My Papa’s Waltz

My Papa’s Waltz By Theodore Roethke: Theodore Roethke is the small boy in this poem. His father died when he was once simply fifteen. Roethke struggled with intellectual sickness all his life. His first e-book of poetry, Open House, used to be posted in 1941. His relationship with his father occupied a giant phase of his writings.

My Papa’s Waltz

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.


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My Papa’s Waltz

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