Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Welcome Welcome

As Jack walked
He wondered what to say
To such rich people
As would live in
A castle on a cloud.

Never had Jack seen
Rich people before.
He would have to
Consider that, yet
Jack felt very hungry
And thought maybe,
Just maybe, people
So rich as to live on clouds
Might feed a poor boy.

And so it was
That Jack came
To the looming door,
And, after scratching
His Considering Cap,
He reached high
On his tippy toes

And barely budged the knocker
That was heavy and iron
And as big around
As a barrel.

Went the knocker,
Ever so faintly,

Requiring all Jack’s strength.

Jack considered
Running away—considered
Climbing right back
Down the beanstalk.

But he considered again—
How hungry he was.

And so he stayed waiting
At the bottom of the big door.

Which, after a huge clang
And much creaking,
Leaving Jack nearly
Scarred from his wits.

For there before him stood
A giant as tall as the buildings
In the village, at least
Two stories, if not more,
If not as tall as the chimneys
In the village,
Which were very tall.

A very tall giant.

Was this the giant everyone told of
Who ate children in their sleep?

“Hello, little boy,” said the giant,
Bending toward him.
Yes, this was a giant,
No doubt of that,
But this giant had a kindly face;
A grandmother sort of face,
And the face smiled.

“Hello,” said Jack.

“It’s very nice of you to come,”
Said the kindly voice. “But you
Really must leave. My husband
Eats little children like you, you know.”

“I didn’t know!” said Jack.

“Well he does. He’s off hunting even now.
You mustn’t be here when he returns!”

Jack gave a scratch to his Considering Cap.
“But I’m ever so hungry,” Jack said.

“Ah,” said the kindly voice.
“Yes, you do look wan.”

And so the kindly giant led Jack through the castle grounds and into a vast banqueting hall with roaring fire.

A Question of Complicity

Why was it then
That she stayed there,

Complicity agreeing,

In her small way,
But none the less—

The thefts, the murders. . .
Her complicity?
All Things Delightful

Inside the banqueting hall Jack felt quite small.
Teacups were the size of laundry kettles.
Chairs were as tall as hedges.
And the fireplace was the size of his cottage.

Yet the warmth of the room comforted him, and a beautiful music filled the room. The music he had heard in his sleep! He looked about the room and saw there in a corner a golden harp that played of its own accord and had carved on it the face of a beautiful goddess.

The music was as
Sweet as honey,
As dark as molasses,
As mysterious as
The darkest night.

And the smell in the room. It was hasty pudding!

“You will be wanting hasty pudding,” said the kindly giant.
With that, she ladled a bowlful as large as the tub Jack used for washing.

Ah, thought Jack, if only I could take some of this pudding to Mother!

The giant smiled.

“What a lovely hen!” Jack commented as he ate. And she was.

“Yes, said the giant. And she is a magic hen. She lays eggs of gold!”

Golden eggs! thought Jack. How marvelous was this place.

Jack ate and ate. And then ate some more, to his heart’s content, using his hands, since the giant could find no spoon small enough for Jack.

Jack was a very content boy.

That is, until the giant started, looking frightened.
“I hear my husband!” the giant wife said. “You must hide!”

And indeed when he listened to something besides the music, Jack heard it too—the stomp, stomp, stomp of tremendous feet.

An Unwelcome Welcome

Jack looked about, scratching his Considering Cap.
Where might he hide? There!
In a copper kettle with a lid.

He jumped up to the shelf where the kettle sat,
Slid the lid a bit,
And hopped inside,
Pulling the lid closed after him.

Just then the husband giant said,
In a voice like a winter wind
On high mountain peaks,

“Fe, fi, fo, fum!
Tonight I found only
I’ve caught no children.
All ran too fast!
Whatever will I have
For my breakfast?”

With that the giant
Threw his club on the floor.
It crashed like a falling tree.

Then Jack could hear the giant sniffing at the air.

“Fe, fi, fo, fum!”
The giant roared.
“I smell hasty puddin’!
“That’s not my style;
That’s not my meat!
Bring me a salted child
To eat!”

“Yes, yes, of course, dear!” the giant wife said.

And with that commenced much clattering.

Jack stayed quiet, completely still in the kettle, afraid for his life.
Had it not been for his Considering Cap and his considering,
Perhaps Jack would have run. But instead, he stayed quiet.

After much crunching, smacking, and munching,
Jack heard the giant husband say,

“Fe, fi, fo, fum,
Salted child! Yum, yum!
Come what may,
Come what might,
I’ll have a fresh child
For my supper tonight!”

But as he rose from his chair,
The giant sniffed the air again.

And sniffed again. And then again.

“Fe, fi, fo, fum!”
The giant intoned.
“I smell the blood
Of an Englishman!”

So saying, and giving his wife a distrustful look, the giant began to clatter about the room, overturning boxes and opening doors.

“There is no such here!” said the wife.
“Must be your imagination!”

“Be he alive
Or be he dead,”
The giant chanted as he searched;
“I’ll grind his bones
To make my bread!”

“Really!” said the wife. “Such an imagination!”

The harp, however, tried to tell a different story.
Slowly, plucked in rhythm, the harp said,

“Yes, he’s here,
Yes he’s here.
A sweet morsel
To bring you cheer.”

“Yes!” cried the husband.
“Dessert indeed!
English, English blood
Warm and salty!”

The giant searched;
His wife complained;
The harp sang on;
And Jack sweated for his life.

After what seemed like forever, though,
The warmth of the afternoon
And his heavy salted meal
Made the giant drowsy.

And so he curled up
Next the fire and fell asleep.

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