Why is the Rising Sun aflutter from ten thousand flagpoles?
   Because the Japanese are coming today.
And why do our senators, those industrious termites,
Gaze off into space instead of forming a new subcommittee?
   Because the Japanese are coming today.
   Congress will soon be an item on their Diet.
What’s gotten into the President, trading quips with reporters
As he bails out his Whitewater bubble bath? How will posterity judge
him?   Well, the Japanese who are coming today
   Have their own scandals. His we can forget.
Why does the waterfront swarm with clumsily bandaged apprentices,
And the garment district ring with the mirth of transvestites in
whiteface?   Because the Japanese are coming today,
   Bringing their sushi-bar legerdemain
   And female impersonators second to none.
But our artists and writers? Funny-somehow one had pictured them
flockingTo greet the compatriots of Utamaro and Lady Murasaki.
   They won’t be missed. The Japanese of today
   Want spicy space-pirate comics and Van Gogh.
Midnight already? Times Square is a semiologist’s heaven:
Mitsubishi, Sony, Suntory, Toshiba, Kirin, Benihana….
But horrors! Great wings hide the moon. Are the Japanese passing us
over,As an in-depth update asserts, for the shores of Gimme Gucci?
   The sun has risen in Rome. By dark not a pair
   Of lizard loafers will be left unbought.
Leaving us where? With egg on our faces, or tofu. Those people
Were some sort of golden opportunity, but we blew it.

This Issue

July 14, 1994