Saturday, November 7, 2015

Writing Goals: Fairy Tales

I love when a project turns out like it's supposed to, and I think The Lay of the Princess and the Lady Beneath developed nicely into the sort of story I wanted it to be, as well as being a fairly decent poem.  Certainly not the kind of classic they'll be studying in courses on epic poetry for years to come, but a fun little diversion for a reader to encounter by chance. 

At three hundred and forty lines, it isn't quite epic length anyway.  But it is the longest poem I've ever written, and would take some time to recite by a campfire.  Or anywhere, really.  I felt like it was something important to try, especially when it's easy enough to write three short lines and call it a poem.  Some of my best poems are short, of course, but so are some of my laziest (and I won't presume to criticize anyone else's).

So I let the poem grow, far beyond my initial estimate of just over a hundred lines, in order to accommodate the things that I thought needed to be included for the story to breathe.  I took my time (something I don't really need practice at, I'm sure) and the course of the plot was changed substantially along the way.  Originally it was to end more bleakly, as hinted at in the fourth stanza, with the elves destroyed and the princess being doomed to remain imprisoned, undiscovered by her would-be.  But my attempts at making the story more interesting, and my consideration of the characters' motives, inevitably led me away from a sad ending.  Call me a softy, I just didn't want to do that to any of them.

One decision I made early on was to emphasize the actions of women in the story, and try to shift them outside of stereotypical feminine roles in the fantasy/fairy tale genre.  To be sure, of the five principal characters there are two queens, a princess, and a witch, but the fifth is a warrior and described simply as such.  All of them are women, and I don't believe I had cause to use the word "he" even once in the entire thing.

So the main characters are all women, something I didn't necessarily mean to do from the start.  I had considered making at least one of the elf "bad guys" male (either an Elf King or Elf Wizard), but I ultimately chose not to.  I figured that since an all-male cast would be plausible given the genre conventions, an all-female cast would be just as much so.  That's not so say that there are no men in the story's world.  Certainly about half of the humans in the castle scene and about half of the elves in Elventown are men and boys.  Maybe the unnamed elf guards assigned to keep the princess from escaping are men.  Maybe not.  I honestly don't know.

In fact, I might have given my fellow men a little token representation by explicitly identifying the masculinity of a minor character.  But by the time I was mostly done with the story, I had decided that I did not want to explore the question of a man's place in this ad hoc fantasy society.  The royal inheritence is implied to be matriarchal, with ruling queens as the default, but that's as deep into that political question as I wanted to go.  I suppose that a prince might become a sovereign king if a queen had no daughters, sort of the reverse of many real world systems, but maybe not; it doesn't matter because there is no prince in the story.  The ambiguity was intentional: the most important thing is the plot and the fact that every significant role in the plot is occupied by a woman or girl.

Also intentional, and I admit this is a bit of a copout, is just what kind of women are at the center of the story.  I don't really like physically describing characters beyond what is necessary, partly because I don't feel confident in doing so without being awkward.  However, I did want it to be clear that the people of this world were not as white as certain backwards fantasy aficionados imagine the people of their favorite worlds to be.  In thinking of how the witch should present the gift to the princess, I thought she might try to flatter her with a reference to the color of her skin.  Thus the reference to rosewood, which comes in a few different shades, none of which are particularly pale. 

As author, I abdicated the coloring job for each character to the mind of the reader's imagination.  I only hope they all take the hint that the princess is unlikely to be the only brown person in the whole nation.  It is a purely fantastical country that doesn't correspond to any real place, but like most real places you can be sure there is some diversity in its ethnic makeup.

So the truth is, I didn't really flesh out the world as much as I would have tried to if I were writing a prose tale.  There isn't much of a backstory beyond the princess's lonely childhood and the simmering rivalry between the overground and underground kingdoms.  There are hints of an Elvish language, but no words are depicted.  Some indication of the mechanics of spells is described, but it's not terribly specific.  The climate and geography of the country are almost entirely undescribed.  I never even bothered to give the soldier a rank.  As a die hard fan of the Tolkien approach to world-building, I have to say I'm a little disappointed in myself on that count.  This was really only an experiment, I know, but it could have been so much more.

