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(June 4th,1961...Gemini / Bronx, New York)

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To a debutante on her eightiegth birthday...

Now old, joints arthritic,
Skin callused and sagging
Like weathered eaves, dirty
Finger nails bitten and broken.

The loud parties are over,
But the wine stays with me
And the hangovers linger
Longer than the sweetened memories

A stroke has left my right side numb
The muscke spasms and involuntary shaking
these nerve ending earthquakes
shatter what’s left of my body

From the classic, choreographed grace
Of a young society girl,
Her hand, enticing a younger man
To kiss me when I wore a prettier face

Now, shamelessly, wearing clothes
I am too old for.
Walking into the bathroom,
I face the mirror.

And what remains.
Fumbling with my makeup,
I pick up a razor, and, slicing
my finger, unaware,

apply its ruby red gloss to my lips.

Submitted: Saturday, September 09, 2006
Edited: Saturday, September 04, 2010

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Comments about this poem (AFTER THE BALL......In two voices, Mother & Son by John Tansey )

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  • Bill Thomas (1/16/2009 1:11:00 PM)

    It's the ending, John - you're totally in control of where the poem's going, &, even though we can envision the lady, you still manage to punch us with those last three lines. Excellent.

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