Jose Hernandez Diaz

El Tío in a Mars Volta Shirt

A tío in a Mars Volta shirt played tetherball at the park with his niece. He was proud of being an uncle. His niece was dark-skinned Mexican, like him and their abuelita, too. The tío in a Mars Volta shirt played tetherball with his niece and then they went to In-n-Out for burgers. When they finished eating, they went to an old record store. The tío in a Mars Volta shirt showed his niece a guitar. She liked it. They bought one.

Within a couple of weeks, his niece was enrolled in guitar lessons. Her favorite band was Pink Floyd, like her tío. It was kind of boring to her, honestly, but she liked that they shared that. The tío in a Mars Volta shirt showed his niece how to play a ranchera on the guitar. They laughed and played until sunset.


The Fairgrounds in the Rain

A man in a Chicano Batman shirt and sunglasses went to the fair in Southeast Los Angeles. It was late summer. He rode the bumper cars. He rode the Ferris wheel. The man in a Chicano Batman shirt bought a hot dog on a stick and a glass of lemonade. He tried to make a large ball into a small hoop but was instead swindled for $5. He laughed it off.

Then it began to rain. Most folks went home. The man in a Chicano Batman shirt decided to wait it out. He sat beneath some palm trees and pulled out a sketchbook. He drew the fairgrounds in the rain. It brought him peace and pleasure to draw. It didn’t stop raining, though, so he eventually went home. The next morning, he painted the drawing from the fair onto a canvas. He used rather dark tones for the clouds and the rainfall juxtaposed with bright colors for the rides and concession stands. He titled the piece, “The Fairgrounds in the Rain.”


An Ode to the California Burrito

A man in a Chicano Batman shirt surfed in the ocean. It was late summer. He grew up driving the hour and twenty minutes distance from Southeast Los Angeles to the coast. Instead of wearing a traditional wet suit, today, he wore a Chicano Batman shirt, because it was a hot summer day, and the water wasn’t too cold. He caught some decent waves and then laid out on the sand to read a book of poetry by the Uruguayan writer, Marosa di Giorgio.

After he finished reading, he went to a taqueria across the street. He had a California burrito. The California burrito consists of carne asada, fries, pico de gallo, cheese, and guacamole. He had an horchata alongside the burrito. It’s the man in a Chicano Batman shirt’s go-to meal when he’s looking for comfort food. When he finished the burrito, he drove home. The sun began to set. When he got home, he showered and then wrote a song about his day. He called it: “An Ode to the California Burrito.”


Jose Hernandez Diaz is a 2017 NEA Poetry Fellow. He is the author of The Fire Eater (Texas Review Press, 2020). His work appears in The American Poetry Review, Bennington Review, Conduit, Crazyhorse, Georgia Review, Huizache, Iowa Review, The Journal, Los Angeles Review, The Missouri Review, Northwest Review, Poetry, Poetry Northwest, Southeast Review, The Southern Review, Witness Magazine, The Yale Review, and in The Best American Nonrequired Reading Anthology 2011. He lives in Southeast Los Angeles and teaches creative writing online.