My Papa’s Waltz – Theodore Roethke

The whiskey on your breath
Could make a small boy dizzy;
But I hung on like death:
Such waltzing was not easy.

We romped until the pans
Slid from the kitchen shelf;
My mother’s countenance
Could not unfrown itself.

The hand that held my wrist
Was battered on one knuckle;
At every step you missed
My right ear scraped a buckle.

You beat time on my head
With a palm caked hard by dirt,
Then waltzed me off to bed
Still clinging to your shirt.

I’m really glad my dad is nothing like this, but I just love this Roethke poem! There’s just something very…musical about it. I love the way the rhyme isn’t overbearing, and the way he writes in meter (which I suck at, by the way). I am jealous of his meter-writing and rhyming abilities that don’t sound cliche and suckish.

Way to go, Roethke.


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