Le Mot Just

We were arguing one evening, as the
sun was going down,
About the names we give to groups:
The old Collective Noun.

We had gone through prides of lions;
schools of fish; brigades of foot,
When I wondered, “What’s collective
for the poor old prostitute?”

Well! I felt as though I’d stepped
upon a hidden hornets’ nest,
For each man proposed an answer,
and each swore his was the best!

We had a treasury of trollops, and
a tragedy of trulls;
An entire Who’s Who of hookers and
a calamity of culls…

We’d a pastry cook among us who,
in tribute to his arts,
Put forth the obvious image of a
tempting tray of tarts,

While a fishmonger there present,
who was more than slightly nuts,
Proposed the odious and malodorous
catchphrase “a slab of sluts!”

Then our resident militiaman cried
out “A troop of tramps!”
But he was shouted down in favour
of a vile vendue of vamps;

A convention of solicitors; a haggling
horde of whores;
Such invention for the ladies whom
society deplores!

No, the task of giving pride of place
was not a simple one.
The concubinage of courtesans might
easily have won,

Or the hostile hiss of hustlers,
but we had to share the rose
Between a bright fanfare of strumpets
and an anthology of pros…