Another guest poem submitted by Matt Chanoff:
(Poem #961) The Wolf's Postcript to 'Little Red Riding Hood'
First, grant me my sense of history: I did it for posterity, for kindergarten teachers and a clear moral: Little girls shouldn't wander off in search of strange flowers, and they mustn't speak to strangers. And then grant me my generous sense of plot: Couldn't I have gobbled her up right there in the jungle? Why did I ask her where her grandma lived? As if I, a forest-dweller, didn't know of the cottage under the three oak trees and the old woman lived there all alone? As if I couldn't have swallowed her years before? And you may call me the Big Bad Wolf, now my only reputation. But I was no child-molester though you'll agree she was pretty. And the huntsman: Was I sleeping while he snipped my thick black fur and filled me with garbage and stones? I ran with that weight and fell down, simply so children could laugh at the noise of the stones cutting through my belly, at the garbage spilling out with a perfect sense of timing, just when the tale should have come to an end.
Ali died this week, at age 52. He was a Kashmiri exile, living most recently in New York. He's apparently famous for introducing the Ghazal into modern American poetry, where it's now common. The poem seems to me appropriate this week, not only as a memorial for Ali, but for the comment it makes on the vilified. The thing about Osama bin Laden and his ilk is that the evil they do swamps any legitimacy. If there's something to think about how Western (and Hindu) culture and politics constrict the possibilities for Islam, or about how poverty and loss of culture lead young men to violence, or about the the responsibilities that the world's only superpower may have toward weaker nations, then these things are drowned out by the casual murderers who act in their name. Ali could have made this a trivial poem by being just contrarian and taking the side of the wolf. Instead, he makes a stronger point by making the big bad wolf human. You can read about him at [broken link] http://www.poets.org/poets/poets.cfm?prmID=128 or http://www.salem.mass.edu/sextant/v4n2/keyes.html You can read about the Ghazal form at http://www.umr.edu/~gdoty/poems/essays/ghazals.html In the Minstrels, Poem #748 by Faiz Ahmed Faiz was translated by Ali. Matt.