Patinage Poetry: The Language Of The Ice (Part Trois)

How doth I love skating? Let me count the ways... Just prior to the Sochi Olympics, I put together a collection of poetry about skating called "Patinage Poetry: The Language Of The Ice". The topic of poetry recurred in "Georg Heym: The Skating Prophet", "Canada's Valentine", a second edition of "Patinage Poetry" and a recent review of Elee Kraljii Gardiner's wonderful book "Serpentine Loop". And guess what sweetie? I just can't get enough. From the whimsical to the humorous to the touching, the third installment of "Patinage Poetry" is jam packed full of wonderful gems. Put on your beret and get ready to snap afterwards for more fabulous skating poetry:


Believe it or not,
the old woman said,
and I tried to picture it:
a girl,
the polished white ribs of a roast
tied to her boots with twine,
the twine coated with candle wax
so she could glide
across the ice -
my mother,
skating on bones.


Once, long ago there was danced on the ice
The Harris Tango - it was rather nice;
Danced hip to hip with a long curving glide
it involved quite an art to effect the change side.
With chasse staccato and sinuous roll,
It was a la flamenco and zapateado,
A dance full of joy, coquetry and passion,
It was quite exciting when danced in this fashion.
But alas sad to say, for the dancers today,
It is robbed of its vigour
A true change of sides is no longer de rigueur,
No true character now - a pretence only false
I.S.U. has decreed that the hold shall be a Waltz!


Mirror on the ice rink wall
Do I look like this at all?
No! Until you skate on edges,
You will look like two steam dredges.
For a graceful lean like a sailing ship
Leave those flats. (Just take this tip.)

Mirror on the ice rink wall
Do I look like this at all?
NO! What makes you look so badly
Is your head, that's drooping sadly.
To watch the ice there is no need
Because it's always there, indeed!

Nine-tenths of skaters over twenty
Skate for exercise aplenty.
So, why that purpose to defeat
Keep looking down at your own feet?


Oh, they call me the "King of the Rink,"
A skater I am, so they think;
For when I appear the people all cheer,
And the ladies at me slyly wink.
So fondly at me they will glance.
When I have on my Oscar Wilde pants
And tight polo cap, their hands they'll clap,
For "McGinty, the King of the Rink."

I can skate, for I bate ev'ry man in the rink I
At "go as you please;"
I did pose on my toes, when they call'd out,
"McGinty, you're King of the Kink."

When I skated at Coney Island,
They have a fine rink on the sand,
I made fancy whirls, which captured the girls,
When the music struck up by the band.
I thought I would give the grape-vine,
When a fellow came up from behind;
But soon he was floored and everybody roar'd
For "McGinty, the King of the Rink."

Now a lady with bright auburn hair
Last Saturday evening was there;
And how she did skate, I'm sure it was fate.
That I met this young lady so fair.
We did all the movements in style,
When she turn'd, saying with a sweet smile,
"McGinty, old man, do well as you can,
For we know you're 'King of the Rink.'"


In the warming house, children lace their skates,
bending, choked, over their thick jackets.

A Franklin stove keeps the place so cozy
it’s hard to imagine why anyone would leave,

clumping across the frozen beach to the river.
December’s always the same at Ware's Cove,

the first sheer ice, black, then white
and deep until the city sends trucks of men

with wooden barriers to put up the boys’
hockey rink. An hour of skating after school,

of trying wobbly figure-8’s, an hour
of distances moved backwards without falling,

then—twilight, the warming house steamy
with girls pulling on boots, their chafed legs

aching. Outside, the hockey players keep
playing, slamming the round black puck

until it’s dark, until supper. At night,
a shy girl comes to the cove with her father.

Although there isn’t music, they glide
arm in arm onto the blurred surface together,

braced like dancers. She thinks she’ll never
be so happy, for who else will find her graceful,

find her perfect, skate with her
in circles outside the emptied rink forever?


When I go Dancing on the Ice
I illustrate each single vice,
I prance, I kick, I turn my knee
Inward, when outward it should be,
And scrape and mutilate the three.
My word I pledge, I'm on no edge;
I'm well aware I'm on the flat,
But what of that, Sir, what of that?
My free leg, too, I never fail,
To whirl it round me like a flail,
And oftentimes you may descry,
My free leg pointing to the sky.
Further, with questionable taste,
I limply grasp my Lady's waist
With shifting grip - Oh hand of mine,
Why play banjo on her spine?
My left arm - here's another scandal
Moves up and down like a pump handle.
Last horrid thought, I know that I'm
Invariably ahead of time!
And so I lurch and skid and sway
And double-track upon my way,
Wholly oblivious that the rest
Regard me as a perfect pest.

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