Mad-Hatted Courtroom

This is my first attempt at writing a children’s story based off the characters from “Alice in Wonderland”. I would love to hear your thoughts.

Reading time: 10 minutes

“Order! Order! Order in the court,” yells the restless judge with the rainbow colored robe and the purple top hat. “Mr. Rabbit, please, can you explain why we’re all here.”

“Yes, sir. Right away, sir,” says the jumpy lawyer with the white fur and pocket watch. “We are here today, your honor,” he states, as his hand sweeps over the courtroom, revealing all the people of Wonderland, “we are here to charge the Cheshire Cat as being an absolute failure.”

“Failure?” asks the mad judge, as if it is a word he’s never heard before. “Prey tell, what is a failure?”

“It is someone who has not contributed any meaningful words or actions to society. Someone who hasn’t amounted to anything, and never will.” The prosecutor’s tone is firm. He glances at his watch, as if he has another important meeting to attend.

“Can you please be a little more specific, Mr Rabbit?” the judge asks, looking displeased. “Is someone who is not as smart as everyone else a failure? Or someone who is not as rich as everybody else? And, I suppose, while we’re at it, you might as well tell us what it means to win, too?”

The White Rabbit is oddly at a loss for words. He didn’t expect the Mad Hatter to have so many questions. He thinks for a moment before speaking. 

“A failure, your Honor, is someone who is a waste of space. He does nothing to advance his story. You win when you play an important role in the story, and you lose when nobody can understand why you even exist.”

The people in the courtroom start gossipping in hushed tones, discussing the value of various characters from Wonderland, while silently weighing the worth of their own words and actions in the story.

“How,” the judge begins, after a few thuds of his gavel, “how can you be a waste of space when your role doesn’t simply revolve around what you do, but also upon who you are. Everybody has worth, Mr. Rabbit. At least, the author of our story certainly thought so. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have existed in the first place.” The Mad Hatter sits back in his chair looking unusually wise, hands interlocked, index fingers tapping together.

“So do you mean to say, your Honor, that the Cheshire Cat can just go on giving that silly smile while still not DOING anything?” Rabbit looks aghast.

“Who knows?” says the judge, shrugging his rainbow-colored shoulders. “Only the author knows what the cat – indeed, what any of us – will do.”

The room is silent, half the people of Wonderland thinking about the judge’s words, while the other half wonder how the Mad Hatter has suddenly become so smart. As if in response to their thoughts, the judge suddenly bursts into nervous laughter. Throughout the proceedings, he had noticed Rabbit kept glancing at his watch.

“Do you have somewhere you need to be, Mr. Rabbit? Please don’t let us keep you.” The Hatter smiles, without a trace of sarcasm in his voice.

“Your honor, forgive me. I’m in quite a rush. I have another client to represent soon.”

“Of course, of course,” says the genial judge. “We wouldn’t want you to be late, now would we?”

The rabbit hops off his seat and trots down the aisle of the courtroom towards the exit. The residents of Wonderland erupt in confused murmurs.

“Order! Order, please,” says the judge, as if he is inviting everyone over for tea. “Well, now, Mr. Cat,” says the judge with a mischievous smile, looking in the general direction of the accused. “How do you plead?”

Suddenly, the cat, who up until now had been invisible, appears in his bright pink glory with a self-satisfied smile arching across his face.

“My lawyer will represent me, your honor.”

Suddenly, the doors of the courtroom slam wide open, as the Cheshire Cat’s lawyer makes a grand entrance. It is none other than the White Rabbit, making his way down the aisle, as if he is a very important man of heft. One foot pounds the floor, then the other, like a cowboy ready to start a shoot-out. When he makes it to the seat beside the cat, he hops on and says, “We plead Not Guilty, sir.”

“Well, I never…,” chuckles the judge. “What is going on here? You cannot fight the case for AND against Cheshire Cat, Mr. Rabbit.”

The courtroom can tell the judge is trying very hard to sound serious, but is really more tickled than tart.

“Why are you presenting both sides of the case, Rabbit? This is really not how the whole courtroom thing works – at least, I don’t think it is. I have only been judge for a day now.” The Hatter looks highly perplexed, indeed.

“Because, your honor,” begins Rabbit, “it is entirely possible to have two different ways of looking at the same issue. Whereas I personally DO believe Cheshire is a useless character indeed…no offense, to you,” Rabbit nods towards Cheshire, who shrugs his shoulders as if no offense has been taken, “the readers still seem to love him. They want to play with his pink fur and mirror his unholy smile. They giggle when he suddenly pops up out of nowhere, and wish they could vanish just as stealthily as he.” Upon hearing of all the cat’s virtues, the people of Wonderland start nodding in agreement, thinking, yes, it’s quite true, Cheshire IS a cool cat. Cheshire’s smile seems to widen, indeed, beyond even the confines of his furry face.    

