ode to american english

I was missing English one day, American, really,

with its pill-popping Hungarian goulash of everything

from Anglo-Saxon to Zulu, because British English

is not the same, if the paperback dictionary

I bought at Brentano’s on the Avenue de l’Opéra

is any indication, too cultured by half. Oh, the English

know their delphiniums, but what about doowop, donuts,

Dick Tracy, Tricky Dick? With their elegant Oxfordian

accents, how could they understand my yearning for the hotrod,

hotdog, hot flash vocabulary of the U. S of A.,

the fragmented fandango of Dagwood’s everyday flattening

of Mr. Beasley on the sidewalk, fetuses floating

on billboards, drive-by monster hip-hop stereos shaking

the windows of my dining room like a 7.5 earthquake,

Ebonics, Spanglish, “you know” used as comma and period,

the inability of 90% of the population to get the present perfect:

I have went, I have saw, I have tooken Jesus into my heart,

the battlecry of the Bible Belt, but no one uses

the King James anymore, only plain-speak versions,

in which Jesus, raising Lazarus from the dead, says,

“Dude, wake up,” and the L-man bolts up like a B-movie

mummy. “Whoa, I was toasted.” Yes, ma’am,

I miss the mongrel plenitude of American English, its fall-guy,

rat-terrier, dog-pound neologisms, the bomb of it all,

the rushing River Jordan backwoods mutability of it, the low-rider,

boom-box cruise of it, from New Joisey to Ha-wah-ya

with its sly dog, malasada-scarfing beach blanket lingo

to the ubiquitous Valley Girl’s like-like stuttering,

shopaholic rant. I miss its quotidian beauty, its querulous

back-biting righteous indignation, its preening rotgut

flag-waving cowardice. Suffering Succotash, sputters

Sylvester the Cat; sine die, say the pork-bellied legislators

of the swamps and plains. I miss all those guys,

their Tweety-bird resilience, their Doris Day optimism,

the candid unguent of utter unhappiness on every channel,

the midnight televangelist euphoric stew, the junk mail-voice mail

vernacular. On every boulevard and rue I miss

the Tarzan cry of Johnny Weismueller, Johnny Cash, Johnny B.

Goode, and all the smart-talking, gum-snapping

hard-girl dialogue, finger-popping x-rated street talk, sports

babble, Cheetoes, Cheerios, chili dog diatribes. Yeah,

I miss them all, sitting here on my sidewalk throne sipping

champagne verses lined up like hearses, metaphors juking,

nouns zipping in my head like Corvettes on Dexedrine, French verbs

slitting my throat, yearning for James Dean to jump my curb.

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