When’s the last time you read a poem inspired by marketing? Perhaps… never?
When doctors puffed their cigarettes and fat
Advanced unchecked, invading hordes of hearts,
When cheap thermometer and thermostat
Leaked jets of mercury like poison darts,
When every shoe store’s miracle machine
Displayed the bones x-rayed inside your shoes,
When like a knight in armor Listerine
Slew dragon Halitosis, clear heads chose
Calvert, and loving housewives loaded pies
With sugar (as “your family deserves”),
When soothing syrup smothered babies’ cries
And Sanka vanquished Mister Coffee Nerves,
When toothpaste came in squooshy tubes of lead,
And safety belts in cars seemed passing fads,
How in the Sam Hill could you end up dead?
Hadn’t you lived according to the ads?
– X.J. Kennedy
(from In a Prominent Bar in Secaucus: New & Selected Poems, to be published in September by Johns Hopkins University Press)
Reprinted from the Spring 2007 Columbia University alumni magazine, Columbia