Autumn Poetry Challenge: Day 1
Autumn Poetry Challenge: Day 3

Autumn Poetry Challenge: Day 2

Rapunzel by Paul O. Zelinsky

The theme for the Poetry Challenge today is "Rapunzel." Judging by the fact that there are fewer Rapunzel-inspired poems than Red-Riding-Hood-inspired poems in publication, this is a slightly harder challenge...but I'm certain the Mythic Arts community is up to finding new approaches to the tale.

The rules of the Challenge can be found in the first post in the series; they're simple, but please read them before you post. Many thanks to all of you who have contributed poems so far, and also to everyone who has been participating by giving the poets feedback.

To kick today's Challenge off, here's a fine Rapunzel poem (from the JoMA archives) by Jeannine Hall Gailey: "Rapunzel: I Like the Quiet." Jeannine is the author of three collections rich in works inspired by myth, folklore, and fairy tales: Female Comic Book Superheroes, Becoming the Villainess, and She Returns to the Floating Word. She's the Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington, and teaches at National University.

Rapunzel illustrations by Florence Harrison and Ernst LiebermannRapunzel: I Like the Quiet

Solitude my solace, wrapped around me
like layers of golden hair. Stacks of books
and I can sing as loud as I please all day
   and night.
In sleep I kick and snore, during the day,
   delight
in eating nothing but radishes and lime leaf tea.
Who says I need a partner to dance? Here
in this tower I am mistress of all; the reindeer,
the knight’s armor teetering in the corner,
various discarded disguises, crowns,
crumbs and bones. Will you rescue me?
What kingdom will replace my bounty
of leisure, what tether of care and nurture
do you wish to rope my neck with?

 - Jeannine Hall Gailey


A fairy tale illustration by Helen Stratton

For the history of the Rapunzel fairy tale (and excerpts from other Rapunzel poems) go here. To read another Rapunzel poem from Jeannine, go here.

Rapunzel by Arthur Rackham

The Rapunzel paintings above are by Paul O. Zelinksy, Florence Harrison (1877-1955), Ernst Liebermann (1869-1960), and Arthur Rackham (1867-1939). The black-and-white fairy tale decoration is by Helen Stratton (1891-1925). The poem above, "Rapunzel: I Like the Quiet" made its first appearance in The Journal of Mythic Arts. It is copyright c 2008 by Jeannine Hall Gailey; all rights reserved by the author.

PLEASE NOTE: There are so many responses to this post that Typepad has broken them into two pages. Be sure to click on the "Show More Comments" link at the end of the first page (which is easy to miss) in order to see the lastest poetry additions.

Comments

I loved all of yesterday's poems! So who will be the first today?

DOMINATRIX

Locked in a metaphor
With which no man
Could compete,
She grew her
Crowning Glory,

And up this
The man would climb
Like a puppet
Dangling from the strings
That controlled him.

ACROSTIC

Round these tower stones I've spun
A braided welcome
Pearlescent with dew.
Undulating
Near the open window, my
Zigzag stitch warns doves:
Enter not,
Lest you tangle pretty wings.

Let my prince arrive,
Eager and aching, a
Tremble in his heart.

Dancing the steps
Our legs have always known,
We float on my tresses, now and
Nevermore.

Yet his sweet passing
Offers a wedding feast, for
Under my skirts his
Rich meats feed our young.

Hours later,
As dawn gilds my little room,
I lower my guy line once again,
Ready.

Here's my offering for today. It's hot off the press, so i hope it's not too, too rough a draft...


the tower in three voices

rapunzel:

it wasn’t really despair
i enjoyed our games of chess, of cards
braiding the silver river of her hair
or her braiding the golden one which was mine.

it wasn’t loneliness either
for she was well read and loved to converse
she could also tell a mean joke.
i suppose it was the boredom of routine
more than anything else.

witch:

she grew more beautiful, each round of the sun
and, while my beauty waned,
in her presence i could feel
just a little bit lovely

such times we had,
she loved to cook and i to eat
i don’t want to seem ungrateful for all the years -
really i don’t - but i suppose that at some point
i became just a little bit bored.

prince:

i would hear her sing -
a voice like humming bird wings -
and sit under the window hoping for a glimpse
until my back grew cold against the tower stones

sometimes it sounded like two voices
and i would wonder: what magic is this?
until my eyes fell shut
as though pulled closed and stitched fast
with a thread of gold and silver.

rapunzel:

when we heard him call up to us
at first i was afraid
for we never had visitors
to this part of the wood

but he looked harmless enough,
if a little silly in that princely get-up,
and he had a sweet smile
and beautiful brown eyes that were no less so
for their strange lack of sight.

witch:

okay, so i tinkered
can’t really blame me, can you?
i knew the girl was getting lonely for company
of her own age

but then,
things don’t always turn out the way one hopes
the best laid plans and all that
besides,
the prince was much better chess player than she.

