First appeared in Not One of Us #47, 4/10/12

The Living Dead
Amanda C. Davis

We survivors bathe our skin in mud
To hide in shattered alleys
From our sharp-eyed conquerors.

We rend our parents’ bodies–
Flesh, fat, meat, marrow–
This gray hair
Will make a pillow
Or a fire.

We keep our women pregnant.

We eat dogs
With collars on.

Weep for us,
Our lucky brothers
Carried off at the start:
We, the damned victors,
You, the lucky failures!

Blessed are the poor in stamina,
For they elude the kingdom of Hell.

We curse the strength
That powers us through desperate evils;
The will that drives our crime,
Squalor,
Sin;
The health that squeezes out
Each stabbing breath.
We dance to puppet-strings entangled
In our own cruel hands.

To be weak,
The happy dead!

But we live on,
We soldiers,
Survivors,
Strong enough to suffer,
Monsters, all.

#

More poems, here: Wolves and Witches: A Fairy Tale Anthology

Check out all my free-to-read work–including podcasts!–here.

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First appeared in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #57, 4/30/13.

Missed Connections > Pocket Universe
Amanda C. Davis

At the time travelers’ ball,
You had a HELLO MY YEAR IS sticker
With a date just ten years from mine.

I was drinking very old wine
From the future, cached in the ancient past,
Aged for millennia, very pricey.
It went to my head.
Such things do.

I cornered you by the hors d’oeuvres.

“It looks like we’re from–”
I said in my mind,
“No–going my way?
“No–more like coming from my direction,
“But that’s terribly clumsy,
“And speaking of time as if it were space
“Is so amateur.
“You’d think I’d have a line all ready
“For this situation–”

But you’d spotted me, it was too late,
So I said,
“I can’t help but notice
“Ooh, what kind of pâté is that?”

It was very old wine.
I hadn’t eaten since lunch.

You said, “Some kind of dinosaur.
“It’s such a waste.”

I said, “I say that all the time,”
And finished my glass
(Grapes genetically perfected,
Yeast designed in a lab,
Squirreled in a cave near the Dead Sea
To wait four thousand years
For our sommelier.)

I said, “I noticed you’re from my historical era.”
I said, “Do you recall”

You said, “I prefer not to.
“We anachronists run in two colors, you know;
“The nostalgic
“And the avoidant.”

I said, “You avoid?”

You said, “Time is another kind of space we use
“To buffer ourselves.”
(You hadn’t seemed like an amateur.)
“Enjoy the pâté.”

I never saw you again.

On the balcony with some Edwardians,
A Harvard Neanderthal,
And some tourists from Gliese 581 c,
I asked if they knew you.
They said, “Don’t mind that one.
“We know the type
“And knowing you,
“My dear,
“You’d never have crossed paths
“Anyhow.”

#

More poems, here: Wolves and Witches: A Fairy Tale Anthology

Check out all my free-to-read work–including podcasts!–here.

Love this story?Buy me a coffee at ko-fi.com

First appeared in Retro Spec: Tales of Fantasy and Nostalgia, 9/8/10; reprinted in Bull Spec #8, 04/23/13.

Sparks Between Our Teeth
Amanda C. Davis

I smoked a lot
In the Fifties.
Half a pack a day.
Helped with my nerves
When the job needed done.
We were shrewd and urbane,
Chronos cowboys,
And pretended we belonged to the era
And didn’t know better.

Killing spies and profiteers.
Keeping kinks out of the timeline.
Vintage smoke made it all go down easier.

I quit when they transferred me
To the twenty-first century.
It’s not the same, anyway,
Crushing butts beside your computer
Instead of in a nightclub
In a suit.

But sometimes on the sidewalk
I pass a man
Puffing something sweet and stinging
As my Chesterfields used to be,
And it all comes back:
Gin and Reds and social shaming,
High heels and discretion,
Careless racism,
Constant fear.
Choosing cigarettes
On your doctor’s recommendation.
Tracking a timesquatter to his portal,
Fixing his mistakes,
Unsnarling his damage,
Throwing his body
Where the G-Men can’t go.
And a smoke under a street light
To put you back together.

We choked our lungs with tar
Just like everyone around us,
But cold foreknowledge
Set us apart from the natives:

We knew about carcinogens.
We were trying to kill ourselves.

#

More poems, here: Wolves and Witches: A Fairy Tale Anthology

Check out all my free-to-read work–including podcasts!–here.

Love this story?Buy me a coffee at ko-fi.com

wolves-and-witches-cover_fullAmanda C. Davis and Megan Engelhardt are sisters. Their stories and poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies from around the world. They wrote Wolves and Witches to collect their fairy-tale retellings and because they wanted to create something together. The volume sold to World Weaver Press and the book was released in 2013. So far their stories have been performed in competition, adapted for podcasts, read aloud at conferences, and discussed in book clubs. Wow!

