Even Old Horses Mist Dance

From that bandstand where dance beat drums

the rules pound out: keep moving

 

Riders on an emptying ballroom floor

clutching one another, holding themselves up

 

To the music which repeats circus marches

tin horns flailing out their squawking beat

 

Mildred dropped out early.  I can’t she gasped

my ankles are killing me and she was right

 

There on the doorpost of her exit, the acronyms

for soul, for peace.  Horace wiped a tear with

 

A cloth snatched from a passing table, then married

his secretary for whom dancing was an obscene word

 

But, silent spectators, we heard the word, pushed back

our chairs and shuffled oom-pa-pa to each dismal waltz

 

Or slow fox trot, each in his own catalog of steps

Here, a brother, Simmie caught by a bullet in the war

 

There, Rosie, grandchildren trailing like ducklings, lifting

her petticoats to haul a water bucket, hardly remembering

 

Grandpa Jack who had dropped out years ago with a

head injury sustained while circling with mystics

 

Held high on two men’s shoulders he smashed into a

door frame but they went on dancing until sunrise

 

Aunts, uncles, cousins too young to leave the floor

as we watch them disappear, horses on a merry go round

 

Rising and falling in the morning mist, another empty

saddle and another as tin horns bleat

 

And the night runs out of ink

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© Johnmichael Simon

2007

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