Some of my stories are pleasant
tales you can tell to children
publish in hardcovers with bright pictures in primary colors,
my photo smiling on the jacket
because I am the proud author
who has been paid for the pleasure I give;
does that make me a whore, my master, my king?
Some of them are pleasant tales
you should save for adults
because they discuss sex
and dirty things that make the corners of your mouth turn up
and your unmentionables (oh, but I will) squirm on the edge of the bed
but you know you shouldn't
so you hide it on the top shelf where your mother won't see it
because she's too short and besides,
her eyesight is bad.
Some of them are not pleasant tales,
dark and cold they tell of gleaming tiger teeth and
leaves that hide monsters and men who creep
into little girls' beds because it is their
right to be wrong.
But they have happy endings,
barrels spiked with nails for the villains,
so you won't feel guilty.
Some of them are downright nasty tales
and hearing them you retch, but you know
(you always knew)
that they are the truest of all my stories
and that is why they leave you
lying awake and tearful,
staring into darksome night and remembering
my face, terrible as god
as I told them
to save myself.
About the Author:
Cory-Ellen Nadel is a writer and academic with an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and feminist literature. This poem was inspired by the tales of the Arabian Nights.
Copyright © 2001 by Cory-Ellen Nadel. This poem may not be reproduced in any form without the author’s express written permission.