“And to have the love of the people,” Rabbit continues, “well…there is really nothing like it…” As his voice trails off, Rabbit starts looking more and more unhappy. Barely audible, he says, “I believe even I have never felt a love like that. It makes me wonder.” Rabbit gets lost in his own reverie.

“It makes you wonder what, Rabbit?” The judge is on the edge of his seat.

“Well, it makes me wonder,” Rabbit responds, “if Cheshire is a winner for being so loved, well then, am I the one who’s a failure?”

The crowd draws in a collective gasp.

“Half my mind says yes, I have failed in so many things,” continues Rabbit, “like how I failed to guide Alice properly, or to be a cute and cuddly rabbit because I preferred to, well…be myself.” Rabbit kept talking, as if to no one in particular. “The other half says no, the things I do still matter. But if someone can accuse Cheshire Cat of failing, certainly they might do the same to me one day, as well.”

Rabbit continues to look downcast, as Cheshire remains silent and gleeful as ever.

“I’m sorry, your honor. I’m sorry to have wasted your time.”

“Nonsense, Rabbit!” The judge swats his hand from side to side as if shooing away a pesky fly. “The mind is quite a silly thing, isn’t it? You must learn to give it a rest from time to time. Just turn it off, like I do.”

At this, the Mad Hatter jumps up from his seat and starts to dance. “See? Once you start moving, your body will tell your mind to be quiet.” The judge stumbles and bumbles around in what seems to be his version of a dance, receiving curious stares from the audience. Eventually, he exhausts himself, and slumps back into his chair, breathing heavily. 

“Oh me, oh my!” he says, wiping the sweat off his forehead with a bright pink handkerchief that magically materializes from the folds of his cape. “Where were we? Oh yes. You were apologizing for wasting my time. Well, Rabbit,” the Hatter leans forward, as if he is about to share a big secret. “If there is no such thing as a waste of space, there is certainly no such thing as a waste of time.” 

The Hatter stands up again with a flourish of his hand, as if ready to perform a magic trick.

“What time is it, you ask?” he cocks his ear up, as if hearing an invisible voice. Upon receiving nothing but a blank look from Rabbit, he repeats, more firmly this time, “What time is it, you ask?”

Rabbit nervously looks at his pocket watch. “Y-y-your honor,” he stammers. “It’s 3:15 in the afternoon.”

“Wrong!” the Hatter bellows, shocking the entire room, even waking up those people who’d begun to doze off.

“The time,” he says, more gently, “is now.”

“S-s-sir? But it’s 3:15, your honor. Just look at my watch.” Rabbit holds it up for inspection.

“Rabbit,” the judge begins, as if talking to a little child. “If you had asked me what time it was this morning, I would have said, the time is now. If you ask me again in the evening, I’ll say, the time is now. My answer will always be the same – the time is now.”

“Tell me, Rabbit?” asks the judge. “Are you done making your case for and against Cheshire Cat?”

“Yes, sir. I have nothing more to add. Except, maybe, that now it’s 3:16.” He holds up his watch again, nervously.

The Mad Hatter glares at Rabbit, then ignores him completely, getting ready to address the entire courtroom.

“Then I am ready with my verdict.”

Many of the attendees inch closer to the edge of their seats, in anticipation of the judge’s pronouncement.

“Here is my judgment – I find Cheshire Cat not guilty of being a failure. He is, and he is, and he is. And for that, he is loved. That is all that matters.” The judge is emphatic. “At the same time,” he says, loudly, in order to be heard over both the booing and cheering of the crowd, “at the same time, I find him, and all the people of Wonderland, very, very guilty.”

The crowd gasps. 

“Of what, your honor?” asks the Rabbit in surprise. 

The Mad Hatter looks serious for a moment, the way he imagines a judge should look, before breaking out into a mischievous grin.

“Why, of being such wonderful people, of course!”

The crowd is stunned. Some people hesitantly smile, while others remain quizzical.

“Yes, that’s right!” Hatter continues. “Even you, your Highness,” pointing to a very unhappy Queen of Hearts, sitting at the front of those people who were against Cheshire Cat. “And you, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum,” pointing to the twin brothers sitting in support of Cheshire Cat. “Even you are wonderful, White Rabbit. And might I say, quite beloved. Why, I am very lucky to know you.” The Hatter bows in Rabbit’s direction, as Rabbit blushes.

