If on a winter’s night a Rapunzel

You are about to begin reading my new poem,
If on a winter’s night a Rapunzel.
Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought.
Let the world around you fade.

If on a winter’s night a Rapunzel
Finds her long hair in strange loops entangled,
She sits down and starts writing a poem
To distract herself from this mess new-fangled.

The poem has fifteen verses,
The first of which just tells you
How many verses
Are there in this poem.

The second line of the second verse
Has eighteen letters,
While the fourth line is busy
Breaking the fourth wall.

This verse might be true,
But there is no way
That could be proved.
Or is there?

What if this verse was
About a hand
That wrote about how
It had written this verse?

Where this verse ends
There it begins,
Eight words – an octave – later,
Where this verse ends.

The sixth verse began well,
But Rapunzel forgot
To add its last line.

This verse is
The most important.
It’s also pretty pompous
You now realize.

This verse knows
You’re reading it right now.
It tries hard to not show it
But it fails.

This caption tells you nothing about the image.

Eight-and-a-half verses later
Rapunzel is afflicted with poet’s block.
All the verses look the same to her,
Like she’s written the same one eight times.

The verses are gamboling before her eyes,
Twining and twisting in snake-like motion
One of the verses seizes hold of its own tail
And the form whirls mockingly before her.

This verse might seem a bit familiar,
For Rapunzel’s an arrant thief,
And her pale fire she snatches
From the literary giants.

The second half of this verse
Is about the first half;
The first half
Is about the second.

The first line of this verse is unnecessarily, uncharacteristically long.
The next two, feeling inadequate, try to
Catch up. But the fourth doesn’t give
A damn.

Verse, ordered reverse, this
Would you read,
If read you would
This reverse-ordered verse.

The final verse
Poignantly ponders:
‘How much meta
Is too much meta?’

And somewhat satisfied
With the poem she’s made,
Rapunzel starts combing
Her eternal golden braid.

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