Jose Hernandez Diaz

The City Is Dead Without Your Pirouette of a Smile

A man in an MF Doom shirt skated in the city. He ollied over a trash can. He picked up a leaf and put it in his pocket. The man in an MF Doom shirt skated by the Opera House. There was a ballet going on. He went inside and enjoyed the show. He used to date a Russian-American Ballerina. They had known each other since childhood. One day she left him for a Spanish Ballerino. He never felt so alone. As he watched the ballet, he started to write a poem. It was called, “The City Is Dead Without Your Pirouette of a Smile.”



The Lilac Wind

A man in an MF Doom shirt rode the bus to an art gallery. He was going to see his favorite graffiti artist: The Lilac Wind. The Lilac Wind was an obscure painter who never showed his face in public, like Doom, like Banksy. As he rode the bus, he wondered who it could be?

The doors opened at 8 pm, sharp. The man in an MF Doom shirt ran to the front of the line. As he walked around the gallery, he noticed nothing but painted canvases full of words dripping with paint: Revolver. Evolve. Solution. Ignite. Recycle. Breath. Repeat. Align. Forgive. Teach. – The Lilac Wind. The man in an MF Doom shirt sat in awe. He didn’t care who the man actually was anymore. It could’ve been any of a number of these artsy types, he thought. What matters is the words dripping with bright paint on the canvases. He rode the bus home as the moon rose over the city and he thought of the final two words on the final canvases: Believe. Exist.



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, Cincinnati Review, diode poetry journal, Georgia Review, Iowa Review, The Missouri Review, The Nation, Poetry, and in The Best American Nonrequired Reading. Currently, he is an Associate Editor at Frontier Poetry and Guest Editor at Palette Poetry.