Matthew Dickman


Slow Dance


SLOW DANCE



More than putting another man on the moon,
more than a New Year’s resolution of yogurt and yoga,
we need the opportunity to dance
with really exquisite strangers. A slow dance
between the couch and dinning room table, at the end
of the party, while the person we love has gone
to bring the car around
because it’s begun to rain and would break their heart
if any part of us got wet. A slow dance
to bring the evening home, to knock it out of the park. Two people
rocking back and forth like a buoy. Nothing extravagant.
A little music. An empty bottle of whiskey.
It’s a little like cheating. Your head resting
on his shoulder, your breath moving up his neck.
Your hands along her spine. Her hips
unfolding like a cotton napkin
and you begin to think about how all the stars in the sky
are dead. The my body
is talking to your body slow dance. The Unchained Melody,
Stairway to Heaven, power-cord slow dance. All my life
I’ve made mistakes. Small
and cruel. I made my plans.
I never arrived. I ate my food. I drank my wine.
The slow dance doesn’t care. It’s all kindness like children
before they turn four. Like being held in the arms
of my brother. The slow dance of siblings.
Two men in the middle of the room. When I dance with him,
one of my great loves, he is absolutely human,
and when he turns to dip me
or I step on his foot because we are both leading,
I know that one of us will die first and the other will suffer.
The slow dance of what’s to come
and the slow dance of insomnia
pouring across the floor like bath water.
When the woman I’m sleeping with
stands naked in the bathroom,
brushing her teeth, the slow dance of ritual is being spit
into the sink. There is no one to save us
because there is no need to be saved.
I’ve hurt you. I’ve loved you. I’ve mowed
the front yard. When the stranger wearing a shear white dress
covered in a million beads
comes toward me like an over-sexed chandelier suddenly come to life,
I take her hand in mine. I spin her out
and bring her in. This is the almond grove
in the dark slow dance.
It is what we should be doing right now. Scrapping
for joy. The haiku and honey. The orange and orangutang slow dance.

Submitted: Thursday, January 31, 2008

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  • Rookie Thomas H Jones (1/9/2013 3:51:00 PM)

    There are parts I love about this and parts that, well, deserve to be struck out with vehemence. It could be so much better if it wasn't so obviously in love with itself. This starts early with the phrase really exquisite strangers, and one wonders(1) whether strangers alone won't do and (2) whether what follows is really exquisite. Then there's absolutely human, or insomnia pouring across the floor like bath water or the slow dance of ritual is being spit into the sink (ok, but much better without of ritual since that's kinda the point of the poem anyway) or the triteness of There is no one to save us/because there is no need to be saved (at least strike because) or the blather of like an over-sexed chandelier suddenly come to life (how else would an over-sexed chandelier come to life except suddenly if it decided to come to life?) With all the simile thrown at the reader, it is hard to like this poem. Nevertheless, I do. But in its insistence on the really exquisite it fails to live up to its potential. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Alexander Smith (4/14/2010 11:36:00 PM)

    I absolutely love this poem and Matthew's entire collection that it appears in -
    All-American Poem,2008, Copper Canyon Press.
    I just picked it up at a book fair in Seattle, and it has quickly become one of my all-time favorites! My personal copy is dog-eared and sticky-tabbed. I like to read them aloud - these pieces are just absolutely beautiful, lyrical spoken word. Bravo, Matthew!

    My one problem with this online version is that there appear to be several errors in it, which you will note if you compare it to the printed version. Not just one or two errors, but about eight, and there is even an entire phrase inserted that does not belong. Someone should verify this.

    Alex (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 156 Points Marilyn Lott (1/31/2008 2:49:00 PM)

    I love this, Matthew! You had my imagination going all which ways.
    It got a ten from me!

    Marilyn (Report) Reply

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