Back to the Year 500

English only!
they shouted
seizing Native American youth
shipping them to boarding schools
forbidding American speech
English only!

English only!
flog them!
whip them!
drive out those American words
drive away those American thoughts
Europeanize them
English only!

English only!
principals scream
grabbing Mexican-American youth
by the shirt collars
Dragging them off to detention
for speaking Spanish
English only!

English only!
flog them!
whip them!
drive out those Castillian words
drive away those Aztec thoughts
Europeanize them
Engels only!

But I can't understand Engels,
language of the Angles
conquered in 1066
by French knights
forced underground
becoming patois of peasants
then creoelized by colonialism
now a pidgin!

It's Englatino
not English
we speak Englatino
not English
over half our words,
from Latin and French,
thousands of others, from
Native American, African,
Asian, and Pacific tongues

It's a sponge language!
a mixed pidgin, and
there's Jamaican and BBC
and New York and Southern
and Cockney and Aussie
and South Asian and Scots
and Yorkshire and Black
so when you say
"English only!"
which is it, matey,
which dialect
English of Chaucer
or English of Beowulf
English of King Alfred
or Englatino of today?
English only!

English only!
Does that mean taking out
all of the borrowed words
words like language, literature,
library, liberation, liberty,
words like tomato, potato
words like tea, rice, tofu,
bamboo, monsoon, gungho
words like okra, banana,
coffee, cotton, Jesus?

Back to the year 1000
Back to the year 500
English only!
English only!

 

Jack Forbes