But after all, I had my priorities: an interesting and authentic-seeming fairy tale with a female-centric cast, rhymed as diligently as I was able.  It struck me about halfway through that the recurrent rhyming words "queen" and "fifteen" could easily become obnoxious, and in addition to varying them with substitutes throughout I intentionally dropped them completely during the battle scene, when the princess is momentarily out of the spotlight.  As I resorted to rhyming dictionaries and twisted for new words, I often felt like I was repeating myself to the point of tedium.  But once I read the whole thing straight through, I realized that, at the very least, it wasn't as bad as I thought.

So mechanically, at least, the poetry is sound.  Whether it is at all authentic-seeming, to say nothing of interesting, really isn't for me to say.  I think I did an alright job, and I hope any readers agree.  The story leans on a few genre tropes, and I think it subverts a few others, and somewhere in that mix might be something resembling originality.  In any case it was fun to write, and I hope I come around to revisiting this experiment some time.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Poetries #3

The poetries keep on coming!

As much as I've increased the pace of posting these poems online, though, my writing of them has not kept up.  For the first time in however the hell long it's been, I don't have a full set of fifteen poems written and ready for the next installment.  So the next time I make a post like this, it will likely represent the sum total of my poetical product up to that point.  That's kind of cool!

Today's poems date from August to October of 2015, which is super-current.  At least by my standards, anyway.  They aren't in chronological order, and while I could easily rearrange them to be so, I don't think it's really important.  The actual earliest, as it happens, is A Quick One Before We Go, but for whatever reason I didn't really want to lead with that one.

This batch of nonsense features further ruminations on my depression, my continuing obsession with candles, a dash of sexuality, a cute excursion into concrete poetry, and what I can only describe as a mad scientist's ode to gross body fluids (Studies on Glass).  Eclectic, is that the word?  That's the word I will use.  Further commentary at the end, as always.

Observing the Candle's Death at Midnight

Little blue, your nose is red,
it quivers in your hollow room.
Be careful not to get it wet,

a candle's life is like the womb:
the walls are easy to forget,
the waters will be rising soon.

Little blue, I'll make a bet:
before the shadows of the moon
have melted from your shallow bed

in dripping swirls and wavy swoons,
you'll have to dip your feeble head
beneath the wax, embrace your tomb.

September Self Portrait

Woe to the man
with great desire
and small ambition,
noisy passion
in a silent box.

Sleep to sleep,
his satisfaction
never comes;
he smells of the stale
air in his room.

If he cuts his face
or cleans his ears,
he may be tempted
to declare a victory,
take what he gets.

Round the track
he falls, step
by step, further
to the ground but never
falling down.

Sleep is all
that he desires
and sleep is granted
from time to time.


Every day,
every goddamn day
I rise, I reach for the light,
and every day
I fall again,
every goddamn day.

Waking up
I want to go to sleep -
speaking, or working from home,
driving cars
or eating dinner,
I want to go to sleep.

It has a name,
this unfortunate trait:
Fatigue.  I say to my doctor,
"name the drug
that banishes
this unfortunate trait".

On the train
my station passes by.
I wake, and find I am lost,
and I want
to sleep again,
the stations passing by.

Everyday Hours

I move with pain, fatigue -
but sleep
does not improve me.

could be the answer -
only if
my crumbling limbs could bear it.

juice with each important meal -
second breakfast, brunch.

hope of further consciousness -
there never
was a day to rise with.

in dreaming -
can find itself endured forever.


my mind as the sky -
September mornings
alone, outside,
and freezing cold,

as empty space,
complete awareness
the impact of feet,
suppression of all

a still sensation
of the world,
but tolerated,

before and after -
once again
and color return
in waving sheets of

Child of Earth

O Child of Earth,
oh lay me down,
oh let me down
so peaceful, easy
in the dirt.

For what it's worth,
I've been around
for many years:
I don't believe
that this will hurt.

O Child of Earth,
my summer ale;
the summer fails
to warm my body
in the dirt.

For my rebirth,
I would request
a simple, quiet
in a yurt.

O Child of Earth,
if I should rise
again, should raise
my shoulder, put
me in the dirt.

