Poetry: Decade & Not a Wall by Jose Hernandez Diaz

There is something wonderful about the prose poem, the way it elongates our necessity of closure, and the way, too, we are swept up into the rhythm of the sentence; the prose poem illustrates a world we both know and don’t know. In these poems, “Decade,” and “Not a Wall,” Jose Hernandez Diaz reminds us of this world: “He had grown from a seed to a forest,” “You are not a wall, but an axe: chopping way limbs and dreams and freedom for all.”



It was the last day of the decade. He had grown from a seed to a forest. His eyes were no longer yellow. He had a beard full of thorn roses. His arms were tattooed with lines from Shakespeare’s sonnets. Sure, it was over, but nothing would be forgotten.
The decade had hardened his skull. It was inevitable. Graffiti in the mind. His breastplate was made of aluminum. A violin played before midnight. He was awake, finally. No longer did he roam.


Not a Wall

A man ran into a wall. It was not an ordinary wall, actually. It was a cowardly wall. The man wrote a poem on the wall:

Dear wall, you are not a wall at all. You are more like a corpse. A rotting flower, even. You are not a wall at all, in fact, you are as transparent as a drunken poker player. You are not a wall, no, you are actually a mirror: I see my aged brown face, my grey hairs, in your expensive bricks. You are not a wall, but an axe: chopping away limbs and dreams and freedom for all.


Jose Hernandez Diaz

Jose Hernandez Diaz is a 2017 NEA Poetry Fellow. He is from Southern California. He is the author of The Fire Eater (Texas Review Press, 2020). His work appears in The American Poetry Review, Boulevard, The Cincinnati Review, Georgia Review, Iowa Review, The Nation, Poetry and in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2011. Currently, he is an Associate Editor at Frontier and Guest Editor at Palette Poetry.

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