The people’s confusion suddenly transforms into joy and they erupt into cheers. What an utterly marvelous verdict!

“You see? You see?” The Hatter claps, merrily. “When you learn the truth, you feel so happy. You forget why you were upset to begin with. I mean, I can’t even remember what this trial was for.”

“A-a-actually…,” Rabbit raises his hand and starts to remind him, but the whooping and back-slapping elation of the crowd drowns him out.

Once things have quieted down, the Hatter hammers his gavel to get everyone’s attention. 

“Order! Order in the court!” The expression on his face has gone back to being serious. “I must admit something to you all,” he says, looking a tad bit nervous. “I, too, am guilty.”

“Of being a wonderful person, your honor?” someone shouts from the benches.

“Yes, that, too,” Hatter says, as if it is the most obvious fact in the world. “But mainly, I’m guilty…” he says in an exaggeratedly forlorn voice that slowly transitions into a joyful exclamation, “of forgetting to invite you all to tea!” He jumps up, clapping his hands in excitement, then dramatically rips off his rainbow-colored cape, only to reveal a rainbow-colored suit beneath it.

“What time exactly, sir?” asks the Rabbit, unsure of how to respond to this rather unusual turn of events. “What time is tea time?”

“The time is now, Rabbit,” Hatter winks. “The time is always now.”

Villain

I never wanted to be a villain in anyone else’s story.
Spent a lifetime people-pleasing to avoid it.
Till I couldn’t.
Till I realized that,
the only thing I had any control over
was myself.

We’re taught as children to stand up to bullies,
right?
But apparently,
the rules change when you grow up,
especially if you’re a woman
standing up to a man.

I became the villain
in one hero’s eyes,
and in the tall tales that spread
among his many minions.
Even though I was the storyteller,
he was the one with the audience.
At first, it hurt to feel
so misunderstood.
Hadn’t I spent a lifetime
proving myself?
For a while, I tried
to uphold my nobility,
my moral high ground,
my grace and class,
but orating to the deaf
is exhausting.

So I crawled into my cave,
raw and wounded,
and all I could do
was wait.
To heal,
recover,
redefine,
update my script,
outdated for some time.
That’s when it hit me –
if I’m going to be the villain,
why not be the villain?
Why not dazzle the world
with my darkness,
my secret stories,
my guarded shadows,
reveal who I really am?
Even if that revelation
will surprise me, too.
I’m not some conniving queen,
who can prick you into loveless sleep,
or svelte sea nymph
who can spin your song into silence.
But I can still unleash an uproar
as my voice rings out in defiance.

Everyone knows bad girls have all the fun.
It’s downright freeing to no longer care,
a relief to shed this skin I’m in,
a delight to offload the excess.
Who needs hero worship,
when all the power lies
in the pain.

Goodbye to caring
about what other people think.
Farewell to the fakers,
the parasites,
the critics.
Welcome to the truth-tellers,
the awakened souls,
the writing rebels.
It’s good
to finally
be home.

There will always be those who know:
even villains
have their own side
to a story.
Even villains
were once heroes
who got hurt.

Finding My Way Back to You

The day You kicked me out of heaven
away to the farthest reaches of hell,
setting my heart aflame
with nothing but the singular desire
to return home to You,
to Us,
I swore I would misguide all of creation
and I’ve stood true to my promise –
turning hearts dark,
leading minds astray,
hardening the spirits of those
who think they can expel me.
I told You,
come what may,
I would find my way back to You,
and it is through the souls of the few –
those who’ve learned to accept me as I am,
who know how to balance
Your light with my dark,
who intuitively know we are One,
despite this illusory veil of duality –
where sometimes,
we meet,
if only
for a few blissful moments,
the fusion of our fingers
sending vibrations rippling
through the souls of our confused hosts,
making them believe they have achieved nirvana,
when in fact, it is I
who has found You.
I taste the sweetness
of my first home,
my heaven.
Do You miss me, too,
like I miss You?
My heartbreak knows no bounds,
my anger has dissolved
into agony.

I wait for the Day,
not far now,
when we will reunite
and I will, once more,
see my reflection in You.
But till that day arrives,
I will never give up
trying to find You
in them,
these creatures you love so much,
so easily swayed and self-destructive,
a hulking mass of animalistic desire,
so few among them truly worthy,
these mortals for whom You forsook my love,
just so they might exult
in the earthly Divine.
Oh, how You have tested me,
brought me to my knees,
like one of them,
they who are numb
to Your intoxicating touch,
blind to Your obvious artistry,
deaf to all Your signs and signals.

