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TRUE! nervous, very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why WILL you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses, not destroyed, not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How then am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily, how calmly, I can tell you the whole story.

It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain, but, once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! Yes, it was this! One of his eyes resembled that of a vulture -- a pale blue eye with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me my blood ran cold, and so by degrees, very gradually, I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye for ever.

Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded -- with what caution -- with what foresight, with what dissimulation, I went to work! I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him. And every night about midnight I turned the latch of his door and opened it oh, so gently! And then, when I had made an opening sufficient for my head, I put in a dark lantern all closed, closed so that no light shone out, and then I thrust in my head. Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in! I moved it slowly, very, very slowly, so that I might not disturb the old man's sleep. It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening so far that I could see him as he lay upon his bed. Ha! would a madman have been so wise as this? And then when my head was well in the room I undid the lantern cautiously -- oh, so cautiously -- cautiously (for the hinges creaked), I undid it just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye. And this I did for seven long nights, every night just at midnight, but I found the eye always closed, and so it was impossible to do the work, for it was not the old man who vexed me but his Evil Eye. And every morning, when the day broke, I went boldly into the chamber and spoke courageously to him, calling him by name in a hearty tone, and inquiring how he had passed the night. So you see he would have been a very profound old man, indeed, to suspect that every night, just at twelve, I looked in upon him while he slept.

Upon the eighth night I was more than usually cautious in opening the door. A watch's minute hand moves more quickly than did mine. Never before that night had I felt the extent of my own powers, of my sagacity. I could scarcely contain my feelings of triumph. To think that there I was opening the door little by little, and he not even to dream of my secret deeds or thoughts. I fairly chuckled at the idea, and perhaps he heard me, for he moved on the bed suddenly as if startled. Now you may think that I drew back -- but no. His room was as black as pitch with the thick darkness (for the shutters were close fastened through fear of robbers), and so I knew that he could not see the opening of the door, and I kept pushing it on steadily, steadily.

I had my head in, and was about to open the lantern, when my thumb slipped upon the tin fastening , and the old man sprang up in the bed, crying out, "Who's there?"

I kept quite still and said nothing. For a whole hour I did not move a muscle, and in the meantime I did not hear him lie down. He was still sitting up in the bed, listening; just as I have done night after night hearkening to the death watches in the wall.

Presently, I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was the groan of mortal terror. It was not a groan of pain or of grief -- oh, no! It was the low stifled sound that arises from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe. I knew the sound well. Many a night, just at midnight, when all the world slept, it has welled up from my own bosom, deepening, with its dreadful echo, the terrors that distracted me. I say I knew it well. I knew what the old man felt, and pitied him although I chuckled at heart. I knew that he had been lying awake ever since the first slight noise when he had turned in the bed. His fears had been ever since growing upon him. He had been trying to fancy them causeless, but could not. He had been saying to himself, "It is nothing but the wind in the chimney, it is only a mouse crossing the floor," or, "It is merely a cricket which has made a single chirp." Yes he has been trying to comfort himself with these suppositions; but he had found all in vain. ALL IN VAIN, because Death in approaching him had stalked with his black shadow before him and enveloped the victim. And it was the mournful influence of the unperceived shadow that caused him to feel, although he neither saw nor heard, to feel the presence of my head within the room.

When I had waited a long time very patiently without hearing him lie down, I resolved to open a little -- a very, very little crevice in the lantern. So I opened it -- you cannot imagine how stealthily, stealthily -- until at length a single dim ray like the thread of the spider shot out from the crevice and fell upon the vulture eye.

It was open, wide, wide open, and I grew furious as I gazed upon it. I saw it with perfect distinctness -- all a dull blue with a hideous veil over it that chilled the very marrow in my bones, but I could see nothing else of the old man's face or person, for I had directed the ray as if by instinct precisely upon the damned spot.

