Could be I’m on a mission:
Convince the entire world
I am the World's Greatest Living
English Language poet;
Of course, genius such as mine
Goes generally unrecognized until
The posthumous crowd weighs in.
And yet, wouldn’t it be nice?
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Yes, wouldn’t it be nice?
(The Nobel Prize,
Tribute at the Kennedy Center,
A MacArthur Grant,
The Presidential Medal of Honor,
Reverent BJs from hipster groupies . . .
The Poet Laureate in his vicarage,
Enjoying my sweet twilight celebrity.)
(Cue “Guys & Dolls” soundtrack: “What's in the daily news?
I'll tell you what's in the daily news.”)
23: Beheaded at Nigerian Election Rally!
Amanda Knox Gets Away with ****** Again in Italy!
Kung Pow: Silicon Valley Penisocracy Crushes Ellen Pao
German Crash Dummy Co-pilot Flies Jet into the Alps!
Hilary’s Emails Are *****!
Sierra Leone Ebola Lockdown!
Iran: Kooks with Nukes!
Sri Lankan President’s Brother Dies from Ax Wounds!
Saudi Diplomats Evacuate Yemen!
Stampede at Hindu Bathing Ritual, Bangladesh Kills at Least 10!
Simply put: THE WORLD IS IN A STATE OF ****.
Perhaps it’s time we turn again.
Seek solace in poetry—
“Yeah, chemistry,” insists my Sky Masterson,
My “Guys & Dolls” alter ago.
Surprised? You shouldn’t be.
All poets are gamblers & moonshiners.
We polish our chemical craft,
Sweet-talking the distillation apparatus,
Getting us, getting at linguistic essence.
Cunning linguists are we.
(Colonel Angus, are you back?)
Oyez! Oyez! The gavel raps:
“The Curious Case of Sam Hayakawa.”
We open this hearing to determine
Whether or not S.I. Hayakawa—guilty of
Numerous crimes against humanity & other
Professional Neo-Fascist “entrechats.”--
Whether or not he merits a kinder, gentler
(Wikipedia ( i/ˌwɪkɨˈpiːdiə/ or i/ˌwɪkiˈpiːdiə/ WIK-i-***-dee-ə) Wikipedia)
We open this forum, focusing on his
Courageous stand against the
SDS & Black Panthers, part of
An unlikely coalition: The Worker-Student Alliance
& It’s rival, Joe Hill Caucuses.
Da Name of the Place:
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The name of the place: San Francisco State,
1968-69, the longest student strike in U.S. history,
Led successfully to the creation of
Black & Other Ethnic studies programs
On campuses across the country,
And, one could argue,
Gave the green light to
Osama Hussein Obama,
Our first Uncle Tom President.
But I digress.
ACTING SFSU President, Dr. Hayakawa—
Perpetual audition, the pressure on,
Feisty, independent-minded & combative,
Screaming at that skeevy student mob:
(Skeevy as in “He bought the thing from
Some skeevy dude in an alley.")
Declaring “A State of Emergency,”
Calling in the SFPD, whose
Inexplicable slogan says”
“Oro en Paz,
Fierro en Guerra.”
Archaic Spanish for
Gold in peace,
Iron in war, by the by,
For you holdouts,
Those of you who still
Think the “English First Movement”
Breathes life still.
I’ve got more news for you:
That crusade died long ago,
Locked up, dark & shuttered,
Bank Repo thugs, their thick
Neck muscles flexing from side to side,
Sashaying across the parking lot,
Like John Wayne on steroids,
Right up to the front door.)
The SFPD: San Francisco city fuzz,
(As they were known at the time) &
The California National Guard, as well,
Obstreperously, generously catered by
Governor Ronald Wilson Reagan,
(Early stage, Alzheimer’s at the time.
But still very much “The Gypper,”
Still chipper in Sacramento.)
Ronnie--keenly interested in
The Eureka State’s congressional clout,
Lassoes a seat in the U.S. House of Lords:
AKA: The U.S. Senate, SPQR.
It’s still hard . . .
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Still hard to believe that California was once
Rock solid in the clutches of the GOP,
Gripped tightly in the Party’s
Desperate talons. But the grip slipped,
Slipped in the slip-sliding 1970s.
It got harder and harder . . .
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Harder and harder to remind
Leroy & the rest of his ebony posse,
That it was Abraham Lincoln—
“The Great Emancipator” himself—who was,
Our first Republican President.
The Emancipation Proclamation:
That toothless rhetorical flourish,
Based solely on Abe’s
Constitutional authority as
Not on a law passed by Congress.
It was just Abe blowing smoke
Up their ***** again,
Just an egalitarian blast from
His Old Kentucky past,
A youth spent splitting rails,
Busting his *** just like
Any plantation ******,
A stark plebeian commonality,
Too deeply etched to be ignored.
Poor Abraham Lincoln:
Probably a **** Creek crypto-Jew,
Neutered by the opposition:
His very own Republican majority Congress,
Another example of the GOP
Shooting off its own foot, right up there
With Mitt Romney’s "47 percent of the people,”
The rhetorical gaffe which cost him his
Second & final shot at the White House.
But I digress.
Senator Sam S.I. Samuel Hayakawa:
That inscrutable Asian fixer, is now U.S. Senator,
Republican, California, 1976-83
Pulpit-bullying his Senate colleagues,
Fiercely opposed to transfer of the
Panama Canal & Panama Canal Zone to
Panama: a diplomatic no-brainer; Duh?
Their freaking name is on both of them.
Senator Sam, obstinate & blustering:
"We should keep the Panama Canal.
After all, we stole it fair and square.”
And Hayakawa, later the driving impetus
Behind the Far Right “English Only” movement.