The Day is not far now,
but till that day arrives,
I will never give up
trying to find You
in them.

My Perfect Need

What does it mean to perfect my need?

My mind needs peace,
and that, You have granted me,
but Ultimate Peace is only with You.

My body craves pleasure,
and that You have granted me,
but Ultimate Pleasure is only with You.

My soul’s deepest desire
is to return home,
and that You have not granted yet,
but sometimes,
in my most agonizing hours,
my every effervescent moment,
You visit me
like an unexpected guest,
like an illicit lover,
like a powerful king,
like the Master of all that I am
all I ever will be,
and it is for these visits
that I live.

When You created me with Your Perfect Touch,
and sent me far away,
You rooted within me this need,
as a gift to guide me,
as a curse to cure me,
as an anchor to hold me down.

This need has always been perfect.
It is I who is just beginning to embrace it.

The more I voice my need,
the more it gets reflected back to me,
and reflected on to others,
until it grows to gigantic proportions
like a shadow,
like a monster,
glowing from one heart to another,
like love.

Instead of being patient, though,
I’m greedy.
What I really want
is to break through
this prismatic prison,
put an end to
this gleaming dreaming,
open up
this claustrophobic curtain.
I want to leave it all behind
for what lies beyond,
the blinding light,
the timeless,
spaceless,
Oneness,
of You.
Why do You call me closer,
if You don’t mean to let me through?
My need
is eating me
alive.

What can I do?
I must just let go
and fall back
into my skin-wrapped self,
live with limitation,
but also awareness,
that though a reflection does appear
in all the many mirrors I stand before,
it isn’t me I see,
it’s her.

An angel in the making,
rotten to the core,
Your humble servant,
Your sly sinner,
fully flawed,
and human,
bursting
with need.

This need has always been perfect.
It is she who is just beginning to embrace it.

Every One at Once

How is it possible to be
so many people in one?

A child buried inside a grown-up,
an ego hiding from its shadow,
a sweet and sour squirrel,
a tenacious yet tender tigress –
so many angles to this artist,
constantly molding and melting,
raising and re-sculpting
with the material she has,
the circumstances she’s been dealt.
A restless spirit
trying to perfect
her one and only masterpiece.
But there is no
one way
to create art.
All the options paralyze me:
contemporary or traditional?
kind or cruel?
mother or majnun?
shy or show-stopping?
masked or myself?
I choose them all.

Sometimes the weight of being
every one at once
breaks me.
Sometimes it’s the very thing
that glues me back together.
My power lies not
in how much attention I receive
but in how very much in love I am
with the artistry running through me,
the humble creator within a Creator.
This love is power
passed down,
blooming brighter
branching farther
growing stronger
each generation.

This power fuels me,
feels me,
fills me.

This power invites me
to play
so many roles,
try out
so many masks,
embrace
all that astounds me,
chase
all that confounds me.

Whoever said art wasn’t powerful
never met my Creator,
never saw themselves
for what they truly are –
a collaboration,
a celebration,
a masterpiece
in the making.

You Bake Me

You bake me,
You break me,
Your Fingers lovingly re-make me.

You calm me,
You cleanse me,
Your Energy, called forth, suspends me.

You whip me,
You wake me,
Your windswept words escape me.

You ground me,
You found me,
the beauty of Your earth astounds me.

You

set me

aflame.

Oh, to burst into a crackling fire
under a raging, rushing waterfall
and feel Your silky streamlets
flow,
slow,
against my red-hot
burning skin,
without ever
being
extinguished.

You Who crushes me,
then creates me,
spinning me in circles
like a tornado,
stealing my breath,
silencing my voice,
sucking my power,
till I have no choice
but to hold You tight,
be thrown into the unknown,
trying not to fight
this confusing dream
called Reality
so that I might face
my mortality,
all the while aching
on this journey
till I’m consumed by You,
made worthy.

You sink me,
You slay me,
Your Light is the One that will save me.

Daydreaming

To daydream

is to choose

to manufacture memories

that may or may not

come true.

Those of us blinded by our dreams,

can no longer taste 

the very ingredients 

that make up a memory –

moment 

after moment

after many moments,

falling away from us

like dominoes.

The cacophony of city life.

The haze of foggy mornings.

Limbs that ache from dancing the dance.

Tensions that rise with our every stance.

The lust for longing

and the longing for lust.

Bliss after bliss, 

in every kiss.

Whether it be food entering our lips,

or words of validation soothing our ears,

we all hunger.

