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Paul Laurence Dunbar

(1872-1906 / Ohio / United States)

The Made to Order Smile


When a woman looks up at you with a twist about her eyes,
And her brows are half uplifted in a nicely feigned surprise
As you breathe some pretty sentence, though she hates you all the while,
She is very apt to stun you with a made to order smile.

It's a sublte combination of a sneer and a caress,
With a dash of warmth thrown in to relieve its iciness,
And she greets you when she meets you with that look as if a file
Had been used to fix and fashion out the made to order smile.

I confess that I'm eccentric and am not a woman's man,
For they seem to be constructed on the bunko fakir plan,
And it somehow sets me thinking that her heart is full of guile
When a woman looks up at me with a made to order smile.

Now, all maidens, young and aged, hear the lesson I would teach:
Ye who meet us in the ballroom, ye who meet us at the beach,
Pray consent to try and charm us by some other sort of wile
And relieve us from the burden of that made to order smile.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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