Umbrella’s lighter offshoot


Jack and the Beanstalk

by Jan D. Hodge

Told by his mother to
sell their cow Melanie,
all that was left of their
pitiful means,
Jack, though not normally
traded the cow for a
handful of beans.

Though he insisted that
they were miraculous,
mother was angry at
what he had done.
But when she ditched them the
seeds shot a beanstalk half
way to the sun.

Jack, being curious,
set out to shinny it,
hand over hand to a
dizzying height,
till he arrived at an
fabulous castle, a
breathtaking sight.

As he drew warily
nearer, a kind-hearted
giantess met him and
welcomed him in,
offering breakfast and
to this intruder so
ragged and thin.

While he was eating a
rumbling announced that the
giant was back; there was
no time to flee!
“Fee fie fo fum” he fumed
“I smell the blood of a …
what can it be?”

“Only the roast. Shall I
go fetch your gold?” for she
knew how he itched for that
glittering heap,
just as she knew from his
manner he surely would
soon be asleep.

What a relief when she
heard his sweet snoring, for
Jack, who was cowering
under her skirt,
could, with that blustering
nullified, easily
slip out unhurt.

All of that gold, though, was
too irresistible;
Jack grabbed a fistful and
raced for the door.
Wakened, the brute saw his
shaken, and leaping, he
let out a roar.

Hotly chased after, Jack
slid down the beanstalk, and
screamed to his mother: “The
axe! And be quick!”
Then a few hacks and a
wave, and the giant fell
dead as a brick.

Since it’s a fairy tale
Jack was rewarded for
trespass and theft, but what
here ended well
could have been classically
had it crushed Jack when the
Blunderbore fell.

Some add a maiden who
tells Jack the giant had
murdered his father, and
therefore that he’s
nolo contendere
heir to the fortune.” (She
loved legalese.)

Frankly I think that this
version is baseless, a
ploy to exonerate
Jack as a thief
and to legitimate
shallow and cynically
selfish belief.

Jan D. Hodge grew up in a letterpress print shop in small town Michigan, was educated at the Universities of Michigan (B.A., M.A.) and New Mexico (Ph.D.; dissertation on Dickens), and taught for 32 years at colleges in Illinois and Iowa before retiring. His poems have appeared in North American Review, New Orleans Review, Iambs & Trochees, South Coast Poetry Journal, Western Wind, and elsewhere.