Let there be mirth!
Forget my silence,
dance to music
in your brightest
cotton skirt.

A Child of Earth,
a girl of twenty
seven, twenty
seven lays
me in the dirt.

Into the Hidden Garden

I would try
you, even if
your sweetness were

kiss your mouth
and breathe you in,
the scent of dew
and honey;

exalt in your
exquisite taste,
you paragon
of women;

enjoy a feast
among the florets,
in weather blue
and sunny;

make another
when secret signs
are given.

A Quick One Before We Go

In twenty minutes we'll be missed,
they'll start without us -
and it would be
a shame
to miss the show,
with you in such a pretty dress.

But we can make the drive in ten
if I can help it:
we haven't time
to waste,
you don't have time
for taking off your floral dress.

Anything we miss is worth
a little risk,
to feel ecstatic,
feel you
shaking on
the floor in such a little dress.

We'll have to make the drive in eight,
I couldn't help it -
there's your purse,
now let me
help you up
and straighten out your wrinkled dress.

And nobody suspects a thing!
The show is starting,
and besides,
you're looking
and chaste in a lovely pink dress.

Studies on Glass

Samples cut thin
of hair and skin;
clearly labeled
semen, blood,
and here, the fabled
on the table,
cold and dark.

Frustratingly small,
eleven tall
glasses steeping
from the sleeping
I've been keeping
in the dark.

Strict Criteria

I want to be with anybody,
almost anybody:

someone with a sense of humor,
sort of ticklish,

and maybe with a certain style,
with a wardrobe

draped across a rocking body,
with a human body,
almost anybody.

The Girls And I

Deeper, time is drawing,
I've so much to write,
and smoke is slowly filling
the room in a spindly column.

I've measured it - a thousand
cubic feet of air
to breathe, if I can swallow
all this waxy smoke.

And somewhere, beautiful women
think identical thoughts.

In several such somewheres,
a beautiful woman lies
on her back and doesn't sleep,
with a thousand cubic feet
of candle in her lungs.

The window doesn't open
in my room, or in hers:
any of all of these hers.

Collectively, all these candles
smell like total chaos,
and nothing can be learned
from what the girls and I
are burning tonight.

Maybe she made love
within the last few months,
another she is a virgin,
another she is feeling like
it hardly makes a difference.

Something else recedes,
and this is loneliness.

She has so much to write,
but she is slowly filling
the room with other thoughts.

Falling Out of Myself

Through a thin
straw, I pass suddenly
out, for an instant.

My collapse
feels like a squeeze
of super glue,

the kind that burns.
All from this compression,
brain constriction:

clean me up,
I have pooled on the floor,
too weak to stand.

Ten minutes,
give or take an hour,
until I rise,

but maybe days
before I think clearly,
gather my mind.

The Dark World

Magic mirror
resting in the medicine cabinet -
don't you know
that every mirror is magic?
You can see him,
if you focus on the center,
in the corner of your eye,
but not inside the mirror.

Often dancing,
if you gaze into the mirror
you might, perhaps,
become his dancing partner,
step amongst
the molecules of glass
with unprotected feet
if he invites you to dance.

patterns on the bedroom floor,
the magic mirror
tessellates itself
with every footfall.
In the corner of your eye
the spirit must be dancing,
but not inside the mirror.

La Croix

I have no problems with the "natural",
but truth be told, I don't know where it starts:

all the apples may as well be lemons
if I cannot tell their skins apart.

Silence in the morning has a flavor,
sour as the iron in my blood,

but in the woods the rivulets are sparkling
as they slither naked through the mud.

In my isolation, strings of water
strike the only sympathetic chords.

Sparrow's Quest

     Tiny sparrow soars                like a                  great white phoenix,
     with a fire burning             in its             little pinion feathers,
       navigating solely by   magnetic   lines, from roof, to tree,
      to mountain peaks,   in search   of the one true north.
       Even tiny sparrow's wingspan casts a fine shadow
     on the ground,
   around the
    feathers' edges


What to say about Observing the Candle's Death at Midnight?  It's pretty much exactly what it seems to be, a reflection of my thoughts as I watch a candle burn itself out, examining the textures of the melted wax and the color of the light. 

