May 1st, 2010

poetry

Poet's Corner: The Wolf's Postcript to 'Little Red Riding Hood'

The Wolf's Postcript to 'Little Red Riding Hood'

First, grant me my sense of history:
I did it for posterity,
for kindergarten teachers
and a clear moral:
Little girls shouldn't wander off
in search of strange flowers,
and they mustn't speak to strangers.

And then grant me my generous sense of plot:
Couldn't I have gobbled her up
right there in the jungle?
Why did I ask her where her grandma lived?
As if I, a forest-dweller,
didn't know of the cottage
under the three oak trees
and the old woman lived there
all alone?
As if I couldn't have swallowed her years before?

And you may call me the Big Bad Wolf,
now my only reputation.
But I was no child-molester
though you'll agree she was pretty.

And the huntsman:
Was I sleeping while he snipped
my thick black fur
and filled me with garbage and stones?
I ran with that weight and fell down,
simply so children could laugh
at the noise of the stones
cutting through my belly,
at the garbage spilling out
with a perfect sense of timing,
just when the tale
should have come to an end.

Agha Shahid Ali (1949–2001)

This is reminiscent of Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith's The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, which is told from the perspective of that other Big Bad Wolf (or, of you're a reader of Fables or a devotee of Wold Newton, the same one at a different stage in his life), but the end, where he describes having garbage and stones placed in his belly by the huntsman, reminded me of Ian Frazier's classic Coyote vs. Acme.

spike rocks!

Poet's Corner: There Is Power in a Union

I chose this week's poem last week and put it in the queue to post today without realizing that today is May Day! So here's something that is a bit more appropriate for this day:

There Is Power in a Union

There is power in a factory, power in the land
Power in the hand of the worker
But it all amounts to nothing if together we don't stand
There is power in a Union

Now the lessons of the past were all learned with workers blood
The mistakes of the bosses we must pay for
From the cities and the farmlands to trenches full of mud
War has always been the bosses way, sir

The Union forever defending our rights
Down with the blackleg, all workers unite
With our brothers and our sisters from many far-off lands
There is power in a Union

Now I long for the morning that they realise
Brutality and unjust laws cannot defeat us
But who'll defend the workers who cannot organise
When the bosses send there lackeys out to cheat us?

Money speaks for money, the Devil for his own
Who comes to speak for the skin and the bone?
What a comfort to the widow, a light to the child
There is power in a Union

The Union forever defending our rights
Down with the blackleg, all workers unite
With our brothers and our sisters from many far-off lands
There is power in a Union

Billy Bragg (born 1957)

And course it wouldn't be May Day without this:

Servile masses arise!