“First Polkas and Last Tangos” by Alan Harris

First Polkas and Last Tangos

We all die in a room with a dance floor
which smells of magnolias and memories
where music is about to fill the air
by the cover band tuning up to the beat
of the morphine drip stationed at the head of your mechanical bed

you can just catch a glimpse of the lead singer
out of the corner of your eye
a young fan of your favorite songs
someone you’re sure you’ve seen before
photobombing  mirrors, rear view and otherwise

God, ghosts, and demons set aside family differences
just long enough to pitch in and cover the bar tab
and as the music starts to play
a line forms on the dance floor
for old and new friends, for family and special guests

to ante up a dollar for the honor and privilege
of one last dance
to two-step across the floor
unencumbered by oxygen tubing and regrets
a final opportunity for first polkas and last Tangos


Alan Harris is a hospice volunteer who helps patients write memoirs, letters, and poetry. Harris is the recipient of the 2014 John Clare Poetry Prize as well as the 2015 Tompkins Poetry Award from Wayne State University. Harris is a two-time Pushcart nominee. His first chapbook of poetry, “Hospice Bed Conversations,” has been nominated for a Midland Author’s Award. Most recently his work has appeared in Snapdragon, Temenos and The Great Lakes Review.

Featured image by Paul Zoetemeijer

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