This poem was awarded 2nd Prize in the 'Adults Writing for Children' Section of the 2010 Toolangi CJ Dennis Poetry Competition.
The Gingerbread House
© Stephen Whiteside 27.03.10
There once was a dwelling of sweet gingerbread
Where there lived an old witch (or so it is said),
And the builders had been up to all sorts of tricks,
For the stumps, they were fashioned from cinnamon sticks.
The roof was of choc’late, the chimney stack too,
But the bed was of licorice all the way through.
The TV was candy - pink, crisp and neat.
(It only played programs all syrupy sweet.)
The pipes were glazed sugar, most carefully laid,
And through them flowed gallons of cold lemonade.
She’d a fairy floss doona to ward off the chill,
And burnt almonds lay in the fireplace grill.
Now, she lived in a forest, all by herself,
And all she required she must store on her shelf.
There was never a man to deliver the milk
Or to read the gas metre. No, none of that ilk.
Though her garden was candy, the forest was real,
And inch by inch onto her home it did steal.
There were twigs down the chimney and leaves in the gutter,
Which caused the old witch to complain and to mutter.
Her house was transformed to a wet, squalid camp
As it slowly succumbed to the cold and the damp.
The roof started sagging. The cinnamon stumps
Slowly collapsed into soggy brown lumps.
Rain drops punched holes in her fairy floss doona.
‘Twas clear she would lose it all - later or sooner.
Mildew appeared on the clothes in her chest.
Her TV reception was dicey at best.
Her bed became slimy. Her pipes started leaking.
The witch ran in circles, just sobbing and shrieking.
She was hardly a threat (though her heart remained mean)
When Hansel and Gretel arrived on the scene.
They were cold. They were frightened, with nought in their belly.
They wouldn’t care if there wasn’t a telly.
They chose not to knock. They just ate the door,
And slurped lemonade from a pool on the floor.
They finished the doona. They chewed on the bed,
But soon, all that sugar, it went to their head.
It provoked a reaction that couldn’t be tamed.
You must not be angry. They shouldn’t be blamed.
Their tummies were rumbling. Their bellies complained,
For all of that sweet food could not be contained.
Their stomachs decided their contents to ditch.
They turned round as one, and threw up on the witch!
They just didn’t see her (she’d merged with the gloom)
In a corner, hunched up, at the end of the room.
She had not the ticker to yell, or cry out.
It seemed pretty clear that her luck had run out.
The children returned to their feasting once more.
They finished the bed, and commenced with the floor.
It was there by the stumps, so the story is told,
That they found their great treasure, those coins of bright gold.
Now, while I’ve no wish a great story to spoil,
In fact they were chocolate, covered with foil.
So Hansel and Gretel did not become rich,
But at least they weren’t scared by the wicked old witch.
Their father still found them. Their stepmother died.
They formed a close unit. They really applied
All of their strength to a snug little farm.
Their lives remained hard, but they came to no harm.
Yes, only one clue of their trial remained,
But it stayed there for life. It was deeply ingrained.
It relates to the food that they both chose to eat.
See, they lost their desire for anything sweet!