A recording of Ernest Hilbert reading “Broad and Washington,” engineered by Peter Crimmins, was broadcast on WHYY/NPR 90.7FM as part of the News Works Tonight New Year’s program the evening of December 31, 2013.
Broad and Washington
New Year’s Day, Mummers
An awkward spin unbends into a strut
As sequined brawlers grin, gavotte, and stray,
Ominous jesters whose frolic survives
Obscure origins. Bejeweled banjos jut
And swipe in rude chevrons of bawdy play,
Partly primitive but also casually contrived.
Confetti clings like pollen to avenues
Governed by this throng—whose skits and prances
Proclaim them preservers of contrary motion:
Gowned brigades of misrule, bright mob that skews
Its way through regally drunken dances,
Risen from an empire sunk in the ocean
To foam over the city, stir chaotic chords,
Adored and mad, our disorderers and lords.