"Stories have the power to transform and transport us. Good ones, bad ones, scary ones, rhyming ones-- stories have the power to save us from all sorts of monsters. Even the ones we create ourselves."
Emily Bobo is the author of three books and the editor of Bobo Books. Currently, she is department chair of Arts & Humanities at Ivy Tech Community College, where she teaches writing to single moms, ex-cons, and military vets. You can view her work at emilybobo.com. Emily joins us remotely over Zoom from her home.
Welcome to the Poets Weave. I’m Romayne Rubinas Dorsey. Emily is reading from her 2019 collection titled "Tattle Tales."
This project retells 19th-Century German fairytales from the Brothers Grimm. The tale I will share with you today was originally told in two parts and was about how some children watched their father slaughter a pig, then imitated him in play.
How Some Children Played at Slaughtering
In a city named AnyTown, USA, some young boys and girls happened to be playing with one another. They chose one blonde boy to play a fraternal boy, another, a videographer, and a third, a bystander. Then they selected one girl to be a drunk-girl-who-wants-it and another girl to be a friend-who-gets-distracted-at-the-party. As agreed, the fraternal boy fell upon the little girl playing drunk, and threw her to the ground, and ripped her dress, and raped her while the videographer filmed it on his iPhone and the bystander stood uncomfortably to the side and the distracted friend danced to a hip-hop beat in a pretty, pretty dress. A councilman was trolling YouTube and saw this wretched video. He immediately contacted the fraternal boy and took him into the house of the mayor, who instantly summoned the entire council. They watched the video over and over until it became viral but didn’t know what to do with the boy, for they knew he was rich and athletic and realized it had all been part of a children’s game. One of the councilmen, a wise old man, advised the chief judge to take a beautiful red cherry in one hand and a gold coin in the other. If the boy took the cherry, he was to be set free. If he took the coin, he was to be killed. The judge took the wise man’s advice, and the boy grabbed the cherry with a laugh. Thus he was set free without any punishment. And when he grew to be an old orange man, they made him President and CEO of AnyStock, USA.
There once was a white cop who slaughtered a black man, and the cop’s children saw that. In the afternoon, while playing in the front yard, one child, wearing a white shirt,
said to the other, wearing a black shirt, “You be the bad man, and I’ll be the good man.” He then took the gun that he had found in the box at the back of his daddy’s closet, and the good boy shot his little brother in the throat. Their mother was upstairs bathing the baby when she heard the cries of her good son, and she immediately ran downstairs. Upon seeing what had happened, she was so enraged that she picked up the gun and shot her good son. Then she ran back into her American Foursquare to tend to the baby in the bathtub. But the child had drowned. Now the woman became so frightened that she built a wooden cross on her lawn, arranged her children around it, and hung herself like a bloody prayer flag from its beams. When her husband was acquitted, he came home and saw his family laid out before him. Then he set his house on fire with his privilege and his rage. Make America great.
You've been listening to the poems of Emily Bobo. I'm Romayne Rubinas Dorsey.