Jose Hernandez Diaz
Although my body is that of a human, I have the head of a lizard. My lizard tongue is something of a show for people, but I’ve learned to embrace it. I rather like having a lizard head. Something different. Going against the mainstream. I listen to punk rock music; so, it fits the aesthetic. I work as an art teacher, online. When the students first see me, they are polite for the most part. But I hear the whispers and giggles in the background. Can’t deny it doesn’t hurt a little. But pain makes you stronger. The best part about having a lizard head is definitely the superior vision. I can see all the beauty in the details; lilacs blooming in the spring.
Wolverine on Hollywood Blvd
I wake up at 5 am every day because I want to get ahead in life. I take a shower; 15 minutes. I have breakfast and a coffee. I put on my Wolverine mask and go to Hollywood Blvd. By the time I get to the tourist section, I am already in character, both physically and psychologically. I charge $50 per photo to tourists. Everyone loves Wolverine. Spiderman is a wuss. Kind of a wacko, if you ask me. I think he’s hooked on drugs, if I’m being real. Anyway, I wish him the best. No, I don’t perform on the street. I don’t dance. I just walk around like a badass. People gravitate toward me. I make a decent, honest living. At the end of the night, around 10 pm, I drive on the cold freeway, still in uniform; still alive.
My Life as a French Existential Novelist
After I fell down the stairs last Easter, I was suddenly able to speak French. I moved to Paris, immediately. I got a job at an old bookstore where Apollinaire used to frequent. I bought a French Bulldog, of course. On the weekends I smoked too many cigarettes and rode the subway, aimlessly. My French name was Gaston, like in “Beauty and the Beast,” except I had no Belle. I always wanted to be a French Existentialist; now that I was one, I refused to wear a beret or the color black. My fatal flaw is that I think people are always looking at me; in fact, it’s just that I was born a handsome child. Still, the moon shines more beautifully in Paris, France. The clouds, more beautiful.
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, Georgia Review, Poetry, The Nation, Witness, and elsewhere. He is an educator and editor in Southern California.