Tuesday, February 14, 2012

How Hansel Ate Gretel


It's Valentine's Day, that most commercially candy-coated of holidays, and the day when Love in all its sweetness is celebrated across the land--except, of course, at Castle Hedgewitch, where instead we have a twisted cautionary tale for hungry young lovers whose eyes may be bigger than their stomachs, and a retelling (with customary poetic license) of an old feral, er...faerie tale from the Brothers All-too Grimm.

Offterdinger Hansel und Gretel (1)



How Hansel Ate Gretel


Looking back, as I make off into mothering trees
I see your trail wind under their stooping knees,
snake of cherry heartbits beneath the moon
and know it for what it is, your pheromone croon
baiting the sweet biological trap up on the heath
where every heedless sacrifice drops its spore.
See your sisters all come running to hide from death
and instead become your food supply, nothing more.

Your candy call draws the lost ones, wild to eat 
the gingerbread house with sugar hands and feet.
Each famished girlchild sucks at white icing's sweet
slick, swallows glazing and dreams the full child's dream
inside the cage made to plump her up as the oven heats.
With luck, the last one's fallen bones gnawed clean
make a silent deceit to a blind eye’s need for meat,
pinched to test what's forever incomplete.

Still, gingerbread girls will always let you start
those hungry cannibal gulps that crumble the heart
but what surprises is the discipline you show
sparing some of the half-baked morseled dough
(bitten off, those cookie legs can’t run like flesh)
to pull and scatter speck by speck as you refresh
that trail that tells the strays just where to go.
O we all need to eat, so I don’t mind the meal 

or being dessert that's thoroughly lost in the woods,
nor the  sandpaper licks I took so I could feel.
It’s the marker you make of every spit-stained crumb
to bait your sweet-breathed trap for damaged goods
that freezes all I have that’s still not numb.





February 2012



Posted for   OpenLinkNight   at dVerse Poets Pub




Note: I've significantly altered this old tale to suit my  fancy, put it into a  valentiny rhyme scheme and fictionalized first-person form, removed the stereotypes of the wicked cannibal witch-hag and evil stepmother and made poor innocent Hansel, who was the original victim, the villain of the piece. That's what happens when you let feminazi witches rewrite the history books.



Image: Late 19th century illustration  of Hansel und Gretel, by Carl Offterdinger, photo by Harke [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 

50 comments:

  1. haha...almost spit my drink when i read the title...and the All-too Grimm brothers... i think you have serious talent for rewriting fairy tales...just don't read them to any kids you want to sleep afterwards...smiles...really enjoyed this hedge...written in a funny way but also some deep emotions in there which made me swallow hard from time to time..

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  2. Oooh how intensely compelling!! I especially like the twist at the end, the first person narrator reveals herself as being even more twisted than poor Hansel himself. I shudder to imagine the outcome.

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    1. Perhaps I should add 'and vice versa' to the title? ;-)

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  3. bwahaha...grimm indeed yet perfect coming from the hedgewitch...smiles...the sandpaper tongue...nice tactile word there....and def like that twist in the end...the need to feel so succumbing...

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  4. OH, GOD...this is going to HAUNT me tonight!!!

    I am reeling (or my blood sugar is) from some of this, but I especially love the feminazi defination. LOL!

    Hedge, you need to publish a book. You are such an original writer, though it would never be a child's book. It would be for those of us who stare out the window and see the cracks in the universe.

    Loved it, as I do all your work. Want a cookie???

    Lady Nyo

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  5. Glad I got you included the note, as I was saying to myself, "I don't remember the tale quite like that," and was just about to go pull the monster Grimm collection I have to check and see. Really great writing, love the piece, for what it is, and for all it's grimminess.

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    1. Thanks, Fred. Liked yours as well--suited my mood, which is atm quite loaded with grimminess. ;-)

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  6. Hey, all is fair in love and porridge. Thanks for showing that the witch is just a scapegoat for appetites not proper under the table. Maybe this is a tale of children, but they seem more like titans shrunk to the size of midgets after too long in the forest. Eat or be eaten ... ah love. - Brendan

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    1. The original fairy tale was about exposing children to die during famine so adults could have more food, and a witch who ate them so they shouldn't go completely to waste, so I don't think I've pushed the fungal acorn too far from the gnarly tree here. Also, a few shades of the Anglerfish seem present on a reread. As you say, ah love..or whatever passes for it on a very dark night. ;_) Thanks for reading, and for stopping by, B. Good to read your words at the Well again, too

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  7. Yikes! I used to love Gingerbread! Ha. Have your unique, more filigreed, Anne Sexton thing going on here. K.

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  8. oohh uniquely twisted tale... the part about cookie legs kinda made me hungry

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    1. you know, I think the fact I'm on a diet could have influenced this poem. ;-)

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  9. Loved this twisted piece--from the very first line--to the twist at the end--

    @AudreyHowitt

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  10. yeah man - an antidote that makes me sickly lol - superb re telling hedge - i love this story from a kid, so your graft had a hat full of preordered imagery ready to rearrange in my noggin and it sure did that with bells.... and sweets: love it :)

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    1. I can see you wolfing down the Brother's Grimm and HC Andersen--me too--explains a lot, eh?

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  11. HAH...I can picture your title as a headline in The National Enquirer! (Read on for all the juicy details.)

    And then he offers that witch his bone...no wonder I grew up twisted listening to these tales!

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  12. All too stunningly different a treatment and all too Grimm! Beautiful verse, Joy!

