Friday, November 23, 2012


Mama got candy and a burlap sack,
opened up the bag and stuck it in the back.

In went one girl, three, then six,
crowding in the sack for the peppermint sticks.

Mama closed the bag cos Mama likes tricks,
took us to the Elbe and threw us off the bridge.

Six girls fight and six girls scream,
Six little witches on the surface of the stream.

We didn't sink and we didn't drown,
big black dog came and led us back to town.

Six in the door and six up the stair,
six little witches with leaves in our hair.

We hit Mama in the head with a brick,
then stabbed her through the heart with a peppermint stick.

for A Word With Laurie ("burlap") at Real Toads.

photo: singer Amy Lee

the 4th stanza refers to Trial By Ordeal, in which an accused witch is bound and thrown into a pond or other body of water. if she sinks, she is innocent (albeit dead), but if she floats she is guilty of witchcraft.

large black dogs are a common symbol of the devil or evil.

666 is, of course, "the number of the beast".


Hannah said...

Oh my goodness, Shay!!! You have no idea how many goosebumps just ran up my legs from reading this!!! And the reason why...well I used to have a recurring nightmare...wait a minute I actually wrote about it once...I'm going to get the link...

If you have time...some of the elements are strikingly similar.

This is written so well...I was captured completely!

Laurie Kolp said...

Love the rhyme and rhythm in this... a bit of an unexpected turn, definitely leaves a mark, those peppermint sticks...

Anonymous said...

1) I love that you brought Coal in to consult on this piece.
2) I first read your tag as "Murder for the Bitterment of Mankind"
3) I ♥ peppermint. ;) Even bought some peppermint bark the other night. I think I'll eat it tonight. As if you care.
4) I love really good one-word titles that just barely make your tongue drip before the tale begins. And boy how it ties in with the last stanza.
5) That is a phenomenal ending. I do hope they ate the bloody thing afterward (stick and heart). No reason to waste either delicacy.
6) This is an awesome chanty poem.
7) Favorites:
"In went one girl, three, then six"
"Six girls fight and six girls scream, Six little witches on the surface of the stream."
the last line, of course
8) Phenom, girl. Love it.

TexWisGirl said...

whimsy and wickedness all rolled into one. :)

Mary said...

Whew, this really took my breath away!

hedgewitch said...

I've been offline most of the day, but glad I came out from under my rock to read this one. You think papercuts are bad--nothing hurts worse than a peppermint stick through the heart. This is one of those witchy things you do, where it looks childlike and simple but is really layered and crinkled with goodies. I love it when Mommie D hates it.

Mystic_Mom said...

I like it, really I do. It reads like an updated Grimm but with girl power. Would love to see it illustrated...great job.

Cloudia said...

Gosh I adore this for X-mas!


Warm Aloha to YOU
from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral

~ > < } } ( ° >

> < 3 3 3 ( ' >

><}}(°> ~

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Just wicked good!

Helen said...

Oooooooh, take a walk on the wild side, why dontcha? The sing song vibe is eerie in the best sense of that word! Loved it!!

Timoteo said...

Ain't nothin' like mother's love.

Bodhirose said...

Damn, that's powerfully good! Love the sing-song, mentally batty sound to this one too.

Susie Clevenger said...

Oh my! Death by peppermint stick! Great poem based on such a sad truth of history.

Kerry O'Connor said...

This reminds me of my long lost friend Coal Black. I love the sing-song effect of your couplets - I imagine it kind of half sung, half whined by six voices that fall short of true harmony. Yeesh! It is certainly an object lesson in not messing with witches.

Sioux said...

No Evanescence song? (Sigh.)

The rhythm of this poem lulled me along, with the occasional bump, until the end.

Shay--you are sick and twisted and wicked-good. ;)

Anonymous said...

is it bad to say that i like the wickedness here?

Marian said...

it reads like a jumprope rhyme... appropriate! love it.
i wrote about six being thrown in a sack off the bridge... kittens, not children.

Jannie Funster said...

Tommyknockers, but much better.

Lolamouse said...

Maybe I would have been a better jumproper if I'd had songs like this to jump to! Wicked good! Death by peppermint stick-what a sweet way to die!

Susan said...

They used to do this to kittens up my way. It is gruesome even for them! Poetic justice is merely revenge in disguise in this tale that actually fits the fairy tale tradition. Nice rhyme and meter, could jump rope to it.

Mama Zen said...

Oh, how I love this!

Anonymous said...

seems like a waste of a good peppermint stick since they could've just killed her with the brick...

Mary Jane Bane said...

I have so missed you, your writing. I'm almost always haunted by your work and once again, this is true. I imagine you at a canvas, placing these amazing odds and ends, broken pieces, relationships, characters and found objects together, elbow's riveting, alluring, and oh so spine tingling.