Last Exit to Mulberry Street

Dr. Seuss books on display in a bookstore in Brooklyn, N.Y., March 2, 2021 (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

On the untimely cancellation of Dr. Seuss

When I sit down to read a book,
Some idjit says to me,
“Oppressor, check your privilege —
We’ll decide what you can see!”
And if I dare to contravene
Or decline to heed his quarantine,
Some philistine on Twitter sternly says,
“That literature’s obscene!
“You must do as we dictate,
“And we shall de-platform that hate!”

Now, what can I say
About the news today?

Under pressure from the mob
A gaggle of millionaires
— Dr. Seuss’s own literary heirs! —
Are nixing six books — they are pressing “Delete.”
And we’ll never again stroll down Mulberry Street.

That’s nothing new to us:
Just go ask Mark Twain
How the story of Huck Finn
Got flushed down the drain.

“Art should break rules!”
So they used to say.
But the fools’ new command
Is that art must obey.

Conformism’s victory is almost complete
So you’ll never again visit Mulberry Street.

The great and the small fry,
From Steinbeck to Weiss
Are pushed into the margins
Their words put on ice.
Harper Lee, Whitman, Rushdie, and Golding —
Faced with complaints, the school boards are folding.

Freedom of speech has nary a booster:
Not at The Atlantic nor Simon & Schuster.
The New York Times will bellow and bleat,
And the silence will echo down Mulberry Street.

No, this won’t do, this won’t do at all —
This won’t do, these minds so small!
If they see just one word that they deem indiscreet
They’ll melt into puddles on old Mulberry Street.

Hold on a minute! Has it come to that?
Yertle the Turtle? The Cat in the Hat?
The Whos down in Whoville —
All samizdat?

Informers informing, keep your eyes on your feet:
The Secret Police patrol Mulberry Street.

Must we be doomed to litigate
The past, which did not anticipate
The present? Must it be our sorry fate
To comically self-flagellate?

We live and we learn
And our attitudes change.
Every day is a new day —
But isn’t it strange
That people who sell books
Should have the conceit
To put up a roadblock on Mulberry Street?

The hucksters and hypocrites
Are quick to join forces
And report any wrongthink
To Human Resources.

I know what I know . . . and this isn’t right.

Amazon plots
In the dark of the night
And gone is a book
That won’t see the light.
But wouldn’t it be grand
If they cared half as much
About books as their brand?

Oh, but who needs all that reading when there’s Netflix to binge?
The Star-Belly Sneetches now have their revenge.

An intelligent book
Deserves someone to read it.
A book that starts fights?
We desperately need it.
An unpopular view?
The campus should hear it.
But both teachers and students
Are afraid to go near it.
They cling to their wubbies
And bury their faces.
Away with you ninnies —
Back to your safe spaces!

Go back to TikTok or stay home and tweet.
You don’t deserve to see Mulberry Street.

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