had lost the first.
But mother and father both
lost in the halls of Death,
no brother could ever
spring to light again.
For this law alone
I held you first in honor.
For this, Creon, the king,
judges me a criminal
guilty of dreadful outrage,
my dear brother!
And now he leads me off,
a captive in his hands,
with no part in the bridal-song,
the bridal-bed,
denied all joy of marriage, raising children—
deserted so by loved ones,
struck by fate,
I descend alive
to the caverns of the dead.
What law of the mighty gods have I transgressed?
Why look to the heavens any more,
tormented as I am?
Whom to call, what comrades now?
Just think, 
my reverence only brands me for irreverence!
Very well:  if this is
the pleasure of the gods,
once I suffer I will know
that I was wrong.
But if these men are wrong,
let them suffer nothing worse
than they mete out to me—
these masters of injustice!

Still the same rough winds, the wild passion raging through the girl.


To the guards.

Take her away.
You're wasting time—
you'll pay for it too.

Oh god, the voice of death. It's come, it's here.

True. Not a word of hope—your doom is sealed.

Sophocles, Antigone 
Robert Fagles, (translation to English)
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La planète suivante était habitée par un buveur. Cette visite fut très courte, mais elle plongea le petit prince dans une grande mélancolie :

– Que fais-tu là ? dit-il au buveur, qu’il trouva installé en silence devant une collection de bouteilles vides et une collection de bouteilles pleines.

– Je bois, répondit le buveur, d’un air lugubre. – Pourquoi bois-tu ? lui demanda le petit prince. 

– Pour oublier, répondit le buveur.

– Pour oublier quoi ?  s’enquit le petit prince qui déjà le plaignait.

– Pour oublier que j’ai honte, avoua le buveur en baissant la tête.

– Honte de quoi ? s’informa le petit prince qui désirait le secourir.

– Honte de boire ! acheva le buveur qui s’enferma définitivement dans le silence.

Et le petit prince s’en fut, perplexe.