September Self Portrait is also pretty much what it looks like, a description of myself in sour times.  I swear I'm not always like this.  It's not really a remarkable poem, but it is a fine statement of my state of mind.  Fatigue, Every Day Hours, and Running are sort of companions in sentiment, and they all bear a strange resemblance to each other.  Almost like I'm spinning my wheels, but no, that couldn't be, could it?  Running deals, of course, with my exercise of choice over the last few months, which I do enjoy in my own way, but man does it hurt...

Child of Earth came out of me after I met a girl named Tera (no connection with Tara), and went on a couple of dates with her.  All of that is on hold for now, possibly indefinitely, while she takes a break from school for personal reasons.  I had feelings, and made them into a poem, wherein I envision myself as an old man dying over the affections of a young woman.  The fact that I am myself only twenty eight is of course a little ironic.

Then there's Into the Hidden Garden, a pure fantasy scenario wherein I cast myself in a younger light, on the stage of a lover's rendezvous.  Pure self-indulgence, I know, but I can't be all doom and gloom all the time. 

A Quick One Before We Go is more brazenly erotic, and so you should really just cover your eyes and skip it.  I mean, it's good (I think it's good anyway), but it's very naughty.  I think I scandalized my friends when I showed it to them.  It is, obviously, about quick sex on the floor before a social engagement, which is really one of the finer things in life if you ask me.

Actually, if you skip any of these poems it should probably be Studies on Glass.  It's just kind of icky.  And it was supposed to be, which is why I included it here, having achieved my icky purposes.  But I won't say you have to read my sticky little homunculus of a poem.

Strict Criteria is a sad little poem, I think.  It's hard to be picky about such things when you're desperate and lonely.  I think the effect of the poem is a little humorous, so I enjoy it despite the loneliness. 

Combine that feeling of solitude with my persistent candle obsession, and you get something like The Girls and I.  It's a very loose, free sort of poem, a collection of thoughts and attempts at putting myself in the shoes of someone else.

Falling Out of Myself is an expression of exhaustion disguised as a double entendre.  I almost didn't want to admit that, but I might as well. 

The Dark World has sort of an interesting provenance.  I wrote it just after finishing reading two books by Haruki Murakami, A Wild Sheep Chase and Dance Dance Dance.  The latter is a sequel, but there are many discontinuities in style and tone, and I sort of concocted a theory in my head that it was meant to be a distorted reflection of the former.  I drew upon a scene in A Wild Sheep Chase that focuses on what is and isn't seen in a certain mirror, and there you have it.

La Croix is a better poem than it deserves to be.  The last word of each odd numbered line was taken from the side of a can of La Croix brand sparkling water.  I woke up early in the morning, wanted to write something, and turned to a carbonated drink for inspiration.  By all accounts it should be nothing more than a warm-up exercise, but I think I tried a little too hard and made something sort of good out of it.

Sparrow's Quest is cute, isn't it?  I had to rewrite it slightly in translating it from page to screen, as my handwriting gave a false impression of how wide the words would be in many places.  Anyway, it's a poem about a bird, that looks like a bird.  It also looks like the Greek letter Psi, but I don't think that means anything.  I think I executed the effect pretty well, with phrases of importance separated by gaps.  If you're confused about how to read it, it's meant to be read straight across, as in "tiny sparrow soars like a great white phoenix", not "tiny sparrow soars with a fire burning..."

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Lay of the Princess and the Lady Beneath

1. Asleep in their beds lay the nation's princess
and, dying, her mother the queen;
the people were blessed by her thirty year reign,
but her daughter was only fifteen.

2. The death of the lady was peaceful and quick,
but the princess could not bear the news,
for she knew she was heir to the hardships of state
and an office she couldn't refuse.

3. In thirty day's passing, our frightened princess
was set to be crowned as our queen,
and no one would listen to hear her complain
she was only a girl of fifteen.

4. Oh, woe to the nation that heeded her not,
to the people who furnished her crown!
And more woe to the child of regal neglect
whom they dressed in her dead mother's gown.

5. With twenty days left, though the girl did protest
(for as yet she had not been made queen),
they enjoined her to stand in her dear mother's name,
as a figurehead lass of fifteen.

