15 fairytale ANIA WALWICZ
once upon a time there was a king he had three daughters one was very pretty but the two others why they were ugly as hell so he preferred the ugly ones because they were very smart [they were very clever indeed] he said to them don't worry about getting husbands i mean all right if you want i'll arrange that no problem[s] but you should think about studying first the beautiful one was dumb you see so he didn't like her at all [not at all] why don't you like me or something she asked him sorry i don't like you because you are stupid so she cried then this fairy heard her and felt sorry for her she better be sent to remedial classes or something the fairy said so she was to help her improve her spelling and stop paying attention to how she looked and all that so all the sisters were all right with the king after that and all getting good marks and scholarships to university because that's very important but the ugly ones started to worry about just how ugly they were so the king arranged for them to have plastic surgery so they looked a lot better after that and were all all right i think but then they wanted to get married [after that after they got their doctorates] so that was a problem because they didn't meet many men because they were too busy at their study so the king had to think about what to do because they were driving him crazy all the time talking about getting married and worrying about being old maids so he advertised in the aristocratic gazette for handsome princes to apply so they did but the princesses didn't like them you see they were much too smart for these princes and laughed at them [and so forth] so that was worrying the king who was getting old by then you see he married late so by that time he was in his eighties and maybe [he] would die he wanted to see the daughters settled so this time he advertised for very clever princes and they came but the princesses found them too ugly and said these men are very good to talk to but as far as looks are concerned forget it wouldn't touch them with a ten foot pole and the thought of kissing them just makes us sick well that was a problem what to do now what was the king supposed to do what were the princesses supposed to do and what were the poor unfortunate rejected princes supposed to do the king suggested maybe you could marry two princes apiece a good looking one for sleeping with and a clever one to talk to but that wasn't such a good idea so the princesses thought we got to think of something to do after all we got doctorates and they decided to produce perfect men for themselves the kind that could cook and be polite and wash dishes and be willing and able to tell good stories and the kind that wouldn't annoy them so they set out in the laboratory to combine all the parts of various princes to make good husbands and they worked all night but they didn't mind you see they enjoyed their work and were used to using their heads so lo and behold they made these perfect husbands by sticking all the pieces of various princes together if one had good eyes then they took [the] eyes too bad for him they had to do it and that was that and some prince would wake up blind too bad they said or take some prince's legs if they were nice legs [they took them] they would take them by special force of their minds [and they took them] and these men would [sometimes] wake up dead but it was all right for the princesses they didn't mind so they took what they liked and took brains and eyes and legs and shoulders and took hair and took feet a lot of princes died as a result and everybody thought [that] there was a plague and in the end the princesses had their husbands but they got bored with them and killed them because they enjoyed working in the laboratory more than marriage
from Contemporary Australian Poetry (Houghton Mifflin, 1990), edited by John Leonard. Used and reprinted by permission.
[Square brackets indicate alterations or cuts]
Click here for a video of the Melbourne premiere of Leonard Lehrman's setting, Jan. 5, 2002.