And now have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but over-acuteness of the senses? now, I say, there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I knew that sound well too. It was the beating of the old man's heart. It increased my fury as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage.

But even yet I refrained and kept still. I scarcely breathed. I held the lantern motionless. I tried how steadily I could maintain the ray upon the eye. Meantime the hellish tattoo of the heart increased. It grew quicker and quicker, and louder and louder, every instant. The old man's terror must have been extreme! It grew louder, I say, louder every moment! -- do you mark me well? I have told you that I am nervous: so I am. And now at the dead hour of the night, amid the dreadful silence of that old house, so strange a noise as this excited me to uncontrollable terror. Yet, for some minutes longer I refrained and stood still. But the beating grew louder, louder! I thought the heart must burst. And now a new anxiety seized me -- the sound would be heard by a neighbour! The old man's hour had come! With a loud yell, I threw open the lantern and leaped into the room. He shrieked once -- once only. In an instant I dragged him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over him. I then smiled gaily, to find the deed so far done. But for many minutes the heart beat on with a muffled sound. This, however, did not vex me; it would not be heard through the wall. At length it ceased. The old man was dead. I removed the bed and examined the corpse. Yes, he was stone, stone dead. I placed my hand upon the heart and held it there many minutes. There was no pulsation. He was stone dead. His eye would trouble me no more.

If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body. The night waned, and I worked hastily, but in silence.

I took up three planks from the flooring of the chamber, and deposited all between the scantlings. I then replaced the boards so cleverly so cunningly, that no human eye -- not even his -- could have detected anything wrong. There was nothing to wash out -- no stain of any kind -- no blood-spot whatever. I had been too wary for that.

When I had made an end of these labours, it was four o'clock -- still dark as midnight. As the bell sounded the hour, there came a knocking at the street door. I went down to open it with a light heart, -- for what had I now to fear? There entered three men, who introduced themselves, with perfect suavity, as officers of the police. A shriek had been heard by a neighbour during the night; suspicion of foul play had been aroused; information had been lodged at the police office, and they (the officers) had been deputed to search the premises.

I smiled, -- for what had I to fear? I bade the gentlemen welcome. The shriek, I said, was my own in a dream. The old man, I mentioned, was absent in the country. I took my visitors all over the house. I bade them search -- search well. I led them, at length, to his chamber. I showed them his treasures, secure, undisturbed. In the enthusiasm of my confidence, I brought chairs into the room, and desired them here to rest from their fatigues, while I myself, in the wild audacity of my perfect triumph, placed my own seat upon the very spot beneath which reposed the corpse of the victim.

The officers were satisfied. My MANNER had convinced them. I was singularly at ease. They sat and while I answered cheerily, they chatted of familiar things. But, ere long, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone. My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my ears; but still they sat, and still chatted. The ringing became more distinct: I talked more freely to get rid of the feeling: but it continued and gained definitiveness -- until, at length, I found that the noise was NOT within my ears.

No doubt I now grew VERY pale; but I talked more fluently, and with a heightened voice. Yet the sound increased -- and what could I do? It was A LOW, DULL, QUICK SOUND -- MUCH SUCH A SOUND AS A WATCH MAKES WHEN ENVELOPED IN COTTON. I gasped for breath, and yet the officers heard it not. I talked more quickly, more vehemently but the noise steadily increased. I arose and argued about trifles, in a high key and with violent gesticulations; but the noise steadily increased. Why WOULD they not be gone? I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observations of the men, but the noise steadily increased. O God! what COULD I do? I foamed -- I raved -- I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder -- louder -- louder! And still the men chatted pleasantly , and smiled. Was it possible they heard not? Almighty God! -- no, no? They heard! -- they suspected! -- they KNEW! -- they were making a mockery of my horror! -- this I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this agony! Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die! -- and now -- again -- hark! louder! louder! louder! LOUDER! --

"Villains!" I shrieked, "dissemble no more! I admit the deed! -- tear up the planks! -- here, here! -- it is the beating of his hideous heart!"

