I Love Fractured Fairy Tales

I love subverting fairy tales. Destroying them, even.

Image by Šárka Jonášová from Pixabay

I can probably count on my two hands the total number of Disney films I’ve seen in my lifetime, and most of those I watched as an adult. I didn’t have a childhood filled with carriages and ballgowns and evil stepmothers. I didn’t grow up singing about wishing for my prince to come. I wasn’t really exposed to fairy tales in that way.

That’s not to say that my childhood was devoid of magicality or fantasy (or films). In fact, my favorite childhood movie was The Wizard of Oz. And my love for that movie has carried on long past my adolescence, providing me with the inspiration for the title of this very blog.

It’s also not like I didn’t ever hear about fairy tales. I was read versions of The Three Little Pigs, The Three Billy Goats Gruff, and Cinderella. My brother and I even had a stuffed bear that would read a picture book version of Sleeping Beauty when we pressed its toes. (That bear, by the way, did the voices of all the characters, so there is one page where the bear proclaims in a raspy, witchy voice that the princess is going to “prick her finger on a spinning wheel AND DIE!!!” It’s a very scarring experience to have a cute, innocent-looking bear suddenly shout about the death of a beloved character.)

Image by Jo-B from Pixabay

I bring this up to say that, though I was familiar with fairy tales, I had very little attachment to them, especially compared to other people in my generation. They’re not my darlings. I don’t have to worry about protecting my love for them.

And I love subverting them. Destroying them, even.

I don’t remember how old I was when my teacher read The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka, but I do remember that I instantly fell in love with it. I enjoyed hearing a familiar story from a different perspective, and I felt horribly bad for the wolf. For the first time, I was challenged to hold two different perspectives in my head at the same time and acknowledge that both the wolf and the pigs deserved empathy, which is a difficult but exhilarating task for a child. And it was all thanks to a fractured fairy tale.

Fast forward about a decade to my senior year of high school when I stumbled across the YouTube video “After Ever After – Disney Parody,” performed by Jon Cozart and posted to his channel, Paint. This video takes melodies from The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and Pocahontas and tells the stories of the princesses after the endings of their films. The song examines real-world issues that are related to the settings of the movies (like how over-fishing and ocean oil spills would affect Ariel from The Little Mermaid), and, in the case of Pocahontas, it points out the ways that Disney glosses over and sugar coats the realities of cruelty and disease in the experiences of the real people who became characters in the film. It made me think about the princesses in the context of true problems that they might face. The parody video is well-written, well-sung, and thought-provoking.

It’s also rather dark. I showed it to several friends, and they were horrified. They, unlike I, did grow up watching and adoring the Disney versions of these fairy tales*. Through showing them this video, I had unintentionally murdered their darlings on their behalf and held the corpses of those now-dead films up to them with an expectant smile on my face. I understand why they were shocked and displeased. It’s easier to love a fractured fairy tale when you aren’t so attached to the original version.

That said, I think most people who have loved and watched and shared “After Ever After” were Disney fans. As I’m writing this post, that video has nearly 90 million views–a level of fame (or infamy) that I don’t think can be reached with an audience that is only mildly interested in the original fairy tales it parodies. Additionally, from anecdotal experience, most of my generation and the generation below me (both of whom are the target audience of this type of video) saw these movies repeatedly throughout their childhoods. Some people just like having their favorite fairy tales fractured, and others, like my friends from high school, just don’t.

And speaking of loving having your favorite childhood fantasies fractured, you didn’t think that I would possibly end this post without murdering my own darling, The Wizard of Oz, did you?

Okay, okay, to say that Wicked, my favorite musical of all time, murdered The Wizard of Oz is more than just a stretch; it is wrong. But hear me out. My favorite character in The Wizard of Oz is Glinda, the Good Witch of the South. I even dressed up as her for Halloween when I was in kindergarten, complete with a floofy pink dress, bejeweled sneakers, and a shiny wand. And Wicked does not treat Galinda** too kindly. Yes, she is endearing, and yes, she changes a lot throughout the musical, but for the majority of the run time, she is self-centered, unapologetically self-agrandizing, and (charmingly) annoying. Glinda, this character who I adored so much that I wanted to be her, was the butt of so many of the jokes in the musical.

And I loved it.

I loved the fact that Galinda was not the heroine of the story. I loved that Wicked gave the Wicked Witch of the West a name and a personality and a cause. I loved that I had to come to terms with the possibility that not every villain is actually evil or even bad and that not every good guy is flawless or even pleasant to be around.

Wicked gave me the chance to fall in love with a new character, Elphaba. I appreciated her story, I felt for her heartbreak, and I hoped for her to win in the end.

I loved the character of Elphaba so much that I even named my succulent plant after her.

