Thursday, August 18, 2011

Fairy Tales (five earlier drafts)

Briar Rose Defunct

There’s not much you can say to a woman
who thinks she’s slept for 100 years,
launched from a century of dreams
with just a kiss.
And it doesn’t matter; her breath is bad.

Outside, condos have erupted from the ground,
and the evening sky is pocked with fewer stars.
I hand her a long-stemmed rose;
it’s thornless. And I ask her to marry me,
knowing all the while that no insurance company
will cover another coma like this one.

With “Who the hell are you?” bursting
from her lips, brittle with the senselessness of ice,
I know the anesthetic has worn off,
but her amnesia hasn’t. It makes me think
about the physics in all this, the coming light
about to pour through a hole in her universe,
how evolution will never be the same.

And I cannot remember
how the story is supposed to end:
why the flies were asleep
on the walls and the horses in their stables,
the brindled hounds in the yard, even the doves,
their heads tucked under their wings.

But that was another story,
and it doesn’t take long to discover
that nothing consoles quite like an eternity
of dreamless nights.

…now she’s mumbling something about insomnia,
and I slip out, my knees spilling
into a gurney wheeling down the hall
with the sheet pulled over,
my hands grasping the answer in an instant.

Cinderella Dancing

In America, it’s black high-tops,
and cobbler’s wax won’t hold them down.
She drives a red Ford Focus, wears a vinyl mini,
works night shifts at Corrugated Box Incorporated
for twice minimum wage.
On weekends, she boogies with her prince ‘til dawn,
her brow boiling like water,
her feet tireless on the dance-hall parquet.
She burns her lust to cinders,
sleeps among the ashes to noon
in a brass-framed bed.

This is a new-world doll locked in uppercase,
born into a world already made to order,
a Lady Gaga in Technicolor,
rolling boyfriends like stones.
There are no hazel twigs for her devotion,
no pigeon houses or pear trees to hide in,
just Houdini wrapped in the straightjacket of Self,
sealed in solipsism that is Facebook, You Tube, Twitter,

Red Riding Hood Buys Term Life

The plot is flawed, the dialogue unbelievable.
The characters lack a compulsive trait.
Why not make him an insurance salesman
in a blazing-blue oxford and paisley tie,
pump him up with instant coffee and breath mints
and line the inside of his gray sport coat
with appointments and ball-point pens?
As for Red wearing the velvet coat
her ex-lover gave her, black tights and high-heels,
add a pouting mouth, legs of a flight attendant
and the endurance of a triathlon athlete.

Now put them downtown with the Budweiser horses
panting around a clock in a smoke-filled bar,
Johnny Mathis songs and three-dollar beer calls.
And let’s say she doesn’t have a florist’s heart
for long-stemmed roses or daffodils,
or drink imported wines or eat French pastries.
Instead, the evening is the scent of loud perfume,
dizzy with come-ons and pitchers of beer,
their conversation stale as the popcorn and Frito-Lays.
We know the odds, ten thousand to one,
like the first day of baseball tryouts.
But he’s determined, and she’s willing
with firm adolescent glands –
lust floating in his brain and love in hers.

Oh, I’ll spare you the happiness forever after,
little-lost-girl-saved-by-a-prince routine.
They wake up with separation swirling in their hearts,
lost in a forest of ordinary in the haze of day,
lying with the promise to see each other again.
But he knows, rises out of bed,
fumbles with his watch band, counts the bills
in his billfold to make sure, then straightens his tie
while she brushes her hair, her bare arm
twitching like a machine as the door clicks shut.

Snow White Turns 154

Oh, Snow White, eternal housewife,
you should have danced all night
in your step-mother’s red-hot iron shoes.

She knew that a woman’s face mattered enough
to tell lies, worked her own with Oil of Olay.
Did you think the men in your life
wouldn’t want a beautiful housewife too?

You could have married that huntsman
and slept on the forest floor,
or lived with the wild boar and saved your heart
from the bottomless hours of housework and whoring
for those seven little men and the moments
in between while you watched your sigh-long tale of woe
thicken like porridge.

Had you puked out the last of your luck
when your prince arrived,
the tea kettle wouldn’t be steaming with anger,
misting old desires into clotheslines out back
while your hands conspired
against the poly-graphic lines around your eyes
reflected in the looking-glass upon your wall.

Riding Rapunzel

One day a beautiful woman bolted out
of bewildering love, entered
the wider circumference of her loneliness
and threw down her golden hair
for men to climb on trysts.

She galloped into their lives
like the trumpet’s shocking blare
at the starting gate,
built a small fire in each of their hearts
and slept far from her wedding vows,
while the outlines of morning smoothed
to gray afternoons.

She let her hair fall over
her dove-white breasts,
sipped straight from each breath
the rampant taste for lies,
until one day she broke her stride,
cantered upon the thin ice
of an early thaw of marriage
and drowned herself in a blue tower –
the mistress of sad, fairy-tale luck.

1 comment:

  1. G/ "Cinderella Dancing" is quite nice/concise/
    a room full of these would be welcome. Thankx