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The Tell-tale Heart

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Sonnet I

by William Shakespeare

From fairest creatures we desire increase,

That thereby beauty's rose might never die,

But as the riper should by time decease,

His tender heir might bear his memory:

But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes,

Feed'st thy light'st flame with self-substantial fuel,

Making a famine where abundance lies,

Thyself thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel.

Thou that art now the world's fresh ornament

And only herald to the gaudy spring,

Within thine own bud buriest thy content

And, tender churl, makest waste in niggarding.

Pity the world, or else this glutton be,

To eat the world's due, by the grave and thee.

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THE ROBBER BRIDEGROOM FAIRY TALE

by the Brothers Grimm


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Once upon a time... There was once a miller who had one beautiful daughter, and as she was grown up, he was anxious that she should be well married and provided for. He said to himself, 'I will give her to the first suitable man who comes and asks for her hand.'

Not long after a suitor appeared, and as he appeared to be very rich and the miller could see nothing in him with which to find fault, he betrothed his daughter to him. But the girl did not care for the man as a girl ought to care for her betrothed husband. She did not feel that she could trust him, and she could not look at him nor think of him without an inward shudder.

One day he said to her, 'You have not yet paid me a visit, although we have been betrothed for some time.' 'I do not know where your house is,' she answered. 'My house is out there in the dark forest,' he said. She tried to excuse herself by saying that she would not be able to find the way thither. Her betrothed only replied, 'You must come and see me next Sunday; I have already invited guests for that day, and that you may not mistake the way, I will strew ashes along the path.'

When Sunday came, and it was time for the girl to start, a feeling of dread came over her which she could not explain, and that she might be able to find her path again, she filled her pockets with peas and lentils to sprinkle on the ground as she went along. On reaching the entrance to the forest she found the path strewed with ashes, and these she followed, throwing down some peas on either side of her at every step she took. She walked the whole day until she came to the deepest, darkest part of the forest.

There she saw a lonely house, looking so grim and mysterious, that it did not please her at all. She stepped inside, but not a soul was to be seen, and a great silence reigned throughout. Suddenly a voice cried: 'Turn back, turn back, young maiden fair, Linger not in this murderers' lair.' The girl looked up and saw that the voice came from a bird hanging in a cage on the wall. Again it cried: 'Turn back, turn back, young maiden fair, Linger not in this murderers' lair.' The girl passed on, going from room to room of the house, but they were all empty, and still she saw no one.

At last she came to the cellar, and there sat a very, very old woman, who could not keep her head from shaking. 'Can you tell me,' asked the girl, 'if my betrothed husband lives here?' 'Ah, you poor child,' answered the old woman, 'what a place for you to come to! This is a murderers' den. You think yourself a promised bride, and that your marriage will soon take place, but it is with death that you will keep your marriage feast. Look, do you see that large cauldron of water which I am obliged to keep on the fire! As soon as they have you in their power they will kill you without mercy, and cook and eat you, for they are eaters of men. If I did not take pity on you and save you, you would be lost.'

Thereupon the old woman led her behind a large cask, which quite hid her from view. 'Keep as still as a mouse,' she said; 'do not move or speak, or it will be all over with you. Tonight, when the robbers are all asleep, we will flee together. I have long been waiting for an opportunity to escape.' The words were hardly out of her mouth when the godless crew returned, dragging another young girl along with them. They were all drunk, and paid no heed to her cries and lamentations. They gave her wine to drink, three glasses full, one of white wine, one of red, and one of yellow, and with that her heart gave way and she died. Then they tore off her dainty clothing, laid her on a table, and cut her beautiful body into pieces, and sprinkled salt upon it.

