McDonald’s is now serving a portion of the breakfast menu all day! Alright! This brings up a poem I wrote more than five years ago once again. First written and presented for a narrative poetry class I took sometimeabouts in 2010 this poem made its way into the pages of Vox Poetica and then went on to end Early Harvest, which is no longer available. Take a look at it below, in all its glory.
I was part of a narrative poetry course when a fragment from an early version of “Breakfast All Day” (written for the class and available in its original incarnation in Vox Poetica) was shown on a transparency projection for the class to tear apart. All of the students were subjected to a blind criticism session in which their poetry would be evaluated uncredited. We were trying to determine whether the poem was worth reading- to find out whether it was compelling.
“Now,” said the instructor, “who wants to read the rest of this story?” Most of the class rather sheepishly raised their hands as their answer: the professor looked a bit bemused. “I mean is this a worthy poem? Is it worthy of poetry?”
“Yes…” one student answered, equally sheepishly.
“But, I mean so many places serve breakfast all day.” There was a note of impatience in her voice at this point.
“…Not McDonald’s,” mumbled another student.
I got congratulations on the poem throughout the rest of the quarter when my peers asked me which poem I did (none of us ever took that anonymous thing seriously). But it’s not just an example of an everyday victory of the proles uprising in union against the “owners of the means of production [read: knowledge].” It’s also an example of the kind of snobbery we experience every day- snobbery that leads uneducated people to conclude that William Shakespeare’s plays were composed by the better-educated, better-traveled, less intelligent, Edward De Vere. The same as the snobbery of the people who refuse to credit the writing of Rowling as literary or even good because everybody and their grandmother it seems loves Harry Potter.
Who is to say what literature is? What poetry is? I don’t have the answer, but I knew immediately that I was on the right track the day those events occurred. I was doing something right for the people. And it doesn’t matter whether they like or dislike McDonald’s or whether what I did was light verse. If it is light verse, by the way, I’d humbly hope it was so in the same way that Vince Guaraldi could’ve been called “light Jazz.”
The instructor actually asked me later on whether I wanted to be a composer of light verse. I was composing nothing but the stuff for the class because it was less time-consuming. What kind of question is that, though? Of course I want to compose light verse. What the hell do you think The Importance of Being Earnest is? Where on Earth would we be without Jeeves and Wooster? The truth is that I take it the same way as I take rhyme. A lot of people don’t like it in this day and age but if it’s good enough for Philip Larkin and T.S. Eliot, then it’s certainly good enough for me.
Breakfast All Day
Jimmy wanted breakfast for
The first meal of his day
“Son of a bitch!” he exclaimed
When the place told him it’s not
Breakfast time, it’s much too late
“It’s 11:01 now.”
“Where will I go for hotcakes?”
Exclaimed Jimmy in dismay,
“Breakfast burritos? Orange juice?
What ever will I do now?”
When he went to upper brass
About his big decision
They rejected Jeb Marshall
But he went through anyway
And now he makes the big bucks
Because breakfast always works
People got their sandwiches
Of egg or sausage all day
The pigs said, “Hip hip hooray!”
Well not everyone was glad
There was an evil person
Who gave Jeb Marshall a call
“Hello?” he answered the phone.
“Listen, sonny Jeb, to me,
I call the shots in this town.”
“Right you are,” said Jeb Marshall,
“But I want to know who this is.”
“Shut up! Now you listen here-”
Jeb could now tell who it was-
“This is what I have to say:
You’re going to shut down now
None of this breakfast all day
We own this place, we’re McWorld
McD’s is your kind of place
But you have to know right now
It’s my way or the highway.
You understand me, Marshall?”
“I understand you clearly,
Ronald,” gulped Jeb, who hung up.
Now there was devastation
Within all this freedom land
For Jeb’s McD’s was shut down
And those non-breakfast hours
Became a tribulation
A trial for us in the land
Because what were we to do?
“Have you had your break today?”
They would ask, but we haven’t
We could no longer smile wide
Or even put a smile on
What you want is what you get
But we certainly didn’t.
Did somebody say McD’s?
Do you believe in magic?
How could McDonald’s do this?
What’s with McDonald’s today?
It’s not just food, folks, and fun
We certainly know better
McDonald’s – It can happen
There’s nothing quite like McD’s:
“Good time, great taste, (that’s why this
Is our place)” truly sums it
“What can I possibly do?”
Asked Jeb Marshall that one day
“The God McFather Donald
Is threatening our way of life
McDonald’s and you, and us
That clown will not let us be.”
Jimmy, Jeb Marshall’s good friend
Placed hand on his chin in thought,
“I know what we can do, now.”
And Jimmy formed up a crew
Of misfit rebel rangers
“It’s gonna be Mac tonight!
Ron may have all the power,”
Jim said, “He may have the clout,
He will never take the one thing
That we cannot do without.
Re-open that McDonald’s
And serve breakfast all day long
For we shall all protect you
And in that, you can’t go wrong.”
Jeb clenched his fist, “God damn!
When you’re right, you’re fucking right.
Nobody makes your day like
McD’s can, and we’ll make theirs
You deserve a break today
And what better than our fast
To break for the entire day
And you, you know, you’re the one
We do it all for you now.
It’s a good time for the great
Taste of McDonald’s, alright!”
He re-opened McDonald’s
With breakfast served all day long
Ronald of the McDonalds
The clown of the family
The big boss of upper brass
Whose twisted smile told you that
He would best be reckoned with
And he brought Jeb in one day
“You know what this means, don’t you?”
Jeb nodded his head, and said,
“I think I know exactly,
You and your goons are hard-set,
Y’all are gonna rough me up.”
“Not just that,” said Ron McD,
“We’ll make you an example.”
“Not if I have the first say!”
Then Jeb punched that clown real hard
And Ron went backwards falling,
“Wahahahahou!” he laughed
Bounced back with an uppercut
Sent Jeb twenty feet flying
So now Jeb’s stuck in a cage
He’s been brought to the circus
To be shown off to the world
But we did storm the ramparts
Put the bun on hamburgler
And we fried up the fry guy
Last, we made the birdie sing
But the clown was a tough one
He disoriented us
With balloons and other things
He sprayed us down with seltzer
Then he honked his horn aloud
He grabbed me around the neck
Oh, he had the upper hand
But I knew the clown’s weakness
I brought out a small kitten
Who proceeded to scratch him
Until Jimmy, who appeared,
Put old Ronald’s hands behind
In handcuffs for safety’s sake
“So,” said Jeb, “what will you do?
Will you let us have breakfast?”
“Never!” cried the red-haired clown
But Jimmy had a good grip
And he hoisted up his arms
Causing poor Ronald to say,
“Augh, you son of a bitch, you.
Alright, you can have breakfast.”
So all the land had rejoiced
And the people lived in peace
“I think,” said Jimmy, “we won.”
“No,” said Jeb, “everyone won.”
But then Larry the Leopard
Jumped out from his hiding spot
“What the fuck?!” exclaimed Jimmy
“Nobody can do it like
McDonald’s can,” said Larry,
Looking threatening to the group
But Jeb knocked Larry out cold
‘Cause sometimes things get stupid
Sometimes things just aren’t alright
In the advertising world
The best intentions go wrong
But it’s McDonald’s today
And well on in the future
No one could stand in the way
And with breakfast back in force
All the folks lived happily,
Happily ever after.