Ferlinghetti, Lawrence (1919-)

  I didn't get much sleep last night
  thinking about underwear
  Have you ever stopped to consider
  underwear in the abstract
  When you really dig into it
  some shocking problems are raised
  Underwear is something
  we all have to deal with
  Everyone wears
  some kind of underwear
  Even Indians
  wear underwear
  Even Cubans
  wear underwear
  The Pope wears underwear I hope
  Underwear is worn by Negroes
  The Governor of Louisiana 
  wears underwear
  I saw him on TV
  He must have had tight underwear
  He squirmed a lot
  Underwear can really get you in a bind
  Negroes often wear
  white underwear
  which may lead to trouble
  You have seen the underwear ads
  for men and women
  so alike but so different
  Women's underwear holds things up
  Men's underwear holds things down
  Underwear is one thing
  men and women have in common
  Underwear is all we have between us
  You have seen the three-color pictures
  with crotches encircled
  to show the areas of extra strength
  and three-way stretch
  promising full freedom of action
  Don't be deceived
  It's all based on the two-party system
  which doesn't allow much freedom of choice
  the way things are set up
  America in its Underwear
  struggles thru the night
  Underwear controls everything in the end
  Take foundation garments for instance
  They are really fascist forms
  of underground government
  making people believe
  something but the truth
  telling you what you can or can't do
  Did you ever try to get around a girdle
  Perhaps Non-Violent Action
  is the only answer
  Did Gandhi wear a girdle?
  Did Lady Macbeth wear a girdle?
  Was that why Macbeth murdered sleep?
  And that spot she was always rubbing --
  Was it really in her underwear?
  Modern anglosaxon ladies
  must have huge guilt complexes
  always washing and washing and washing
  Out damned spot -- rub don't blot --
  Underwear with spots very suspicious
  Underwear with bulges very shocking
  Underwear on clothesline a great flag of freedom
  Someone has escaped his Underwear
  May be naked somewhere
  But don't worry
  Everybody's still hung up in it
  There won't be no real revolution
  And poetry still the underwear of the soul
  And underwear still covering a multitude of faults
  in the geological sense --
  strange sedimentary stones, inscrutable cracks!
  And that only the beginning
  For does not the body stay alive
  after death
  and still need its underwear
  or outgrow it
  some organs said to reach full maturity
  only after the head stops holding them back?
  If I were you I'd keep aside
  an oversize pair of winter underwear
  Do not go naked into that good night
  And in the meantime
  keep calm and warm and dry
  No use stirring ourselves up prematurely
  "over Nothing"
  Move forward with dignity
  hand in vest
  Don't get emotional
  And death shall have no dominion
  There's plenty of time my darling
  Are we not still young and easy
  Don't shout

The Oxford Book of American Light Verse (Harmon)