6. Forbidden to walk, she remained on the throne
as ambassadors hung up their capes;
Unable to speak in the turbulent din,
she prayed for a path of escape.

7. The retainers would gawk at and crowd the princess,
but compared to the previous queen
she seemed small for a monarch and weak for a dame -
after all, she was only fifteen.

8. Now among the legations that came to her court
were the elves of an underground realm,
and a certain elf-woman stood out for her charms
that could glamour, bewitch, overwhelm.

9. As the elf was approaching the lonely princess
in this clamorous mess of a scene,
she held a small box, which concealed her aim
to deceive the poor girl of fifteen.

10. The box was constructed of rosewood and tin,
and inlaid with black gemstones and runes;
they glinted as if from a torch in the night
as the shadows encircle the moon.

11. Her gaze met the eyes of the quiet princess
who despaired at becoming a queen -
and quietly offered a way to obtain
the assistance of powers unseen.

12. "This wood is alike with the shade of your skin,
and the onyx-stone matches your eyes.
This box should be yours: if you search it, I know
you will find your desired disguise."

13. A soldier sprang forward to make an arrest,
for when she was a lass of eighteen,
in Elventown she had been harshly detained,
and mistrusted their ominous queen.

14. "This woman's a witch, and intent on revenge
for your mother's defeat of her tribe!
These elves should have never been suffered to come -
I suggest you should have them proscribed."

15. The elf only smiled, and soothed the princess:
"my people would scarce harm a queen!
Our Lady Beneath was your dear mother's thane,"
she declared to the girl of fifteen,

16. "And this box is a tribute from elf-kind to you,
may it keep you for many long years!
It was crafted to guard against threats to your soul,
and allay your most deep-seated fears".

17. Like many young children, the infant princess
had been taught to suspect the unseen,
and especially mystery trinkets that came
from the halls of the faerie-folk's queen;

18. Yet a luminous spark in the eye of the witch
and the desperate prayer in her mind
set the former queen's daughter on destiny's course,
to whatever result she might find.

19. "This woman, and all of her folk, are my guests,"
were the words of the soon-to-be queen,
and the soldier's suspicions were duly restrained,
though the princess was only fifteen.

20. The elf curtsied low to her sovereign liege
and again she presented her gift,
as seductive as jasmine, attractive as gold,
but as light as a feather to lift.

21. Extending her fingers, she gave the princess
this respect from the faerie-folk's queen:
she opened the present, and found it contained
an elf-cloak with a gossamer sheen.

22. It was barely observed, but a sinister light
seemed to flash in the princess's cheek,
yet she giggled with girlish delight as the cloak
was displayed on her youthful physique.

23. The people were pleased to behold their princess
in a mantle befitting a queen,
enchanting the likeness of lightning and rain
in the form of a girl of fifteen.

24. As the party continued for three hours more,
the retainers found nothing awry
and the soldier admitted she may have been wrong
in suspecting the fay of a lie.

25. But the sun must descend, and deserted the guests
at the hour of seven fifteen,
as they noticed the color had started to drain
from the skin of their soon-to-be queen.

26. Without being noticed, away from the crowd
the elf-witch and her party had flown;
and the people cried out in dismay when they saw
that the princess was turned into stone.

27. The nation's ambassadors mourned the princess
who'd been cursed by the treacherous queen,
and the soldier who'd warned of the elves and their games
vowed revenge for the girl of fifteen.

28. Barely three hours distant, the witch and her elves
bid the overground nation farewell,
and they carried a box with a miniature girl
(who was shaken, but otherwise well).

29. "Enclosed in this cell," thought the little princess,
"I may never have need to be queen;
yet in elvish captivity, could I maintain
I shall live to be more than fifteen?"

30. Then the party approached a magnificent cave,
and they entered that hole in the ground
to be hailed as heroes, triumphant and true
for a deed that would make them renowned.

31. The Elventown commons were brilliantly dressed
in their tunics of ultramarine,
when the elf-witch presented the princess's bane
to the sinister hand of her queen.

32. With great satisfaction, the Lady Beneath
then opened the magical case,
and she said, "Dearest Princess, look up to my eyes,
and behold ye my sovereign face."

