Friday, November 16, 2012

The Real Wizard of Oz

The Real Wizard of Oz

is not the one you know, the Hollywood,
the celluloid tradition,
poignant and familiar --
the moreso now because we know
what happened to that little girl.

That first witch? In the Real Wizard, a little old lady
with a dowager’s hump. Definitely not
that screwball comedy bubblehead,
floating through in a ball gown,
with her cartoon voice and her wand.

In The Real Wizard the slippers
are silver, did you know?
Made ruby for the screen since
red – ruby red – reads better in Technicolor.

There is death in The Real Wizard of Oz:
violent monsters
dashed to pieces on sharp rocks;
a pack of wolves hacked headless and bloody
by the weepy Woodsman who, we come to learn,
amputated his own limbs,
and split his own torso with his own enchanted axe;
while the lion – not so cowardly on the page it seems –
offers to slaughter a deer for dinner.

And what of the Witch,
sinuous, familiar, emerald-skinned hag,
her hat and dialogue iconic now
as Rick’s CafĂ© or Garbo’s laugh;
the nimble skywriter in billowing black,
appearing and vanishing
in clouds of poison green?

She shows up here three-quarters through,
her evil somehow pedestrian,
just going through the motions
and easily vanquished with a bucket of water
as tepid and dingy as her vaunted wickedness.

She reminds you
of that cranky widow in the grocery line,
or someone’s maiden aunt,
rocking on a sagging porch,
finding fault with everything.

Fred Andersen, September 2012

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Ron Who?! (You can't make this stuff up...)