Poem: The Wolf On Trial

‘Court, come to order and all attendees rise,
hereafter the honourable judge Grimmborough presides;
our evidence has been gathered, and thus comes to trial
accusing B. B. Wolfe of malice, wit and while.
What you will hear is likely to shock and appal,
for those with weak stomachs, please use the outer hall.
Otherwise sit silent and cast your judgement hence
it won’t be long now before the villain takes to his defence.’

The jury filtered in with all classes represented:
Rapunzel, the Frog-King, and the Valiant Tailor’s apprentice,
Hansel and Gretel with the slumberous Briar Rose,
and the Evil-Stepmother’s collusion to make twelve, all composed.
Next came the barrister and the attorney-at-law
then time for Justice himself to take to the floor.
Grimmborough faced the court-hall and invited them to sit,
then rousingly commenced: ‘Bring in the first witness.’

Red Riding Hood ascended timidly to the box,
and swore under oath to be truthfully orthodox.
‘Speak,’ said the judge, ‘and you shall be heard
we already know the wolf’s actions wax absurd.’
Drawing herself up, Red Riding Hood decried
in a voice that grew stronger with every passing crime:
‘Your honour, the wolf is guilty by false representation
and for that my family demands reparation;
there’s also the fact we’ve seen the belly of the beast
and want a term of imprisonment, seven years, at least.

‘See, my Grandmother is ill and cannot leave the house,
the wolf knew this and seized his opportune chance.
It was a Tuesday morning and I arrived unawares,
noting the bizarre change in her eyes, teeth, and hair;
yet he imitated her voice until I almost couldn’t tell
my own dear Grandmother from this seasoned felon.
When I finally grew suspicious, he sealed our shared plight
and gobbled me up as well with an intemperate appetite.

‘It’s not what you expect from your own worst enemy,
much less a neighbour who’d always been friendly.
My Grandmother made him welcome and he abused her trust,
it’s malicious and dishonourable, and evil at its worst.
She had nothing worth stealing and her savings were apathetic,
I conclude, therefore, the wolf acted for his own deranged fetish.
He wore her best nightclothes, and even retains them still,
if other labels won’t stick, try ‘mentally ill.’’

The jury took stock of this testimony tirade
with Hansel and Gretel looking appropriately outraged;
Briar Rose slumbered on, and the Frog-King snagged an insect,
in neither case was the evidence of much zealous interest.
Rapunzel looked pensive and combed out her long hair,
the Tailors apprentice wished they’d sent the master, not the spare.
The Evil-Stepmother’s collusion alone looked astute,
considering whether to swell their ranks with a new, male recruit.

‘You’ve heard the prosecution, but no argument’s one-sided,
and now it is time the wolf himself was invited
to speak before the jury and all those who attend,
his own personal version of the cited events.’
The judge raised a hand and called: ‘Bring in the wolf.’
Seconds later the defendant strode confidently into the gulf,
proud and defiant, and charismatic to boot,
the Evil-Stepmothers collusion whistled an appreciative hoot.

Grimmborough fixed them with a withering glance,
warning this was the last time they threw his court askance.
‘Wolf, take note, this is a trial by your peers,
found guilty, it’ll mean the end of your career.
You stand accused of fraud, battery and assault,
as well as crimes that create a new legal fault;
now, I know it’s in your nature, but make no mistake,
eating Red and her Grandmother was purely bad taste.’

The wolf considered slowly and assessed the stakes,
‘Judge,’ he said finally, ‘it’s simply that I’m a saint.
I ate them up as clean as the rest
it’s just that families are hard to digest.
Take mine for a case: they boiled me in a pot!
After that out relationship kind of hit the rocks.
Now, I know, I know, I’ve heard all the digs,
who knew the Big Bad wolf was cousin to the three little pigs?

‘But, judge, let me tell you, I’m a master of my craft
anyone else and you wouldn’t have retrieved them intact.
So give me a medal, shower me in infamy,
return the verdict of Wolfe, not guilty.
But while we’re here, I have my own bullet,
I want to press charges against the woodcutter
who sliced me from abdomen to gullet.’

The court muttered wildly in lieu of this reverse,
which shocked the Kingdom’s standards, and the jury’s nerves.
The wolf’s tongue was silver, forked, and inspired,
something to be equally dreaded and admired.
Grimmborough considered and let the motion pass,
‘Yes, wolf,’ he murmured, ‘I thought this would be your path.
Call in the woodcutter then and let him have his turn,
luckily enough we kept him in reserve.’

The woodcutter entered with his axe for a lawyer
having resisted all entreaties to leave it in the foyer.
He rose to the docks and fixed the wolf with a glare,
then nodded to Grimmborough to resume the thoroughfare.
‘Woodcutter, the wolf accuses you of cutting him to the quick.’
‘Let him,’ said the woodcutter, ‘he’ll never make it stick,
I did what was right, and I swear I’ll do it again,
but if he wants to be petty, then sue him for my axe. It’s bent.’