Wolves and Witches contains retellings of Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Diamonds and Toads, the Twelve Dancing Princesses, the Little Mermaid, Rumpelstiltskin, Rapunzel, the Pied Piper of Hamelin. The new edition contains interviews with the authors and a set of discussion questions for book clubs or classrooms.

Here are ten short stories and poems

from Amanda C. Davis and Megan Engelhardt

that you can read right now for free!

1. The Instructions by Amanda C. Davis

Elves never work for free. A darkly funny modern take on The Elves and the Shoemaker.

Read it: The Instructions at Daily Science Fiction

2. Untruths About the Desirability of Wolves by Megan Engelhardt

Traumatic experiences in your childhood can really mess with your head, but Little Red Riding Hood swears she’s fine.

Read it: Untruths About the Desirability of Wolves at Enchanted Conversation

3. Crown of Bells by Amanda C. Davis

The Disney version of Beauty and the Beast turns the servants into objects, but some tellings curse the servants with invisibility. In this poem, a servant learns to be invisible.

Read it: Crown of Bells at Mirror Dance

4. The Witch of the Wolfwoods by Amanda C. Davis

Granny is hiding something. What big teeth she has! A poem twisting the intentions of an underestimated character in Little Red Riding Hood.

Read it: The Witch of the Wolfwoods at Enchanted Conversation

5. The Long Con by Megan Engelhardt

This sly story wonders why an accomplished magician like Rumpelstiltskin even wanted someone else’s child. And he’s not the only one who wonders.

Read it: The Long Con at Daily Science Fiction

6. Song of Snow by Amanda C. Davis

Before Snow White and her Prince start a new life together, they have business to take care of. A juicy, sweet love poem with poison at the core.

Read it: Song of Snow at Enchanted Conversation

7. A Shining Spindle Can Still Be Poisoned by Amanda C. Davis

What do princes expect to find, when they awaken princesses who haven’t been seen for a hundred years? This poem retelling of Sleeping Beauty has bite.

Read it: A Shining Spindle Can Still Be Poisoned at Goblin Fruit

8. The Peril of Stories by Amanda C. Davis

The witch who kidnapped Rapunzel (Mother Gothel, in some tellings) truly wanted a child. A beautiful, talented, and most of all, obedient child. A story about stories.

Read it: The Peril of Stories at Enchanted Conversation

9. Her Dark Materials by Amanda C. Davis

Cinderella’s fairy godmother isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. A poem about magic.

Read it: Her Dark Materials at Enchanted Conversation

10. The Best Boy, the Brightest Boy

The Pied Piper of Hamelin kidnaps a village full of children–and oh, they have such fun–but he only really needs one. A wicked story about wild, enchanting music.

Listen to it: The Best Boy, the Brightest Boy at Drabblecast

Get more fairy tale retellings in Wolves and Witches at your favorite online bookseller!

Witches have stories too. So do mermaids, millers’ daughters, princes (charming or otherwise), even big bad wolves. They may be a bit darker—fewer enchanted ball gowns, more iron shoes. Happily-ever-after? Depends on who you ask. In Wolves and Witches, sisters Amanda C. Davis and Megan Engelhardt weave sixteen stories and poems out of familiar fairy tales, letting them show their teeth.

We read all our stories aloud before submitting them–they’re meant to be fun to read and easy on the tongue. Try them out as prose and poetry pieces for competition, oral interpretation pieces, or readings for class–or just because reading aloud is fun!

wolves-and-witches-cover_full

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Craving something longer? The Lair of the Twelve Princesses is a 9000-word sword-and-sorcery novelette, retelling the tale of the twelve dancing princesses featuring a soldier, her genie, and a castle full of treachery, available now at Smashwords or Amazon.

 

First appeared in Phobos Magazine #3, 02/08/2015.

When I Am Eighty-Three
Amanda C. Davis

The autumn after I turn eighty-three,
If I am still sound of tooth and knee,
I shall move to a town where they don’t know me,
To the creepiest house, where the witch lives.

I will eat fish and onions and greasy meat
Cooked all day long, so it smells in the street,
And keep forty black cats on my porch and beneath
And teach them to glare into windows.

I will make my own clothing from vintage gowns
And have three dozen hats with tattered crowns.
I will take slow walks when the sun goes down
And mutter at children, and hiss.

I will stay until Halloween. The following dawn,
I’ll pack my car until the trunk space is gone
With hats and cats and footballs that fell on my lawn
And drive back to Florida, where my friends live.

There I will drink cocktails as much as I can
And stroll with my childhood friends in the sand
And find my cats good homes and get a dog and get tan
And live forever, a legend, a witch.

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More witchy poems, here: Wolves and Witches: A Fairy Tale Anthology

Craving something longer? The Lair of the Twelve Princesses is a 9000-word sword-and-sorcery novelette, available now at Smashwords or Amazon.