prince:

after almost a year, my eyes healed
and i pretended not to have figured out
what they had done
since i was quite pleased with the outcome

the girl is charming and witty, she cooks and sings like a pro
and the woman is a mean chess partner and
can talk far into the night about the many books she has
and she tells me, with a twinkle in her eye, that i’m free to read them all.

rapunzel:

she thought i didn’t know what she’d done
and i didn’t mind, really
i could see that they had much more in common
and i was happy to be busy with other things

it’s rather nice in here with more voices
and i love to listen to the girls sing
as they do their embroidery by the fire
one with a voice of honey, one with a voice of ebony
one with hair of sun, and one with hair of moon.


Golden Dawn

it is like silk
it is like gold
it soars like a nightingale
on the wish of an evening breeze
it is a lyre
a mandolin, a harp
beckoning on
and on through the wooded
boughs of this innocent land
made of flesh, bone
and discovery
in this sunrise of a voice
he hears his name
he sees his silver shoes
tiptoe like raindrops
waking to the day
he feels courage flare inside him
his own dawning

She is a dream to him,
removed, hidden
so very distant
and he is awash with longing
lowly, so far below.
he calls waiting
with the impatience of a lover
‘I will find a sunbeam to you
I will, in the darkness of night,
use shadow as a rope
at dusk I will pray for a golden stair
Rapunzel, sweet Rapunzel
let down your hair’


Poets, you're all off to a good start!

I'm a poetry aficionado, not a poet, so my contribution is to point the way to some of my favourite Rapunzel poems, by Lisa Russ Spaar. My wife and I learned of her work through you, Terri, when you published her in Year's Best.

Spaar wrote a cycle of Rapunzel poems, published in her collection Glass Town. Here's a short excerpt from one to give readers a taste:
http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-18982762.html


I've used her work in the classroom and it always prompts very interesting discussion.

What Became of Rapunzel
by Joel LeBlanc

There she is on stage, lean
and fit as a doe, all bone and skin,

her bald head shining beneath
the beam of stage lights,

and she is singing into the mic; a husky
and strong voice, shouting

a song about her mother,
and the birth parents she never met,

and the husband and daughter
she left behind, to save herself.

The crowd is full of lost women
in torn jeans and leather bracelets;

most of them with shaved heads, too,
I notice as I look around.

They are probably all wondering what a man
in a nice, clean shirt is doing here.

I'm self-conscious, but I won't be scared off.
She is singing for me, too, after all.

"You will be all alone if you leave," my own mother
said to me once, when I was very little.

Very little else was necessary to keep me close,
to keep me from going to school, to keep me from talking to others.

It took more years than I like to admit
before I escaped my own tower,

and I don't care to speak of what I had to do
to earn my freedom.

I look at Rapunzel with her shaved head
and her soft wood eyes, and I get it.

"I'm haunted by you, but I'm glad that you're gone," Rapunzel sings
to the crowd, and we're all there, singing with her.

Wandering love

I have wandered,
I have wondered
Out under the desert sun.

I have searched,
I have sought,
Out under the bleakest night.

My poor lonely heart,
My poor hungry soul,
Is blinded by her sweetest song.

I have loved,
I have lost,
And am condemned
To searching through the dark.


www.amelialmurdock.com


These are all so wonderful,insightful, anarchic--making me think. I have nothing to add. Except these sillynesses. Do with them what you will:

Rapunzel: Several Pithy (Or Is That Pissy) Thoughts

Unafraid.
I've got the braid.

I lassoed the prince.

I would have preferred a leaning tower of pizza.

Rapunzel rappelled down the tower.

Hair today, gone tomorrow.

Singing from the tower, she was the first Rap(unzel) star.

It wasn't rampion you wanted
Nor a baby, but an heir
To witchery, to all your fine cunning,
Not a real girl with her
Own desires, even shut in the tower,
With no more wit than hair.


So many things turned out right
my childhood should be a dream
blurry in adulthood's half-light.
But the muscles of my neck never forgot
the coiffure carried was just another's scheme,
what wore love's ribbons simply a plot.

Rapunzel

He has no long hair
So he’s stuck in his tower,
Sighing, his grey eyes surveying the horizon
Wistfully.
If she could see this she’d love him.
He cuts his arms with a razor.
This she would not like.

Could she rescue him
From himself?
Women always want to they say,
But she is just a girl.

His witch father is grooming him
For a success
In which he has no part.
He lives with ghosts
Enjoys an affair with his great great
Great great
Grandmother.
Puts on her blue gown and feathered hat
And cuts himself some more.
Drip drip drip
His blood drops scarlet down and down through
The ages
To the foot of the tower.
Where she smells it,
And looks up.

