Hark now to the yuppies’ anthem,
And the lifestyle that it preaches—
How we all reside on the chic West Side
With our Chardonnay and quiches.

Chorus: We all reside on the chic West Side
With our Chardonnay and quiches!

Apart from our dread employers,
To no one we’re beholden—
We have large amounts in our bank accounts
And our credit line is golden.

Chorus: We’ve large amounts in our bank accounts
And our credit line is golden!

But to keep the cash flow steady
Conformism is essential—
So the proper tone for careerist drones
Is suitably deferential.

Chorus: The proper tone for careerist drones
Is suitably deferential!

We scan the preferred stock options,
And Investment Market Pages
For pure cocaine of Colombian strain
Leaves a big dent in one’s wages.

Chorus: Pure cocaine of Colombian strain
Leaves a big dent in one’s wages!

We’re in at the Health and Racquet,
Where we ward off carcinoma—
And they don’t refuse our membership dues
At the Whitney, Met, and MOMA.

Chorus: They don’t refuse our membership dues
At the Whitney, Met, and MOMA!

We follow the crowd’s consensus
On how prestige is reckoned—
We politely clap for the obscure crap
At the Y on Ninety-Second.

Chorus: We politely clap for the obscure crap
At the Y on Ninety-Second!

How numerous are the badges
We need for our social station!
A parkside view and subscriptions to
The New Yorker and The Nation.

Chorus: A parkside view and subscriptions to
The New Yorker and The Nation!

Special coffee ground at Zabar’s,
Truffled chèvre sold at Balducci’s—
We will wait on line till it’s half past nine
Just to get some top-notch sushi.

Chorus: We’ll wait on line till it’s half past nine
Just to get some top-notch sushi!

But watch how we worship fitness—
(Hold your back straight and your hip bent!)
How we keep firm busts with aerobic thrusts
On our exercise equipment.

Chorus: We keep firm busts with aerobic thrusts
On our exercise equipment!

What we own and whom we dine with
Are requisites for survival—
All the faux antiques and the trendy cliques
That indicate one’s arrival.

Chorus: The faux antiques and the trendy cliques
That indicate one’s arrival!

And who gives a tinker’s damn then
For our snotty, carping critics?
We’ll uncork some wine with a smile benign
Like lobotomized paralytics.

Chorus: Uncork some wine with a smile benign
Like lobotomized paralytics!

So pour out the Veuve Clicquot now;
Aloft with your brimming glasses—
To the dull-brained farts and the pampered tarts
Of the upper middle classes!

Chorus: To the dull-brained farts and the pampered tarts
Of the upper middle classes!

—from Masquerade (2005)

 

 

Joseph S. Salemi has published five books of poetry, and his poems, translations and scholarly articles have appeared in over one hundred publications world-wide.  He is the editor of the literary magazine Trinacria and writes for Expansive Poetry On-line. He teaches in the Department of Humanities at New York University and in the Department of Classical Languages at Hunter College.


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9 Responses

  1. Leo Zoutewelle

    Joseph, this both hurts and delights. “Hurts” because it is shockingly true and “delights” because it is all so realistic and well done! Thank you, sir.
    Leo

    Reply
  2. James Sale

    Reality is almost beyond satire now, but this is as good as it gets: scathing, and some of your rhymes are absolutely brilliant. Well done. I guess I won’t be able to invite you over to become ‘British’ so that you could take a pop at some of the weird stuff happening here (despite the great Johnson triumph)? Why only the other day a judge has declared that ‘ethical veganism’ is a religion!! Don’t get me wrong, I am not against veganism, and I was a vegetarian myself for 7 years (and only started eating small amounts of meat for health reasons – I became deficient in 4 amino acids all found in meat). But – a ‘religion’??? This extension of ‘rights’ – and moral virtue-signalling – becomes so onerous on the rest of the population. But, thanks for the poem – more first-rate material from you.

    Reply
  3. Carole Mertz

    Oh, dear, Professor, you”ve said it all. I feel I’m back on 42nd Street!

    Reply
  4. C.B. Anderson

    Joseph, you’ve been at this for a long time. I guess you’ve come to realize, as so many of us have, that the more things change the more they stay the same.

    Reply
    • Joseph S. Salemi

      That’s the conditio humana. We are born in ignorance, and with the wounds of original sin. The manifestations of stupidity vary from generation to generation and from century to century, but the underlying stupidity is still there. It’s what makes satire essential.

      Reply
  5. Joe Tessitore

    This is beyond funny, made all the more so by the fact that I live on the Upper West Side and these people are my neighbors – and I’m theirs!

    Reply
  6. Mark F. Stone

    The poem skewers the affluent New Yorkers with skill and finesse, and the rhyming is quite admirable.

    Reply
  7. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Ouch! A toe-tapping, scathing delight of a poem with an inspired plethora of superlative rhymes. Very well done!

    Reply
  8. Sally Cook

    I’m called purple aster
    .I signal disaster
    .With piercings and muddy tattoos
    My moods are directed,
    My thoughts intersected.
    By cocaine, self-pity and booze.
    etc. etc..
    So much material, so little time.!
    When does your marvelous poem open in costume on Broadway?

    Reply

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