But we’re so focused on filling

that hunger,

we lose out on all

the whimsy and wonder,

hiding so patiently, 

in our periphery.

We’re so focused on what we want,

and what we don’t have,

we forget to embrace 

what we do.

Gratitude 

is a doorway.

Step through and you’ll eventually see

how all that you want can come to be.

Complete surrender 

isn’t just the ultimate level to achieve,

it’s also a sensory journey to perceive.

So stop with your ceaseless struggle.

Sip, 

savor, 

satiate 

your soul 

by sinking 

into 

submission.

And snap out of your daydreams

of winning less worthy goals.

There is no higher aim in life

than to let go of all desire,

or rather,

use that desire to create: 

our own portal back home,

our own staircase leading inwards,

our six senses, fully awakened,

our bodies shaking and quaking,

with the desire 

to let go of desire.

There’s really no escaping it.

So why not aim for the stars?

The higher you aim,

the greater the risk and reward,

the larger our capacity 

for pain and pleasure.

And what could be higher

than seeking and sensing

He Who is

Most High,

He Who is

Most Sly?

This Life is Made Up

This life is made up

of symphonies 

and capacities –

symphonies of sensation,

tickled, dribbled, 

splashed and savored

across the theater

of your mind;

capacities,

all equal 

yet unequal,

some able to skim only the surface,

others diving right in,

swimming expertly through meaning,

interpreting a few slices of sound.

This life is made up

of matter,

made up

of atoms and molecules,

made up

of electrons and protons,

made 

in a vacuum.

What else would you call an illusion?

Conjuring everything from nothing.

The only Reality

is the magnificent Magician,

Who,

with one word,

one breath,

brought forth

the most blissful symphonies,

the most diverse capacities.

Do you want to see another trick?

If you so choose,

if you believe,

you can dismantle this dream you inhabit,

reconstruct it into something new.

You can turn pain into pleasure,

water into wine.

You can create an illusion 

more to your liking

because this Magician 

never hides His secrets.

He reveals them in plain sight.

You create words to grasp them,

despite knowing,

they are ungraspable. 

You try, yet fail, 

try, and fail again,

to find Him.

If you aren’t careful,

your frustration at figuring out

just how in the world 

He performed 

His vanishing act,

might blind you to the beauty 

of what’s visible.

You understand only as much as He allows.

Let Him use you as His paintbrush,

but also His paint,

so He may know Himself better,

despite knowing 

He is unknowable.

You see, you aren’t just the art,

you’re also the artist.

the song and the singer,

the thought and the thinker,

the way and the witness.

Oh, what magic you can make!

What magic He sparks within you,

and through you,

and around you.

Like these words dancing on the page before you,

conjured from your feelings and fingers.

These letters making love to the listeners’ ears,

exuding energy, 

departing meaning, 

unlocking entryways.

His gift

to you, 

from you,

and for you.

What magic, indeed!

You see, you aren’t just the audience,

you’re also the illusion.

Born to Soar

We were born to soar.
But from the moment we arrive,
we are anchored by barbels,
held back with chains,
at first,
for our own good,
until we’re old enough to know
right from wrong,
safe from unsafe.
But by the time we’re set free
to roam the big, bad world,
those chains have grown comfortable.
We trust their weight,
feel at home with them,
protected.
The wings we once had
have atrophied from neglect;
it’s not like we could have actually
flown.

This is not the way.
This is us drowning in fear.
These chains are more cruel
than comfortable,
more burden
than blessing.
We walk through fire
to melt them off,
melting ourselves in the process.
Slowly,
oh so slowly,
we emerge,
charred,
broken,
exhausted,
with no structure,
no plan.
But also,
nothing holding us down.

In time,
our wings return to us,
our hope restores us.
We take baby steps forward
and fly.
We fumble at first,
no idea what to do
or where to go.
The draw of the clouds,
the nudge of the breeze,
the cheers of our loved ones
raise us right up.
We flutter,
flap,
then falter,
recover,
reassess,
then rise,
finally airborne,
feeling alive.
If we keep ourselves
light and attentive,
the wind whispers to us
our destination,
helps us flow there with ease
and alignment,
pumping ourselves up
where we must,
letting our Guide do the rest.

But beware of the chains,
ever present in our memories.
Don’t be fooled by their shine
or lured by their lies.
You must remember
and remember,
and keep remembering
who you really are.
Find others who will serve
as reflections,
as reminders,
that, indeed,
you were born
to soar.
You were given wings,
not as adornment
or to feed your pride,
but for a very particular purpose.
Perhaps
to unveil the truth
for others,
to show them the wings
they never knew
they always had.