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 Comments Add yours

  1. What a sad demise of a prima ballerina… as always you must cease before the end is there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you much, Bjorn, yes, ideally…

      Like

  2. This is such a vivid picture of the faded prima donna and a really good use of the prompt- a ‘pathetique’ full of decay and sumptuous lines like

    “Wriggle and creep,
    Seep from concealed
    Lucid farrows,”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Many thanks, Laura.

      Like

  3. kim881 says:

    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

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thanks much, Kim! I just read your story and definitely see a connection between the two. The needle is a type of shadow for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice use of rhyme in this, and I do like your opening lines!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you, Jane. No matter how jacked-up Greenberg’s lines are they all lead to darkness.

      Like

      1. That’s true 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I like all those “eep” sounds. That last stanza is a stunning ending. I wondered about hauntings. Great write, Lisa.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thanks, Sarah.

      Like

  6. sanaarizvi says:

    This is incredibly stunning, Lisa! 💝 I love; “Trembled steel, I sway and wipe mirrored mirage away.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you so much, Sanaa ❤

      Like

  7. This prompt has really brought out the best in our imagination — well done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you, Francis, you’re right!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Lucy says:

    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

    1. msjadeli says:

      ❤ Thank you, Lucy, for seeing her.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. 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

    1. msjadeli says:

      LOL I love that last bit. I’ll give up my keyboard when they pry it from my cold, dead arthritis-laden fingers. Thank you for reading and your comments.

      Like

  10. Glenn A. Buttkus says:

    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

    1. msjadeli says:

      ❤ Love your comment, Glenn. May we all be so blessed.

      Like

  11. robtkistner says:

    These little Greenberg “charms” were not easy to assimilate into a poem — but bravo Lisa… well done! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      🙂 Thank you! It was a real challenge, you’re right.

      Like

  12. hank77 says:

    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

    1. msjadeli says:

      Indeed, Hank. Thanks.

      Like

  13. Oh I love where the “charms” took you Lisa! The last stanza was epic and I loved the image of her arthritic hand clutching that glass ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      🙂 ❤ Christine so glad you enjoyed the poem.

      Like

  14. Truedessa says:

    Your story poem was creative. It’s a sad tale but, I enjoyed reading every line. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Truedessa, the story came to me through those charming charms, thank you and glad you enjoyed them.

      Like

  15. Sadje says:

    Your poem is steeped in poignancy and realism.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Sadje, thank you very much.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. lynn__ says:

    The pathos of that final performance…Brava!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Many thanks, Lynn!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Stunningly visual and a heartbreaking tale!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      😦 Thank you, Punam.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Ingrid says:

    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

    1. msjadeli says:

      Ingrid, 100% in agreement with you.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. memadtwo says:

    Not only did you capture the atmosphere of Greenberg, you created a vivid glimpse into the struggles of an aging body and spirit. (K)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      ❤ Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. rivrvlogr says:

    Wow! This like an antithesis to “Sunset Boulevard,” with the burned-out star instead dreading a return to the limelight, well aware that she has reached her nadir. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Ken, thank you and appreciate your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Xan says:

    You nailed it, Jade. I couldn’t make this prompt work for me at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      It wasn’t easy for me either, Alexandra, especially since I wrote it with only 3 of the prompts got ready to post and saw I needed 5 of them! Thank you.

      Like

  22. rothpoetry says:

    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

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you, Dwight.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. rothpoetry says:

        You are welcome!

        Liked by 1 person

  23. johncoyote says:

    Reblogged this on johncoyote and commented:
    A wonderful poem shared by a talented writer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you, John 🙂

      Like

  24. johncoyote says:

    I enjoyed the poem and thank you for sharing the poetry.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you and you are welcome, John. I appreciate you reblogging also.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. johncoyote says:

        I enjoyed your work and you are welcome.

        Liked by 1 person

  25. Katy Claire says:

    Beautiful writing! I really enjoyed this poem. So glad to have found your work, Lisa 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you, Katy 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  26. josaiawrites says:

    Moving poem….touches the truth of the pain and nostalgia of this journey of aging….Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Many thanks and happy to oblige.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.