"Let down your hair," he said,
and began pulling hairpins.
My golden hair--thank you, Lady Clairol--
fell halfway down my back.
"I will save you," he said,
and took my virginity.
(So we said, back then.
Truth to tell, I gave it most willingly.)
"Now you are mine," he said.

"I don't think so," I said,
stepped upon his back,
took his old car,
and rode off to my freedom.

Stunning. It was unexpected and I absolutely loved it.

He Mistook the Moonlight for My Hair

The light was thick as the black earth
when the night of our plans arrived.

I watched as his silhouette approached,
blending back and forth
into the brush and the cacti,
so planted to keep such an escape
far from our minds.

I heard his gentle knock down below,
and I lowered my hair, slowly,
so that it wouldn't catch and tangle
against the rough of the tower stones.

And at that moment,
the blue clouds broke open,
releasing the moonlight
which at first flowed like drops of rain
and then strands of white silk,
falling down the tower
to lay rest at his feet.

And I watched as he reached to grab it,
his fingers clasping and unfolding in a frenzy
and soon he swung his arms about
like the cacti do when a wild wind shakes them
until they dance.

And when he began cursing about
illusions of the Devil
and witches' wicked spells,
I slowly pulled my hair back
into a soft pile within my chamber.

I'd just washed it, anyway.

A compelling spin, Stuart. I will never look at Rapunzel the same again...

Lovely.

Just gorgeous images, like a painting in my mind right now.

What a gorgeous ode to her hair... I know it's much more than that, but through the experience of hair, it's just beautiful.

Sad and gorgeous.

Love it.

I love this so much. Amazing.

Undressing

He's taken to bringing diet books, computer
print-outs: Atkins Diets, South Sea Weight Loss,
How To Fast Your Way into Blissful Nothingness.
I feel misconstrued. I snapped at him once
he was just too heavy, when he was
a-climbing all over me. I meant his needs
& dreams & aspirations
& projections of who he thinks I am.
Dutiful, I string them in my red hair like
tiny birdcages & pinching hair-clips,
miniaturised handcuffs & dainty napkins.
I can't be them so I wear them.
They're just so fucking heavy.
I've taken to screaming into my pillow
the nights he's gone. I've taken to
hiding pinking shears & fantasising
my shiny baldness, my magic aloneness.

Rapunzel's Daughter

The daughter of Rapunzel learned to sing
sweetly from her mother, to enrich her sound
with radishes, rose hips and salad greens. For years,
she played the harp and remained a happy child
until suddenly turning silent.

On the day she lost her voice,
the crone’s raven landed near the stream
clutching a dragonfly in his beak.

Then he flew away with the insect
shimmering like a crystal key,
leaving the blonde girl to ripple in water
and trade her bright self for a sullen shadow.

Now she twirls limp tendrils of hair
and speaks one word answers,
same tone, same size and all stored up
as if they were lentils inside a glass tower.

I remember when her tongue
was a leaf of ruby lettuce
seasoned with awe, and the garden
waited to serve her like a muse
draped in sheer light and flowering plants.

But the day she found that darkened mood,
its winged echo fell behind her ribs
and was left flapping sorrow
against a small trellis of bone.

At night it grew deeper --and still does
as she turns in her sleep
feeling the tense grip of bird and moon.
___________________________________________

A few years ago, I participated in a challenge to write about childhood depression/isolation using or alluding to various elements from a fairytale. I wrote this piece with autism in mind extending the story/motif of Rapunzel.

Hi Roberta

Such an interesting perspective here, from a disillusioned Rapunzel who went from the witch's control to that of an overbearing partner. The tone is intense and the details unique. I really liked this passage

I meant his needs
& dreams & aspirations
& projections of who he thinks I am.
Dutiful, I string them in my red hair like
tiny birdcages & pinching hair-clips,
miniaturised handcuffs & dainty napkins.

much enjoyed,
Wendy

Hi Jane

Witty and clever, I like this short twist of hair and character

I lassoed the prince.

I would have preferred a leaning tower of pizza.

Rapunzel rappelled down the tower.

Hair today, gone tomorrow.


Thanks for sharing
I always enjoy your poetry.

Wendy

Hi Stuart

A perfect title for this fresh take on Rapunzel's character. I love the inverted perspective here, Rapunzel dominating the scene, ruthless almost in her desire to snare and manipulate the opposite gender.

This is excellent

And up this
The man would climb
Like a puppet
Dangling from the strings
That controlled him.

Wendy

Hi Cakmpls

A cool twist on the classic tale. I like Rapunzel's zest and
spirit in this piece.

Thank you
Wendy

I am having a hard time coming up with a glib yet symbolic haiku today - but I must mention Carolyn Turgeon's newest book "The Fairest of them all". Its shear magic. (Pun intended) Rapunzel's tale - and she is Snow White's stepmother... I am starting to see a necklace design: braided silks, enameled rampion leaves, vintage sheet music under resin in a stylized tower/pendant...

