Poetry has become something of a post-modern cultural statement, wherein the only two guidelines are that a poem should not rhyme and that it should mention one's demographic disadvantage. It's all drivel, not even doggerel! Poetry did once have high forms that crowned the best ideals of cultural, but there was also a more vulgar (in the proper sense of the word) poetry that caustically commented on contemporary culture while providing some amusement. My own grandfather was fond of a slim volume called The Spell of the Yukon and Other Verses. A Scandinavia-born coworker recently brought John Betjeman's Slough to my attention. Slough, famous in modern times as the setting for The Office, was a center of industrial park culture in early and mid-20th century England, and Mr. Betjeman had little use for it. Enjoy.
Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough!
It isn't fit for humans now,
There isn't grass to graze a cow.
Swarm over, Death!
Come, bombs and blow to smithereens
Those air -conditioned, bright canteens,
Tinned fruit, tinned meat, tinned milk, tinned beans,
Tinned minds, tinned breath.
Mess up the mess they call a town-
A house for ninety-seven down
And once a week a half a crown
For twenty years.
And get that man with double chin
Who'll always cheat and always win,
Who washes his repulsive skin
In women's tears:
And smash his desk of polished oak
And smash his hands so used to stroke
And stop his boring dirty joke
And make him yell.
But spare the bald young clerks who add
The profits of the stinking cad;
It's not their fault that they are mad,
They've tasted Hell.
It's not their fault they do not know
The birdsong from the radio,
It's not their fault they often go
And talk of sport and makes of cars
In various bogus-Tudor bars
And daren't look up and see the stars
But belch instead.
In labour-saving homes, with care
Their wives frizz out peroxide hair
And dry it in synthetic air
And paint their nails.
Come, friendly bombs and fall on Slough
To get it ready for the plough.
The cabbages are coming now;
The earth exhales.