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David Garyan: California Poets Part 5, Two Poems

David Garyan

December 22nd, 2022

Californian Poets: Part V

David Garyan

Two Poems

Trial by Twitter

Today, and for all time, don’t read Dr. Seuss to your children— he drew caricatures of Asians and Blacks. Likewise don’t show your kids Disney cartoons— Walt invited a Nazi director to his studios. Neither look at Picasso’s paintings, nor those of Diego Rivera— they were rude and treated women like shit. Don’t teach the nonviolence of Gandhi— in South Africa, as a young man, he said some racist things. Remove statues of Robert E. Lee— he was great at military tactics, and also a great bigot, but if you topple those statues, drop Grant’s as well— in 1862 the great General issued General Order No. 11, which expelled every Jew from his military district. And speaking of Jews, the whole Protestant religion should be canceled, because its founder, Martin Luther, wrote this here work: On the Jews and Their Lies. Neither read the books of Marx nor keep Marxist scholars in college— communism killed millions. And sure as hell avoid the theories of Louis Althusser— that commie scholar killed his wife. In short, communism=murder and capitalism=salvation. Don’t think MLK is a great man— he plagiarized much of his dissertation. Don’t teach Darwin’s evolution— at the age of 29, he wrote white missionaries in Tahiti had banished “dishonesty, licentiousness, and intemperance.” Surely, all this is racist, and while we’re on racism, don’t mention the beauty of Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address.” In 1858 he said: “There is a physical difference between the White and Black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality.” Go. Run. Deface the Lincoln Memorial. Burn all the books of Freud— he loved cocaine and was a total misogynist, and also burn those by Lovecraft and Kipling. They were, as you guessed it, racist. Trial by Twitter. The Jolt Generation. Fully electric. Social media shock therapy. Burn. Cancel. Erase. Destroy. Do all but build. Wake up, you Woke Generation. The apparition of these faces in the crowd: Petals on a wet, black bough. Beautiful, isn’t it? Absolutely. Yes. But don’t you dare read it, much less derive pleasure from those words— they were written by Pound, and we all know about Pound. Pound. Pound. Pound. A fan of Hitler— killed millions, but a loser. Yet professors across the US freely cherish Lenin and Stalin— revolutionaries, killed millions, but victory made it okay. Give them tenures and paychecks. Truman. American. Hero. Fat Man and Little Boy—winners. Mussolini. Italian. Disgrace. “Fascism, now and always, believes in holiness and in heroism; that is to say, in actions influenced by no economic motive, direct or indirect.” Don’t dare praise the idea. Hanging upside down at a gas station is a crime. But, respect communist dictators who won wars— everything is forgiven. Forget Adam Smith’s economics— about native tribes, like those in North America, he said: “the lowest and rudest state of society.” Racist. Racist. Racist. Elvis Presley stole black people’s music— force yourself to hate his songs, even if you can’t help loving them. Don’t teach or read Dante— he put Muhammad in the lowest circle of Hell. Retrieve American flags from the moon— German Apollo scientists had worked for the Nazis. Scold Germans for driving Fords. Their ancestors committed the Holocaust— and ‘ole Henry himself was an anti-Semite. Take down the statues, America, but keep producing the cars— by God, the economy can never be taken down, even if it drives millions of people into the ground. Through starvation, pollution, and stress, America will survive— it will keep the statutes of capitalism and topple the statues of its violent history. Silence the dissidents and spy on our “enemies,” but let IBM stay in business— who, after all, speaks today of their role in tracking the Jews? And to hell with sympathy. The worst don’t deserve it. My dog has died. I buried him in the garden next to a rusted old machine. Some day I’ll join him right there, but now he’s gone with his shaggy coat, his bad manners and his cold nose, and I, the materialist, who never believed in any promised heaven in the sky for any human being, I believe in a heaven I’ll never enter. Yes, I believe in a heaven for all dogdom where my dog waits for my arrival waving his fan-like tail in friendship. Why do you feel pain for this speaker? Don’t you dare do it. His or her thoughts came from the mind of Neruda. Pablo Neruda, that is. A fervent Stalinist and defender of communism. That hombre wasn’t a poet. And don’t get fancy with Hobsbawm. The bloke wasn’t a historian. Cancel him now. Do something, for God’s sake. Neruda. Hobsbawm. Admirers of Stalin. But so it goes: The casualties created by winners are written on the sands with no memory— on stormy beaches where the wind’s fury remembers only the present. The faults of the loser are thoroughly recorded, written in ink whose stains are impossible to remove— a liquid that never forgets an insult, like women cheated on and forgotten, left for younger wives.



Origin: A phenomenon first observed during the Cold War. Guilty parties: Russia, China, Iran, and anyone hostile to American interests—democratic or not (see definition 2).

Etymology: Ukraine, a resource-rich country, trying to exit the Russian sphere of influence. Also possible, post-1979 Iran. (Refer to Jimmy Carter, 39th US President, Term: January 20, 1977 – January 20, 1981, more specifically, Iran Hostage Crisis, leading to the creation of Iranium.)

Compare American uranium and Russian уран. The former is democratic, while the latter is authoritarian. Each substance is the same, but also very different, like the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the American one. (See OED’s definition of “logical” or “justified hypocrisy.”)

1. A radioactive political situation—capable of escalating into carnage—that really has nothing to do with Ukraine. A new Cold War to assert American hegemony. Examples: Korea, Vietnam, Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, Afghanistan, and now Ukraine.