‘Wolf,’ the judge sighed, ‘there are the charges, do you accept?’
‘No,’ said the wolf, ‘it’s not my fault he’s inept,
if you’re going to mutilate creatures at least do it well,
besides, I would have let Red and her Grandmother go after a spell.
So, if I’m up for assault, try him for grievous harm,
the stiches I needed numbered two-hundred-and-one.’
‘Wolf,’ said the woodcutter, ‘you’re lucky you recovered
many here think the surgeons needn’t have bothered.’

At this, the collusion felt persecution empathy
and began to view the wolf quite sympathetically.
They converged on the Frog-King and tried to get him onside,
offering a wife’s kiss and the best choice of flies.
Rapunzel was a do-gooder and unlikely to be swayed,
but Hansel and Gretel, at least, could reliably be played,
as for the Tailor’s apprentice, let him toe the line,
the final verdict only needed a majority of nine.

Red Riding Hood, with outrage, rose to her feet:
‘Judge, she said, ‘these proceedings wax indiscreet.
The wolf stands accused, and cannot accuse in his turn,
the woodcutter’s actions have no prosecutional concern.
This is what he does, all grace and goodness forsake
wolf he may be, but he’s as mendacious as a snake;
drop your guard for an instant and he’ll slither out here free.
And as for the intentions of this hotchpotch jury –

‘Putting it mildly, they seem less than pure,
and one has even spent this entire trial in slumber!
I want justice, and I won’t rest until I get it
whether by your power or somebody else’s.’
‘Be calm,’ said the judge, ‘and please rest assured
there are measures in place to prevent a perversion of the court.
Finding twelve representatives is a dastardly fix,
we reuse this set because we know all of their tricks.’

The Evil-Stepmother’s collusion scowled at this truth
their successful coups numbering just two.
But failure makes the appetite hungrier for success,
a fact clearly recognised by the little minx in red.
Maybe just once they’d concede her the victory
and return the verdict of wolf, exceedingly guilty.
Maybe, in time, she would even join the amicably,
she had the attitude, all she needed was the family.

The judge called the court steadily back to order:
‘One digression’s fine, but let’s not have another.’
He dismissed the woodcutter, who still mumbled about his axe
and coxswained the derailing trial back onto the tracks.
‘Wolf, I admire your audacity, but condemn you all the same
your distraction techniques have not helped your case.
Your character is proved, a few more questions and we’re done
I would advise you to answer appropriately from now on.’

‘Alright, Judge,’ said the wolf, ‘I magnanimously concede,
once again, section me up like a raw chunk of meat.
I’ll swallow my pride and tell you what you want to hear
and then you can end by being appropriately severe.’
Grimmborough threw back his head and let a laugh loose:
‘Don’t play the victim, wolf, it really doesn’t suit,
you did this to yourself and have no-one else to blame
seems you lucked out of your own twisted game.’

The wolf shrugged with equanimity, ‘What can I say?
If I can’t wrangle out of it then I accept my fate.
I’ve heard Red’s testimony and admit my own part,
I acted like a beast without a soul or a heart.
Call it, if you want, a self-fulfilling prophecy,
a wolf can only ever be a carnivore, you see,
add to that the prejudice against what I am
and ask is it any wonder how I turned out?’

The jury debated in amongst themselves
whether personal hardship effected the evidence.
In the end, they decided that no, it didn’t
this court already had its appointed victims.
‘Wolf, we understand the difficulty of your caste,
but prejudice never, ever validates the act.
I’ll ask one last time, do you accept Red’s charges?’
‘Yes,’ the wolf relented, ‘I accept them wholehearted.

‘I’ve sinned, I’ve offended, I’ve acted at my worst,
and I don’t even remember for what point and purpose.’
‘Do you have anything to offer in your defence?’
‘Maybe I committed the act in a fit of absence …?’
Grimmborough laughed: ‘No, that doesn’t quite do
you were compos mentis even if you were a brute.’
‘Then, judge, lock me up, I’ve got nothing else,
after this I’m quite looking forward to reposing in a cell.’

‘So you say now, but seven years are long
you may come out a bird with a contrary song.
For formalities sake, send the jury away,
we’ll wait two hours for their casting say.
Until then, this court is patiently adjourned
take this opportunity to slake your hunger and thirst,
and in the wolf’s case, sneak a last look at the sun,
I have power to overrule the jury’s decision if its wrong.’

Two hours passed and the jury re-entered
the court waited anxiously to hear the pronounced sentence.
Elected its speaker, the Frog-King croaked with pride:
‘We find the defendant guilty by a majority of nine,
imprisonment and reparation are the appropriate course,
and maybe a plan for intense, targeted reform.’
In response, the wolf licked his chops and said with a grin:
‘I’ll let you try me over again if I can eat the amphibian.’



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