by Jan Steckel

The frog prince used to read Pynchon
in the bath while devil duckies held court.
Overhead hung a bicycle of Damocles.

That Jungian Quebecois therapist of his
showed up just in time to be his psychopomp,
guide his soul across the river.

Spooky, how the psychologist’s
smile radiated as he whispered
in the dying man’s ear.

What did he say? “Go toward the light.
This is the last visit Medicare will pay for.”
The man stopped breathing that same hour.

His hand lay in his lover’s, the way
he had wanted it. The way she had wanted it.
Peaceful. Luminous. Numinous.

The therapist drove her home.
She fed the cat, gave it the dead man’s
hospital gown to sniff.

The woman lay down in the lily pad
where the man’s body had lain.
His pillow smelled like rain.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Death of the Frog Prince” is based on the Brothers Grimm tale of The Frog Prince and his princess.

IMAGE: “The Frog Prince” by Maria Pace-Wynters. Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jan Steckel’s full-length poetry book, The Horizontal Poet (Zeitgeist Press, 2011), won a 2012 Lambda Literary Award. Her story Mixing Tracks (Gertrude Press, 2009) won the Gertrude Press fiction chapbook award. Her chapbook The Underwater Hospital (Zeitgeist Press, 2006) was voted First Place in the lesbian and bisexual poetry division of the Rainbow Awards. Her creative writing has appeared in Scholastic Magazine, Yale Medicine, Bellevue Literary Review, Red Rock Review, The Pedestal Magazine, and elsewhere. Her work has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize. Her short story collection Ghosts and Oceans is seeking a publisher.