How does it always begin? After
the ‘once-upon-a-time’s, in some faraway kingdom,
happiness is ruined by magic
for the perverse delight of some witch
who will likely not survive meeting the hero –
for there is always a hero – who falls in love.

Truly, though, what of this love?
It may not linger long after
the princess tires of the hero
and his ways – there is a kingdom,
after all, waiting for the next witch,
the next cycle of good and bad, fire and magic.

There’s only so much you can do with magic;
again it’s up to some storybook love
to generate an allergic reaction. The witch
will probably asphyxiate, and after
cleaning up the mess, celebrating throughout the kingdom
is fifteen seconds of fame for the lover-hero.

Or perhaps the next hero
isn’t a hero, maybe he’s under some magic
or psychological spell – bound to the kingdom
by blood and what-he-thinks-is-love,
Cue confusion and conflict, after
which he might decide to marry the ‘witch’.

But maybe a warlock, not a witch,
and while we’re at it, why not a heroine
instead, out to out-prove herself after
being gender-oppressed. No magic
is stronger than stubbornness, and everyone loves
a woman fighting for her kingdom.

What then? Will politics eventually turn the kingdom
into a republic, while the real witch
watches and dances and makes love
spells like red tape to trip up the hero
who hasn’t arrived yet? Where is the magic?
How, and why, and what comes after?

Not all kingdoms have a hero.
Not all witches use magic.
Love does not always make
a happily-ever-after.

Sestina time! Still in editing.

crown faded