The Contract Says: We'd Like the Conversation to be Bilingual --- ADA LIMÓN When you come, bring your brown- ness so we can be sure to please the funders. Will you check this box; we’re applying for a grant. Do you have any poems that speak to troubled teens? Bilingual is best. Would you like to come to dinner with the patrons and sip Patrón? Will you tell us the stories that make us uncomfortable, but not complicit? Don’t read the one where you are just like us. Born to a green house, garden, don’t tell us how you picked tomatoes and ate them in the dirt watching vultures pick apart another bird’s bones in the road. Tell us the one about your father stealing hubcaps after a colleague said that’s what his kind did. Tell us how he came to the meeting wearing a poncho and tried to sell the man his hubcaps back. Don’t mention your father was a teacher, spoke English, loved making beer, loved baseball, tell us again about the poncho, the hubcaps, how he stole them, how he did the thing he was trying to prove he didn’t do. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/147503/the-contract-says-we39d-like-the-conversation-to-be-bilingual
The Contract Also Says Keep your voice down and don't talk about bodily issues or functions at the dinner table. Be attractive, be demure, be willing to change yourself to suit the audience; be available but only to those silver-haired patrons who could be your father ['s boss' boss], or who celebrate your "difference" as if they're the only ones who can see it as a "gift." Don't say "I know" if someone [named Don] tells you you're brilliant. Always admit that you "couldn't do it without the support of wonderful people" like those gathered at the expensive table. And if anyone asks what you "do" for a living, laugh and say "I write poems" or "I teach" because to call yourself a poet? That's just arrogant. And it's someone else's job to "do."
Suggested soundtrack: polite applause.