Why not make him a politician
with an addictive sexting problem
and pump him up with arrogance and a stump speech?
As for Red, wearing a velvet coat
black tights, satin blouse and high-heels,
just add a pouting mouth, legs of a runway model
and the endurance of a triathlon athlete.
Now put them somewhere downtown in Manhattan
with the Budweiser horses panting
around a clock in a smoke-filled bar,
blaring music and six-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, she’s smitten by the scent of loud cologne,
dizzy with come-ons and roving hands –
their conversation stale as the popcorn and Frito-Lays.
We know the odds, perhaps ten thousand to one,
like the first day of major league baseball tryouts.
But he’s determined and she’s willing,
lust floating in his brain and love in hers.
Oh, I’ll spare you the happiness forever after
and little-lost-girl-saved-by-a-prince routine.
There is no rise in concentration
of some polypeptide hormone
in his hypothalamus. Besides, he’s married.
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
before his next political debate.
He rises out of bed, taps a text message
on his iPhone, counts the bills in his billfold
to make sure, then straightens his tie
while she brushes her hair, her bare arm
twitching as the door clicks shut.
“Red Riding Hood” was originally published with a different title in Spoon River Poetry Review, 1993.