19th Amendment Ragtime Parade

Birthday, birthday, hurray, hurray
The 19th Amendment was ratified today

Drum rolls, piano rolls, trumpets bray
The 19th Amendment was ratified today

Left hand bounces, right hand strays
Maestro Joplin is leading the parade

Syncopated hashtags, polyrhythmic goose-steps
Ladies march to Pennsylvania Avenue!

Celebrate, ululate, caterwaul, praise
Women’s suffrage is all the rage

Sisters! Mothers! Throw off your bustles
Pedal your pushers to the voting booth

Pram it, waltz it, Studebaker roadster it
Drive your horseless carriage into the fray

Prime your cymbals, flute your skirts
One-step, two-step, kick-ball-change

Castlewalk, Turkey Trot, Grizzly Bear waltz
Argentine Tango, flirty and hot

Mommies, grannies, young and old biddies
Temperance ladies sip bathtub gin

Unmuzzle your girl dogs, Iowa your demi-hogs
Battle-axe polymaths, gangster moms

Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Lucy Burns and Carrie Chapman Catt

Alice Paul, come one, come all! 
Sign the declaration at Seneca Falls!
                                                                                                          
Dada-faced spinsters, war-bond Prufrocks
Lillian Gish, make a silent wish

Debussy Cakewalk, Rachmaninoff rap
Preternatural hair bobs, hamster wheels     

Crescendos, diminuendos, maniacal pianos
Syncopation mad, cut a rug with dad!

Oompa, tuba, majorette girl power
Baton over Spamalot!

Tiny babies, wearing onesies
Raise your bottles, tater-tots!

Accordion nannies, wash-board symphonies
Timpani glissando!
             The Great War is over!

Victory, freedom, justice, reason
Pikachu, sunflowers, pussy hats

Toss up your skull caps, wide brim feathers
Throwing shade on the seraphim

Hide your cell phones, raise your megaphones!
Speak truth to power
                          and vote, vote vote!

 

WARNING: 

Nitwit legislators, gerrymandering fools
Dimwit commissioners, judicial tools
Toxic senators, unholy congressmen
Halitosis ombudsmen, mayoral tricks
Doom calf demagogues, racketeering mules
Whack-a-mole sheriffs, on the take

Fornicator governators, rakehell collaborators
Tweeter impersonators, racist prigs
Postbellum agitators, hooligan aldermen
Profiteering warmongers, Reconstruction dregs

 

Better run, rascals     better pray
We’ll vote you out      on judgement day!

Better run, rascals     better pray
We’ll vote you out      on election day!

More by Marilyn Chin

One Child Has Brown Eyes

One child has brown eyes, one has blue
One slanted, another rounded
One so nearsighted he squints internal 
One had her extra epicanthic folds removed
One downcast, one couldn't be bothered
One roams the heavens for a perfect answer
One transfixed like a dead doe, a convex mirror
One shines double-edged like a poisoned dagger
Understand their vision, understand their blindness
Understand their vacuity, understand their mirth

Quiet the Dog, Tether the Pony

        A lament for Don (1958-2011)

Gaze     gaze      beyond the vermilion door

Leaf      leaf       tremble    fall

Stare blankly      at the the road's      interminable end



Reduplications     cold      cold     mountains

Long     long    valleys          broad    broad     waters

Tears     are exhausted      now    shed    blood



Deep    deep     the baleful courtyards     who knows how deep

Folds on folds       of curtains

Gates         trap        infinite      twilight



Walk     walk        through     waning meadows

Steep     steep        toward       ten-thousand Buddhas

Knuckles     blue     on the balustrade



In the land of      missing      pronouns

Sun     is a     continuous     performance

And we      my lover      are      nothing

from Two Inch Fables

Yellow gold is meaningless
Learning is better than pearls
A woman without brilliance
Leaves nothing but dim children
 
You can hawk your gold if you’re hungry
Sell your mule when you’re desperate
What can you do with so many poems
Sprouting dead hairs in an empty coffin
 
*

Lotus: pink     dewlapped     pretty
Lotus: upturned palm of my dead mother
Lotus:  a foot       a broken arch
Lotus:  plop      and a silent     ripple
 
*
 
I hum and stroll
And contemplate a poem
While young boys are dying
In West Darfur
 
I hum and stroll
And contemplate a poem
While young boys are dying
In West Darfur

Related Poems

Aunt Chloe's Politics

Of course, I don’t know very much
    About these politics,
But I think that some who run ’em
    Do mighty ugly tricks.

I’ve seen ’em honey-fugle round,
    And talk so awful sweet,
That you’d think them full of kindness,
    As an egg is full of meat.

Now I don’t believe in looking
    Honest people in the face,
And saying when you’re doing wrong,
    That “I haven’t sold my race.”

When we want to school our children,
    If the money isn’t there, 
Whether black or white have took it,
    The loss we all must share.

And this buying up each other
    Is something worse than mean,
Though I thinks a heap of voting,
    I go for voting clean. 

