smartphone screen
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Fairytales Retold For Millennials #1 - Ghosting Bluebeard by Kate Meyer-Currey

Learn how I set a honey trap to reveal

My Bluebeard boyfriend’s phishing scam

Then ghosted him!

Too good to be true? Seven tell-tale signs

Your Disney Prince isn’t picture perfect after all...

One: He looks nothing like his selfie.

This was a big giveaway. His beard

Was jet black, his teeth were pearly

White and his skin was orange. I

Should have known he’d be a piece

Of work. He was a plastic fantastic

Masterpiece, especially the abs.

And he wasn’t 37. He was 57.

The beast had been up to his

Tricks for several centuries before

I crossed his path.

Two: He pursues you relentlessly.

Even before our first date my

Profile pic was black and blue

From prods and swipes. I was

Lost in a bouquet jungle and

Smothered by stuffed toys.

My front porch looked like

A memorial for another lost

Girl.I felt suffocated. I nearly was.

Like the others; hacked-up

And stuffed in his junk-trunk.

I should have run then.

Three: He wants to cook you dinner

At his house.

It’s a gated mansion draped in

Spanish moss. He likes to get away

From it all. So will you; when you’ve been

Hogtied, spit-roasted and served up as

S’mores. Make it coffee-date and

Visit the firing-range first. You can’t

Rely on a passing lumberjack with a

Chainsaw to do your dirty work for you.

Four: His life is a pity-party with you

As guest of honour.

Wives One and Two died tragically

Young: cancer and a house-fire.

He’ll show you their portraits on the

Guided tour. Think ‘Last Duchess’:

Get the picture? He’s a fan of Joel

Witkin’s photo-realism: ‘So lifelike’

He murmurs, leaking crocodile tears

As Martha and Elizabeth watch your

Back with glassy stares. He’s coming

In for the kill by appealing to your

Caring nature. You must be a really

Great counsellor he croons, through

His perfect canines. Your ego is

Aroused and you agree, despite

Yourself, that your biggest strength

Is your vulnerability. He gifts you

Brene Brown’s ‘Daring Greatly’

As bedside reading. Bin it. Get

Gavin de Becker’s ‘Gift of Fear’

On your nightstand—now. You

Realise he has a subtext. Rest

Assured he wants to soothe you

To sleep with those big manly

Hands. And a pillow. Over your face.

Five: Ask to meet his family and


He’s elusive. He wants you all

To himself. All his friends are

Creeps and perverts anyway.

He’ll show you off to them later,

When you’re exclusive: in a snuff

Movie on the dark web. He’s sorry

He can’t make brunch with the

Girls. His mother is sick and he’s

All she’s got. He’s moving her in

Piece by piece and her old bones

Need to settle, he jokes, mimicking

Her fixed grin and gritted teeth.

He’s thinking Mommie dearest will

Be quite at home: strung on piano

Wire, alongside his trophy wife.

Six: You’ve got keys to his castle but his

Man-cave is off-limits.

It’s aroused your Nancy Drew instinct

To snoop. It’s how he snared the others.

Be like me in the Original Grimm.

Not the Perrault remake: go armed

And take backup. You’ll have a

Clarice Starling moment with the

Dead girls. But I hate magic realism

So they won’t come alive again.

Shoot him dead and torch the place.

Leave town. Dodge the cops.

Don’t be a ‘Thelma and Louise’

Cliche; so dump that flaky friend.

Grift that hustler. No cliffhanger

Endings please. Enjoy a road

Trip with Jimmy instead.

Seven: Trust me on this: my story

Is your survival manual!

If you’d rather take a man’s word

For it; wise-up like Einstein, and re-

Read your fairytales. Not Disney;

Patriarchy is a plot-twister and

Casts you as victim. No hero will

Save you. He’ll just blame you for

Being a woman. Old tales are retold

As urban myths; scary woods are

Concrete jungles and wolves lurk

In the friend-zone. The terrain has

Had a makeover but you’re still

Alone in the shadows. You don’t

Have a magic doll in your pocket

Anymore. You cast her aside as

You outgrew fairytales. Perhaps

You still hear her whisper that

Her story is yours, too.