« Les grandes personnes sont décidément très très bizarres », se disait-il en lui-même durant le voyage.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery,  Le Petit Prince
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That hot defiant screech was the Bohane El Train as it took the last turn onto De Valera Street.  The El ran the snakebend of the street, its boxcar windows a blurring yellow on the downtown charge.  The main drag was deserted this wind-less a.m. and it was quiet also in the car that Gant was sat in.  There was just a pair of weeping hoors across the aisle - Norrie girls by the feline cut of the cheekbones - and a drunk in greasy Authority overalls down the way.  The El train was customarily sad in this last stretch before dawn, that much had not changed.  The screech of it was as a soul screech.  If you were lying there in the bed, lonesome, and succumbed to poetical thoughts, that screech would go through you.  It happens that we are often just so in Bohane.  No better men for the poetical thoughts. 
The Gant took a slick of sweat from his brow with the back of a big hand.  He had a pair of hands on him the size of Belfast sinks.  The sweat he found was after coming out on him sudden.  It was hot on the El train and the flush of heat brought to him a charge of feeling also, the Gant was in a fever spell this season.  The tang of stolen youth seeped up in his throat with the rasping burn of a nausea and on the El train in yellow light the Gant trembled but the familiar streets rushed past as the El train charged and the pain of memory without warning gave way to joy, a kind of joy - he was back! - and the Gant beamed then ecstatically as he sucked at the clammy morning air, and he listened to the hoors.  ‘I fucking loved dat blatherin’ fucker big time’ said one.  ‘He was filth, girl, s’bone truth of it’ consoled the other, he was casting off all over the town, y’ check me?  He took you for a gommie lackeen.’
 He was back among the city’s voices and it was the rhythm of them that slowed the rush of his thoughts.  He had been glad to hop on the El train up on the northside and take the weight off his old bones.  The Gant was back at last in the Bohane creation.  Down along the boxcar he saw the Authority man mouth a sadness through his sozzled half-sleep, most likely a woman’s name – was she as green and lazy eyed as the Gant’s lost love? - and the city unpeeled, image by image, as the El train screeched along De Valera Street: a shuttered store, a war hero’s plinth, an advert for a gout cure, a gull so ghostly on a lamp post. 
Morning was rising against the dim of the street lights and the lights caught just as the El screeched into its dockside terminus.  The train locked onto its berth - the rubber jolt of the stoppers meant you were downtown, meant you were in Bohane proper and the El’s diesel tanks settled and died. 
He let the hoors and the drunk off ahead of him.  The Gant as he disembarked was fleshy and hot-faced but there was no little grace to his big-man stride.  There was a nice roll to his movement – ye sketchin’?  This Gant had old time style. 
The station is named Bohane St. Francis Xavier, officially, but everyone here knows it as the Yella Hall.  The Gant sniffed at the evil undying air of the place as he walked through.  Even at a little after 6 in the morning the concourse was rudely alive and the throb of its noise was by the moment thickening.  Amputee walnut sellers croaked their prices from tragic blankets on the scarred tile floors, their stumps so artfully displayed.  The Bohane accent sounded everywhere, it was flat and harsh along the consonants, sing-song and soupy on the vowels, betimes vaguely Caribbean.  An old man bothered a melodeon as he stood on an upturned orange crate and he sang a lament for youth’s distant love.  The crate was stamped Tangier - a route that was open yet - and the old dude had belters of lungs on him, was the Gant’s opinion, though he teetered clearly on eternity’s maw. 
Choked back another tear did the Gant: he was big but soft, he was hard yet gentle.
The early edition of the Bohane Vindicator was in, the city’s only paper, but the bundles had as yet to be unwrapped by the kiosk man who listened with his eyes closed to an eerie sonata played on a transistor wireless at this hour on the Bohane Free Radio the selector tended towards the classical end of things and towards melancholy.  Nodded his head softly, the kiosk man, as the violins caught.
Oh we’d get medals for soulfulness out the tip end of the Bohane Peninsula. 
The hoors who had wept on the train were ahead of him now on the concourse, they had gathered themselves.  They were painting on bravery from their compacts as they walked.  They would be bound, he knew, for Smoketown and its early-morning trade.  The Gant watched as they went out through the yellow hall.  Ah look: the quick switching of their buttocks beneath the thin silk fabric of their rah-rah skirts, and the way their calves are so finely toned from half their young lives spent on 6-inch spike heels.  The sight of the girls made him sentimental.  He had run stables of  hoors himself as a young man.  There was a day when it was the Gant did the runnings of Smoketown, a day when the Gant had the runnings of the city entirely.
Was said out in Bohane the Gant ran it clean.  He looked out to the first of an October morning.  The gulls were going loo-la on the dockside stones.  Those gulls of course were never right.  That’s often said in Bohane, the sheer derangement in their eyes and the untranslatable evil of their cawing as they dive bomb the streets, the gulls of Bohane are one ignorant pack of fuckers.  He’d missed them terribly.  He laughed out loud as the gusts of morning wind flung the birds about the sky but he drew no looks, sure the Yella Hall would be crawling with wall-bangers at the best of times. 
The Gant set out towards the Smoketown footbridge.  He took a scrap of paper from his pocket and opened it, he read a hand that had not changed with the years - still those big nervous childish letters - and its scrawl spelt out these words:
Ho Pee Chin Oh-Kay Koffee Shoppe.
The Gant had a wee girl to meet at this place.  It was a good time for such a meeting, he could be lost among the crowd.  Smoketown he knew would be black at this hour of the morning.  The late shifts from the slaughterhouses and the breweries were only now clocking off.  Bohane builds sausages and Bohane builds beer.  We exist in the high 50s of latitude, after all, the winters are fierce and we need the inner fire that comes from a meat diet and voluminous drinking.  The plants worked all angles of the clock and after the night shift it was the custom to make for S’town and a brief revel.  In the dawn haze the brewery lads were dreamy-eyed from hops fume while the slaughterhouse boys had been all the silver and shade of night up to the oxters in the corpses of beasts, filling the wagons for the butchers’ slabs at the arcade market in the Bohane Trace and the wagons rolled out now across the greasy cobbles and it was a gory cargo they hauled:
 See the peeled heads of sheep and the vein fleshy haunches of pigs, and the glistening trays of livers and spleens, skirts and kidneys, lungs and tongues – carnivorous to a fault, we’d ate the whole lot for you out in Bohane. 
The Gant hunched his big shoulders against the morning chill.  The lowing of condemned beasts sounded in bass tones on the air – our stock yards are laid out along the wharf.  The Gant stepped over a gutter that ran torrentially with fresh blood. 
Now how, he wondered, was a man expected to think civilised thoughts in a city the likes of Bohane?

Kevin Barry, City of Bohane