    Hank

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  13. LOL definitely a whole new take on that fairy tale. Like yours way better but we should keep it from the eyes of the kiddies..haha

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  14. So deeply felt, so dearly yet sadly written. The poem is simply excellent in its control of passion in the lines as you wind us in and out of what might be glorious love or sad love. Taking a fairy tale like this and making it speak in a seductive, enchanting voice pulling such adult meanings and guiding us into the wild recesses of the human heart. This is not dark, but it has the deepest shadows that fill many of our days that make them worth recollection later in life - if we survive the pain of times like these.

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    1. Thanks Charles--this whole poem came to me in the shower as a fragment which insisted on being birthed--it *is* about dark times, thankfully long past, but of course, such things are always unquiet in their graves.

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  15. Dang! You are quite talented, Ms. Hedgewitch! This is an amazing bit of stortelling twistery! Well done, in my humble opinion!

    http://charleslmashburn.wordpress.com/2012/02/14/i-cant-do-this-anymore/

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  16. lol! Twisted is the word ` you had me at the title :)
    нαρρу ναℓєηтιηє'ѕ ∂αу ♥ нєℓєηα

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  17. Oh, the Brothers well told in only a fashion you could do, Joy. Nice turn of the tale.

    Pamela

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  18. OMG, Feminazi is my fave word of the day. This is an amazing write, kiddo.........with so much the cleverness:) I am too tired to say more. But if this is Valentine's, what happens come Easter? hee hee.

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  19. Feminazi! Ha ha- love this! I thought this re-working was great- beautifully ugly and intense- such great use of language as well- word combinations I would never even think of! This was totally my cup of tea- from the firm to the content. You managed to give it a real intensity. Bravo!

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  20. Oh yours is much more gruesome than mine! Guess we were drinking from the same well or something though. Cheers :)

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  21. Love love love this...I so enjoy reading jaded-ness on Vday! :)
    Fave line is at the end:

    to bait your sweet-breathed trap for damaged goods
    that freezes all I have that’s still not numb.

    Great read...:)

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  22. the title had me laughing out loud, as did your label "when you believe in things you don't understand you're generally screwed." LOVE your unholy...'scuse me, feral fairy tale! you are such a uniquely imaginative poet, Joy! and truly a joy to read! {sorry}

    and an (un)happy Valentine's Day to you, dear.

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  23. Wot di I say other than thoroughly enjoyed ;)

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  24. Who eats whom? :-) What I like most about how you write, my friend, is how you will always see things through your own prism, unique and sometimes twisted. ;-) I enjoyed this conceit, done with such fine craft

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    1. Thanks, Ruth. Always appreciate you reading. As Kerry pointed out in her comment, this is a mutual buffet going on, indeed--but in times of famine, things like fairy tales mimic reality in a great many tropes.

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  25. I read this at work yesterday and couldn't comment then but Oh, where did my mind go? I think it followed breadcrumbs left by yours. Wonderfully twisted and what a title! Bravo!

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    1. Thanks Beth--I enjoyed yours as well, though I think yours had a bit more of the Cinderella touch than the wicked old witch. ;-)

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  26. Love the way you make new the old, but it's not really old any more, it's yours, especially with the last couple of stanzas. "Cannibal gulps...," "sandpaper licks..." fine lines among many that bring the fairytale home. Very good.

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  27. What a world of heartache in your tale of "gingerbread girls". We lure all the Disney princesses up the Happily-Ever-After Hill to the cages (or caves) of their own choosing ...to martyrdom. A dire, dark outlook on my part for which I blame noone but ourselves.

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  28. A wonderful re-twisting of the tale. Love it.

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  29. Oh how I love this kind of gall-flaoured gingerbread. Shades of Anne Sexton.. but mainly, yourself. Pure tonic to the pinkness of the day. Thank you!

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  30. Note to self: Be careful what bread crumbs you follow!
    Love this!

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  31. Would it be okay if I simply stated, even after all these months, you get cooler with every visit! LOVE this, Joy! Must be where the bread crumb vibes I've been picking up on have been coming from ;)

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  32. Oh, Joy, leave it to you to bring...well, JOY to us all from some rather interesting interpretations and rewrites of the old and engrained. Good twists...oh those breadcrumbs. Not quite what the Grimms had whipped up for us, but I'll take both versions with a smile...and the knowledge, of course, that your version would likely do very much better in the hands of the younglings than that traditional version. (Dark writers, they were--yowza!)

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  33. "It’s the marker you make of every spit-stained crumb
    to bait your sweet-breathed trap for damaged goods
    that freezes all I have that’s still not numb."

    'damaged goods' and 'freezes all ... that's still not numb" has slight sexual overtones to me too ....

    so much depth in this piece ...

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  34. hahaha. really cute! Did Hansel really eat Gretel? O f course it was her heart! Perfect valentine Joy....

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  35. You can really surprise yourself when you re-knit the old fairy tales into a new tapestry! A tale so twisted - in all the senses of the word - but oh so courageous of you.

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  36. Cookie legs!

    You're terrible. I despair of you.

    PS--Happy Valentine's Day! :-P

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  37. Hmmmm...
    Sorry, it's not what I was thinking.

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  38. Ah...deliciously dark. I like new twists. Great rhyme scheme, so smooth that it did it's job and didn't stick out to be bitten off.

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  39. It's called poetic license, hedgewith, and you used yours brilliantly. :)

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'Poetry is an echo asking a shadow to dance' ~Carl Sandburg