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dVerse — Poetics: The charms of Samuel Greenberg — Requiem for an Aging Prima Donna

The Dancer, 1890 Painting by Pierre Carrier-Belleuse

Requiem for an Aging Prima Donna

Encore!” they bleed
Curtsied and ruffled,
Once royal flesh, now
Leotard callous kneed
Greasy painted mirth,
I bow my swanned head
in kinned animate dread.

Dwindled times chant
Wrinkles and sags
Wriggle and creep,
Seep from concealed
Lucid farrows,
Creases that won’t be
denied. Inside I weep.

Curtains sweep, velvet
hushed, slippered feet
Pid-pad scarred planks.
Trembled steel, I sway and
Wipe mirrored mirage away,
Aggrieved hag, I kiss bliss,
A syringed candle salve.

Morning’s cleaner finds a
Crumpled bag of bones,
Camisoled and flung, my
Arthritic bird claw frozen
Over trickling stemware.
A quiet squeaky gurney
To my final dressing room.

Pierre Carrier-Belleuse - Ballet Dancer with Black Cat - French 19thC  Impressionist portrait oil painting at 1stDibs

image 1:  “The Dancer,” 1890 painting by Pierre Carrier-Belleuse
image 2: “Ballet Dancer with Black Cat,” 1891 painting by Pierre Carrier-Belleuse

Laura is today’s host of dVerse. Laura says:
Your challenge is to take FIVE of these 21 ‘charms’ and string them together in a poem with style and word length of your choosing. You should read [Samuel Greenberg’s] whole poemThe pale Impromptuand must cite it in your post:

Dim Accuracy; Candle salve; Consumed moon;
Eyes jealousy; Fouls deviation; Grey life;
Hearts brow; Lucid farrows; Nulling marrows;
Painted mirth; Pale heat; Palmed rose;
Pearls from tissue; Pellucid quest; Royal flesh;
Skulls of saints; Slime pigments; Spiritual songs;
Solitudes wish; Times chant; Yellow dreams;

57 thoughts on “dVerse — Poetics: The charms of Samuel Greenberg — Requiem for an Aging Prima Donna

  1. A lovely requiem, Lisa! I haven’t read poetry about ballet for a long time and I love the pictures you chose to illustrate yours. I was drawn to the lines about wrinkles and creases, which are things that many of us are concerned with these days. I gasped at the lines:
    ‘Morning’s cleaner finds a
    Crumpled bag of bones,
    Camisoled and flung, my
    Arthritic bird claw frozen’.
    It reminded me of a piece of flash fiction I wrote back in 2016:
    https://writinginnorthnorfolk.com/dancing-with-shadows/

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So much beautiful imagery that leads up to the dancer’s demise. The comparisons between young and old, and how it all had changed for her. With leading up to her death, it made my stomach drop. The way you wrote this was as elegant itself like a dance. How beautifully written and solemn. I especially loved these lines:

    “A quiet squeaky gurney
    To my final dressing room.”

    The use of “final dressing room” is clever and emotional. Very beautifully penned and eloquent. ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely piece Lisa, lots of clever sounding add to the imagery – and Greenberg’s surrealist charms – ‘concealed / Lucid farrows’ – adds to the sense of the addled confusion of the ballerina at her last. (I always thought ballet was a crap art form that eats its best; at least if you’re a poet, you get to die of TB in a cold garret penniless and alone…)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love the fact that you gave us a coherent tale, and then sprinkled the dark spice of Greenberg’s spirit as needed. I could sense the line breaks implied, loved the internal rhymes, and the haunting loss that we artists must all one day confront. I loved Peter’s comment about we poets, who can lose our looks, our mobility, our treasures and still are capable of scrawling out poetic truth. I envision that on my death day, I will start an epic poem, and just stop mid-sentence and mid-message, just become three dots and a smudge of ink.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. kaykuala
    A quiet squeaky gurney
    To my final dressing room.

    She already had her day, just bidding her time. The sad moments all will experience prior to fading away. Touching take Jade!

    Hank

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You’ve employed Greenberg’s charms in a most visceral manner here, Lisa. I think there is an inherent criticism within your words of a society which discards women as soon as they cease being young and nubile. It’s also true of Hollywood and I’m surprised and a bit disappointed that the ‘Me too’ movement didn’t make more of this.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. A very sad but beautiful poem. So well done Lisa. You have captured the feeling of angst and agony in those last performances. Remembering how it used to be…
    Curtains sweep, velvet
    hushed, slippered feet
    Pid-pad scarred planks.
    Trembled steel, I sway and
    Wipe mirrored mirage away,

    Liked by 1 person

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