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The Successful Suitor Will...

 The Successful Suitor Will...
by David C. Kopaska-Merkel

1. Remove the head

I did, but two grew to replace it,
each bigger than its predecessor;
repeat if necessary, it said,
but now I’m up to 256,
and the Beast’s castle is filling up,
plus, they’re all talking;
severed heads whispering hoarsely and snarling,
new-grown buds, still attached, screaming.

Six tasks remain after this,
and I’m starting to think,
even if I manage this one,
there’s no way in Hell
any princess is worth it,
even with half the kingdom.

* * *

David C. Kopaska-Merkel assumed human form in the 50s. As a cover, he edited Star*Line in the late ‘90s, and won the Rhysling award (long poem) in 2006 for “The Tin Men” (a collaboration with Kendall Evans). His poetry has been published in venues including Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, Polu Texni, Primate Cuisine, & Night Cry. He has written 31 books, and edits Dreams and Nightmares magazine; @DavidKM on Twitter. 

Where do you get the ideas for your poems?
For this particular poem, I was thinking about using fairytales as sources of inspiration, and you know many fairytales involve a princess and tasks that must be completed to win her in marriage. Kind of sexist, but anyway, I combined this with the labors of Hercules and this is what came out.