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Kurt Vonnegut, The Art of Fiction No. 64
Issue no. 69 (Summer 1977)
It must have been a thrill to fire such a weapon.
Not really. We would put the shell in there, and then we would throw in bags of very slow and patient explosives. They were damp dog biscuits, I think. We would close the breech, and then trip a hammer which hit a fulminate of mercury percussion cap, which spit fire at the damp dog biscuits. The main idea, I think, was to generate steam. After a while, we could hear these cooking sounds. It was a lot like cooking a turkey. In utter safety, I think, we could have opened the breechblock from time to time, and basted the shell. Eventually, though, the howitzer always got restless. And finally it would heave back on its recoil mechanism, and it would have to expectorate the shell. The shell would come floating out like the Goodyear blimp. If we had had a stepladder, we could have painted “Fuck Hitler” on the shell as it left the gun. Helicopters could have taken after it and shot it down.
By M. F. Beal
Issue no. 98 (Winter 1985)
For more than three hours the mountains had loomed ahead yet they did not seem particularly closer to Louise. They grew somewhat larger through the windshield of her truck as it crested small rises in the otherwise flat-as-your-hand prairie, and the lowering yellow sun cast different shadows as it moved westward. The demarcations of color—ranging from the intense greened-up grasses of the hollows through the russet and gold of bench grass and into jagged snow at the timberline far in the distance—still shone lividly under the canopy of sky.
To My Father’s Ghost
By Peter Everwine
Issue no. 21 (Spring–Summer 1959)
The rain coerces memory,
And shadows cast upon the door
Love’s old encroachment and the face
Of one whose history
Unwinds within this dark, abiding place.
The years’ residual despair
Sifts downward, gathers to a blur
Of meaning, and the heart is dust.
Who am I? and I wear
Again love’s degradation, as I must …
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