All these fractured fairy tales (and one fractured fantasy) gave me the opportunity to think about the characters in different and more interesting ways. They presented me with the shades of gray that exist in the world and helped me practice viewing other people as flawed yet valuable humans with their own set of complex needs and desires. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

My call to action is this: in the words of John Green who was himself inspired by other authors and philosophers and friends and strangers, “imagine others complexly” and consume media that challenges you to do so. For me, that concept of imagining people complexly was first introduced by a fractured fairy tale. For you, it may have come from a TV show or a movie or a million other sources. Whatever that thing is that inspires you toward complex thought and empathy, seek it out. Devour it. Just maybe don’t show it to your friends if it might ruin their childhoods.

*I know that Pocahontas is more historical fiction than fairy tale, but I’m going to lump it in here because, to be honest, Disney treats the story as if it were just another fairy tale. I think that’s wrong, but, as I’ve previously acknowledged, I have zero nostalgia attached to that movie, and I haven’t even seen it the whole way through, so take my criticism with a full dash of salt.

** not a typo

Other Amazing Fractured Fairy Tales:

Picture Books

Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems

The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch

Other Books

The Princess Bride by William Goldman


“Little Red Cap” by Carol Ann Duffy


Twisted a Team StarKid musical

What amazing fractured fairy tales/fantasies did I leave out? Let me know in a comment!


Six Word Stories

Up late.
Old date.
Clean slate.

Photo by Dids from Pexels

This is different from the poetry that I normally write, but I had some ideas for six word stories kicking around in my head, and I figured that I would share three of them with you!

Up late.
Old date.
Clean slate.

She was so gorgeous.  Stupid boy.

The wind howls. The wolf doesn’t.

And the World Becomes Still

I hear a voice gently whisper,

When all the world is upended around me,

When my thoughts ricochet around my mind with unstoppable speed,

When anxiety rattles me to my core,

I hear a voice gently whisper,


And the world becomes still.

When I am sad and scared and lonely,

When the loss seems too much to bear,

When tears stream down my face and my body is wracked with sobs,

I hear a voice gently whisper,


And the world becomes still.

When I am filled with anticipation,

When a look of exuberance covers my face,

When jubilation is the only thing on my mind,

I hear a voice gently whisper,


And the world becomes still.

When I am sitting in a quiet place,

When I am meditating on gratitude,

When my heartbeat is slow and steady,

I hear a voice gently whisper,


And the world becomes still.

Happy Easter if you celebrate it! Either way, I wish you a day filled with light, love, peace, and happiness!

Photo by James Wheeler from Pexels

Beauty in Mundanity

Found poetry, found objects, and found beauty

My favorite poem is “This Is Just to Say” by William Carlos Williams. Even if you don’t recognize its title, there’s a good chance that you recognize its content. It begins like this:

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

If you’re interested, you can read the entire poem here.

This is a rather divisive poem; in fact, it divided my family (I mean, not in a big way, but still). While I was running around the house quoting this poem from memory, my mom was bemoaning its simple nature, lack of many poetic devices, and unconventional subject matter.

The reason why I love this poem so dearly is the same reason why many people dislike it. The poem reads like a note between spouses, family members, or roommates. In fact, Williams probably did transform a note from his wife into a poem to create “This Is Just to Say,” making it a “found poem” (Matterson, 2015). (A response by the name of “Reply” was later published by William Carlos Williams’ wife, Florence Herman Williams.) This type of poetry shows that even something as simple as a scribbled note can be poetic. Beauty exists, even in mundanity.

In this way, Williams opens the door for a debate. What is poetry, really? If this note is poetry, then are the words that I jotted in the margins of my favorite book poetry? Is my receipt from my most recent trip to the grocery store poetry? Is this blog post poetry?

As it turns out, Williams was not the first person who sparked this type debate (and for all I know, the following example was not the first case, either).

Nearly two decades before “This Is Just to Say” was published, a sculpture by Marcel Duchamp shocked the art world. His piece, titled Fountain, is a “readymade” sculpture–an already existing object that was repurposed to become art. “What was that already existing object?” you might ask. Why, it was a urinal.

By Man Ray – This file was donated to Wikimedia Commons as part of a project by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. See the Image and Data Resources Open Access Policy, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57861001

The Society of Independent Artists (SIA), where the piece was first submitted, chose not to display Fountain with the rest of the submissions. Duchamp, disagreeing with the SIA’s decision, resigned from its board (Tate, 2020). Fountain defied the idea that works needed to follow classical ideals in order to be considered “art.” Duchamp wanted to make a statement about the definition of art, and chose an object as mundane (and, let’s face it, a little obscene) as a urinal to do so.

So is Fountain art? Is “This Is Just to Say” poetry?

