Green Hills Literary Lantern

 

 

Speak English

 

“I don’t want to become you. I don’t want to speak your language, I don’t want to celebrate your holidays. I sure as hell don’t want to cheer for your soccer team! You need to learn our language and become us.”

 

–Lou Holtz (former football coach of Notre Dame University, at the 2016 Republican National Convention)

 

 

But how will you order a taco, Lou, or buy a poncho,

or ask your stoic wife to dance the tango? And how

will you pray to the immigrant souls of your Ukranian

grandparents? Who only used their native tongue

when they wanted you not to understand. Who said,

when you begged to be taught, No, you live in America,

you speak English. Meaning, don’t tell your granddaughter

(the one with the soccer mom) you were a Delta Upsilon

frat boy who led the Fighting Irish to the Fiesta Bowl.

Don’t let her become a ballerina, munch a bagel, or wear

pajamas. And you. You put down that vodka martini, skip

the barbecue on the patio, sell the piano and the Chevrolet,

duck Florida, Nevada, Bismarck, Canton and Des Moines,

you chiffon vigilante, you khaki desperado, you schmuck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ken Haas lives in San Francisco where he works in healthcare and sponsors a poetry writing program at the UCSF Children's Hospital. His poems have appeared in, among others, Clare, Cottonwood, Forge, Freshwater, Helix, Lullwater Review, Natural Bridge, Nimrod, Pennsylvania English, Poet Lore, Quiddity, Sanskrit, and Soundings East. You can visit him online at http://kenhaas.org/.