Thank you all! Good stuff, I am so inspired.

Okay. Here it is -- two hours of composing and fine tuning. I hope you all enjoy it.

Duet in D Minor

I see you, my Prince,
though you cannot see me,
conducting in my tower,
a shimmering glissando between the clouds.

Are you the same man
who once fled the forest
pursued by a ululating dirge,
pierced by a siren’s screams?

I see you came back prepared
to battle fierce monsters
in your diamond armor,
sharp swords slicing the air.

This time I modulate my plea,
shift shrieks to song,
despair measured out in half notes,
an aria of seduction.

From my opera seat
I see you pause at the timbre,
battle your fears and plunge into darkness
to seek a harmony spun from a silver sun.

I beckon you, leaning out the window,
held back by crystal shackles
chiming in counterpoint,
a requiem for the dead.

Measure by measure,
you scale my crowning glory,
unknowingly tuning the silken chords
of a high-strung creation.

Fretfully, I stroke the scarves
wrapped around my wrists,
a witch's attempt to prevent the orchestration
of a fitting finale.

I brace myself for your approach
along the curving ligature linking us together.
I cannot bear another refrain,
the failure to free myself from this woman’s curse.

The finale will be swift, my Prince,
a cadence composed of perfumed scarves,
your sharp sword the tonic for my escape,
the key to cutting the restraints that bind me.

Your armor and swords will be mine
and in return I’ll leave the chains you covet
in a braided wreath around your throat,
covering the cost of freedom.

I love this idea of a 'Rapunzelian dynasty' encapsulated in the figure of Rapunzel's daughter, but how sad, if beautiful, the poem is. The image of the lost voice as a dragonfly in a raven's beak is superb.

thank you! :)

Very fun. I have dark hair and was always disappointed that Rapunzel had golden hair. I wanted to write a poem about an auburn Rapunzel (what a disappointment to the witch when the towhead went dark), but I ended up with a musical arrangement instead. Go figure.

Now this is a fun take on the story. I thought about you when I started writing my Rapunzel poem this morning. I briefly thought about writing Rapunzel using puns as a nod to your whimsy, but I was certain I could never complete it in a way that you could. I took a musical spin instead.

The last line is perfect. It speaks volumes.

Oh my. I am printing this one off. The depression is tangible. Heavy hitting indeed.

And already I've changed it. For those of you who are interested, the revisions are in stanzas 2 and 7.

Duet in D Minor

I see you, my Prince,
though you cannot see me,
conducting in my tower,
a shimmering glissando between the clouds.

Can it be that you are the same man
who once bolted from the forest in white-eyed fear,
fleeing the pursuit of a ululating dirge,
pierced by a siren’s screams?

I see you came back prepared
to battle fierce monsters
in your diamond armor,
sharp swords slicing the air.

This time I modulate my plea,
shift shrieks to song,
despair measured out in half notes,
an aria of seduction.

From my opera seat
I see you pause at the timbre,
battle your fears and plunge into darkness
to seek a harmony spun from a silver sun.

I beckon you, leaning out the window,
held back by crystal shackles
chiming in counterpoint,
a requiem for the dead.

Measure by measure,
you scale a symphony of strings,
unknowingly tuning the silken chords
of a high-strung crescendo.

Fretfully, I stroke the scarves
wrapped around my wrists,
a witch’s attempt to prevent the orchestration
of a fitting finale.

I brace myself for your approach
along the curving ligature linking us together.
I cannot bear another refrain,
the failure to free myself from this woman’s curse.

The finale will be swift, my Prince,
a cadence composed of perfumed scarves,
your sharp steel the tonic for my escape,
the key to cutting the restraints that bind me.

Your armor and swords will be mine
and in return I’ll leave the chains you covet
in a braided wreath around your throat,
covering the cost of freedom.

lovely lovely!

brilliant particularly like the unafraid ive got the braid bit! brilliant! :)

I have a slight confession....i was writing about her voice singing not her hair! but when i saw how lovely a comparison that was too and how it sort of said both things i just let it lie...ahem! *blush* so you see i wrote something musical too....!

i liked that bit too wendy/stuart! :)

Hi Carina

The time and thought you have spent on this wonderful poem shows. I like the voice of Rapunzel's character in this piece. Her determination to be free turns
quite Machiavellian as she shifts her screams of desperation to an aria of seduction. I love the idea of how she is orchestrating her escape plan with the precise rhythm and timing of music. I particularly was drawn to these lines

This time I modulate my plea,
shift shrieks to song,
despair measured out in half notes,
an aria of seduction.

and the intensity of the last stanza is
haunting in the best kind of way.