I am not an art or literary critic, nor am I a profession artist or poet (yet!), so I don’t possess the knowledge or life experiences that would allow me to answer that question for you, but I can answer it for me.

When I read “This Is Just to Say,” I feel something. I feel warmth and the loveliness of a close relationship. It feels like the midway point in a much longer story about marriage or friendship or how small grievances can lead to larger rifts. I feel the same way about it that I feel about so many other poems.

And though I have never seen Fountain in person, I did see this piece, titled Still and created by Damien Hirst, at The Art Institute of Chicago. When I looked through the glass casing (that is itself part of the sculpture) at the medical and lab equipment it encloses, I felt something. I felt cold. I felt the sterility of medicine reflected in the metal tools that are used for that purpose. I recognized the juxtaposition between the frigidity of surgical tools and the warmth of the humans that utilize them. I felt another juxtaposition between the stillness of the tools and the bustling of a hospital that might use them. I felt about it the same way that I felt about so many other pieces of art that day.

Much like how the author John Green said in this tweet that “Books belong to their readers,” art belongs to the audience, however the audience wants to see it.

It seems that the gaze we use matters more than the creation we are viewing. The attitude surpasses the object.

But what does that mean for me as a lay person? Surely, this way of viewing the world should not solely belong to poets and artists. I, too, want to see the beauty in mundanity.

I decided to challenge myself to see the charm that constantly surrounds me. I succeeded in this challenge whenever I noticed splendor in the ordinary in my life, and I took a picture each time so that I could share those experiences with you. (A lot of these are cat-centric, so if you’re not a fan of cats, I apologize.)

One of my roommate’s cats, perched for some reason on top of our toilet.

A small collection of plants in our windowsill

That same cat from earlier, sleeping on the couch. He likes to sleep with his head as upside down as possible, for some reason.

Part of “Afterword: Jesuits in Space” from The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. I loved these two lines in the middle!

Part of my closet. It’s not particularly neat and tidy, but it has been color coded for years, and I took a moment to appreciate how aesthetically pleasing that is.

Same cat in what we lovingly call his “turkey” position: head ready to dangle, front legs tucked to look like turkey wings and butt high up in the air.

And here’s the other cat, doing a weird dangle-thing with her front legs. She likes to do this nearly every time she lays in that basket.

I have taken
most of the pictures
that appear in
this blog post

and which
are probably
hard to
look at

Forgive me
I am an amateur
and the lighting in my apartment
is terrible

P.S. In my research, I found this Vox article about a Twitter trend a few years ago that used “This Is Just to Say.” The tweets are a few years old, but the still hold up (even as meme culture changes so quickly)!


Duchamp, M. (1917). Fountain.

Green, J. (2014, February 1). Retrieved from https://twitter.com/johngreen/status/429797089569439744

Hirst, D. (1994). Still. Chicago: The Art Institute of Chicago. Retrieved from https://www.artic.edu/artworks/229374/still

Matterson, S. (2015, October 19). Stephen Matterson: On “This is Just to Say”. Retrieved from https://www.modernamericanpoetry.org/criticism/stephen-matterson-just-say

Ray, M., & Duchamp, M. (1917). The blind man. New York City: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved from https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57861001

Romano, A. (2017, December 1). This is why there are jokes about plums all over your Twitter feed. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/2017/12/1/16723210/this-is-just-to-say-plums-twitter-baby-shoes

Tate. (2020). ‘Fountain’, Marcel Duchamp, 1917, replica 1964. Retrieved from https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/duchamp-fountain-t07573

Williams, F. H. (1982). “Reply”. Retrieved from http://www.writing.upenn.edu/~afilreis/88v/flossie.html

Williams, W. C. (1938). “This Is Just to Say”. Retrieved from https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/56159/this-is-just-to-say

I Fell in Love with a Poet

his limericks, like the sweetest perfume
that could fill the air in every room

The verses he once scribbled carelessly
became a type of medicine to me,
his limericks, like the sweetest perfume
that could fill the air in every room,
his gorgeous, timeless, melodious rhymes
just as flavorful as basil or thyme.

He did not know me, nor did I know him,
but I ventured to write upon a whim
a commendation for twisting my favorite hymn,
and giving it a tone so morbid and grim.

A “thanks” was then his meager reply
which caused a teardrop to leave my eye.
I began to think and gave a sigh
realizing sad and ashamed that I

did this to myself again. That poor man
knew not that my love rested in his hand;
he could only know what I had said,
not the million thoughts still in my head.
It was but my own imagined tryst–
a love between us would never exist.

Fake relationship of my own making–
I did no giving, only taking.
Now, once again, alone, I’m quaking,
trying to mend a heart that’s breaking.

Shared with Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie for their Sunday Writing Prompt of “Secret Admirer” because it fits the theme so perfectly!