Having received a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Western Washington University, the Chancellor, among his other duties, still exercises his artistic prowess in his favorite medium: poetry. Many individual pieces from his projects, such as his thesis involving postapocalyptic zombie free verse, and a joint venture with fellow graduate Joshua Young titled The Diegesis, have been published by various literary journals and presses.
Within The Diegesis, one small poem became the Duchess’s favorite:
the neighbors know her best for that time
she climbed onto the park bench on the fourth
and announced to the crowd on hand
that animals were just monsters we got used to.
so now whenever they pay her out
for babysitting their four-year-old
they never fail to remind her that (to them)
she’ll always be that little girl who thought
she knew something about monsters.
Being a lover of fairy tales, monsters, animals, and misunderstood children, the Duchess told the Chancellor that this poem lodged close to her heart, and encouraged him to start a new project, one based upon the larger story of the girl in the poem, The Girl Who Thought She Knew Something About Monsters.
The Chancellor liked the idea, and proceeded over the next couple years to write several poems about The Girl. He’d introduce The Boy, and a few more monsters, and use the real life events and media surrounding the Duchess and himself as topics for this chapbook series. He’d present a draft of a poem to the Duchess on special occasions—birthdays, anniversaries—and request her feedback. Several of the poems got published, and the Chancellor started to be even more creative in the way he presented the poems, hiding them in vitamin bottles or propping them on stuffed animals, so the Duchess grew to expect surprising venues in which the poems would be found and read.
Then, one Monday morning in late June 2015, when the Duchess had to wake up early to go to work, the Chancellor sat up in bed and requested an audience with the Duchess, a live recitation of his newest poem. The Duchess crankily wrested herself from sleep and gave her attention to the Chancellor, who proceeded to nervously read his latest text. When he had finished, the Duchess said, “That’s it! That’s the final one! It ties up all the questions left open by the previous poems. You’ve completed the series!”
That is when the boy proposed with the girl’s family’s heirloom diamond ring.
“Really??!!” said the girl, “It’s 6:00 a.m. on a Monday, I’m wearing a Trogdor T-shirt, and I have to work in two hours!”
“The first time you said you loved me was just before you went to work, in the wee hours of the morning,” the boy responded.
The girl pondered this romantic admission for a time, then responded, “What did my mom say when you asked for the ring?”
“She keeps a secret well,” said the boy.
“Oh, well then, okay. Yes,” said the girl.
(As you can now see, the girl possess a deep well of sentimental feeling in which small crocodiles often live.)
The two kept the secret of their engagement to themselves for a week, sending hand-written letters to their 90-year-old grandmothers to make sure they were the first to know instead of the last in the age of social media. A plan was then hatched to reveal the engagement to their parents, each plan appropriate to said parents’ lifestyle.
For the girl’s parents, she made a pie with blueberries spelling out the news, to be revealed at a Fourth of July camping trip amongst family friends. The plan almost failed when the Duchess’s mother decided to exercise her own regality, informing the Duchess that “she had legs and hands” and could take the tin foil off her own dessert. The Duchess’s wheedling eventually prompted the reluctant mother to uncover the pie, who then would have stomped away, but with a final “read it!” the mother then lost her words and cried, hopefully with joy. The father of the girl muttered “About time!” and celebratory whiskey was had by all.
The next day, the Chancellor would also surprise his parents by streaming a “photo of all the crabs” caught and eaten over the weekend on their Apple TV, a mode of storytelling common in the House of Hoppe. What really appeared on the screen was a photo of the pie. Again, a mother did a double-take and cried.
And then you all found out:
Several of the published poems from the Chancellor’s “girl poems” can be found online on the following websites:
The Chancellor still intends to have the full series published as a chapbook, but he admits the grander project of planning a wedding and designing its attendant materials have temporarily put this cause on hold.