Monday, October 22, 2012

Monday Poetry Stretch - Fairy Tale Poetry

Friday I shared this poem in honor of the upcoming holiday. 
by Eve Merriam

sweet apple,
what do you hide?
Wormy and
rotten inside.

sweet apple,
so shiny and red,
taste it,
don't waste it,
come and be fed.

one bite and
you're dead.
I've always liked this poem, in part because I love fairy tale poetry. Here's another poem I love.
by Neil Gaiman

We owe it to each other to tell stories,
as people simply, not as father and daughter.
I tell it to you for the hundredth time:

"There was a little girl, called Goldilocks,
for her hair was long and golden,
and she was walking in the Wood and she saw — "
"— cows." You say it with certainty,

remembering the strayed heifers we saw in the woods
behind the house, last month.

"Well, yes, perhaps she saw cows,
but also she saw a house."
Read the poem in its entirety.
You can read more poems like this at The Journal of Mythic Arts: Fairy Tale Poems.

This week I'm heading down the fairy tale path. Right now I'm writing poems about magical objects, having been inspired by the apple poem. Perhaps I'll write about a pumpkin coach. Who knows?! I hope you'll join me in writing some fairy tale poetry this week. Leave me a note about your poem and I'll share the results in time for Poetry Friday.


  1. Ten Hairs and Chicken Legs

    After the meadow the birches stand tall
    Enter the woods and there’s no light at all.
    Run through the bramble, push at the brush,
    Feel your heart pounding confused at your rush.
    Then in a swamp, a bit of dry land
    A house with no doors, it’s standing on sand,
    On a large chicken leg with one naked claw--
    The skin is toad bumpy and the flesh is red raw.
    Do you know who could live in this terrible place?
    In the mud and the sand there are flies in a chase for
    A man wanders blind from a glance at her face:
    Yes, the witch Baba Yaga is truly a fright.
    She escapes through her chimney but only at night,
    Screaming and cackling, loud at the moon,
    She’ll spit out her teeth and sing you a tune.
    If you listen, beware your ear will turn in
    And push out a wart with ten hairs on your chin.

    1. Tess--great rhythm, great images!

    2. I can see Baba Yaga while reading this and love the mage you've created of her and her "home."

    3. I really got caught up in this. I love the claw/raw lines. Nice, Tess!

    4. Eeeeuew! FAbulous. I especially love

      toad bumpy and the flesh is red raw.

      and also the image of her escaping out her chimney at night. And this made me want to go listen to Mussorgsky's Hut on Chicken Legs from Pictures at an Exhibition, even though I don't like classical music.

  2. Scullery-Maid’s Worksong
    By Steven Withrow

    Chore Chore
    Broom to the floor
    And a slosh of bilge-water to swab—hey ho—
    And a slosh of bilge-water to swab

    Groan Groan
    Rub the knuckle to bone
    And a shine on each silvery knob—hey ho—
    And a slosh of bilge-water to swab

    Stoke Stoke
    Stir the cook-fire to smoke
    And a cold-kitchen scullion’s a slob—hey ho—
    And a slosh of bilge-water to swab

    Thin Thin
    Scrape the scraps to the bin
    And a lashing’s a part of the job—hey ho—
    And a slosh of bilge-water to swab

    Scour Scour
    Knave’s in the Tower
    And a wrought iron skillet to rob—hey ho—
    And a slosh of bilge-water to swab

    Sleep Sleep
    No more cinders to sweep
    And a goblin take you for a hob—hey ho—
    And a slosh of bilge-water to swab
    And a slosh of bilge-water to swab

    © 2012 Steven Withrow, all rights reserved

    1. I love the rhythms and sounds, swab, swab: I am rocking on a boat after this one! love it!

    2. Really gets inside her head, Steven. Love it!

    3. This is definitely not a job I'd want. I love the mixing of the fairy tale notions with the pirate-type refrain.

    4. Thanks, all. This little riff of Cinderella is not at all what I expected to write when I started, but once I started singing, the words kept coming.

    5. Love it! Poems often go places that we don't expect, even when we're writing them, don't they?

    6. I was totally picturing pirates singing this version of Cinderella. Quite a tongue-twister in spots! I love this:

      Groan Groan
      Rub the knuckle to bone
      And a shine on each silvery knob

      Because I'm really picturing those knobs as bones sticking out of skin...

  3. Sleeping Beauty

    Sleeping Beauty
    walks in her dreams,
    whispering to princes.

    Her voice is drowsy,
    like a hum of bees.
    It cannot be heard

    above battlement heralds,
    above ballroom violins,
    above clanging broadswords.

    But over-mountain,
    the seventh son of a king
    is tying up roses

    in the royal gardens.
    He lifts his head dreamily.
    The next morning

    he rides out,
    with his pruning shears
    in his saddle bag.

    --Kate Coombs, 2012
    all rights reserved

    1. Lovely, Kate--love SB's voice... 'like a hum of bees' and the prince riding out 'with his pruning shears in his saddle bag' (funny!).

    2. I've often wondered how the prince found his way to snow white. Now I know! I'm quite taken with the notion of her walking through dreams.

    3. Great ending, Kate! Love this!

    4. I love her hum of bees voice, and the way the prince hears it and responds!

  4. I love both these poems, Tricia! That Gaiman one especially touched a cord as our house was broken into briefly this summer. Ugh. I have an entire unsold picture book collection of fractured fairy tale poems, and my well of fairy tale poems has run dry. But thank you for sharing these with me!

  5. Well, I wasn't planning to write one, but when I sat down to do my daily poem a few minutes ago, here's what came out. Probably inspired by Ron Koertge's latest, and I'll just throw it in the pile of my (also unpublished) teen poems based on fairy tales.

