Photo of Tango Argentine in the streets of Buenos Aires‘The Tango Argentine’ by Daniel Kemper The Society March 6, 2021 Beauty, Culture, Poetry 6 Comments . Do they still dance on old walkwayswith lowered shoulders, mastered breathand almost martial, measured gazethough one that’s bent on life, not death?Will men with class step up and raisean arm and pause: a shibboleththat leading, and not lording, paysrespect—and takes his partner’s breath? Do they still dance outside cafeswhere women take that hand, serenelysend the other past and, tracingfingers round his shoulder, meanthat he should follow her embrace?Will they, with slightest calf-lines leanin lightly, energize the space,and dance the Tango Argentine? Just look at him: He is the manwho wears suspenders with his jeans.His faintly graying temples canassure, compel, invite. He meansto spin a spell that’s greater thanwhat younger tigers’ wisdom gleans.just look at him. He is the manwho understands what tango means. She is the savvy woman who—with tightened, open vest, surrendersnothing yet; with knees that throughher silk, a-swish, delay the endsdesire seeks, with eyes a hueof smoke-and-light no man contendsagainst—draws in a partner tothe energy the tango lends. He is the working man who, whilethe early coffee brews, tries outhis steps or searches for his stylebetween the dumpster and his doubtat midnight after work revilinggraveyard shifts, and yet devoutlyfinds in form, despite his trial,his dance, and what it’s all about. She is the one who always seemstoo young for him, the woman whocan read and write a man’s own dreamsthrough layered bangs, cut sharply tothe corners of her eyes. She screamsinside at work while out of viewshe does her ochos—under gleamingcounters: what else can she do ? Just look at him. Just look at her.Or rather look at all that theyaspire to: their feet conferfrom worldliness and wear, the wayof gravitas, while hips inferthat heaven’s held in how they play.The dances meld. Just look at her.Just look at him. None look away. Across the street a drunk sits down,too staggered to misunderstand.Another, having lost his frown,a Bidi smoking in his hand,has raised that arm and paused: a crowninggesture which has left him standing,poised to offer dance. Then downhis spine run chills he never planned. The crowd in their own time and way—the shoppers, mocking teens, a fewbravado boys, their dates—they playat life and pass. But one or twoare changed, becoming as they sway,someone who steps-up to, or whodraws out, the dreamy scene. Do theystill dance the tango here? They do.The Tango Argentine. . . Daniel Kemper is a systems engineer living in California. 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Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 6 Responses Jeff Eardley March 6, 2021 Daniel, we have witnessed the tango all over Europe, from couples dancing around a battery-powered cassette player in the dark, on the cliffs of Tenerife, to the organised classes on the banks of the Seine. Your Poem, as poetry should, brought back many happy memories. I will be re-reading this all week. Thank you so much. Reply Daniel Kemper March 8, 2021 Hi Jeff, Thank you for your comments. I have only in the last year gotten into the Argentine Tango scene. Love some of the flashmobs that I see on the internet. Very pleased you feel that I’ve captured something real. Reply Allegra Silberstein March 6, 2021 I loved this poem…thank you! Reply Daniel Kemper March 8, 2021 If I’m not mistaken, you’re more or less local enough to get that “Tango By The River” in Old Town Sac was more than a small part of the inspiration of this poem. Glad you enjoyed! Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant March 7, 2021 Daniel, you have swept me up in “The Tango Argentine” with your forthright commands throughout (I love such lines as; “Just look at him. Just look at her” – you use repetition to excellent effect) and the vivid images your words conjure- stanzas three and four are prime examples. I am seduced by the dancing duo in all their dark delight. For some reason it reminds me of the paso doble scene from a favorite film of mine – “Strictly Ballroom”, where a grandmother shows an aspiring dance champion that the rhythm has to come from his heart. I love this raw and sensual multi-layered treat of a poem. Thank you! Reply Daniel Kemper March 8, 2021 I *love* that movie! I know exactly the scene you mean. Everything about the paso doble scene is awesome. The balance, the intensity, the heart, the form! I should take the time to mention also that another inspiration for this poem was Bukowski. [Wha?]. Yeah, he’s a fav. I was watching a documentary and one of the party favors given out on some occasion was a tiny book that had one word on a page. “When the spirit vanishes the form appears” -as best I can quote. It was the sentiment of his publisher who felt that all formal verse lacked feeling — inherently — because of it’s structure. I admire John Martin extremely, but I was horrified by this. I see what they are getting at and wanted to retort defensively, “No, when the form disappears, all you’ve got left is feeling.” But they do hit near a truth. Still, I wanted to point out that the height of intensity was the two working as one- form and content. The tango seemed the perfect demonstration of form not only carrying feeling but intensifying it. 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