Your armor and swords will be mine
and in return I’ll leave the chains you covet
in a braided wreath around your throat,
covering the cost of freedom.

Enjoyed this very much!
Wendy

Ooh- nice and spooky.

Lovely/

Hi Susannah

I really like the title and how it fits in with the texture and musical/awakening influence of Rapunzel's hair. Your descriptive details here enchant and add that lyrical sense of magic to the poem. In particular, I adored these lines

it is a lyre
a mandolin, a harp
beckoning on
and on through the wooded
boughs of this innocent land
made of flesh, bone
and discovery
in this sunrise of a voice

Thank you for sharing
Wendy

Hi Jack

A magnificent take on The Rapunzel story. I love this excerpt and think it is brilliantly told with tangible details and a rawness that befits the crone and this journey
into exile.

Thank you so much for sharing
Wendy

Hi Joel

Unique and riveting, I like the way you finish the story and lead us into the personal pursuit of Rapunzel's need for her own direction and identity. The details are vivid and stark as well as engaging. I also liked the way you drew yourself into the audience and the essence of the poem. From start to finish this poem is stunning. For me, the gist of it lies in these lines


her bald head shining beneath
the beam of stage lights,

and she is singing into the mic; a husky
and strong voice, shouting

a song about her mother,
and the birth parents she never met,

and the husband and daughter
she left behind, to save herself.

Thanks for sharing this one!
Wendy

thank you, i like how you tactfully approach the hair/musicality combining here wendy, ;) thank you for your appreciation. xx

This is one of my favorites from Goblin Fruit's Winter 2012 issue!

Pregnant With Rapunzel

by Laura King

Rampion, or "ramps," was the bitter salad green that Rapunzel's mother longed for, sent her husband to gather from the enchantress's walled garden next door, and paid for with her unborn daughter.


I kept my mouth closed as I watched the ramps grow big and bitter.
It was my daughter's appetite that sprung the ferns along my throat,
the fiddleheads of hunger that unfurled along my tongue like tongues.

The window where we watched became our belfry, she the tongue
and I the hollow of a bell that ached to ring, uncloistering the bitter
leaves. Greed built that garden wall. This is our child’s hunger in my throat.

Please, husband, get me rampion. We watched him tear the milky throats,
leaving the root. And when a fist closed on his wrist, he gripped those tongues
as if he held my hand, and heard their price: our daughter for the bitter

no more bittersweet than this, the sight of her: a pretty tongue of hair spilt from a tower's throat.

The thing is
When you spend your whole life
Alone...

Well,
Alone apart from the witch

Who says she loves you
And only wants what's best

Because love is a tower
No one else can enter.

You start thinking
The only thing you've got going for you
Is the hair.

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From there, we’ll tend to all but the basest of your remaining unanswered wants:

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Then, my osculating oddballs, you’re on your own -
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Against the hopes pinned on one’s future,
Most any prince is rarely ever matched fairly.
Even more challenging to be paired with such a lass
Whose hair requires more than a little letting down.

Thanks very much, Wendy. I keep thinking lately how much I'd like to string an elaborate wig with strange accessories: miniature birdcages, etc. So I was interested in twisting that up in the idea of Rapunzel as captive -by- her hair and that constriction reinforced within the strange debris strung in it.

So many things turned out right
my childhood should be a dream
blurry in adulthood's half-light.
But the muscles of my neck never forgot
the coiffure carried was just another's scheme,
what wore love's ribbons simply a plot.

By the way, this was my third attempt at a post; I don't think Typepad is letting folks post just using their email + URL.

Oh my, what an amazing group visits here! Such variety, such pathos, such and so much feeling! Still...I really think nothing tops "Hair today, gone tomorrow"--It wiped every scenario I was entertaining right off my mind files, to my blessed relief. Maybe tomorrows challenge will catch me conscious again :->

i wrote this two years ago as a sort of thank you to the amazing cat valente, but truly it applies to terri & all the mythic arts community as a whole.

RAPUNZEL SPEAKS


and

your words
are like her hair, smooth but for
the snarls: handholds,
one phrase here, another there,
pause and then return to climbing

through

your words,
each a snake or ladder to
slide down: the prison stands no more -
bricks turn to lines and stones
to letters then

a voice,

your words
open the window to worlds
and words from her alone: the first,
a poem, a note,
a rapunzel speaks and

changes

her words
to sky, not floor, not walls nor
ceiling: an open door
instead, a path -
a maze - a story of her own.

The Hag and I

The Hag and I,
For a living
We make rampion salads and spin gold.
To pass the time
she tells me tales,
Of her sister‘s
love for mirrors,
or of her aunt’s cottage of candy,
I listen while I chop the herbs and vegetables,
But only she mixes the spices,
Secret, scented, seductive.

