by Ronald Koertge


It begins with dissatisfaction. Over, of all things, rapunzel.
The herb, the seasoning. Not the beautiful Rapunzel.

A pregnant wife (at last!), a witch’s garden next door.
The missus just has to have some rapunzel.

Of course the husband gets caught. The witch curses
him as he stands there with a handful of pungent rapunzel.

Unless… Now the part everybody knows: that tower,
the witch calls out and up she goes to the top of Hotel Rapunzel.

Enter the prince who hears the singing, sees how it’s done,
and that night calls out himself to the lonely Rapunzel.

But not too bright. Pregnant and starting to show, she
asks the witch why she is heavier than a prince. Oh, Rapunzel.

She is taken to a desert, the prince is blinded by thorns.
He wanders for years living on nuts and berries and rapunzel.

On paper, it ends as expected. He hears the singing.
Her tears restore his sight. It’s ever after time for Rapunzel.

His journal, however, is one long lament—if he’d just ridden
on that day. If he’d just never heard of Rapunzel.



Ronald Koertge, a longtime resident of South Pasadena, taught at Pasadena City College for thirty-seven years. A prolific writer, he has published more than thirty books of poetry and prose. Some of his most recent books are Fever (Red Hen Press, 2006), Indigo (Red Hen Press, 2009), The Ogre’s Wife (Red Hen Press, 2013), and Vampire Planet (Red Hen Press, 2015). He is the recipient of grants from the N.E.A. and the California Arts Council and has poems in two volumes of Best American Poetry (1999 and 2005). His most recent book from Red Hen Press is a comic for smart people: Olympusville. He is also the author of “Negative Space,” which was made into a film and nominated for an Oscar for best animated short.

Back to Vol. III: “Orbit”