33. Though small as a sparrow, and weighing just less,
she was sure it was no good to scream;
so the princess looked proud as she boldly exclaimed,
"I give thanks to the underground queen!"

34. "Give thanks?" said the lady who reigned in the caves,
"how very grown up and polite!
I might have expected to see you in tears,
or to put up a childish fight".

35. "I've no tears to show you", declared the princess,
"though I think I can see what you mean.
But I'm surely too old to throw fits and complain,
as a woman of nearly sixteen!"

36. "How worthy, the daughter of my greatest foe!"
Said the queen of the elves with a laugh,
"but still, to believe you should thank me for this
is simply too funny by half!"

37. "So if you would kindly explain, my princess,
how you came by such manners and mien
to be grateful to one who would loyalty feign
and abduct a sweet girl of fifteen?"

38. The princess explained to the Lady Beneath
how she loathed to be placed on the throne,
"where my mother was seated for so many years
and left me completely alone,"

39. "And although I've been called a beloved princess,
I believe my performance as queen
would only bring everyone sorrow and pain,"
said the innocent girl of fifteen.

40. "But alas," she continued, "I'm surely confused
as to how you could take me from there!
Could you tell me, my lady, what magic was used
when you answered my secretive prayer?"

41. "The magic was mine, my delightful princess",
said the elf witch attending the queen,
"a masterful casting of spells with my cane
and the aid of the powers unseen:"

42. "The enchantments to shrink you, and glamours to fool
that unwitting assembly of folk,
were woven with lightning and subtly concealed
in the folds of your lovely new cloak!"

43. "How expertly sewn!" said the tiny princess
as she fondled its delicate seams,
"and the power that dwells in your cherry wood cane
gives my cloak its peculiar sheen?"

44. "A clever young girl!" said the Lady Beneath
with a withering glance at the witch,
"that power abides by the will of the elves
and obeys me with nary a hitch."

45. "In any event, my agreeable guest,
I assure you, you shall not be queen!
Here in the cave of the fay, you'll remain,
to the age of a hundred fifteen!"

46. And the beautiful box with the princess inside
was secured in an underground cell,
where the girl was imprisoned for three days and nights,
(she could tell by the sound of the bells).

47. Pretending to sleep, the resourceful princess
worked hard on a devious scheme:
she studied the lock that would keep her contained,
determined to outwit the queen.

48. And on the fourth morning, she finally picked
it, and warily opened the lid:
then seeing no guard, she climbed down to the carpet,
where deep in the shadows she hid.

49. In no time at all there was strife and distress
as the witch met the guards with a scream,
"how hard could it possibly be to detain
a minuscule girl of fifteen!?"

50. "Now find her, you fools, if you value your ears,
and replace her inside of that hutch!
Apart from its confines, the princess can shrink
any object she likes with her touch!"

51. And hearing this story, the little princess
saw a penny of stature obscene,
yet it shrank at her touch to a scale more mundane
like a typical pebble or bean.

52. "Now somewhere in Elventown, surely I'll find
the dear witch's mysterious den;
if I can lay hands on the cane that she used,
then perhaps I can go home again!"

53. With the penny for luck in a fold of her dress
she set off with the nerve of a queen,
and her fine elvish cloak with its motive of rain
seemed to aid her with powers unseen.

54. It took nearly an hour, but somehow she found
it, and slipped herself under the door.
The girl beheld books in the Old Elvish tongue
stacked in piles all over the floor,

55. Stones of great beauty and flowers possessed
of the light of celestial dreams;
but a rack in the corner with magical canes
caught the eyes of the girl of fifteen.

56. She made a quick dash at the sight of her goal,
but was met by a cruel surprise
when the crafty elf sorceress stepped from the shadows
she'd worn as a mystic disguise.

57. "The moment I saw you, my darling princess,
I knew you were loath to be queen;
so I can't say it's clear why you'd cause me the pain
of pursuing an ungrateful teen!"

58. The princess looked up to her eyes of citrine:
"It's the cherry wood cane that I need?"
The sorceress laughed with a manic intent,
"if you think you can finish the deed!"

59. Then she cast out a net at the little princess,
who dodged with the lightness of steam,
and she chased her through canyons of spell-books arcane
and grimoires of the powers unseen.