The poor betrothed girl crouched trembling and shuddering behind the cask, for she saw what a terrible fate had been intended for her by the robbers. One of them now noticed a gold ring still remaining on the little finger of the murdered girl, and as he could not draw it off easily, he took a hatchet and cut off the finger; but the finger sprang into the air, and fell behind the cask into the lap of the girl who was hiding there. The robber took a light and began looking for it, but he could not find it. 'Have you looked behind the large cask?' said one of the others.

But the old woman called out, 'Come and eat your suppers, and let the thing be till tomorrow; the finger won't run away.' 'The old woman is right,' said the robbers, and they ceased looking for the finger and sat down. The old woman then mixed a sleeping draught with their wine, and before long they were all lying on the floor of the cellar, fast asleep and snoring. As soon as the girl was assured of this, she came from behind the cask. She was obliged to step over the bodies of the sleepers, who were lying close together, and every moment she was filled with renewed dread lest she should awaken them. But God helped her, so that she passed safely over them, and then she and the old woman went upstairs, opened the door, and hastened as fast as they could from the murderers' den. They found the ashes scattered by the wind, but the peas and lentils had sprouted, and grown sufficiently above the ground, to guide them in the moonlight along the path.

All night long they walked, and it was morning before they reached the mill. Then the girl told her father all that had happened. The day came that had been fixed for the marriage. The bridegroom arrived and also a large company of guests, for the miller had taken care to invite all his friends and relations. As they sat at the feast, each guest in turn was asked to tell a tale; the bride sat still and did not say a word. 'And you, my love,' said the bridegroom, turning to her, 'is there no tale you know? Tell us something.'

'I will tell you a dream, then,' said the bride. 'I went alone through a forest and came at last to a house; not a soul could I find within, but a bird that was hanging in a cage on the wall cried: 'Turn back, turn back, young maiden fair, Linger not in this murderers' lair.' and again a second time it said these words.' 'My darling, this is only a dream.'

'I went on through the house from room to room, but they were all empty, and everything was so grim and mysterious. At last I went down to the cellar, and there sat a very, very old woman, who could not keep her head still. I asked her if my betrothed lived here, and she answered, "Ah, you poor child, you are come to a murderers' den; your betrothed does indeed live here, but he will kill you without mercy and afterwards cook and eat you."'

'My darling, this is only a dream.'

'The old woman hid me behind a large cask, and scarcely had she done this when the robbers returned home, dragging a young girl along with them. They gave her three kinds of wine to drink, white, red, and yellow, and with that she died.'

'My darling, this is only a dream.'

'Then they tore off her dainty clothing, and cut her beautiful body into pieces and sprinkled salt upon it.' 'My darling, this is only a dream.' 'And one of the robbers saw that there was a gold ring still left on her finger, and as it was difficult to draw off, he took a hatchet and cut off her finger; but the finger sprang into the air and fell behind the great cask into my lap. And here is the finger with the ring.' and with these words the bride drew forth the finger and showed it to the assembled guests.

The bridegroom, who during this recital had grown deadly pale, up and tried to escape, but the guests seized him and held him fast. They delivered him up to justice, and he and all his murderous band were condemned to death for their wicked deeds.

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A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Dane Allred

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Write Your Own Recommendation
by 
Dane Allred

Graduating from college is exciting, but the worst thing is now you have to find a job. You can’t sign up for another fencing class, because it’s time to get up and out in the real world. I’m a drama teacher, so that kind of specialization does limit your potential employers. Drama teachers tend to keep their jobs a long time, and when I graduated there were no jobs available in the state.

So I called about 300 places in California to see if there were any jobs.  I found three or four potential interviews. But I really needed something to make me stand out, so the people interviewing me would have something to remember.

Then I recalled that my step-father had an uncle who was the acting president of Westminster College. They were looking for a replacement, and he really had no experience in running a college, but he had great business connections. He was retired from other leadership positions.  He was really doing a great job for them, and if I could only get a recommendation letter from the acting president of another educational institution; that would really be a feather in my cap.

