By Ralph Monday
The order doesn’t matter, just the story.
Girls grow up eating from the platter,
wide-eyed, hungry for love, perfection
found in cartoons rolling across screens.
Could be Cinderella, you know, the poor
girl, black, white, or any color in between,
all the same: Prince Charming, white picket
fences, castle in the sky where they live
happily ever after like two mannequins
in a department story window. Never grow old,
never max out the credit cards, electricity
always purring, water running, no dishes
to wash, and little children, like perfect tiny
cherubs, rosy cheeked and scrubbed clean,
adoring mommy and daddy forever and ever.
Too bad that after the third failed guy little
Cindy takes to hanging out in bars, smokes
too much, drinks way too often, takes on
one night stands like playing the lottery,
hits menopause wondering what the hell
Or maybe she takes the Rapunzel route,
grows those tresses long, makes them
bottle golden, joins the church choir
or some other barricaded tower, entrances
the guy riding by. He spirits her off on
a Harley. Later leaves when her dress grows
tight for a wicked witch he met at the park.
Poor Rapunzel raises two snot nosed kids
on her own, goes on the dole and trades
in the tower for government housing,
watching reruns of I Love Lucy after the
kids are gone, drunk on grapefruit juice
and vodka—tears healing nothing, not
even a lousy politician.
Could be Beauty and the Beast is her gig.
One day, chopping onions, her tears turn
the hideous TV repairman into a handsome,
wealthy prince. For a time he presents her
each day with a red rose and finery. Little
Belle is the belle of the ball, but the spell
is broken from too many beers, lots of football
and wings, endless channel surfing with clicker
in hand, like a charm that works backwards.
The prince turns into Jobba the Hut in a recliner.
Farting and belching like a true beast, his
nature goes back to the rock he crawled out from.
Get me another beer, bitch, he growls, and
all the women in the forest tremble.
Poor Belle can’t work her magic, not even by
turning her ring three times around her finger.
That silver screen spinning fantasies
doesn’t supply love’s needed triage.
Disney forgot to mention that life happens,
shit definitely happens—when the screen
goes blank, the projector turns dark,
all the conductors ever known forgot
to give the girls a baton.
Ralph Monday is an Associate Professor of English at Roane State Community College in Harriman, TN, where he teaches composition, literature, and creative writing courses. He has been published widely in over 50 journals including Agenda, The New Plains Review, New Liberties Review, Fiction Week Literary Review and many others. His poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Houghton Mifflin’s “Best of” Anthologies, as well as other awards. A chapbook, All American Girl and Other Poems, was published in July 2014. A book, Lost Houses and American Renditions was recently published by Aldrich Press. When not gardening, painting, or writing, he listens to the coyotes and owls calling in the woods behind his house, and notes every day that hawks visit him, his spirit animal.