by Pat Phillips West
Write a poem, prose or flash fiction piece that updates a well-known nursery rhyme, fable or fairy tale. Follow the original story, but take the story in unexpected directions, reshape the characters, change the era.
Reasons Why He Fell
By Charlotte Matthews
Because he was an egg
and the wind pushed him
and because he was trying
to remember a poem
he once knew by heart.
There were three girls jumping
double dutch on the blacktop
beneath him and he looked down.
Even their voices sounded nimble.
This made him remember
the way his mother sang him to sleep
at night, the stars through the wire
of their small coop.
He fell because, like all of us,
he needed to know if
someone would care enough to try
to put him back together again.
One advantage of re-telling something like “Humpty Dumpty” is that your audience already knows how it is supposed to go. The fun part of this exercise is to surprise them with your fresh imagination.
Consider modernizing the traditional details of a story. Perhaps Goldilocks is coloring her hair. Cinderella doesn’t go to the marriage-market ball because she’s busy reading Ms. Magazine cover-to-cover and taking notes. Jack-Be-Nimble is a rapper. Or, like Charlotte Matthews, explore the reasons why something happens.
“Reasons Why He Fell” is used with permission of Charlotte Matthews.
Pat Phillips West moved so often even her closest friends asked if she was in the Witness Protection Program. She refused to comment, except to say she’s in Portland, OR, for now. Her poems appear or will appear in Imagination & Place: Weather, Persimmon Tree, VoiceCatcher6, Manzanita Writers Press, San Pedro River Review and elsewhere.
Photograph used with permission.