Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday Poetry Stretch - Fairy Tale Items

While traveling this weekend I took with me a well-worn copy of is The Poets' Grimm: 20th Century Poems from Grimm's Fairy Tales, edited by Jeanne Marie Beaumont & Claudia Carlson. I love this book! Since a Kindle can't be used during the entirety of a plane flight, poetry gets me through my least favorite parts--takeoff and landing.

While reading through some of these poems, I started thinking a bit about fairy tale poetry. We've actually written quite a bit about the stories and characters for stretches, but never really about some of the more memorable items, like the magic mirror, magic beans, a poisoned apple, red cape, golden ball, spinning wheel, and more.

So, let's write about a magical or fairy tale item, one of those things you can't imagine a story without. Leave me a note about your poem and I'll post the results here later this week.


  1. Spinning

    Spin, my wheel. Spin! Spin!
    The wheel turns and the straw goes in,
    and the scent of magic fills the air,
    it crackles and flashes,
    shimmers and clashes,
    with logic and science and mundane fare,

    and still the wheel turns. Turns, turns,
    twisting the straw as reality burns
    in a golden flame of otherworld fire.
    It shrivels and withers
    away into slivers
    melting to microbes in magical mire.

    And now the wheel sings! Sings! Sings!
    It hums and it thrums bending straw into rings
    whipped into coins as bright as the sun
    that glitter and glint
    without giving a hint
    of the cost to the soul when the magic is done.

    c Barbara J. Turner, all rights reserved.

    By Steven Withrow

    She stirs, and bares her baby teeth,
    A sharp and predatory grin.
    Small fists scare like wrens beneath
    The panicked sheet. What waits within
    Her wooded sleep, her dreamer’s den,
    To stalk and still her breath again?

    She wreathes her fears in kindling smoke,
    Her brittle bonework blanket-pinned,
    And knits from mottled cloth a cloak
    To block the sudden rain and wind
    That howls and bellows from her bed.
    She slumps back, pillows down her head.

    (C)2011 by Steven Withrow. All rights reserved.

  3. The Apple

    A puff of breath upon the skin,
    then polished with a sleeve.
    And with the palm, three squeaky rubs --
    a shine to lure, deceive.

    Reflected deep in ruby red,
    a hag in rags, a hooded head.

    A gift, not much, but nonetheless
    Do take it, that's a dear.
    Maroon so true to match your lips,
    Your eyes, so blue and clear.

    A wrinkled hand and youthful one
    outstretch until the trade is done.

    Now that's a girl, one great, big bite.
    Let juice run down your chin.
    Chew it slowly, savor it,
    just take the flavor in.

    She closes both her eyes and swallows.
    Heartbeats later, illness follows.

    My dear, it seems your fair complexion's
    turning ghostly white.
    And frothing 'bout those supple lips,
    my dear, you're quite a sight!

    While maiden twitches on the floor,
    perspiring from every pore,
    contented queen drifts out the door.

  4. I am the Apple

    I am the apple
    dappled by sun,
    polished by rain
    burnished by galls
    cut by the witch,
    stitched by her hand,
    injected with poison,
    suspected by none.

    ©2011 JAne Yolen all rights reserved

  5. Great work so far! Here's another:

    Codger with Seven-League Boots
    By Steven Withrow

    That Sunday, when I put those buggers on,
    Those lace-ups I’d purloined from Grimmy’s Pawn,
    The neighbors’ mangy dog’d defiled my lawn.
    I stomped the porch one step, I swear I’d gone
    Half-crazed with rage—it’s not polite to yawn—
    And won the bloody Boston Marathon!

    ©2011 by Steven Withrow, all rights reserved

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  7. Mr. Hadley's Personal Museum Maintenance Record

    The first one was eaten by insects.
    Or perhaps a rat, though I keep a cat.
    Nibbled. Fribbled. Scrabbled. Gone.

    The second was stolen by a small boy. I saw
    from across the room, but the snot-nosed thief
    slipped away. I could tell he did it
    merely to annoy. And he succeeded.

    The third? I have no idea.

    The fourth I replaced myself. It looked
    so dry, so lacking in roundness.
    A real offense to its polished case.

    I change them every week now—
    my perfect jade procession.
    Yesterday the queen came down.
    "The pea's still green," she said
    in her sweet voice. "It's simply magical."

    Her husband winked. I suspect
    he knows. He's a practical sort.
    But oh, how he loves her,
    the girl with the delicate skin.

    —Kate Coombs, 2011, all rights reserved

  8. Cinderella’s Leftovers

    I’ll never forget me that night.
    I was a fresh new mother,
    (so many children
    I didn’t know what to do)
    comin’ home in the wee hours
    comin’ home to the ol’ shoe
    from playin’ cards
    when shinin’ up from the cobbles
    I seen a big punkin
    lookin’ up at me so round-like
    ‘twas a moon made of orange.
    I remember dustin’ it on me apron
    feelin’ lucky as if I’d won at poker
    lucky to find free dinner in the dirt.
    When I picked that punkin up,
    ‘twas funny how four mice and rats
    took off for the fields. So curious
    them lookin’ confused like that.
    I hauled me big punkin
    home to our shoe
    home to our children
    and it made a mighty fine soup
    so fine with Mama’s famous recipe
    full of nutmeg ‘n’ onions.
    All week we ate that free punkin
    and I’ll never understand why
    a free punkin from the cobbles
    made me dream of dancin’
    in the arms of a prince.

    © Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

  9. My humblest apologies to the great Rado/Ragni team for giving us the lyrics to that wonderful musical, and a part of this poem.


    Give me a head with hair
    long beautiful hair…

    Quite frankly, I'd like to
    give a good tongue-lashing
    to the twerps that wrote
    those words   who

    © Carol Weis, all rights reserved

  10. Tali Lavi:

    The Witness

    I am nothing to her but another servant
    one that she looks past only to see herself.
    King Solomon once lamented, ‘All is vanity’
    but even he would have paused
    if he had countenanced this lady
    fair of face
    festered of soul.

    But I must not lie.
    I am a witness to her beauty.
    Each day she calls me
    ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall’
    (Can she not even know my name?)
    and asks with eyes ablaze
    (such terrible certainty!)
    ‘Who is fairest of us all?’

    But I must not lie.
    I must utter the truth
    ‘Queen, thou’rt fairest of them all.’
    Truth rings hollow as her heart
    for she is more foul than fair.

    At times she lingers by
    with the pretence of
    adding an adornment to her hair.
    She toys with her compulsion
    never truly resisting.
    Then she calls to me again,
    daring me to proclaim something other.
    But I must not lie.

    And then it comes to pass,
    Snowdrop grows as beautiful as her name.
    My lady approaches,
    so sure of hearing the utterance
    from which her strength grows.
    Arched lips of vermillion dare me.
    How solid is her carapace?

    But I must not lie.

    Tali Lavi

  11. I pulled this earlier this week because I wasn't completely happy with it, but I could tweak it endlessly, so here it is finally. Or for the time being.

    Song of the Knife

    I am the Knife,
    sharpened and blue.
    Friend of the Huntsman,
    trusted and true.

    Hired by Witches
    late in the night
    to plunge through the hearts
    of girls Snow White.

    Placed in the Willow
    where Brothers take leave.
    When one side grows rusty
    a lone Brother grieves.

    Slaying the Giants,
    dimwitted and dulled,
    outsmarted by Youth
    and easily culled.

    Freeing the Grannies
    belonging to Red,
    swallowed by Wolves
    and long assumed dead.

    Slivers of mountains,
    takers of life,
    destiny carvers:
    I am the knife.

    c. david elzey