Many times, when I meet white intellectuals online or in person,
They want to speak Spanish to me or take a shot of tequila.
No, I’m not ashamed of Spanish, no soy menso, however,
I wouldn’t say I grew up speaking Spanish first to strangers.
Assimilation? Perhaps. But as a child one doesn’t think so far.
One is just trying to survive, fit in, make friends, enjoy life.
It’s complicated, this dual reality, ni de aquí, ni de allá,
But at the same time, very American, very Mexican.
Am I doomed to ambivalence and Mestizaje? I will embrace
This life, strive for clarity among the chaos clashing in mi vida.
When I visit México, my Spanish improves. I get closer to mi gente.
Walking in the mercado, catching a game of futbol at the estadio,
Having hamburguesas on the street, pan dulce in the morning.
But when the plane lands in LAX, I always know I’m home.
Two beautiful homes for one hombre. Why am I complaining?
Jose Hernandez Diaz
Jose Hernandez Diaz is a 2017 NEA Poetry Fellow. He is the author of The Fire Eater (Texas Review Press, 2020) and the forthcoming Bad Mexican, Bad American (Acre Books, 2024). He lives in Southeast Los Angeles and teaches creative writing online.