Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Burbs Blurb


painting by Jason Brockert


Burbs Blurb

“I live in the suburbs, outside the terrible cities.
The suburbs are the final battleground of the
American Dream.”--Harlan Coben.

As a boomer,
I have witnessed the creation
of the suburbs,

as the returning servicemen
from WWII got married and
wanted to move out

of the crowded city
neighborhoods that they
grew up in, raw boned,

playing stick ball & skate hockey,
dodging traffic, bloodying their
knuckles on those mean streets.

I fondly remember those glossy ads
in Life & Look & the Saturday Evening
Post for that new sensation--

suburban housing developments located
in outlying districts, billboards of smiling 
families so very happy to reside in

a rambler home behind a white-washed
pocket fence on wide tree-lined streets
with two-car garages & separate bedrooms

for the kiddies, walking distance from lovely
parks & safe schools, rife with milkmen,
postmen, & door-to-door salesmen.

70 years later, disillusionment has set in.
We are tired of mowing lawns, stressful
commutes to work--tired of the damn

cookie-cutter ticky-tacky blandness of
the housing, new developments stretching
clear to the horizon, blurring city limits,

becoming a sea of lights from the air,
creating traffic snarls, road rage, and
general apathy, as franchises sprung 

up on every other corner & strip malls
& vast shopping malls clog empty lots.
So many turn their eyes back into the

inner cities, embracing urban renewal,
embracing apartment & condo luxury
minus the tedium of yard work & worries

about new roves, sump pumps & gardeners.
Everything comes full circle if you live long

enough & happen to notice it.


Glenn Buttkus

Posted over on dVerse Poets Pub

17 comments:

brudberg said...

Indeed a full circle... the inner city revival, proximity to everything and shunning cars for feet. The living becoming easy... though I guess still the suburbs grow as well... (at least they do so here).

Kim Russell said...

I love that painting and the quote, Glenn! They complement your poem, which is a wonderful commentary on American life after the war. I always learn something new from you! I love that phrase 'cookie-cutter ticky-tacky blandness', which has me humming 'Little Boxes'!

Selena Moonshadow said...

Indeed, a full circle. Your poem makes me wonder will I love the suburbs when I am 70, as much as I love it now? I already think I love it less than I did when I was 15, or 10.

Jane Dougherty said...

The suburbs are a foreign land to me. Even the ones here where I live. People are different, lead lives ruled by transport. I like this poem. It sets the suburbs in context and digs into their fabric.

indybev said...

I was so attuned to your poem, Glenn. My city seems to be spreading in both directions, with young professionals flocking to inner city, and young families flocking to far-out suburbs with houses larger and larger with each new subdivision in a sort of "can you top this" mentality. Where will it all end, I wonder!

Alison H said...

I still aspire to what came and went....here we did back to back, terrace, semi-detached...they were badges of status and life experience... we had a similar journey with tents..now we go full circle...I would settle for my first ever small mill cottage.

Sanaa Rizvi said...

My goodness you paint so masterfully life in the suburbs with your words! Sigh, the contrasts between; "walking distance from lovely parks & safe schools, rife with milkmen, postmen, & door-to-door salesmen" and "stressful commutes to work--tired of the damn cookie-cutter ticky-tacky blandness of the housing, new developments stretching clear to the horizon, blurring city limits" is deeply evocative!

paul mortimer said...

This is a great take on the prompt and for me the best line is 'tired of mowing lawns' because in those few words you catch the whole cycle from new suburbs to disillusionment. Great write! I have quite a large garden all the way down to the river .... with NO lawns! Just shrubs, trees, fruit bushes and flowers!!

Grace said...

A full circle indeed but I think it comes with life's choices ~ Some like the convenience of living in a condo, while others like the cottage/simple house kind of lifestyle ~ I have seen though a revival of the green among the city dwellers, and i think it has to do with gaining back the connection to nature, though far it may be ~

Enjoyed your read Glenn~

Frank Hubeny said...

I don't know if it has come full circle yet but you pointed out the main problems of suburban living: "We are tired of mowing lawns, stressful
commutes to work--tired of the damn

cookie-cutter ticky-tacky blandness of
the housing"

Mark Walters said...

We live in a trailer park, but I'd be all about not having to cut grass or fix this old trailer anymore. This park was built in 1960. It has seen better days. Thankfully though, it saves us from homelessness. I remember the 1950's and 60's. Every serviceman's dream was to become a double dipper in the suburbs. What a crazy idea. It went with a lot of notions popular at the time, the best cigarettes, whisky, a color tv, etc.

Sumana Roy said...

It's a wonderful picture of Time--then and now and the element of change in between. What struck me most are the two apparently insignificant words: safe schools, that seem to rise from the subconscious to offer a contrast between what was and is.

lillianthehomepoet.wordpress.com said...

Ah Glenn....I am slow to the posting and slow to the reading on this prompt....Bermuda (so the opposite of the suburb or the city) has been calling me to enjoy our last week here! But this....ah I am smiling here as I read. You've described in one poem, the cycle....why the burbs came to be and the movement now to city life -- full circle. And brought so many memories to me...as a boomer also. Those Saturday Evening Post and Look magazine covers...in the days when magazines were big too...I mean in size. And those adds....I remember the washing machine adds making laundry seemingly a blissful task to do :) And can you believe it, I was an Avon Lady one summer between college years! Yep -- I went door to door in our little "subdivision" -- that's what we called it instead of "suburb." I sold perfumes and lipsticks to housewives who opened their door, wanting to add a little glamor to their lives...and I won an entire set of dishes for selling so much. Those were also the days of green stamp booklets...remember those? Ah Glenn....I so enjoy your writing! :)

annell said...

The quote was so good....it was in the back of my mind, that the suburbs were the "enemy" of the American dream, with it's lack of individuality.

annell said...

I tried to send you a thank you for your comment, it came right back? So I will thank you this way.

lynn__ said...

Yes, love the history of suburbia in this, as it comes full circle...my poem's title was similar, Glenn ;)

sreeja harikrishnan said...

a rambler home behind a white-washed
pocket fence on wide tree-lined streets
with two-car garages & separate bedrooms

for the kiddies, walking distance from lovely
parks & safe schools, rife with milkmen,
postmen, & door-to-door salesmen....these lines tell so much...and then the boredom...
.... it is best to be with nature, if at all it will remain.....sigh...