from “Red, Requiem”


I’m a kid, I’m a
kid, I’m a little
kid.  & I play & I
play in my little
way.  Pat-a-cake, pat-a-
cake.  I see a saw.  Slide
the hide.  Go round
the merry.  Yum,
candy! The balloon
I lost on my birthday— is this
it?  I want to play
with a big
& cuddly thing.

Path of needles, or path
of pins?  I’d have to be very
careful with this needle & not
run anymore.  I could run
really fast with a boot like
that.  Or at least
pretend to.  Wild games
are best, running &
jumping & riding
riding, riding.

I ride the shopping
cart through the woods or
down the wooden
stairs or rocks, I rock
the cart & sing.  Buy me now
at discount prices! Topple
in dust & dirty
dirty dirt.

If wolves are like
dogs, then.  A cloud howling
to the moon, a wolf
singing, a singing
wolf.  A young dead
bird.  Not me.  Not

Dig in the dirt in the deep
dark woods.  Dirty nails, grave-
scratching headstones & headless
angel, hands out, hello.  We put
people in the ground &
flowers.  Dear
Lord, make heaven be
a fun place.  Amen.

Play surprise, the best wild
game:  ride.  Run & jump
on back & ride, how
soft his ears, what high
swing & belly
tickle.  Fists full
of fur & we all fall.

Fall.  Footing, slipped
slipped my hood right
off, right off my
head.  My head slipped
right off.  Room full of birthday
cake & balloons, window full
of moon.  A baby’s bed, a bloody
bed, an empty
grave, open.

The Path & Reds, Riding

After I read some of my fairy tale series in progress at Chapter & Verse recently, Greg Bem was telling me about a computer video game called The Path, which is based somewhat on the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale.

Red Sisters

In the game, you choose to control one of six sisters, each a sort of incarnation of Red Riding Hood, & are then sent to visit her ubiquitous sick grandmother.  You can choose whether to stay on the path (which leads straight to grandmother’s house, ending the game rather quickly), or to wander into the surrounding woods, where there are strange & spooky & beautiful things to see, & wolves lying in wait.

It’s the going off the path where the good stuff happens in the game.  Although this isn’t really a game– if anything, it’s an un-game.  You do not shoot things or defeat monsters or solve puzzles.  You wander about in a lovely, painterly setting & it’s all very dreamy.  But you can read about that here or here.  

The point is, after losing several nights to poking around the forest as different Reds & seeking out each Red’s wolf (for each, manifested differently, & only for one as a literal wolf), I started poking around my fairy tale anthologies, & began sketching out a new poem series: one after each of the Red sisters, but also informed by fairy tales & folklore tropes & convention, as is the rest of my larger manuscript in progress.  I’ll post as they take shape, starting today.