Kate Meyer-Currey lives in Devon. A varied career in frontline settings has fuelled her interest in gritty urbanism, contrasted with a rural upbringing, often with a slipstream twist. She has over a hundred poems published in print and online journals and anthologies in the UK and internationally. Her poem "Gloves" was in the top 100 of the UK’s Poetry for Good competition (2021) and "We got this" was shortlisted for the 2021 Black in White poetry competition. "Boys of Vallance Road" came third in the poetry category of the London Society’s Love Letter to London competition (March 2022). Her chapbooks County Lines (Dancing Girl) and Cuckoo’s Nest (Contraband) are due out in 2022.

Publications include: "Family Landscape: Colchester 1957" (Not Very Quiet, 2020), "Invocation" (Whimsical Poet, 2021), "Dulle Griet", "Scold’s Bridle", "Reconnaissance" (RavenCageZine, 2021), "Fear the reaper" (Red Wolf Journal, 2021), "Stream: Timberscombe" (A River of Poems, 2021), "Not so starry night" (SheSpeaks, 2021), "Dimpsey" (Snapdragon, 2021), "Mask" (Disquiet Arts, 2021), "Magnolia Stellata" (Constellations, Literary North, 2021), "Challenge" (Poetry and Covid, March 2021), "Scorpio rising" (Noctivagant Press, April 2021), "Scrapheap Challenge" (Handyuncappedpen, April 2021), "Scrubber in PPE", (Skirting Around, April 2021), "New perspective" (Planisphere HQ, April 2021), "Daffs" (Blue Heron Review, April 2021), "Hilly Fields", (Pure Slush, Lifespan Vol 2, April 2021), "Supplication to the Morrigan, Wolf Ridge" (Quail Bell, April 2021), "Kintsugi" (Aurora, Kira Kira, May 2021), "Dregs" (Seinundwerden, May 2021), "Trigger" (Collateral, May 2021), "Minimum credula postero" (Ponder Savant, May 2021), "Palisade: Seville Oranges, December" (Odyssey, May 2021), "Morning: A38", "Sunflowers", "Devon Autumn", "Dawn Chorus", "Colours of Stars" (Bloom, May 2021), "Rude awakening" (Granfalloon: A Speculative Fiction Zine, June 2021), "Restless" (Open Door, June 2021), "Purple Jellyfish Shirt" (Mono, June 2021), "Re-emergence" (Her Inside: Women in the Lockdown, June 2021), "Wolf Ridge", "Infinitesimal (1-3)", Dregs" (Poetica Review, June 2021), "Summit and depths", "Hawthorns", (Deep Overstock, June 2021).

Author's note

Both these poems could be described as an intersectional feminist reworking of traditional fairy tales. I was a historian long before I became a poet and take an active interest in current ideas: hence the stylistic reference to articles on Pinterest, for example.

I was sparked by a Radio 4 broadcast on how traditional fairytales were reworked by feminist theory. I discovered that seventeenth century patriarchy (aka Charles Perrault) had sanitised tales like Bluebeard to make the female protagonists passive rather than agents of their own survival. This was in sharp contrast to the reality which underpins folk tales: short lives, child mortality, step-parents, war and starvation (to name but a few). These tales were survival manuals, if you will.

I was born in 1969 and have lived through the realisation society has recently had to accept: that "boys will be boys" means abuse, predation and murder. Savile, Weinstein, Epstein, MeToo, plus institutional misogyny in the UK police force (highlighted by Sarah Everard’s killing last year) tell us that this is wrong on all counts. Never mind internet dating as a new playground for predators.

I have read texts like De Becker’s Gift of Fear which analyse how women’s social conditioning to be pleasant and compliant made them unwitting victims. It made sense to me (backed up by time working in prisons and forensic units). A lot of Hollywood romances feature stalkers as leading men…

I wanted to challenge these assumptions by reminding everyone (not just women) to use their wits and trust their guts in unfamiliar situations because it might just save their life or get them out of a tricky situation. I apologise to fans of Thelma and Louise, but the ending has always bothered me. These poems are my solution to this problem: how do you commit a felony and escape alive with your man?