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Poem by Theodore Roethke


My Papa's Waltz


The whiskey on your breath 
Could make a small boy dizzy; 
But I hung on like death: 
Such waltzing was not easy.

We romped until the pans 
Slid from the kitchen shelf; 
My mother's countenance 
Could not unfrown itself.

The hand that held my wrist 
Was battered on one knuckle; 
At every step you missed
My right ear scraped a buckle.

You beat time on my head
With a palm caked hard by dirt,
Then waltzed me off to bed
Still clinging to your shirt.



Theodore Roethke


Theodore Roethke's other poems:
  1. Dolor
  2. The Small
  3. The Waking


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