Tap Dancing

He's Terrence the talented tap dancing tapir;
He struts with staccato; he stomps.
He proudly peruses reviews in the paper—
The raves for his rollicking romps.
With intricate clamor he clowns and he capers
To audiences awed at his art.
He's Terrence, a tormented tap dancing tapir
Who's hurting and heavy of heart...

While at the ballet in his tux and toupee
(To crank up his cultural learning)
A tapir, Bettina, a lean ballerina
Awakened an uncontrolled yearning.
She was svelte; she was slender; he swooned and surrendered
His soul at first sight to this dancer,
But the bouquet of blooms that he sent to her room
Was returned to our luckless romancer:

"Dear Terrence 'the talented tap dancing tapir',
So sorry to send back your gift.
Bettina's in need of no noisy shoe-scraper;
Distractions don't pay. Get my drift?
She shall not be catching the clog-clodding capers
You wryly refer to as 'art'.
In short, she's no time for a tap dancing tapir.
Sincerely, Bett's Manager, Bart."

Thus Terrence was thwarted; his cast was contorted;
In rage he could only see red.
Beset and besotted, he pondered and plotted
How Bart might be better off dead.
It chafed him and chewed him; each night it imbued
All his dreams with interminable torments,
So one night at Bart's flat—boots and cane, bowler hat—
He produced an impromptu performance.

Now Terrence (the talented tap dancing tapir)
Took breakfast and read of Bart's end.
"Police were perplexed," so it said in the paper,
"As to why one would trample the friend,
Mentor, manager, muse, chaperone and star-shaper
Of prima-performer Bettina."
At this our victorious tap dancing tapir
Guffawed like a half-wit hyena.

When tired of his braying he wrote to her saying,
"Dear Bettina, I offer my heart.
I guess my last gift had been given short shrift
By your kind but unfortunate Bart.
Though these flowers may fade, though my script be clichéd,
Still I'll struggle with pen and notepaper
To praise your perfection and offer affection,
Yours, Terrence, the tap dancing tapir."

Now Bett the athletic balletic performer
Was not too upset about Bart;
He was overprotective and lacking perspective
On issues pertaining to art.
In her dancing career it was her turn to steer
And she needed no drag from an anchor,
So to Terrence she wrote, going straight for the throat
Of this creepy old chauvinist canker:

"I saw you, you pig, in tuxedo and wig,
How you fixed on my feminine figure.
Then you ogled my thighs and I thought that your eyes
Would explode if they grew any bigger.
No, I don't need a randy old tap dancing dandy
To leer at my leotard with lust.
If your stalking won't cease I shall call the police
- Bettina in dread and disgust."

Now he's Terrence the talented tap dancing tapir;
He struts in his stories; he stomps.
He proudly peruses reviews in old papers—
The raves for his rollicking romps.
In colorless clamor he crows of his capers,
"Too good for that tutu-clad whore!"
He's Terrence, the talented tap dancing tapir,
Life sentenced, in cell twenty-four.


You are so awesome, Virge.
One thing I didn't quite follow, though: How did Terrence end up sentenced for life? Not for stalking, right? And they didn't know who killed Bart. So I'm guessing he killed Bettina too, but could you confirm this for me? Sorry for my obtuseness.

And I wish it had a happier ending. And I didn't like any of the characters.

This is great!!! Better than the best rhyming poem i ever wrote, which is this one:

I've got demands more politic
Than I'll take this in a size six!
Debates more intellectual than
Would I look cuter twice as tan?
And I've much smarter things to say
Than Gosh, your hair looks smooth today!
And wow, your nails are super strong!
Are they acrylic? Or just long?
I'd like to think I'm worth a stink
Not just when I'm dolled up all pink.
But then, it's not I who will try it.
Hey, You sure this soda's diet?

Thanks, Judah and Leah.

I ended up deciding to leave it with a hole for the reader to fill by interpolation. I was tempted to fill it, but felt that there was more impact in the final verse by leaving it open.

The newspaper reports the police response immediately after the murder. Even if they had absolutely no leads to follow, based on Terrence's self-centered character one would expect that he'd refuse to accept Bettina's letter as the final word. His demise is inevitable, no matter which way his obsession drives him.

I started writing this at the end of August. It may surprise you to know that this is one of the happier endings I considered. Another had Terrence becoming depressed, leading to the following final lines:

He clumsily clomps out his corny old capers;
He stumbles and staggers; he storms.
He's Terrence the tearfully terminal tapir:
Old minefields are where he performs.

That ending would have been too depressing, and inconsistent with Terrence's overconfidence.

I do confess to playing with the readers' emotions. I set up the expectation of a perfect match (two talented dancing tapirs, separated by an interfering manager) then dashed it by exposing how shallow they were.

You must write more. Poetry has been struggling under the oppressive thumb of "serious" poets for too long. Light humorous verse writers must fight to restore rhyming metrical verse to its rightful place in western culture.