When I spin endless reams, she says
‘Careful, do not prick yourself,
Like niece Beauty did,
We really cannot afford a hundred year sleep.
Times are tough and even gold spun by a maiden
Has few takers’.

When she goes to the village,
I look out into clouds.
Far below,
Peasants and nobleman pass,
Look up furtively, hurriedly,
I wave but no one waves back.

In the evenings, I throw down a rope
Of gold,
And the Hag climbs up,
Takes out her pouch
Counts out the copper,
Dines on unsold salad,
And then it’s time to spin again.

‘This evening’s tale is about my brother Rumple’,
‘Stop me if you have heard it before’.
Nimble and swift, her bony fingers spin,
Fine threads of gold,
And I see,
Moistness and tenderness,
In old wrinkled eyes.

Absolutely love this! Just fantastic. It is interesting what happens to the story when you turn the genders on their heads.

Surely the winds of all the seas
Are tangled in such knots.
Shake them out, unlock them,
I'll bear the maelstrom, though I be lost.
Oh to be tossed on waves as these.

Or if you will not,
A silver dagger will make short work
Of this conundrum, this Gordian plot.
And I will love you,
Shorn...strength gone,
Only a little less.

I'm mixing my mythology a bit there, hope it works!

At last I can post my poem. A number of quirky events stopped me.

A Modern Rapunzel

In the long line of the hungry, she pushes
The wobbly wheeled stroller. Long ago, it seems
Her story began to twist. Was any of it true. So many
Crazy story tellers on the streets, running from monsters,
Her twins fitfully sleep, almost two years old now.
They smell. We all smell, she thinks. The line moves
A little. Big yellow church with basement kitchen.
Food. My babies.

So many hallucinations up and down the line.
Perhaps she never looped her red braid over the nob
On the bed by the window. Saw his smiling face, "Sorry, I
Am trespassing. Did on a bet..." She laughing," What are you?
A varmint. Auntie keeps a loaded shotgun for varmint? "Could be/
God, you are so beautiful." She did not know what they did was called.
It was better than books Aunty gave her, books about castles a
and gardens, pretty music a needle caused on black flat plates,
Relics Aunty Called them. He became her garden, her
Music, her lover.

"Getting too fat my pretty. Must put you on a diet." Her eyes
Glittered. Did she know? Oh surely not. But the night they planned
To run away she was there, to knock down the ladder, and he fell int
The thorn bushes. "My eyes, my eyes," He screamed. "I cannot see" Auntie
Led her to the front door. "You will not see him ever again," Shrill laughter.
Nor will he see you. "Did this happen? She shuffles with others,
Sad and slow.

And he is there, wearing sunglasses passing out plates
Behind the counter. She feels his presence like a picture with
Lovely scribbles all around him. Gruff mutters. "Look at those shades.
He's a fake. A rich doper trying to look normal. Another junky."
She swallows street yell and pushes the stroller.

And here we stop. He takes off
the sunglasses and squints. He knows. She holds up the babies. And the
Line is silent. They are all in fairy tale. We could click the picture
And try to see who else has a happy ending.

These are great! Ended up working on something quite a bit longer today but wanted to let you know I'm loving these challenges! --Francesca Myman

I love mutliple-voice poems like these. Very well done.

Short and powerful. This is terrific. And let me gush for a moment, Ms. Walton, and say that I enjoy your books immensely - that is, when I can pry them out of my wife's hands.

Another short one that lingers in the mind.

Very nice indeed, Raquel.

My wife Francoise says it's her favourite here today.

...and this one is my favourite here today. Bravo, Wendy.

This one stuck in my mind from the issue too.

Those last three lines pack a punch!

I gather from Terri's comments that Typepad's spam filters are sometimes trigger by poetry.

Love it, Christina! Makes an interesting pairing with Stuart's above.

Your work never disappoints, Phyllis. There's so much to chew on this one. Worth the wait!

I don't always like poems that mix fairy tales willy-nilly, but this really works!

I don't see any time limits in the Challenge rules, Francesca, so I gather that you poets can keep on posting as you like. I, for one, will keep reading. Francoise is nodding as I type this, so make that: We, for two, will keep reading.

Thank you, Raquel.

Thanks so much, Jack.

Thanks so much, Jack.

Thanks!

Thanks so much Stuart!

I am glad you enjoyed this poem and deeply appreciate your wonderful comment

best regards
Wendy

Hi Carina

So glad this poem resonated with you. I really appreciate you taking the time to read my work and comment on its contents. A child's isolation is tragic and when others are trying to reach her, it's very challenging.

Thanks so much
Wendy

Hi Jack

Thank you so, so much! I very appreciative of your comment and am so glad you liked this!

Best regards
Wendy

Rapunzel, Eclipse, 1999.

I let down my hippy hair,
Run downhill into her eyes,
But this is not love.

