TSM 96

Can you wolf-whistle Dixie
with your fangs sunk deep
in the South?

A mouth full of fur and grits
stuffs my howl with mumbling
yes ma’am, no ma’am

as the house blew down
when my Grandfather’s heart
huffed and puffed its last,

my Grandmother
red riding hoodwinked
into the woods of East Tennessee,

Southern Gothic from before Grimm
hunts down the False Grandmother –
La Finta Nonna

where the wolf leaves
the Grandmother’s blood and meat
for the girl to eat

and says remove her clothing
and toss it into the fire,
but it’s a boy this time, it’s me

riding shotgun
where the dirt road narrowed
to two ruts by the bend in the river,

an animal stalking
the words for rage,
holding perfectly still

like morning mist
in the bottom
of the holler.

For The Sunday Muse

22 thoughts on “TSM 96

  1. This…it brings the wolves from the forest right beneath one’s skin. Which is not a comfortable place for them–and that growls right underneath each word.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is an excellent, excellent write.I looked up la Finta Nona–all fairytales have always fascinated me, coming as they do out of the immemorial dark of our past and being addressed to our primordial child-selves–and here you use it chillingly. I have come to the sort of south(Oklahoma) only after growing up, but the Gothic you explore here is familiar, and the sense of a childhood riven by it is very strong. I especially like the ending, with this striking line: “…an animal stalking/the words for rage..” but the first two stanzas also were outstanding, (as is the poem in its entirety.) Once again, pure pleasure to read.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A biting, satirical look at Little Red Riding “Good”! So many of the old nursery rhymes seemed bent on terrifying the children! I think your write had us all researching the origin of the tale! Kudos to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. I doesn’t seem like the old tale was meant for any kind of entertainment or titillating horror. Hard not to think it was an instruction manual for girls to stay the hell away from strange men.


  4. Amazing images! I have no experience of south USA (or south anywhere) so I don’t know what to make of the reversed Red Riding Hood howling with “A mouth full of fur and grits.” I bet she couldn’t whistle either. But the images knocked me over anyway, particularly the blood and meat of “the False Grandmother” and:
    ” an animal stalking
    the words for rage,
    holding perfectly still.” Gosh! Someone is empowered here when fairy tales come tumbling down.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That first stanza sunk its teeth into me and wouldn’t let go. I love the interwoven narratives of grandmothers and wolves, and wild children. I sometimes feel like that “animal stalking/the words for rage/holding perfectly still” It feels like a tame thing that could suddenly become dangerous.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Love your take on a familiar tale. I have found there are fangs across the country, but there are nothing like southern fangs. I grew up in Missouri woods, and moved to Texas in my 30’s. “an animal stalking the words for rage” This made me think of my mother. She was full of pain and anger.

    Liked by 1 person

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