POETRY October 1, 2021

New Kid In Town

I became more comfortable in my barrio when I learned how to throw a punch. No one was going to try anything with me, anymore. I soon learned our people look out for one another. When I began riding my longboard around town, and became more familiar with the neighborhood, I learned that the streets are a little more crooked on this side, more graffiti too. But it builds character, as the whites say. Before I moved here, I was sure I’d end up hit up or jumped, or shot, of course. Of course, those things do happen, but if you don’t look for trouble, you should be fine. In fact, I always thought I’d want to get buried in my childhood hometown, one day, on the other side of the tracks, but now, after twenty years, here, this is home.

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, Boulevard, Crazyhorse, The Georgia Review, LitHub, The Los Angeles Times, Poetry, Witness, and in The Best American Nonrequired Reading. He is an Associate Editor at Frontier Poetry and an educator in Southeast Los Angeles County.