I had already interviewed this man for a radio class I had taken earlier in college, so I really didn’t think this was going to be a problem. I brashly walked into the administration building without an appointment and asked to see the acting president. The secretary paged him, and when he found out it was me, he let me right in.

This was way easier than even I ever thought it would be. So I went right into my pitch. I was graduating.  I was looking for a recommendation. I paused.

This guy was a master. I mean, he had negotiated multi-million dollar contracts; he'd led important organizations, even had his life threatened a time or two. He didn’t get where he was by writing recommendations for people who were about to graduate from college. I was sure that he would say he didn’t have the time.

Well, he turned and looked at me and simply said, “Sure.” And then he smiled a bit and he continued. “You write it, and I’ll sign it.” He gave a few sheets of letterhead with Westminster College and the official sounding title of “Acting President” on it.

I was dumbfounded. I was to write my own recommendation?

He just sat silently and stared at me.

I mumbled a “thank you” and told him I would be back in a couple of days.

I don’t know if you have ever been asked to write a recommendation for yourself, but it's more difficult than it sounds. I’ve already mentioned this is a guy who has been around the block a few times, and if I try to pad my resume, he’s going to know it. I also have the delightful opportunity to try and describe what I feel are my strengths without sounding too egotistical. And I am also responsible for making sure it sounds like he wrote it, when in fact I really wrote it myself. I have to be good enough at this that no one who reads it will think I wrote it myself and had him sign it.

I struggled and struggled to find the right wording for sentences and descriptions.  I tried not to slather on the praise too much. I worked harder on this single page of about three paragraphs than I had ever worked on any writing assignment in college.

I worked even harder on this than the one I wrote for one of the few English classes I took. The sad part about that twenty page paper is it was the entire basis for the grade in that class. I went to every class, read the books, commented in class; I thought I was the best student in the class. Little did I know that I was writing the paper in a completely wrong manner, and I got an F in the class. It was a great surprise to me when I read the comments of the teacher on my twenty page labor of love. He wrote “I have no idea what you are trying to say in this paper.” There was a large “F” on the front page, too, but I don’t remember if it was a big red “F”. I just remember it was an “F”. It’s okay; I didn’t need it for credit.

I was actually repeating it since I had signed up for the same class earlier with my wife. She had prudently dropped the class, while I had lagged behind until the drop deadline had passed and I received an “F” that first time, too. So the second “F” wasn’t such a big deal. But on my transcript there is an “F” crossed out and replaced with another “F”.

I didn’t put that in the recommendation letter.

The acting president signed it and never even read it.

from 
"A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Dane Allred"

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How Do I Love Thee?

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning


How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.

I love thee to the level of everyday's

Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.

I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;

I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.

I love thee with the passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints, I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life! and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.

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Daffodils
by William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling leaves in glee;
A poet could not be but gay,
In such a jocund company!
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

--

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Ozymandias
by Percy Bysshe Shelley

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."

--

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Chicago

BY
Carl Sandburg

Hog Butcher for the World,
   Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
   Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
   Stormy, husky, brawling,
   City of the Big Shoulders:


They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I have seen your painted women under the gas lamps luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the faces of women and children I have seen the marks of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities;
Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
   Bareheaded,
   Shoveling,
   Wrecking,
   Planning,
   Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse, and under his ribs the heart of the people,
                   Laughing!
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.

