Jose Hernandez Diaz is a 2017 NEA Poetry Fellow. He holds degrees in English and creative writing from the University of California, Berkeley, and Antioch University Los Angeles. His poetry and prose poetry appears in The Best American Nonrequired Reading, Gigantic Sequins, Green Mountains Review, Huizache, The Journal, Los Angeles Review, New American Writing, Pleiades, The Progressive, Rattle, Whiskey Island, Witness, and other journals. He has served as an editor for Floricanto Press and Lunch Ticket. He tweets at @JoseHernandezDz
I woke and found a shadow climbing up the walls. I looked around the room. There was no one, nothing there. I threw my pillow at the shadow. The shadow dodged it. I threw the remote control. The control shattered and missed all at once. I got up from bed and charged at the shadow. It disappeared. When I turned around I found it lying in my bed. I jumped on the bed and punched at the shadow. It climbed the walls again. Just as I was getting ready to throw a shoe at it, I began to wonder, The shadow isn’t hurting anyone. It doesn’t make a noise. Sure, it’s creepy, but I’ll just ignore it. I lit a cigarette and decided to paint. I’ll paint a shadow, I said to myself, A shadow of a vase full of marigolds.
I hammered some nails into a wall at the local church. The church gave me permission to hang a painting in their hidden poker room. I’m not religious, but the church and I have a professional relationship. The painting the Father requested is a portrait of Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso engaged in an arm wrestling match. Picasso has the upper hand in the painting, but the hidden meaning is that Dali let him win. This is evident by the smirk on Dali’s face, and Picasso’s strained look. I finished hammering the nails into the wall and placed the painting in the center of the room. I lit a cigarette and headed home. I forgot to mention, the painting is called, One vs. Two.
El Jefe Cantina
Because I lost my wallet, I had to mop the floors at the cantina. It’s a modest bar, but it’s my favorite because of the Matador Wings IPA it has on tap. The first time I had the Matador, I began to sing rancheras, almost beautifully. I sang one ranchera about a miner from Northern Zacatecas. I’ve never been to Zacatecas, but the ranchera was about the general plight of the miner, and his unrequited love for a woman named Carmencita. Carmencita had married the local butcher, Juan de Maria Vasquez. Anyway, the ranchera emanated from my belly, a method Garcia-Lorca describes as originating with Gypsy Flamenco. Anyway, I had to mop the floors and throw out the trash, but the next day I was back at my favorite seat in the cantina. “What’ll it be, Don Ramon? The usual?” “Yes,” I said. “Hell yes.”