60. She might have been captured for all of her nerve,
as she wearied of using her feet,
when a clamor of shouting came out from the hall,
"they're attacking the Lady Beneath!"

61. And the elf witch grew pale with fear and distress,
and broke off to defend the old queen,
but she ran to the scene with her cherry wood cane,
to withhold from the girl of fifteen.

62. "Guard!" she called out to a panicking elf,
"the young princess is trapped in my room!
Make sure she's still there by the time I return,
or I'll curse thee to sputter and spume!"

63. So the guard was assigned to the tiny princess,
and the sorceress sped to the scene,
where brave volunteers from the human domain
sought revenge for their petrified queen.

64. In the thick of the fight was the Lady Beneath,
who stood tall with a glittering blade
in the face of the soldier who'd tried to arrest
the elf witch who had hatched the charade.

65. The combat was fierce, there was blood on the dress
of the faerie-folk's treacherous queen,
but the sorceress smiled, as it principally came
from the wounds of the soldier, it seemed.

66. But her smile was erased when the brave woman's sword
struck the queen in a desperate blow;
as the queen staggered back her opponent announced,
"there is something I think you should know:"

67. "Some years in the past I was under arrest
by the guards of this rebel regime,
and in spite of the standards for treatments humane,
my detention was heartless and mean!"

68. "As much as for duty, I fight for myself!"
she declared with her victory won,
"I demand your surrender, or else at my hands
you'll face justice for what you have done!"

69. The queen slowly rose, and her eyes were impressed,
though her forehead was furrowed between,
and she seethed, "I'll resist you until I am slain,
for I bow to no overground queen!"

70. With a wave of her cherry wood cane, the elf witch
made her queen disappear in a blink,
and the soldier whirled 'round to behold her new foe,
in her vestments of crimson and pink.

71. "A very good speech - for a human, I guess,"
she pronounced with a sneer and a lean,
"but a speech will not save thee from thunder and rain,
nor stifle the music of screams!"

72. Then she threw up her arms and began to enchant,
and a storm cloud arose in the cave,
but the casting was halted when out of the blue,
she was struck by a bolt from a stave.

73. A few paces back stood our tiny princess,
that brazen-eyed girl of fifteen,
in her miniature cloak, with a miniature cane
in the hands of the soon-to-be queen.

74. The cane that she held was of rosewood, as dark
as the natural tone of her skin,
and her laughter was tiny, but still it was heard
from without the elf town and within.

75. The soldiers looked down at their little princess,
and some thought she was only a dream,
but her onyx eyes flashed with her mother's own flame,
and they knew her, the heir of the queen.

76. "The blast will have stunned her," the princess instructed
the soldier who led the attack,
"and the cherry wood rod that flew out of her hands
has the power to make me grow back."

77. So she dutifully fetched for the patient princess
the old cane with the powers unseen,
and with it her stature she quickly regained,
a fair height for a girl of fifteen.

78. With the elves in a rout and the danger averted,
the princess desired a truce.
"when next we should hear from the Lady Beneath,
let her know she need not fear the noose;"

79. "Though the elves took advantage of all my distress,
they have grievances of the old queen.
I wish to make right all the wrongs to my name,
though I'm only a girl of fifteen."

80. Then out from the shades came the Lady Beneath,
with a poultice applied to her waist;
"You humans are gifted in fair-seeming speech,
but do not look forward in haste,"

81. "In time it may be we can finally rest
from our strife with the overground queen,
but perhaps I will sign by your granddaughter's name
on the treaty that hails this dream."

82. Then the princess replied with a light in her heart,
"I shall teach her the value of peace,
so whoever may reign from my throne at that time
will ensure that our blood feud shall cease.

83. The dutiful soldier approved her princess:
"they shall call you the wisest of queens,
for it takes real courage to cast aside blame
when the hurt is a mighty ravine".

84. So the humans departed, and sent architects
to help to repair Elventown,
and the nation rejoiced at the sight of the girl
they believed they would never see crowned.

85. And in time, the enlightened and gracious princess
took her seat on the throne of the queen,
with her magical rosewood and cherry wood canes
on the day that she turned sixteen.