Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Poem of the Day: “Woodcutter to the Rescue (or) ‘My, Grandmother, What A Big Mouth You Have’” by Robert Borski

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Woodcutter to the Rescue (or) ‘My, Grandmother, What A Big Mouth You Have’” by Robert Borski.  Although he did not start writing poetry until he was well into his sixth decade, Robert Borski has now had over two hundred poems published, a good portion of which have appeared in:  Asimov's, Dreams & Nightmares, The Magazine of Speculative Poetry, and Star*Line. He has been nominated for the Rhysling Award nine times and the Dwarf Stars Award thrice and still lives in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, the town of his birth, where he works for the local university.

Woodcutter to the Rescue
"My, Grandmother, What
A Big Mouth You Have"

Down comes the blue glint of ax, 

the thwack of its bite

echoing deep into the woods.

Oh, please, kind woodsman, 

hurry. Before it is too late.

Two more mighty hefts and he

is through: spine has yielded

to force, and splinters

of white bone fly like pieces

of leftover moon.

No sap now begrimes his blade,

but a slurry of blood,

as scarlet as the cloak worn 

by the girl.

And then something else

writhes within, and he thinks

the beast is gravid with pups

but from the cloven mass

of hair and viscera no litter

emerges. Instead, a hand

flutters, followed by a raw


You sure took your time, dolt.

You think I like swimming

in this fetid stew?

Wiping off red mire from 

her night-dress, the crone 

steps out of the beast.

And now I suppose you expect

my granddaughter to yield

to your tick-laden charms.

But as her gabble gives way

to further invective, he hears

a latent whimper from the ax-bitten

thing below and thinks of the dog

he had as a boy; a mastiff that

went to the death protecting

him from a surprised bear.

It's a fonder memory than this

will ever be. So as the trees

frame his own belated howls, 

he raises, then lowers, the ax 

again and again and again.

Robert Borski

Poet's Notes:  Many of my poems play off popular fairy tales, not only helping to create an instant and well-known back-story, but also allowing me to put my own post-modern spin on them. I especially like the fact that many of the originals are not politically correct and end grimly (no pun intended)--elements I like to incorporate whenever possible. Hence "Woodcutter to the Rescue," with its echoing subtitle drawn right from the tale itself.

Editor’s Note:  I do enjoy a well-written re-telling of a familiar fairy tale, especially one that provides something deliciously new and twisted.  Mr. Borski understands that the original versions of the old household tales were not meant for children--except for maybe the naughty ones.  "Woodcutter to the Rescue" was first published in the August 2013 issue of Songs of Eretz Poetry E-zine.

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