In Sheep’s Clothing
I. The Boy Who Cried
The reed had time to wait, piped any tunes
the boy knew best, like shrilling false alarms.
And farmers, red and round as full balloons,
puffed up the hill again and waved their arms
to spook the lamb-starved wolves that stalked the wold.
The boy, ruddy with glee, leapt into view
and poked fat bellies with his flute. The old
men grumbled at their ouster from their stew
and cuffed the boy and stumbled back to town.
Then waiting till the moon’s light didn’t bleed
through clouds, the boy again disturbed the down.
But no one answered. Satisfied, the reed–
while villagers sat chuckling in their beer–
began to trill notes only wolves could hear.
II. Three Little Pigs
The straw knew better than to stand. Why should
it shelter anything that mowed it down
with flashing scythes? The stupid boar withstood
the warning jabs of stalks dried into brown
sharp splinters strong enough for porcine hide,
ignored the husks tempting each burning brand.
And now the wolf had come and piggy cried
for some salvation. Quietly, a strand
unraveled, and its sheaf slipped from the strap.
No sudden movements, subtlety was key
to relishing the spring of an old trap
so long dreamed of. See piggy stare, and see
a ripple spread along the grasses who
would pass the tale. The sticks knew what to do.
III. Red Riding
It was the trees who whispered to the wolf
a little girl walked lonely in the wood.
They knew she’d lead him to a clearing, roofed
by shuddering branches, witnesses who stood
helpless to the woodsman. Roots entwined,
spread tales of holocaust beyond the hill
as ashes coated even churring pines
at forest’s edge. They plotted how to kill.
A rabbit’s no fit morsel for a lord;
there’s something sweeter. Feast, the aspen called.
It took no more. But champions’ lives are short,
and end in blood-splashed leaves, redder than fall.
Still charnel bark lies heaped within the clearing,
and xylems hum their malice out of hearing.