“Fighting Tales” by Juleigh Howard-Hobson

Today, Lise Quintana and Kevin Sharp explore “Fighting Tales” by Juleigh Howard-Hobson, submitted for the Hans Christian Anderson issue of NonBinary Review.

This poem relates to Hans Christian Anderson’s story “The Nightingale,” which you can read here.

Just painted tin. Cheap gems. Baubles attached
With glue and held together so tightly
The mechanism is going to catch
Against itself and break down completely.
It’s no real bird. The story goes that I
Fled, sulking, far away into the woods
When I lost a contest to that thing. Why
Would I do that? You have misunderstood
The nature of birds. We don’t sulk, we fly
Away never to return. I did that.
So, no matter what the Emperor said
About me coming back to save him at
The last minute, it’s not true. I wished him dead
And still do. May he rot with his fake thing;
It repeats a few notes but cannot sing.

It repeats a few notes but cannot sing
Complicated measures the way my tin
Plated throat can produce. My programming
Is superior to DNA in
Every possible way. Besides, I look
Better. Pretty. Shiny. Gem encrusted.
Gold plated. Baubled. The nightingale took
Offence at my greatness, would rather sulk
And fly away than face its loss against
Better birds like me. Yes. I’ve heard the bulk
Of what it says in its piteous angst.
I don’t care that it says I’m fake. Unhatched.
Just painted tin. Cheap gems. Baubles attached.