All the Better, Dear Wolf


Look, I know I’m a predator.
I’m five years of age, in my prime,
hairy all over,
with teeth six inches long
and sharp as rapiers.

Do you think I’m really going
to spend my days
munching on berries
the size of a titmouse eye?

I’m a quadruped of course
but, for the sake of a fairy tale,
I’m willing to stand.
And speak as well
though in a deep gruff tone
in keeping with my native growl.

Some young thing
comes hopping and skipping
through my home territory
dressed redder than a whore’s lipstick
and waving a basket of goodies –
of course I’m going to drop everything
and accost her with my tried and true,
“Where are you going, little girl?”

I could just grab her there and then
but I’m willing to go along with the plot
even if it means swallowing
a bony and tough old grandmother,
cross-dressing and having to listen
to all that “What big teeth you have” etc etc.
just so some little kid
in a farmhouse in the middle of Nebraska
can near wet herself with tension
as her mother reads to her at bedtime.

What I’m saying is that
I play by the rules,
both of my own nature
and the story as it was explained to me.
Which brings me to the total unfairness
of a poor defenseless beast like myself
being slit open by a huntsman’s axe
just so that tasteless biddy can go free.

Look, I’m a wolf.
We’re on the verge of extinction.
And the world’s overrun with
silly little girls in red
and grandmothers.
That I come out of this whole affair
fatally wounded
is a public disgrace.
A change of attitude is sorely needed
So poet,
what big words you have.
What a big emotive, evocative medium you have.
What a big bully pulpit you have.
What a big audience you have.
Okay maybe not so much, these days.

–John Grey

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Examined Life Journal, Studio One and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Poetry East and Midwest Quarterly.

Image Notes: Finding an image where Little Red Riding Hood wasn’t the innocent victim wasn’t easy, by this Pinterest image by Kevin Kunkel just might work.

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