Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


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!

Credit


Copyright © 2020 by Marilyn Chin. This poem was co-commissioned by the Academy of American Poets and the New York Philharmonic as part of the Project 19 initiative and published in Poem-a-Day on March 7, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets. 

About this Poem


“First of all, I wanted to celebrate this historical anniversary with the upbeat rhythms of triumph and jubilation! I envision women of different generations, in unity, arm in arm, babies in tow, marching, dancing, protesting and yawping down Pennsylvania Avenue! In the second part, in the response coda, the poem gives a stern warning. I call out those corrupt male politicians who have worked maliciously to impede universal suffrage and equal rights and have oppressed us for too many decades. We will vote you out!”
Marilyn Chin

Author


Marilyn Chin

Marilyn Chin was born in Hong Kong and raised in Portland, Oregon. The author of six poetry collections, she currently serves as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Date Published: 2020-03-07

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/19th-amendment-ragtime-parade