2 Poems by Vern Fein


A bone bent rag pile
before the Pearly Gates
waits for the Saint
to pass judgment,
broods on forgiveness.

One says she knows not what she did,
but she did build the candy house
—lemon cookie walls, chocolate windows,
red and green Christmas candy roof, apple pie porch—
like a predator on a playground,
peeps out for any sign
of fattling children.

Her natural witch clairvoyance
knew they were coming,
Hansel’s bread crumb scheme,
snatched away by the birds
as she would tempt them
then slam the purple candy door
and pop him in her cage.

Smart children, honed
by the step-mothers’s wiles,
Gretel devises
the twig finger
to out-trick the tricker.

Day by day, the crone’s eyes
see wood instead of flesh,
impossible to wait
for succulence,
orders Gretel:
Light the oven,
carrots and gravy,
bake the boy.

Stupidly bends over
to test the heat,
whoosh the witch
into the fire.

The children flee home,
find their kind woodcutter father.
Bring baskets of goodies,
celebrate love and family.

The stepmother banished,
the children see her once more—
buy her bread and soup—


We say to the animate world.
We have inflicted so much hurt
on other humans—even the ones we most love.
We neglect a dog, a cat, a horse,
leave a bird cage ajar, stomp bugs.
We have not been St. Francis.
Sorry, a healing balm.

But what of the inanimate world?
Some say plants feel pain
when we yank them from the ground,
routinely murder the lawn.
We can kneel down
in our own garden
or by our mower and say it.
And, lumberjack—apologize to that tree
you just axed.

What about convenience items?
When they break, we bitch
even when we break them.
Like it was their fault.
Hey, if you buy 47 things
with moving parts, the law of averages
says at least two a week will break.
When you cuss out your furnace
or TV—humble yourself.

Do you stomp the floor
when you stub your toe?
Do you kick a chair
when you bang into it?
You put it there.
Or the table you bump,
the sidewalk that scrapes your knee.
Teach your children early on,
extend the chain of life to the lifeless.

Could be life changing,
apologizing not just to the living,
breathing world,
but to every

Like to your bed for not making it every day,
letting her live a rumpled life.
Like your toilet some still call a commode.
Sorry for all the shit you have to put up with.

Mea Culpa—to all the rocks I threw.

A retired special education teacher, Vern Fein has published over one hundred fifty poems on over seventy sites, a few being: *82 Review, Bindweed Magazine, Gyroscope Review, Courtship of Winds, Young Raven’s Review, Beyond These Shores, Monterey Poetry Review, and Corvus Review.