December 15, 2011

Red Grown, By James Tolan


He doesn’t recognize her
without her cloak and blush,
though she will not forget

who first treated her like food.
His smile, when she takes him
to her cottage in the woods,

perhaps he wishes it
were tender, hopes she
will be a taste of heaven

in the flesh, a spring lamb
born to slaughter, but as soon
as he paws her ruddy belt

she will carve across his gullet
a smile more sincere
then roll him from her bed,

his furry carcass, limp
and fat as a belly full
of undigested grandmother.

James Tolan is author of the chapbooks: Red Walls (Dos Madres Press) and Whiskey and the Rake of Mourning (Deadly Chaps).  He lives in Brooklyn and is an associate professor at the City University of New York.

2 comments

  1. Undigested grandmother--what a terrific ending phrase!

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  2. I totally agree with what Lissa said, “undigested grandmother” is a great phrase to end this poem. The idea of Red getting payback on the wolf and finding her grandmother somehow undigested is a clever twist to the fairy tale. I also really love the lines:

    [she will carve across his gullet
    a smile more sincere
    then roll him from her bed]

    I would like to see someone make a painting for those lines where we see Red taking a blade to the wolf in the shape of a smile. It could even have the grandmother falling out of the wolf’s belly, still in tact. I think this image has great potential. Overall this is a very fun poem to read with the perfect mixture of cleverness and darkness.

    - Thomas L

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