V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics





The old stories do not end the way you were told.
Hansel and Gretel do not escape from the witch's house;

they decide to stay.  Ali Baba does not emerge from the cave,
but enters a subterranean chamber that goes on for miles.

At every juncture there is always a hidden door.
When the characters step through, they enter a realm 
having no resemblance to the world the rest of us know.
The old stories are never about what happens next,

but about the glass vial on the table.  After days of heat,
you hear three sharp raps, and look out and see
winter coming through the forest—neither rain nor snow,
but a wind stripping the leaves and stiffening the grass.

© by Jared Carter


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