Rebirth of Tragedy
One morning, looking at the swampland behind his house, an old man spied his daughter kissing a sleeping crocodile. He felt obliged to intervene and rushed toward his puckering child.
“Stop! What the hell,” he demanded, “are you doing?”
“Looking for my prince,” she murmured, “like all the girls in the bedtime stories you told me.”
“Yeah, but . . .” Suddenly distracted by the crocodile—which was snoring softly but looked far bigger up close than it had from the safety of his house—he felt less sure of himself.
“Kissing frogs is all about taking chances, right? Bigger chances, bigger rewards. I don’t want to waste time with a frog-prince. I want a T-Rex-CEO. Maybe a killer gorilla senator. This is just practice.”
“You should really be careful, honey,” the man whispered, his blood running cold.
“Yes, yes,” she replied pertly. “You’re right, daddy.” Then she daintily balanced on one leg, bent forward, and planted another one on the crocodile. It remained unmoved.
“That wasn’t what I meant,” hissed the man. “Besides, I think this critter-kissing business has something to do with faith in love.”
Ignoring him, his daughter went back to work.
With her third kiss, the crocodile awakened. It spread its jaws wide, exposing a primordial chasm. The man and his daughter recoiled, but before they could utter a word, the crocodile turned into a goat. Having no interest in family dramas, the goat promptly turned its back on the pair.
It trotted off in search of someone willing to kiss a goat, hoping soon to return to the simpler, quieter life of a crocodile.
Originally from Massachusetts, Noel Sloboda currently lives in Pennsylvania, where he teaches at Penn State York. His writing has appeared in a variety of places, most recently in Arbor Vitae, Keyhole Magazine, bottle rockets, Pen Pusher, and MiPoesis. Sloboda’s first book of poetry, Shell Games (sunnyoutside), was published the summer of 2008. Noel's poem "Richard of Gloucestor's Machine" appears in ISSUE 4 of A cappella Zoo.