As a die-hard city dweller who usually writes about urban places, I get a lot of flak for ignoring the suburbs. This poem, which I have entitled “Oh! Suburbia,” a.k.a. “It’s Tough to Be Vegan When You Live in Waukegan,” should put an end to that.


Listen to my live performance of the verse set to music. To download, click here and select “Save Target/Link As.”

Vernon Hills is mighty flat
Wheaton has no wheat
Glencoe has no Scottish
But the golf is pretty sweet

You can’t kill deer in old Kildeer
No lions dwell in Lyons
Elk Grove Village has no elk
No Israelites in Zion

The closer you get to Gurnee
The more they still listen
     to Journey

Oh! suburbia
Forests, lakes
And parks and streams
Cul-de-sacs and Wal-Mart dreams
Elfin swarms of soccer teams
Yes, I love the suburbs

Blue Island isn’t really blue
Nor is it an island
Highland Park is flush with cash
But not exactly high land

Rolling Meadows does have 
But I won’t say they’re “rolling”
Ain’t no brook in Bolingbrook
But there’s a lot of bowling

Now, where the hell is IKEA?
Should have turned right
     at Mokena

Oh! suburbia
SUVs and SATs
Borders next to Applebee’s
Olive Gardens come in threes
Yes, I love the suburbs

Homewood, Highwood,
     Harwood Heights
The trees must not be dwindling
Streamwood, Maywood, Elmwood Park
That’s a lot of kindling

Hey, all you in Indian Creek,
Today is your bad news day
Because your only reservations
Are at Ruby Tuesday

How do I love thee?
Let me count the Starbucks

Oh! suburbia
Delis, bellies, homemade jellies;
Staying home to watch their tellies
You take Paris! Rome! and Hamburg!
I’ll take Morton Grove and Schaumburg
Yes, I love the suburbs


Illustration: Monika Melnychuk