Tuesday, February 11, 2014

THE OGRE'S WIFE by Ron Koertge

THE OGRE'S WIFE: Poems may have some of its basis in fairy tales, but it hews toward the original (sometimes savage) Grimm versions. You won't find any Disney here. There are, for instance, takes on Little Red Riding Hood, The Ogre's Wife, Beauty and the Beast, and more, including a poem entitled "The Death of Hansel". One of my favorite of the fairy tale poems is probably "The Gingerbread Man".

The Gingerbread Man
by Ron Koertge

This is not the one about the childless couple and the cookie
that leapt from the oven and ran away from everyone
and everything but the fox.

This is the one about the woman who, while her husband was
snoring, baked a burly gingerbread man. Piece by piece.
Arms and legs, pelvis and chest. And then assembled him
in a kitchen illuminated only by lightning.

He was wonderful: tall and dark with penetrating eyes
and a wry smile. She lay down on him. It was simultaneously
intoxicating and melancholy. She knew it couldn't last.

A night or two later while she was caressing her lover
she knocked over a wine glass and in came her husband
in his nightshirt to see what was happening.

Immediately he knew what to do: he started at the rival's
toes and began to eat. His wife watched, horrified and
excited. Legs and thighs, belly and arms, eyes and nose.
And then he kissed her with what had become the sweetest
lips in the world.
Don't like fairy tales? That's okay, too. Most of the book is something else entirely.

About Jackie Robinson, say, or Death, or horse racing. About items bought at the store (but with the wrong instructions), about being without electricity for a bit, about being a poet (or "Advice to a Young Poet", too full of the F-word for this review, but awesome), about the roads not taken.

Or this one, about different roads altogether:

by Ron Koertge

The word comes from tri + via: three
roads. And it came to meant hings of no
importance because that's where women
would stop and talk.

A man made that up, don't you think? He'd
be riding a fine horse, his head full of important
thoughts about his life, his sons, his money.

There would be these women standing where
three roads met filling the air with weather
and babies and recipes.

He would look them up and down, and lick his
fat lips as they whispered to each other how easy
it would be to make it look like somebody else
killed him, some man driven by the things men
talk about--envy, rage, revenge.
Could be this is a collection for adults, but there is plenty for young adults to love, including poetry done right, and with skill and mastery. And if one is interested in writing poetry, one could do worse than to follow the recommendations in "Advice to a Young Poet."

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