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At Seventeen

I learned the truth at seventeen
That love was meant for beauty queens
And high school girls with clear skinned smiles
Who married young and then retired.
The Valentines I never knew
The Friday night charades of youth
Were spent on one more beautiful
At seventeen I learned the truth.
And those of us with ravaged faces
Lacking in the social graces
Desperately remained at home
Inventing lovers on the phone
Who called to say come dance with me
And murmured vague obscenities
It isn't all it seems
At seventeen.
A brown eyed girl in hand me downs
Whose name I never could pronounce
Said, "Pity please the ones who serve
They only get what they deserve."
The rich relationed hometown queen
Marries into what she needs
With a guarantee of company
And haven for the elderly.
Remember those who win the game
Lose the love they sought to gain
Indebtures of quality
And dubious integrity.
Their small town eyes will gape at you
In dull surprise when payment due
Exceeds accounts received
At seventeen.
To those of us who know the pain
Of Valentines that never came,
And those whose names were never called
When choosing sides for basketball.
It was long ago and far away
The world was younger than today
And dreams were all they gave for free
To ugly duckling girls like me.
We all play the game and when we dare
To cheat ourselves at solitaire
Inventing lovers on the phone
Repenting other lives unknown
That call and say, come dance with me
And murmur vague obscenities
At ugly girls like me
At seventeen.

Janis Ian

other sizes: small medium large original
Ann...02-Feb-2011 09:25
I have a cold shiver down my spine. This image is so moving and can lead the mind in many directions. The lyrics are a moving choice.
GeneWard28-Jan-2011 04:26
highly artistic. V.
Jeanne Newman17-Jan-2011 00:43
This is truly an extraordinary speaks volumes in the presentation. The golden accent of the withered rose leaves me breathless. Huge vote.
David Buzzeo25-Jan-2010 05:37
Great Photo - Great Song V
Enny15-Mar-2009 19:15
terrific, how could I miss this one.
JW14-Mar-2009 20:10
That song really tugs at the heart strings!!
Sue Robertson12-Mar-2009 04:24
Masterpiece is the word.. v
blizzard10-Sep-2008 21:59
creative artistic moving
filled with drama
a very impressive image v
thomas22-Jul-2008 16:26
a masterpiece!
Guest 20-Jun-2008 04:02
i am dig'n it.
best idea i have seen on this website so far.
the cruelty and binding of the barbed wire with the fading beauty of the once colorful flowers.
Chris14-May-2008 04:51
Gorgeous palette. Green blue walls mirror the veins hauntingly
ltolksdorf13-May-2008 17:47
Great use of image and text - wonderful treatment. V
Ray :)13-May-2008 12:38
Jeesh, I'll send you the frame if I have to. Just don't hide it on PBase; show the world!
Oh, and I like it....
Guest 13-May-2008 12:06
perfection - well done
laine8213-May-2008 03:49
Dynamic Roe.
nomadicdragon13-May-2008 00:33
Powerful image and lyrics. Nicely done.
Ann LT12-May-2008 18:48
The lyrics go so well with this powerful image,Roe!!
The know the veins!
JSWaters12-May-2008 15:19
I get such a feeling of defeat and finality. The blooms are dead, the skin goes from red and raw to bluish green, and those veins popping against the barbed wire! It's as unsentimental an image as are the lyrics to Ian's song.
JD12-May-2008 13:10
A touching view on this delicate wrist, on which even the flower looks to harsh.
Karen Leaf12-May-2008 13:01
Roe, I hope you have this printed BIG! Truly I am beyond words with the impact this image has made--and add it to those lyrics that haunt me still... jeez, I wish I had made this image, and thought to combine the words.
Karen Stuebing12-May-2008 11:35
Great photographic intepretation of the lyrics. A spirtual rather than a physical death. A moving on from past hurts. Well done.
Giancarlo Guzzardi12-May-2008 10:54
intense and impressive image, full of details with strong colors
Ed Goodnight12-May-2008 09:19
so creative and so strong
Kaden Kratzer12-May-2008 04:26
Roe this is pure visual poetry. The organic aspect of the image and the colors and background makes for very compelling imagery. Bravo. V
Patricia Lay-Dorsey12-May-2008 02:41
Roe, this is an exceptional image that so powerfully evokes Janis Ian's message. It will stay with me.
Barbara Heide12-May-2008 02:01
very strong! v
dane12-May-2008 01:23
powerful imagery... v
jude12-May-2008 01:12
This is one of my favorites of yours, Roe. There is the binding of dead flowers and the hand against what seems to be the sea-green of water - the touch of it before the end.

Wrist up, veins awaiting a touch - such vulnerability.
Guest 12-May-2008 01:07
We die so young
Strangling the pulse
Of love's warm blood
Beneath our pallid skin
Stained by others.