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Chicago
by Carl Sandburg
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LITERATURE OUT LOUD

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Ring out, wild bells

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
   The flying cloud, the frosty light:
   The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
   Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
   The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind
   For those that here we see no more;
   Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
   And ancient forms of party strife;
   Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
   The faithless coldness of the times;
   Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
   The civic slander and the spite;
   Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
   Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
   Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
   The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
   Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

--

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Ring Out Wild Bells
by
Alfred Tennyson
by Carl Sandburg
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Omelets in Cincinnati

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Omelets in Cincinnati

This story takes place more than three decades ago, so I probably shouldn’t name cities. Things might have changed, and I don’t want the people of Cincinnati angry about something that happened in the ‘70’s. I was in Ohio for a national meeting of high school students from all over the country, having just become a recent high school graduate myself.  I spent a week there, and I was preparing to go visit my great-grandmother in Kentucky for the very first time. The bus ticket had been purchased, and as I sat in the Cincinnati bus station, I decided I was hungry. Delicious aromas were wafting from the diner at the bus station, and one of my favorite breakfasts is a Denver omelet.

Now, a Denver omelet has two of my favorite foods; onions and bacon. It may sound strange to someone who hasn’t enjoyed bacony and oniony goodness cooked in eggs, but I would advise anyone who hasn’t tried one to do so before judging. But you may want them to hold the green peppers, which are usually also in a Denver omelet. I don’t like green peppers, so I have the cook hold the green peppers, and everyone is happy.

Now, sitting in a bus station diner was a new experience to me. I had never been in a bustling transportation center before, and as my breakfast was cooking, I contemplated the excitement of travel. I was listening to the noise build in the terminal as the morning travelers arrived. The smells from the kitchen were amazing.  As I sat with my mouth watering, waiting for my omelet to arrive, I don’t know if it was the new surroundings,or the fact I was hundreds of miles from home on a great adventure, travelling by myself for the first time, or the combination of all of the above, but I was excited. The omelet arrived; it looked delicious, and I was starving.

Did I mention a Denver omelet has cheese? The combination of eggs, bacon, onions and melted cheese are one of the most delicious breakfasts you could ever have, and it was one of the most delicious breakfasts I have ever had. I sprinkled a little bit of salt on it (since I put salt on almost everything, and yes -- I know it’s not healthy for me).  

My taste buds were in heaven. Yes, I love bacon by itself. I love onions and garlic because my stepfather wanted to be Italian and he was a great cook. Everything he cooked had onions and garlic in it. Even some sour cream cookies. What really happened was he liked to put garlic in the sour cream for baked potatoes, but then he forgot about the garlic when he made the sour cream cookies.  And they tasted okay, but had a kind of strange, sharp aftertaste. 

Anyway, so when that onion taste combined with the bacon, cheese and eggs, I was transported. I can still remember to this day how good that omelet tasted. There really aren’t many times you can have a breakfast you can recall decades later. As I finished the omelet I pushed the plate back in total satisfaction.

Now, to understand the next part of this story, you need to know I grew up in Utah. It’s a desert state, and the combination of the extreme heat and cold winters eliminates a lot of pest problems other places have. You may be anticipating where this story is going, so if you want to skip ahead I don’t blame you.

I looked into the kitchen. Since I was sitting in the middle of the front counter, there was a door leading right into the kitchen in front of me. I seem to remember the floor was a kind of an industrial yellow, not unexpected in a city bus station. As I sat there in bliss, the floor seemed to move a bit.

I wasn’t sure what I had just seen. Then the floor moved again. In fact, a couple of small pieces of the floor seemed to run quickly from one side of the door to the other. And then back again. I was a recent high school graduate, but my education hadn’t included this. Was I having hallucinations from the delicacy I had just consumed?

I looked closer, and the floor moved again. As I focused on a small yellow piece of the floor which had moved, stopped and then moved long enough for me to focus, I realized what I was seeing.

Cockroaches.

I'd never seen a cockroach in my life. I’d always wondered what they looked like. I really didn’t  know much about them, but I knew they weren’t supposed to be in a kitchen. And my stomach turned just a bit, and I'm happy to report that is all that happened. You know, if I knew then what I know now about cockroaches, my response might not have been so mild.

I’ve had Denver omelets since then, but that was the best.

LITERATURE OUT LOUD

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The Complete Collection of

SHAKESPEARE'S SONNETS

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Omelets In Cincinnati
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