Returning to the Land of 1,000 Dances

It's brutal how I've missed your shout and twist,
your Sallies Mustang, Sallies tall and long.
Your Checker chubby, your Locomotion,
your Potato mashed and Pony broken.
Dear country, how I have longed to get down
and dirty. I'm no Fred, you're no Ginger.

Your boots weren't made for waltzing gingerly,
and we don't garnish rotgut with a twist.
How I've missed our country ways. Let's go down
to Harvey's Moon, where I've been gone so long
some jerk bumped my score from the now-broken
pinball game. I've always loved the motion

perpetual, the whiplash emotion
of finger on flipper, the fizz ginger
makes with gin, bottle spun till it's broken.
One kiss, my dear country, and please don't twist
away. Inside the bunker all along
it was you I dreamed of—hunkering down

as shit pooled at our feet, as shells rained down,
my trigger finger the only motion—
it was you. While the other grunts had long
debates over Mary Ann or Ginger
I reached for the dip of your back, the twist
of your hip, and a beat never broken.

Don't wait until hallowed ground needs breaking
to call me up. I've laid my shovel down
anyway, giving the dirt one last twist.
I came home for an earthier motion
and my dear, I don't mean farming ginger.
Every life is a thousand dances long

and the horizontal ones all belong
to you. Before the record sounds broken:
Move with me. A house of bread and ginger
awaits us but before we settle down,
before it's all going through the motions,
put on a skirt, put your hair in a twist,

wear a parachute. It's a long way down—
The Yo-Yo, broken. The Jerk in motion.
We Ginger and Chicken, we turn and twist.

~by Sandra Beasley



red dirt girl said...

now quick, don't PEEK!
how many times did the poet use the word 'twist'?

soubriquet said...

once, i think, turn and twist.

soubriquet said...

oh bum.

goatman said...

Mustang Sally indeed. I once heard a gal shout this out at the Hot Springs, Arkansas and the roof raised a bit off of its trusses!

I take it the poem is by a female soldier. I never have been able to understand this, y'all are supposed to have more sense than to fight. Maybe a necessary option for her to survive; but a hard option it is.
Quick don't peek! how many emotions does this poem evoke?

War poetry does bring out the best of extreme emotion and expression. A dangerous muse.

Thanks for posting this, I was taken . . .

soubriquet said...

I'd say the narrator is a male soldier as imagined by the female poet.

I was ambushed by that twist though. How was I to know it appears in every verse?

red dirt girl said...

Hi Goatman! I like your 'feminine' point of view. I had assumed that the 'voice' was male though the poet, female. Maybe because of the Mary Ann/ Ginger debate. Now that I think about it, I've been asked before Mary Ann or Ginger (I choose Ginger. I longed for her glamour!) You have me on emotions-they turn and twist so rapidly through this poem. I was caught up in the dancing and then WHAM! I'm in the trenches with a hair trigger finger. It stunned me. I love the line Every life is a thousand dances long. Don't we all wish for parachutes ???
So happy you enjoyed. Thanks for your thoughts!

red dirt girl said...

Soubry - I thought the same: male soldier/ female poet. But it is fun to re-read with a female soldier's POV. Makes the poem even more twisty ... don't feel ambushed. It was a trick question. I only noticed twist after I had read it a dozen times!