poem index

A Starlit Dance

Dance related poems.
A Starlit Dance
My Papa's Waltz (audio only)
Theodore Roethke, 1908 - 1963


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A Starlit Dance
Blue Tango
Frazier Russell
Say it's the year of their courtship, 
your mother and father, 
in the ballroom of the Shoreham Hotel, 
summer 1952.

In this plush setting, 
the orchestra swells 
time and again to a tune 
always their favorite.

Any Friday night you could find them
on the dance floor.
He in tux and cummerbund. 
She in a black strapless, 
hem brushing the waxed wood 
as though it were a lilypad.

Surrounded on all sides by Jesuits 
and their débutante dates 
in crushed velvet, 
pearls around their necks 
like a load of light.

How you love to imagine
that somehow everyone in that room 
although a little tipsy
will get home safely
and fumble in love for their beds.

That the smoke from cigarettes 
ringing the room in red 
like hot coals is still rising.

Say somewhere birds lift off the lake
and it never gets light.
A Starlit Dance
Louis Simpson, 1923 - 2012
Uncle Bob prayed over the groom:
"Let him establish Kingdom principles."
Aunt Shirley prayed for the bride:
"Father, I pray an anointing on her."
"Love," said Reverend Philips,

"is insensitive, love is invalueless."
He said that we merger together
in holy matrimony,
and the choir burst into song:
"He waits for us, and waits for us."
Every day they went swimming in the pool
and rode the two water scooters.
They rented two deck chairs
and sat on the sand in the sun.
A breeze made the palm leaves whisper.

The sea is green close to shore,
further out it is blue.
The ship standing still on the horizon
makes you think of sailing away
forever with the one you love.
Jennifer ordered the roast beef platter.
Mike had the fish cakes.
"I thought you didn't like fish,"
she said. "Well," he said, "I guess you were wrong."
Tears came to her eyes. The honeymoon was over.

But then they went to their room
and everything was OK.
In the evening they went dancing
and stayed up late on the veranda
looking at the lights and the moon.
And you, hypocrite lecteur,
what makes you so superior?
A Starlit Dance
An Old Cracked Tune
Stanley Kunitz, 1905 - 2006
My name is Solomon Levi,
the desert is my home,
my mother's breast was thorny,
and father I had none.

The sands whispered, Be separate,
the stones taught me, Be hard.
I dance, for the joy of surviving,
on the edge of the road.  
A Starlit Dance
Blue or Green
James Galvin, 1951
We don't belong to each other.
		          We belong together.
	                                                                  Some poems 
belong together to prove the intentionality of subatomic particles.
Some poems eat with scissors.
                                                     Some poems are like kissing a 
                   God, by the way, is disappointed in some of your recent 
               Some poems swoop.
                                                   When she said my eyes were 
definitely blue, I said, How can you see that in the dark?
				      How can
you not? she said, and that was like some poems.
                                                                                  Some poems are 
blinded three times.
                                   Some poems go like death before dishonor.
Some poems go like the time she brought cherries to the movies; 
later a heedless picnic in her bed.
		                 Never revered I crumbs so
            Some poems have perfect posture, as if hanging by 
filaments from the sky. 
                                        Those poems walk like dancers, 
                      All poems are love poems.  
                                                                   Some poems are better off 
           Right now I want something I don't believe in.
A Starlit Dance
The Waltz We Were Born For
Walt McDonald, 1934
I never knew them all, just hummed
and thrummed my fingers with the radio,
driving five hundred miles to Austin.
Her arms held all the songs I needed.
Our boots kept time with fiddles
and the charming sobs of blondes,

the whine of steel guitars
sliding us down in deer-hide chairs
when jukebox music was over.
Sad music's on my mind tonight
in a jet high over Dallas, earphones
on channel five. A lonely singer,

dead, comes back to beg me,
swearing in my ears she's mine,
rhymes set to music that make
her lies seem true. She's gone
and others like her, leaving their songs
to haunt us. Letting down through clouds

I know who I'll find waiting at the gate,
the same woman faithful to my arms
as she was those nights in Austin
when the world seemed like a jukebox,
our boots able to dance forever,
our pockets full of coins.
A Starlit Dance
The Dance
Humberto Ak'Abal
All of us dance
on a cent's edge.

