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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



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