The Sadness of Gregor Samsa

Or: Kafka meets Marquis

Franz Kafka, for those who don’t know, wrote, among other pieces, “Metamorphosis”, which opens with these words: “As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bead into a giant insect.” Some translations say dung beetle, some say cockroach. A classic

Don Marquis, for those who don’t know, was a newspaper columnist (a profession rapidly becoming one with buggy whip calibrator in historical placement) who, stuck for an idea for a column one day, invented Archy, a free-verse poet transmigrated into the body of a cockroach. Archy used the pre-electric typewriter by throwing himself headfirst onto the keys. Naturally, he couldn’t manage the shift key to make capitals, and punctuation was too much for him, so his pieces and poems were always a delightful challenge to read.

Thus, stuck for an idea today, and having met one of Archy and Gregor’s tribe, and having brutally yet regretfully sent him to Jesus, I give you this:

he was only a little brown cockroach
crawling about on the floor
trying to make a living
but now he will crawl no more

he lived in the house of a monster
and one day crawled into her view
and she though he never had harmed her
dispatched him at once with a shoe

oh pity the poor little cockroach
who never did anyone hurt
his body smashed flat as a tissue
swept up and discarded like dirt

I always feel bad about squishing bugs, but not bad enough not to do it.

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Write a story from the point of view of something small and insignificant to the human world.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “The Sadness of Gregor Samsa

  1. Jane

    May 18, 2012 at 8:52am

    Oh, my. Those … things.

    A lovely tribute to a fallen foe.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      May 18, 2012 at 8:54am

      Remember the epic battle in the basement of Burnham? The valiant House Mother standing alone against the Brown Horde? Made the Battle of Mordor look like a dance at the gym.

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      • Jane

        May 18, 2012 at 12:15pm

        Yes, how could one forget? I particularly liked the part where they leapt off the wall and flew towards us like huge kamikaze fighters.

        I still don’t put on my house shoes without giving them a shake.

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        • Author

          Marian Allen

          May 18, 2012 at 4:29pm

          And when they attacked the House Mother in a swarm, and she inched backward, spraying deadly gas, shouting for us to stay behind her. Wonder Woman is NOTHING to that lady!

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  2. Mitchell Allen

    May 18, 2012 at 11:54am


    I was tickled to see your treatment of the lowly cockroach. I was even more intrigued by the juxtaposition of “Marquis” with “buggy whip”.

    For once, I have completed the assignment before you gave it. The story of Ribbie and Pootie has been added to my compilation of word prompts.

    Did you see Tap Dancing With the Devil? It’s a free PDF on my blog.
    I linked to it in CommentLuv. (I had to do up a post, LOL)
    Our dear friend Holly recently showed me how to add category feeds, but I just never got around to populating my books category.

    Thanks to you, Franz and Don, I rectified that. Next step: get Force of Habit in there. (See my special page for this as-yet unfulfilled plan.)

    Any suggestions?



    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      May 18, 2012 at 4:27pm

      Awesomesauce! As soon as I get my OS fixed, I will download your PDF and transfer it to my eReader. 🙂

      You want suggestions for your book page? PACKAGED by Leslie R. Lee. Mind-blowing.

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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