Tunes for a Monday Morning
Autumn Poetry Challenge: Day 2

Autumn Poetry Challenge: Day 1

Little Red Riding Hood by Jillian Tamaki

Little Red Cap by Walter Crane

Inspired by your response to the Ondine post, it's Poetry Challenge week here on Myth & Moor, running from now through Saturday.

I am challenging all you poets out there to share a poem (or poems) on the theme of the day. There are no rules beyond adhering to the theme: brand new poems are encouraged, but your older poems are welcome too. You don't have to be a published poet to contribute; you don't have to be a regular reader of this blog; and you don't even have to be an adult (but if you're a child, please let us know your age). To participate, just post your poem(s) in the comments thread.

Regular comments are welcome too, of course.

I'll start the ball rolling each morning by posting a poem from the Journal of Mythic Arts archives, along with related imagery.

Today, I'm looking for poems inspired by the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale. Here's an excellent one by my friend and publishing colleague Lawrence Schimel, who lives in Madrid, Spain:

Little Red Riding Hood by Margaret Ely WebbJourneybread Recipe

"Even in the kitchen there was
the smell of journey"
          - Anne Sexton, "Little Red Riding Hood"

1. In a tupperware wood, mix child and hood. Stir slowly. Add wolf.

2. Turn out onto a lightly floured path, and begin the walk home from school.

3. Sweeten the journey with candied petals: velvet tongues of violet, a posy of roses. Soon you will crave more.

4. Knead the flowers through the dough as wolf and child converse, tasting of each others flesh, a mingling of scents.

5. Now crack the wolf and separate the  Little Red Riding Hood by Ana Juanwhites—the large eyes, the long teeth—from the yolks.

6. Fold in the yeasty souls, fermented while none were watching. You are too young to hang out in bars.

7. Cover, and, warm and moist, let the bloated belly rise nine months.

8. Shape into a pudgy child, a dough boy, lumpy but sweet. Bake half an hour.

9. Just before the time is up—the end in sight, the water broken–split the top with a hunting knife, bone-handled and sharp.

10. Serve swaddled in a wolfskin throw, cradled in a basket and left on a grandmother's doorstep.

11. Go to your room. You have homework to be done. You are too young to be in the kitchen, cooking.

- Lawrence Schimel

Little Red-cap by Lisbeth Zwerger

If you'd like to know more about the history of the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale, go here.

Little Red Riding Hood illustration by Lisbeth Zwerger

The Little Red Riding Hood art above is by Jillian Tamaki, Walter Crane (1845-1915), Margaret Ely Webb (1877-1965), Ana Juan, and (the last two paintings) Lisbeth Zwerger. "Journeybread Recipe" by Lawrence Schimel appeared in Black Thorn, White Rose (Avon Books) and The Journal of Mythic Arts. It is copyright c 1994 by Lawrence Schimel; 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.


Thank you for the prompt. Had fun with it. (I love the "Journeybread Recipe" piece.

My response to the prompt:

Ruby Glitter

There lives a girl with lips like ruby-glitter,
eyes like smoking coals, a woodland between her legs
& a spilt blood shawl about her hair.
There lives a girl who has been doing girl-things forever:
tending fires, rising bread, visiting the family.
She knows the script. Wrapped knife in knickers,
a set expression, don't talk to strangers, know the
woodland's inside you (and then one day, she wakes
& it's inside your knickers). She looks down, looks up,
Wraps the spilt-blood shawl about her smoky hair.

There lives a girl who is always losing things:
First her mother, then her father, the trail she is
supposed to follow (you know: the one
where the sun shines) She still has the
knife in her knickers, the blood-shawl about her hair
when she makes her way to grandmother wolf's.
She bottles up some family blood, baskets up
some risen bread and heads off, mellow
(the woodland's inside her).

It's late evening when she arrives at grandmother's,
through twisty paths & gnarled dark places,
screaming birds & clawing silence. She knows
this script. “Oh grandmother, grandmother...”
But not a living soul in the forgotten cottage,
only a wolf-skeleton. The girl takes off her
blood-shawl (red as life), lays it over the bones
and she licks – at the skull she licks,
at the jaw she licks, wet beads of hopeful spittle.
Bones rattle. And she breathes – one-two-three,
and she breathes: Oh Wolf, Oh grandmother,
Oh Life Itself, breath filling up the skeleton...

Oh - this went right home, Sonya, just what I needed to read and feel! Thank you!!! Will create a woman and wolf shrine tonight.

The imagery in these two poems is quite evocative. I love the twists and turns. Absolutely gorgeous!

That's a thought, Christina... hmmmmm

Right up my alley; I've done many a fairy tale poem. Here's the first of my LRRH poems:


Do not stray from the path.

They knew the forest in those days,
knew, and had reason to fear
old growth, vine-encrusted, blotting out the light
thickets tangling the route
no trail of bread to guide the way
the wolves that, in hunger, lose their fear.
Our forests seem tame
second, third-growth, monoculture, trash forest
all handicap accessible
with markers to teach us what once we knew.
I have walked the forest
with only the stars
(fading year by year from the encroaching light of cities,
miles away)
and feared nothing worse than a misstep,
a stubbed toe
(do not stray from the path)
though it did turn out later
there were bears
stealthier than we knew.

We do not fear the forest.
Instead we fear the urban jungle
city buildings, vine-encrusted, blotting out the light
cold breezeways leading us astray
blind alleys, lairs where danger lurks.
Our predators wear a more familiar face.
I have walked the city streets at night
over my friends' objections
(do not stray from the path)
under the brilliant summer sky
or the sodium glow of a snowy winter
and feared nothing worse than an obnoxious drunk
though it did turn out later
that mere blocks away
a human wolf was taking his toll
in those days
when I dyed my hair red
and knew that I would never come to harm.

March 23, 2009

And the second.

At the Door

What big teeth you have, Grandmother.
The better to tear your heart out, my dear.

Bitch, she calls her, and Slut
This is one of the good days,
when she does not recognize her at all,
but rails at this stranger who has come into her house.
Far worse are the days when the girl is mistaken
for her mother, or her aunt,
as she holds the hand of the woman with mad bright eyes,
eyes that somehow still hold flashes of gold.
Her hands tremble as she doses out the medications
(she has to hide them, these days,
lock them away in secret cupboards and hide the keys.
The mind is dimmed but the body is still agile.)
The lack of sleep is constant these days. Every night
up to put the woman back to bed
tell her the dog is fed
(Mischa died many years ago)
the furniture is where it needs to be
it is not dawn, it is not dawn
the cows do not need to be milked.
In return she gets the accusations,
the insinuations that she is a thief, a whore,
a stranger keeping the woman away from those who love her.
In vain she tries to remember the friendly voice,
the soft hands, the scent of cookies,
the laughing days at the house with the butter-yellow walls.

When the doorbell rings, she starts;
her friends, so few, rarely bother to come by any more.
Suddenly frightened, the woman proclaims,
"Don't open the door, not the door,
There are wolves out there.
The wolves are at the door."
As she signs for the delivery, those medications she will have to hide,
she looks over and sees in those fear-filled eyes the flash of gold and thinks, No,
the wolves are not at the door.

The wolves got you long ago.

January 27, 2010

I love this so much!!!

This is delightful, Phyllis.

Blush. Thanks.

Thanks, too.

Thanks, Jenny.

Thank you, Jack.

The following lines keep playing through my head:

"In the moonlight, white pebbles
glistened like teeth."

It's haunting.

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