“You Will Never Get Death / Out of Your System"

How old is the earth? I asked my machine, and it said: Five great extinctions, one in process, four and a half billion years.

It has always been very busy on Earth: so much coming and going! The terror and the hope ribboning through that.

Death, like a stray dog you kick out of the yard who keeps coming back—its scent of freedom and ruin—

             Some people love death so much they want to give it to everyone. 

             Some are more selective.

             Some people don’t know they’re alive.

                          —

Metabolic system, financial system, political system, eco-system—systems management, running around trying to put out fires—

Sodium nitrate. Sodium benzoate. Butylated Hydroxyanisole (to keep the food from rotting). Plastic (surgery). Botox, Viagra, cryo-chamber—

Voting backwards, into what
has already died—

Voting Zombie in the name of “change”—

And everywhere in fortune cookies, the oracular feint of a joke future—

where death is the trick candle on the victory cake. 

                          —

Some truths are hard to accept. Especially when they won’t budge beyond a couplet. 

Especially when they won’t tell you if they mean you well, if they herald freedom or ruin—

You! You and Death! Lovers who just can’t quit. That’s how we make the future.

The terror and the hope of that, as change goes viral.
 

Poem about My Rights

Even tonight and I need to take a walk and clear
my head about this poem about why I can’t 
go out without changing my clothes my shoes
my body posture my gender identity my age
my status as a woman alone in the evening/
alone on the streets/alone not being the point/
the point being that I can’t do what I want 
to do with my own body because I am the wrong
sex the wrong age the wrong skin and
suppose it was not here in the city but down on the beach/
or far into the woods and I wanted to go
there by myself thinking about God/or thinking
about children or thinking about the world/all of it
disclosed by the stars and the silence:
I could not go and I could not think and I could not
stay there
alone
as I need to be
alone because I can’t do what I want to do with my own
body and
who in the hell set things up
like this
and in France they say if the guy penetrates
but does not ejaculate then he did not rape me
and if after stabbing him if after screams if
after begging the bastard and if even after smashing
a hammer to his head if even after that if he
and his buddies fuck me after that
then I consented and there was 
no rape because finally you understand finally
they fucked me over because I was wrong I was
wrong again to be me being me where I was/wrong
to be who I am
which is exactly like South Africa
penetrating into Namibia penetrating into
Angola and does that mean I mean how do you know if
Pretoria ejaculates what will the evidence look like the
proof of the monster jackboot ejaculation on Blackland
and if
after Namibia and if after Angola and if after Zimbabwe
and if after all of my kinsmen and women resist even to
self-immolation of the villages and if after that
we lose nevertheless what will the big boys say will they
claim my consent:
Do You Follow Me: We are the wrong people of
the wrong skin on the wrong continent and what
in the hell is everybody being reasonable about
and according to the Times this week
back in 1966 the C.I.A. decided that they had this problem
and the problem was this man named Nkrumah so they
killed him and before that it was Patrice Lumumba
and before that it was my father on the campus
of my Ivy League school and my father afraid
to walk into the cafeteria because he said he
was wrong the wrong age the wrong skin the wrong
gender identity and he was paying my tuition and
before that 
it was my father saying I was wrong saying that
I should have been a boy because he wanted one/a
boy and that I should have been lighter skinned and
that I should have had straighter hair and that
I should not be so boy crazy but instead I should
just be one/a boy and before that
it was my mother pleading plastic surgery for
my nose and braces for my teeth and telling me
to let the books loose to let them loose in other
words
I am very familiar with the problems of the C.I.A.
and the problems of South Africa and the problems
of Exxon Corporation and the problems of white
America in general and the problems of the teachers 
and the preachers and the F.B.I. and the social
workers and my particular Mom and Dad/I am very
familiar with the problems because the problems
turn out to be
me
I am the history of rape
I am the history of the rejection of who I am
I am the history of the terrorized incarceration of
my self
I am the history of battery assault and limitless
armies against whatever I want to do with my mind
and my body and my soul and
whether it’s about walking out at night
or whether it’s about the love that I feel or
whether it’s about the sanctity of my vagina or
the sanctity of my national boundaries
or the sanctity of my leaders or the sanctity
of each and every desire
that I know from my personal and idiosyncratic
and indisputably single and singular heart
I have been raped
be-
cause I have been wrong the wrong sex the wrong age
the wrong skin the wrong nose the wrong hair the
wrong need the wrong dream the wrong geographic
the wrong sartorial I
I have been the meaning of rape
I have been the problem everyone seeks to
eliminate by forced
penetration with or without the evidence of slime and/
but let this be unmistakable this poem
is not consent I do not consent
to my mother to my father to the teachers to
the F.B.I. to South Africa to Bedford-Stuy
to Park Avenue to American Airlines to the hardon
idlers on the corners to the sneaky creeps in 
cars
I am not wrong: Wrong is not my name
My name is my own my own my own
and I can’t tell you who the hell set things up like this
but I can tell you that from now on my resistance
my simple and daily and nightly self-determination
may very well cost you your life