I let down my hippy hair,
Run downhill into her eyes,
And passive, inhale,
Now active, abstain,
Am alien, in pain,
But this is not love.

I let down my hippy hair,
Run downhill into her eyes,
And passive, inhale,
Now active, abstain,
Am alien, in pain,
I pray for a carriage,
Am blessed, escape,
Over dry stone
A wilderness
World without walls,
But this is not love.

I let down my hippy hair,
Run downhill into her eyes,
And passive, inhale,
Now active, abstain,
Am alien, in pain,
I pray for a carriage,
Am blessed, escape,
Over dry stone
A wilderness
World without walls,
Crash across cattle
Grid thresholds,
Turn corners,
Contemplate moor grass,
Heather and gorse,
Seek a signal
Among the tors,
Abandon Princetown
For a prison,
Cross bridges,
Burn bridges,
Leave hope on a hillside
And seek my own path,
But this is not love.

I let down my hippy hair,
Run downhill into her eyes,
And passive, inhale,
Now active, abstain,
Am alien, in pain,
I pray for a carriage,
Am blessed, escape,
Over dry stone
A wilderness
World without walls,
Crash across cattle
Grid thresholds,
Turn corners,
Contemplate moor grass,
Heather and gorse,
Seek a signal
Among the tors,
Abandon Princetown
For a prison,
Cross bridges,
Burn bridges,
Spit in the Dart,
Leave hope on a hillside
And seek my own path,
Take the high road,
The narrow road,
Bridleway, path
Less travelled by,
The dead end,
The ditch,
The despair,
The fist
Shake at the sky
Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!

This is not love
But a waking
Wish,
This is not love
But spit in the dirt,
This is not love
But a shearing,
This is not love
But a start.

Thank you so much, Jack. I really appreciate this. I never know what will come after
prompts. This one is close to my concerns + fables.

It was the bed she slept on and the dress
she wore about the house. It was the veil
she hid behind. In snow and rain and hail
it kept her dry. And if she felt distress

which she did, often, it would dry each tear.
Keeping it clean and brushed was her whole life.
In nightmares she would hack it with a knife,
then watch in mirrors as she'd disappear

because, without it, she would not be there.
Her face was plain, she thought, her talk was trite.
She'd no idea what people do at night
save sleep. Her only lover was her hair.

She'd spend whole days, brush, lather and then rinse.
It kept her far too busy for some Prince.

I tried to post this yesterday, but couldn't get it to go in...Apparently, if the system automatically enters your name and e-mail, you have to remove them and put them in manually.

A day late.

Rapunzel

First I felt my neck;
A great weight gone.
I saw my face properly,
Huge eyes, purple shadows.
No longer a rope,
No longer a door,
No imagined key to heaven,
No treasure locked away.
I am.
Nothing more than I look,
A girl with shorn hair
Like a mark of shame,
But instead, each strand
Sings out, “you are free.”

The wanted unwanted one, I
The frightened girl, immoveable,
Bound by golden chains.
The weight of my own body’s making,
Each silken day heavier, slower,
Till I’m stifled by it.

Grow up, flow down.
I am an invalid child
Until a scissor’s cut
Makes a woman of me,
Free to fly with the birds.

Tumble to the musty earth,
Brambles on skin;
Still I am one with the fox
And the badger.
Easy to flee.

I shall have the forest deep,
I need no towers.
Nuts, grasses, berries,
No fine silver plate.

Would that I missed it,
All the fine things.
Would that I missed him who freed me
With the edge of a shear.

But he never saw me,
But for my hair.

I will have him later to myself,
Blind as night,
To all the grandeur left behind.

Abandoned all for a tiny cottage,
Wreathed in briar roses.
Princess and prince of the oakwood, we,
Of thorns and spring leaves,
Of owls and brown pheasants,
Of deer and smoky doves.

No longer alone,
No longer governed,
By rules, and stories,
And monsters we made of ourselves.

Thank you Jack.

Wasn't trying to be a wise guy with my multiple voice reply.
The first one was temporarily mislaid.

Having posted this in the wrong challenge, I've copy pasted it to place here where it belongs:

Old crone Rapunzel

Here she is, who escaped one fate by a hair
only to be caught up in another sort of snare.

Outgrew that one, then lost the next in a fire,
and learned that some elements can be quite dire,

She wandered like that on the thin edge of her tresses
hoping, oh singing a song of the long road that blesses.

Feel free to write your own song ,dear reader, Your ditty,
your dance, your tales of hair both practical and pretty.

The closest I have for this one is actually based on Into the Woods.

