A call of sorts went out:
Johnny can't read,
Janey can't write,
And they’re comin' in from all over town.
Your bro's and sisters from all of Mama Globe's Old Sods,
Including this one,
Your pretty tired and almost poor,
In all skin tones and shapes,
College kids of all ages
After workin' a hard day -
In night school, in the hot fall of Southern Cal.
And I'm the "teach",
A native English speaker,
The only one not crippled.
The task at hand?
Why: it's The National Literacy Crisis:
Fix it so they can write a page of simple English clear
And so have human futures under the Big Girl's Torch,
So here's me, jiving away, pointing out pronouns,
--- marking papers, encouraging articulation;
Bathed in the strange manners of those born on the hill's other sides,
In the pathos of our meetings on mild evenings.
Yeah, here I am,
Little Mr. Emergency Professor,
Re-commissioned, recalled from the academic dead
Standing before you -
My papers, my red pen on the table,
My heart in my throat
My balls in my hand
And my gun,
Still moldering I hope,
Where I threw it
At the bottom of that swamp