To the Alarmist by C.J. Dennis

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Despite the number of robberies, burglaries, murder trials, abductions, assaults and other crimes recently, the authorities insist that there are no indications of a "crime wave."

When the burglars go a-burgling every evening in the week,
   And the daylight robber plies a busy trade,
When the prowler goes a-prowling, his unhappy prey to seek,
   And nightfall finds all citizens afraid:
Do not loosely talk of "crime waves," tho' brute violence be rife;
   These are merely indications of a normal social life.

It is well to speak discreetly; choose your words at such a time.
   You may call the thing a hurricane, an avalanche of crime;
But when crackmen crack the record and the crooks will not behanve
   It makes the "heads" quite angry if you call the thing a "wave."

When you seize your daily paper, and discover ev'ry morn
   That another shop or household has been cracked,
   'Tis absurd to grow indignant and to raise a howl forlorn,
   And marvel why authorities don't act.
They are acting. You will notice that quite nearly every day
   They detect unlicensed motors, or the walker known as "jay."

But to talk about a "crime wave" is quite palpably absurd,
   And it hurts official feelings when that foolish phrase is heard.
   When to trifling depradations such outlandish names you give,
   Pray remember, crooks are human and a burglar has to live.

When the Minister says firmly that "such things should never be,"
   When he says he's "shocked," why, surely that's enough
To indicate quite clearly that he has no sympathy
   With criminals who make the game too rough.
And, if these solemn warnings to malefactors fail,
   Well, I, for one, won't be surprised if he should mention jail.

But to talk about a "crime wave!" Oh, my friend! do have some sense!
Have you thought how such wild talk may harm the business of a "fence?"
You are surely courting trouble when such vain remarks are made.
Serve you right if he should sue you for unjust restraint of trade.

First published in The Herald, 4 June 1923

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on June 4, 2013 5:27 PM.

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