PRINCESS P, IN A SPIN by David C. Kopaska-Merkel and Kendall Evans

David C. Kopaska-Merkel
Kendall Evans

Princess P twirls in place
Like one of those ballerinas
Impaled upon a post
Atop a wind-up music box

She was a real princess
Even if she didn’t have a real name
Princess P tried to laugh it off:
The rabbit, the giant purple frog
The impotent stud seal,
The complete mess they made
On escaping from their cages
Right before the arrival
Of the visitors she urgently
Desired to contact
But it was no use —
Colonel McFarland stayed on her,
His toxic hands like scouts
From an ant colony,
Ranging ahead of the main force
In search of anything they could use
And she never got the chance
To speak to Mr. Toad alone.

Is the curve of this poem
What goes around
Comes around
Again and again

The P
May stand for particularity
For some perfect synonym
Of concision
It may somehow signify
The two girls beating
Mr. Toad in the hall outside her door
Her perennial wait for rescue
Her stepmother wickedly
Calls her Princess Piranha
And some of the locals
Insist it’s Princess Peterson
(an important family in the capital)
No one at all
Knows the true derivation
Or even if there is one
This time around

Princess P spins in circles
Like an autistic child
While Mr. Thomas T. Toad
Whirls out of the two girls’ reach,
Breaching the circle;
Even the Colonel is dizzied

The wind wound through the canyon
Bringing with it the scent
Of artichoke, olive
And burning brush,
And something else, the air
Carried the scent of the Colonel’s cologne
And the faint sound of dogs
Baying in the distance
So she had no choice:
It was time to roll
The Carnival out
And shake the dust
From her father’s mechanical celery
The Jell-O-malt carousel, and the
Vegan fortune teller.

Everything seems to turn
In relation to all else
As if positioned upon
Opposing carousels
Gears grinding out causality
Exceeding fine

Like Pinocchio
And so many other fictional characters
Princess P wishes to be real
Dreams of living in the round
Prays the authors will provide her
At least a partial soul
So that she, like a sea-nymph,
Like an undine,
Might nurture it
Until the fragmentary spirit
Grows whole and so she tries
Again and again to break out
Of the plot they’ve written for her

What goes around
Comes around again
Like in Dorothy’s dream
Like a hurricane
Like that carousel in the Hitchcock movie
Spinning out of control

The children loved the carousel so, but
The chocolate horses longed to
Break free and romp in the meadow
Although they knew they might fall prey
To field urchins, whose empty bellies
Grow fat and sticky in the hot summer sun
The Princess wasn’t there
At the ticket booth or by the carousel
She was out in the woods, tied up
Under a trappers’ lean-to while
Colonel McFarland’s maggots
Attempted to devour her
Like a drowned sheep
They gnawed and gnawed
But made no headway

But these circles are not circles
Instead a spiraling descent
Or is it the double helix
Of DNA, ratcheting up and down
The Red Queen’s deadly hypothesis?

The Princess isn’t destined to die
In the Georgia woods
And she’s glad for once
That fictional characters live
If their authors want them to
No, she won’t die here
Nor will she attain total reality
At least not in this stanza
It takes 30 million years
To get back to where you started
And by then the place just
Doesn’t seem the same

The authors themselves
Might be nauseous by this point
Dizzied by rotating mirror-shards
Of imagery

For a stalk of celery the vegan fortune teller
Would cast the chestnut for you
And tell you whether you live or
Die during the coming year
You could find out if you’ll be lucky in love
Learn your future career
Even whether you will find true happiness
For a few radishes she would
Meddle in fate, try to
Save you from yourself and your diet
No guarantees of course,
But enjoy the fair – healthily

Princess P.., the Colonel
Mr. Toad’s tricycle,
The stalks of mechanical celery
All spin past
With the twisting impetus
Of a tornado

What is this poem
About Princess P?
It circles endlessly
The Princess will never escape it
No handsome prince’s kiss
Will set her free
Even the incautious reader
Might get caught
In the loop the ice skater’s figure 8
Of infinity or the end thereof

The human spirit
Turns, too
Turns as if upon a spit
Above a fiery pit

The mechanical celeries
Served dually as keys to the carousel
And French Ticklers for Princess P
And the scandal cut into ticket sales
So the Carnival closed up
Packed its bags and hit the road
Jack the giant killer went along
He’s sweet on Princess P
Who wouldn’t be but he’s got
A good thing going
With the bearded lady too

She‘s taken to carrying a gun
To ward off the Colonel
The revolver revolves
Three chambers empty;
She spins the cylinder,
Tossing it into a decaying
Geocentric orbit

Princess P ponders,
Is all of this
Merely flotsam
Downloaded from the coming
Maelstrom or is there something
In the Carnival or among its visitors
That can help her escape
From the Colonel who even now
Steps out of the closet
Reaches for her breast

Your equilibrium
Spins out-of-control―
Isn’t this a Merry
Go-ing Round
And around again?

Princess P tried to laugh this off:
The rabbit, the giant purple frog,
The impotent stud seal,
But it was no use–
Colonel McFarland blocked the exit
His toxic hands
Like scouts from an ant colony
Ranging ahead of the main force

It all spins around
Around and down
Around and down the drain

Princess P. is looking for the author
To pull a deus ex machina
Out of his or her ass
If that doesn’t happen soon
she has the rabbit’s brass knuckles
and she’s not afraid to use them

Flotsam and jetsam, all
Into the maelstrom

 (And repeat, at ever higher frequencies
Till it all comes round
And round again
In the universal maelstrom)
                                                           the end

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