The poor—because they are poor—
lose their step,
and fall

and everyone else
falls on top.
A Starlit Dance
Latin & Soul
Victor Hernández Cruz, 1949
for Joe Bataan


some waves
                     a wave of now
                                               a trombone speaking to you
a piano is trying to break a molecule
is trying to lift the stage into orbit
around the red spotlights

a shadow
the shadows      of dancers
dancers     they are dancing    falling
out that space      made for dancing

they should dance
on the tables            they should
dance inside of their drinks
they should dance on the
ceiling they should dance/dance

thru universes
                          we are traveling

where are we going
if we only knew

with this rhythm    with
this banging     with     fire
with this     all    this    O
my god i wonder    where are
we going
           sink into a room full of laughter
           full of happiness     full of life
           those dancers
           the dancers
           are clapping their hands
           stomping their feet

hold back them tears
                                     all those sentimental stories
cooked uptown       if you can           hold it for after

we are going
                     beyond these wooden tables
                     beyond these red lights
                     beyond these rugs & paper
                     walls beyond way past
                     i mean way past them clouds
                     over the buildings    over the
                     rivers    over towns    over cities
                     like on rails   but faster   like
                     a train    but smoother
                     away past stars
                     bursting with drums.


a sudden misunderstanding
                                                a cloud
                                                full of grayness
a body thru a store window
                                                a hand reaching
                                                into the back
a scream
               a piano is talking to you
               thru all this
               why don't you answer it.
A Starlit Dance
A Peacock in Spring
Joyelle McSweeney
Makes derangéd love
To the muddy hill. Shoots of green knocked sideways
On a factory floor. Next to the stopflood
Retaining wall, sprung rhythm.  Just as
A center for Islamic banking
Furls green writing like a blooming branch across the screen, visible 
Pop-up ad of the market or 
green fuse. In a wiry flash,
A living goddess with a threefoot eye
Bends o'er her spreadflat copybook, contemplating a career at maths.
I've always been good at maths,
And how they multiply, and how they multiply, and how they
Lock in a pop-fly, snag the interface, shatter the salary cap,
Thwack. Into the tanned glove, a second piece
Of hide.  It's spring, tumors and mushroom caps pop-up, the avatar
Salary man can't muster himself to grope the 
Pixilated schoolgirl. Sad subways.
Before the Senate panel, the discredited chairman holds
You gotta keep on dancing
Keep on dancing
Keep on dancing til the music stops.  Amen, says the peacock,
Shifting his attentions now to the wall. He shrugs obscenely green,
Obscenely jewel-toned, obscenely neck-like,
An obscene grandeur and an obscene decadency,
A screen, a mask, a dance,
A thousand green-groping eyes. Lapse and bless
With your largesse, you antique
commode, you gossiping 
(And now a common bird launches itself at my window
A defunct grenade from Spring's blackmarket shouldermount
Because I do not know its name
And do not wish to watch it stagger from air to glass
I hear it re-enunciate
& grow increasingly garbled & go
On outside the 
poem that would be increasingly
inside, let me in.
Where my sleek unbidden brow breaks blood upon the panel, breaks
beads amid the streaks of let me 
in and let me in)
A Starlit Dance
Two Pages, 122 Words on Music and Dance
John Cage


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A Starlit Dance
David Budbill, 1940
we are
bones and ash, 
the roots of weeds
poking through
our skulls. 

simple clothes,
empty mind, 
full stomach,
alive, aware,
right here,
right now.

Drunk on music,
who needs wine?

Come on, 
let's go dancing
while we still 
have feet.