How to Flirt in Faerieland by C.S.E. Cooney

How to Flirt in Faerieland
by C.S.E. Cooney

(For Sahira)

Gentle mistress, come my way
Into vine and brier stray
Thou art sad and soft and sweet
I have berries black to eat
Gifts to give and spells to offer
Poems and prophecies to proffer
Welcome to my hut of thorns
Watch thy head–don’t mind the horns
Sit and have a cuppa tea
I’ll see what I may scrounge for thee

Hast thou sisters who displease thee?
Rend thy clothes and taunt and tease thee?
What of brothers, foul and odious–
Making life most discommodious?
I’ve a shackle for her wrists
Seals to press upon his lips
Chains to bend the proudest head
Proclaiming thee a queen most dread
An oubliette to keep them in
A soup tureen to steep them in…


Is there one thou failed to charm,
Who does thy heart some hurt or harm?
I’ve a jar just for his eyes
Stopped with wax and dragon sighs
Only beauty will he see
Gazing day by day at thee
Never think he’ll find it hateful!
Clever men would be most grateful!
And if he be not clever, then
Is he worth thy tears, my friend?

Still thou sighest woebegonely
Like a will-o’-wisp so wanly
If thou hast a quest or tasking
I’ll perform it for the asking!
Lecher’s wart or virgin’s hymen?
The piebald hide of Simple Simon?
A pimple off the great Cham’s nose?
Another verse, this time in prose?
A key of bone to fit all doors?
Name it and the thing is yours.

Do not leave so soon, dear maid
What else have I that thou must crave?
Wherefore seekest thou my brambles
Arms a-welt and hair a-shambles
Skin burnt brown as cinnamon
Garbed in barest minimum
Need’st thou fruits to stew thy jam
Famed throughout all Faerieland?
Have a bushel, have a basket
Any item–only ask it!

Sweep my larder, snitch my wine
Lay me down and make me thine
In thy rapture, shout my name
Three times three and thrice again
Wrap thy thighs close up around me
Draw me deeply thus and drown me
I’m thy pet, thy goblin slave
Bound to thee unto the grave
And when the gods at last reject thee
Thou shalt be subject to me.

Forgive me, Mistress Rare, my wiles
Tis but my nature–
Ah! She smiles.

C.S.E. Cooney‘s fiction and poetry can be found in Clockwork Phoenix 3, Subterranean Press, Strange Horizons, Apex Magazine, Ideomancer, Goblin Fruit, and Mythic Delirium. She edits the blog for Black Gate Magazine, and her e-novellas Jack o’ the Hills and The Big Bah-Ha are available to download on