Song of Perfect Propriety

Oh, I should like to ride the seas,
     A roaring buccaneer;
A cutlass banging at my knees,
     A dirk behind my ear.
And when my captives’ chains would clank
     I’d howl with glee and drink,
And then flight out the quivering plank
     And watch the beggars sink.

I’d like to straddle gory decks,
     And dig in laden sands,
And know the feel of throbbing necks
     Between my knotted hands.
Oh, I should like to strut and curse
     Among my blackguard crew. . . .
But I am writing little verse,
     As little ladies do.

Oh, I should like to dance and laugh
     And pose and preen and sway,
And rip the hearts of men in half,
     And toss the bits away.
I’d like to view the reeling years
     Through astonished eyes,
And dip my finger-tips in tears,
     And give my smiles for sighs.

I’d stroll beyond the ancient bounds,
     And tap at fastened gates,
And hear the prettiest of sounds,—
     The clink of shattered fates.
My slaves I’d like to bind with thongs
     That cut and burn and chill. . . .
But I am writing little songs,
     As little ladies will.

From Enough Rope (Boni & Liveright, 1926) by Dorothy Parker. This poem is in the public domain.