    Little Red Riding Hood

    Whose woods these are
    I think I know.

    The Big Bad Wolf.
    That’s whose.

    I’ve been cruising through
    daily for months,
    but he just won’t bite.

    I don’t want to be obvious,
    what’s a girl got to do
    to catch a wolf’s golden eye?

    I snip my cloak
    shorter every day.
    My pale thighs look
    good against the
    blood red wool.

    My heels keep
    sinking into the ridiculous forest
    floor, but stilettos
    are sexy.
    Barefoot isn’t.

    Come out,
    come out,
    People are starting to
    say I'm desperate.

    --Laura Purdie Salas, all rights reserved

    1. Haha, Laura--this is great!

    2. And you didn't think you had another fairy tale poem in you! I love the last stanza. And her desperate measures!

    3. Wow, quite a wolfish version of Riding Hood, Laura! Nice!

    4. Hi Laura,
      I love your desparate little Lady in Red. Here's a triolet I wrote hugely inspired by a poem by my late friend, Agha Shahid Ali: An Interview with Red Riding Hood...." Here's the link (I hope you enjoy it!):

    5. Oh, that's lovely, tess. Something about the danger and warmth and peace, all rolled up together...Beautiful!

      Thanks, Julie, Tricia, and Steven!

  6. This week I used Merriam's poem as my mentor text.


    dear mirror,
    what do you see?
    Choose now the
    Let it be me.

    wise mirror,
    voice so compelling,
    look into the ages,
    my beauty

    old mirror,
    your future I see.
    If I’m not the
    shattered you’ll be.

    1. Ooh, Tricia--so ominous! I love the way it gets more violent as it goes on. Nice!

    2. Also, love the ending: "shattered you'll be" and it works in so many ways-- the beholder is shattered and in turn threatens to shatter the glass of the mirrored self. Wonderful.

  7. Baba Yaga (my favorite witch), scullery maid Cinderella (I think!), desperate Red Riding Hood, and shattered mirror threats--good stuff!

    1. Yes -- "shattered you'll be" is right!


    STUDENT: Little Bo Peep lived in a shoe.

    TEACHER: Try again.

    STUDENT: Little Miss Muffet sat on a brick wall.

    TEACHER: No.

    STUDENT: Little Jack Horner swallowed a fly.

    TEACHER: Wrong.

    STUDENT: Little Boy Blue ran away with the spoon.

    TEACHER: Incorrect.

    STUDENT: Humpty Dumpty ate curds and whey.

    TEACHER: Oh really?

    STUDENT: Old Mother Hubbard fell off a brick wall.

    TEACHER: You don't say?

    STUDENT: Mary had a massive cat that jumped over the moon.

    TEACHER: Sure about that?

    STUDENT: Georgie Porgie Pudding Pie has a mouse that ran up the clock and at 1:45 the mouse got hungry so him and Georgie went to Denny's for the Grand Slam Breakfast, watched the sun come up and lived happily ever after the end.


    TEACHER: Now you're just making stuff up.

    (c) Charles Waters 2012 all rights reserved.

    1. Ha! Love this one. The pause makes it:>)

    2. Thank you Laura. SALAS POWER!

  9. These are fun -- full of great images, rhythm. I enjoyed them and am inspired. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Sleeping Beauty

    Asleep, I dream of windows
    and water, reflections of a world
    awake. A world I can't view without
    a layer between us, separating what
    almost is from what is. Where dreams are
    a life, stories are real. What else feeds me,
    attends me, keeps me company? Welcome,
    arrows of today, knives of tomorrow. Whomsoever
    aims the tip of real life into my heart, wins me.

    1. It's actually "whoever" in the second to last line. (Maybe that's a Thriller/Vincent Price-inspired mistake?)

  11. Hansel & Gretel

    What could be more magical—
    more mystical, more mythical—
    than wandering through woods
    with the one you love best?

    especially if you’ve something
    in your pocket—say a piece of
    crusty bread—you could break
    into bits and drop along the path
    so you wouldn’t lose your way?

    then even if you got lost—which you
    wouldn’t, because you left a trail
    of breadcrumbs—you wouldn’t be afraid,
    because you’re with the one and only
    person you love the very best, who—
    in this case, just happens to be
    your sister.

    and even if it’s cold and dark and
    lonely in that never-ending woods,
    you could simply keep on wandering,
    watching for signs, listening for sounds,
    to guide you on your way.

    except… what if a flock of hungry
    birds spot your humbly, crumbly
    footpath, and the single, soulful person
    you love the very best
    starts getting on your case about
    how stupid it was to mark your path with
    something edible, the forest being full
    of bird-beaked types who like
    to scavenge breadcrumbs for their lunch.

    and what if just as you were ready
    to drop, you glimpsed a tiny hovel
    in the deepest, darkest woods
    with a warm, inviting light
    in its ripply golden windows?

    and what if the inhabitant of
    that cheerful little abode were
    a nasty old witch who just
    happened to be hungry when
    the two of you showed up?

    what would you do then, genius?
    (that’s what your sister wants to know....)

    (c) jgk, 2012

  12. Breadcrumbs

    Trees reach and tear
    Our breadcrumb trail
    Is no longer there

    Sent us into the wood
    Then we spy our safe haven
    An enormous baked good

    Into cages we are thrown
    The witch will feed us
    'Til fat we've grown

    Less powerful without a coven
    One swift kick
    Sends our captor into the oven

    We are to stretch and roam
    But we know we can never
    Return to our home...

  13. Two great breadcrumb additions! (Now I feel like baking for some reason. But not gingerbread.)