His co-founding an "Official English"
Advocacy group, U.S. English;
Their party line summarizes their belief:
“The passage of English as the official language will help to expand opportunities for immigrants to learn and speak English, the single greatest empowering tool that immigrants must have to succeed."
That’s how they sold it, anyway.
In sooth: just old-fashioned nativist
Hayakawa: always the high achiever.
Hayakawa: The Great Assimilator,
Preaching his xenophobic Gospel:
“Immigration Must Be Reduced!”
Aryan rhetoric, of course,
A bi-product of radical authoritarian nationalism,
A movement with deep American roots.
Senator Sam: a Japanese-Canadian-American,
Always tried too hard to fit in.
Sam, comfortable in Chicago during WWII,
Not personally subject to confinement,
Advocated that Japanese-Americans
Submit to FDR’s 1942, Executive Order 9066.
“Time in camp, will eventually work to Japanese advantage."
Later, during the Congressional debate over
The Civil Liberties Act of 1988 . . .
(Passed the House on September 17, 1987 (243–141)
Passed the Senate on April 20, 1988 (69–27, in lieu of S. 1009)
Reported by the joint conference committee on July 26, 1988,
Agreed to by the Senate on July 27, 1988 (voice vote) and
By the House on August 4, 1988 (257–156,
Signed into law by President Ronald Reagan 8/10/88.
He opposed $reparations for WWII internment:
“Japanese-Americans should not
Be paid for fulfilling their obligations."
Some guys, I guess, would say, or
Do anything for Bohemia Club membership.
Plagued by night terrors, nonetheless,
His Manzanar nightmares, his vivid
Imaginary experience at other Japanese
Internment Sites: Tule Lake & Camp Rohwer.
Stalag (German pronunciation: [ˈʃtalak])
Stalags, infamous still,
“Stalags ‘R Us,”
Still palpable memories for
Issei ("first generation")
& Nisei ("second generation").
See: 323 U.S. 214. Korematsu v. United States
(No. 22: Argued: October 11, 12, 1944.
Decided: December 18, 1944.140 F.2d 289.
The opinion, written by Hugo Black,
Chief Justice Harlan Stone, Presiding.)
Hayakawa: a strange duck, of course,
But we mustn’t ignore his strong credentials,
And I’d like to disabuse anyone here
Of the notion that it was anything
Other than his academic record
That got his case to this Forum.
Oyez! Oyez! The gavel raps:
“The Curious Case of Sam Hayakawa.”
So begins this fractured Pardoner’s Tale,
This petition for forgiveness,
The Capo di Tutti Capi,
Presiding: the original Italian mafioso,
His Eminence--the Vicar of Jesus Christ,
The Supreme Pontiff
Pope Paparazzi of Rome!
Roma: the only venue large enough to
Dispense dispensation of this magnitude.
Hayakawa: everyone says his C.V. is “impeccable.”
But did anyone ever freaking Google it?
Just where did Professor Sam go to school?
Undergrad? The University of Manitoba,
Truly, by any Third World Standard
A great bastion of intellectual rigor;
Grad school? McGill and U Wisconsin-Madison.
He was a Canadian by birth,
His academic discipline was Semantics.
(As in “That’s just semantics,”
That all-purpose rejoinder in any argument.)
Professor Hayakawa, The Semanticist,
He taught us: “All thought is sub-vocal speech.”
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Hmmm? We think in words.
The medium of thought is language.
If you grok this for the first time,
Let’s stop to celebrate our enlightenment,
With a cultural nod of respect,
We salute our Islamic brethren.
Radical Islam: the new bogeyman,
Responsible for keeping lights on in Alexandria,
Paying the defense & intelligence bills,
Sustaining that sinister
Ike warned us about.
Hang in there, Mustafa, old buddy.
Like the Cold War, this insanity
Will eventually blow over.
Orwell’s Oceania will reshuffle
Its deck of global grab-***, and a
New enemy will suddenly appear.
Big Brother, as always,
In the full-control mode,
Simply put: on top of the situation.
Allāhu Akbar. “God is Great!
The Takbīr (the term for the
Arabic phrase: usually translated as
"God is [the] greatest.")
“All thought is sub-vocal speech.”
What a simple, yet profound insight!
Just a short hop, skip & jump to the
Realization that, perhaps, the clarity
& Power of our minds can be groomed,
Improved upon by mastery of—
In Sam’s case, anyway--the English Language.
Was this, perhaps, the germ of U.S. English,
The political lobbying organization
He co-founded, dedicated to making
English, the official language of the United States.
Hayakawa: a wooly conservative of his own design;
No wonder Governor Reagan loved him.
Dr. S.I. Hayakawa, a colorful and polarizing
Figure in California politics during the 1960s and 70s.
Can we forgive his daily afternoon naps.
Asleep on the floor of the U.S. Senate,
Leaving California so pathetically,
So ostensibly under-represented.
Senator Sam’s comatose presence at
Washington-on Potomac; the
District of Columbia.
A long time ago,
In a distant galaxy . . .
Far, far away.
Alas, long before he got to Washington,
Long before ever setting foot off campus,
He called for tear gas to
Disperse those pesky college kids.
I repeat myself for emphasis:
He authorized the use of tear gas at SF State.
Tear gas: a lachrymatory agent?
Actually, a potentially lethal
Chemical agent . . .
To wit: Sgt. Sara Brown,
Referencing “Guys & Dolls” again.)
Outlawed for use during wartime,
Banned in international warfare
Under both the 1925 Geneva Protocol; & the
Chemical Weapons Convention;
“Tear gas: a weapon of war against
The people. We believe that
Tear gas remains a chemical weapon
Whether used on a battlefield, or city streets.”
Thus, history will be your judge,
You unleashed tear gas on college kids,
So I wouldn’t expect a rep makeover
Any time soon, Ichiye-san, my ichiban friend.