Analysis

There are three motivations in life: money, power, and love.
One can see the mother in the shadow she cast on her daughter:
Power-hungry, clever
raising her daughter to be intelligent
in a world that valued neither women nor intelligence.
Always pushing her daughter for more
but never thinking to offer praise.
The daughter, later, finding it impossible to fit in—
looking for sympathy and finding only accusation
(small wonder, though, considering the history with her neighbors).
She made the classic mistake,
thinking a child will be someone who loves you
when instead, a child is one to whom you give love.
And then, the real tragedy,
assuming that since her upbringing was so harsh and unloving
that the reverse would be ideal
and took matters to the other extreme,
stifling,
smothering with love,
so it is small wonder that the child, once grown,
was fair prey for the first heartless handsome wretch to come along.
And then life in the world being too much for one raised behind tower walls,
broke beneath the pressure of its demands.
One wonders if the giant's step came as a relief,
though that, in turn, broke the one who needed her,
craved the love of a daughter, a family,
any family.

Rapunzel sobs that her upbringing has insured
that she can never be happy.
A pause, then,
"I was only trying to be a good mother."
And we laugh, because, after all,
What would a witch know of love?

May 18, 2009

The Rules of Rapunzel's Place

Rapunzel runs a boarding house with no doors, in a tower outside the town
Baggage service up and down from your room is strictly by window pulley
And only if your hair is long enough to throw over the wheel and ratchet up
Because, as with use of the kitchen, everything is self-serve at this hostel

The enigmatic landlady lets boarders stay for as long as they want, if they’re useful
Rent can be paid in cooking, cleaning, seedlings, plumbing or other types of labor
You can also pay for the groceries at the greenmarket on Mondays or Thursdays,
But take care about which turning you take, or you may not find your way back.

There is always soup in the kitchen, simmering, with a stone at the bottom of the pot
Probably put there by a resident with a sense of humor, or simply no money for bones
Or maybe by the landlady herself, as a joke to those who know, though she won’t say
She smiles, running a hand through her short curls, and stirs the soup from time to time

The primary smell from the kitchen is green: rich and redolent with irresistibly fresh herbs:
Rampion and sorrel, tender vegetables and early spring fruits, just picked from the garden
No one sees Rapunzel do the harvesting, but fresh produce is in the kitchen, day in and day out
There is no roof access, but people flying over the tower have seen the garden, walled and wired

There is a great deal of gossip that pervades the common room of a weekday night
Largely on the topic of how and why Rapunzel would maintain the tower and its grounds
Which were rumored once to have been the site of tragic and perhaps life altering events
Princes! Witches! Captivity! the tabloids said. Blurry photos on the Internet. Rapunzel shrugs.

If you ask her a direct question about the past, she’ll quote you something about that having been
“Another country, and besides the witch is dead” and smile sadly and ask about your day
About how your translocation class went at the academy, whether you’ve fired any pottery
How your horticultural experiments are progressing, and whether you’ll be staying another week.

One tower, one room to each floor, with Rapunzel occupying the ground floor, always
This has sufficed for time out of mind. No relatives are coming to visit, nor long lost loves
Home is not really a concept that most of the boarders know. Some have homes, or did
And that is perhaps something they share in common with their landlady -- maybe only that.

You might think to try your hand at matchmaking. There must be some bachelor prince
Some widower with a royal dowry and too much time on his hands and too many empty halls
Who would love someone as practical and down to earth as Rapunzel, to court and win
But she, smiling, turns down all such attempts. Her heart, she says, belongs to herself, finally.

Thanks Carina!! :)

Thanks Wendy!! Appreciate the comments.

Michael James Parker, I like this a *lot*. Great poem. But having trouble finding Rapunzel in it, except perhaps the hippy hair line...? Not a complaint, just asking for help here since I'm clearly missing something. Like I said, I like it a great deal.

A fascinating use of the tale. Sharp as a knife.

I like how this ends.

Excellent!

Another from Out of the Black Forest (Centennial Press, 2012).

Hair

As she grew out of girlhood
the old woman braided
her marvelous hair more tightly,
no longer made little cakes for her,
watched her more closely,
loved her less.

The tower hummed like a bell
whenever the winds blew
through its slitted windows,
but she could not sing.
There were no books
and only six words.

At night the stars
crawled in glaciated circles.
The birds came by day
as long as she had bread,
their chirps echoing
from the curved stone.

She became thinner, and her hair
hung heavy as gold threads
woven into a brocaded border
of silk for a wedding dress
or a fine shroud.

One by one she pulled out
the glittering strands, let them
float away on the wind, until
her skull was bald as a speckled egg
and every tree in the forest
was crowned with a golden nest.

Didn't have much time so I have returned to read the poems and I just love this kind
of homey, snug ending :)

This is all golden and beautiful, like a waltz....so musical.

Late with my comments due to many tasks, but at last I read this and so much admired
the sort of skinhead, punk Rapunzel, giving it all out there; her sorrow and triumph at
the same time. Really cool.

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