2. Freedom on American terms. Example: Salvador Allende, democratically elected president in Chile. Overthrown by the US. Pinochet, a dictator installed, leading to a successful ukraineium revolution.

Berkeley, January 17, 1956 — The first time “ukraineium,” as a phenomenon, was described in a major literary work, though the word itself wasn’t used. (Refer to Allen Ginsberg’s America.)

Asia is rising against me. I haven’t got a chinaman’s chance. I’d better consider my national resources.


America it’s them bad Russians. Them Russians them Russians and them Chinamen. And them Russians. The Russia wants to eat us alive. The Russia’s power mad. She wants to take our cars from out our garages.


Ukraineium enrichment: Creating conflicts—preferably inside Russian or Chinese spheres of influence—to destroy a country so it can be “rebuilt,” i.e., plundered by American corporations while rebuilding it. Example: Almost all of Sub-Saharan Africa, where the Cold War was quite hot.

Ukraineium rich: Countries with poor political institutions, fertile for bribes, and ready for American economic penetration.

Depleted Ukraineium: Countries with poor political institutions, fertile for bribes, but years of American economic penetration have stripped them of their resources. Also: any country that has served American interests for a time, but its service is no longer needed, having become dispensable.1

Ukraineium bomb: The total defeat of Russia by the American military industrial complex. The wet dream of Joe Biden, and really every US president since WWII, except for maybe FDR, who needed the Soviets to liberate most of Europe.

Poster from the German-Russian Museum in Berlin. Photo by Author.

Ukraineium isotopes: The loudest and most hysterical cheerleaders interested in Russia’s destruction—Poland and the Baltics. Standard modus operandi: Blame the Russkies for everything, even when it’s not their fault. (Refer to OED’s definition of Russiatwist: If a building falls in Warsaw, and no one is there to die, it doesn’t make a sound. If a building falls in Warsaw, and there are victims, it sounds like Putin singing the Soviet Anthem.)

Ukraineium Gorebachev: An unnaturally occurring human material—valuable political concessions can be extracted from It/Him/Her/Them/You-238/Proton/Electron/Atomic Number 92/146 Neutrons/Alpha/Beta/Omega to profit the West, i.e., the downfall of the Soviet Union. Also: A politician mined for his policies that benefited non-Russians. Hero of Chernobyl. (Synonym: Bores Yeltsin: a radioactive human substance that keeps Russia weak and the West laughing. Mined in Russia. Enriched in the West.)

See also: Hide and Seek Ukraineium

1. A popular game played during the Cold War. Revived when the US no longer had an enemy to play with. The Middle East proved to be a strong contestant, sometimes posing interesting challenges. Still, Russia was always the most desirable—and toughest—opponent, though largely the weaker party. (See collapse of the USSR.)

Instructions for playing: A simple call and response, until one party runs out of ideas. Below is an example of a game supposedly played in Reykjavik by Reagan and Gorbachev in 1986. Before discussing Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles and human rights, they broke the ice in Iceland this way. Since it all happened in unofficial capacity, no transcript of the game exists. Accounts of the event are steeped in controversy—many doubt the two leaders ever played. Though viruses and computer hackers existed in the ‘80s, the presence of “canceled” is an outright anachronism—no one was canceled in those days, and if they were, they weren’t canceled, they were simply ignored: Indeed, there was no internet, much less Twitter. Others argue that “canceled” was an incorrect translation of the Russian word “замененный,” which refers to someone who’s replaced—in the sense that, like on assembly lines, everyone is completely free and yet totally dependent. They work and yet make nothing of their own. They have only their labor to sell.

Russia violates human rights.

US law overreaches inadvertently.

# I can’t breathe.

Russia commits war crimes.

America bombs hospitals—

for democracy and by accident, of course.

Russians have state news.

American news is freely private—

controlled by corporations with agendas.

Russians bribe.

Americans donate.

Russia hacks.

America is more intelligent—

it works in cyber intelligence.

Russia is aggressive.

America just has the biggest military.

Russians vote in rigged elections. Nothing ever changes.

Americans cast their ballots fairly—

electing those who talk too much and change too little.

Russians dwell in the prison they’ve built.

Americans reside in a free society

where they’re free to be canceled.

In Russia, it’s nearly impossible to live.

In America, it’s very difficult to make a living.

_____________________________________________________________________________________ 1 Having enjoyed cordial relations with Ronald Reagan, Mobutu Sese Seko also received the support of Reagan’s successor, George H.W. Bush—being the first African leader to visit Bush at the White House. However, the US radically changed its approach after the Cold War’s conclusion—his role in containing communism was over, and the US withdrew all support. Mobutu himself stated: “I am the latest victim of the cold war, no longer needed by the US. The lesson is that my support for American policy counts for nothing.” In 1993, American authorities rejected his visa to visit Washington, D.C.

Author Bio:

David Garyan holds an MA and MFA in Creative Writing from Cal State Long Beach. In addition, he received an MA in International Cooperation on Human Rights and Intercultural Heritage from the University of Bologna. He has published four collections of poetry with Main Street Rag. He has interviewed and published the work of some of the most notable writers and academics of our time, including Sari Nusseibeh, Elena Poniatowska, Susan Stewart, Harry Northup, and Clifford Ando, among others. His poem, “Open Letter to the Students of Brandeis University with Bibliography,” published in Volume 11 of The American Journal of Poetry, was praised by Joyce Carol Oates and promoted on her official Twitter page.


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