Jose Hernandez Diaz

The Moon

My first day on the moon was a pleasant experience. I had been a political prisoner for a few months back home in a country I won’t name. I was against the government in general. I didn’t have a specific economic or social policy gripe, I just didn't like their bland uniforms and puppet shows. Their national anthem was a bit monotone and soulless. It lacked fine word choice or nuance for that matter.

So, when I arrived on the moon, as an exile, I welcomed the change. The prison was beginning to kill my spirit. On the moon I was free to do as I pleased. I mean, I had to wear a space suit and bounce around like a kangaroo, but I got used to it. You get used to things, as a man, you soldier on. The lack of food and water was initially problematic, but I began to realize that true nourishment came from the stars.

On my last day on the moon, I didn’t realize it was going to be my last day. It rained peacock feathers as cotton candy clouds overflowed the atmosphere. Dolphins flew freely in the sky like doves in renaissance paintings. I sat near a pair of dragons and played the harmonica. I was on the moon, but it felt like a silver dream. A dream where you can’t wake up. I never did wake up, actually. It was the most peaceful sleep of my life.



The Gargoyle

A gargoyle arrived at my patio in autumn. It was made of charcoal granite. The gargoyle flapped its wings slowly as it landed on the pavement. I asked if it wanted some water. It shook its head, no. I pulled out a cigarette and puffed away. I asked the gargoyle if it wanted a smoke. No, again. I looked at the sky and wondered where the gargoyle came from. He seemed to guess my confusion, and spoke, “My name is Samson, I’m from the 15th Century.” That’s amazing!” I said. “What brings you to the suburbs of Los Angeles?” “I’ve been wanting to see the future. The modern world. I want to get a place out here in the suburbs. Away from the city.” he said. “What city do you live in?” I asked. “I’m a Parisian, a Frenchman.” he said. “Fascinating,” I said, looking up at the sky. “How did you get here, anyway?” I asked. “It was a matter of wishing upon a blood moon. I made a wish to live in suburban Los Angeles in the year 2020,” the gargoyle said. “That’s amazing!” I said. “So, where do you recommend I go for quiet and darkness?” the gargoyle asked. “Well, this place is known for sunshine and palm trees. But, if you find the right isolated spot along the coast, you’ll have fog every morning, at least, and views of the vast ocean at night.” I said. “Then the coast, it is, friend. Thank you for your time!” the gargoyle said, as he flew westward. I didn’t know exactly what just happened, but I had a newfound respect for gargoyles and 15th century gothic architecture in general. The reticence. The melancholia.



Jose Hernandez Diaz is a 2017 NEA Poetry Fellow. His work appears in The American Poetry Review, Bennington Review, Diode Poetry Journal, Georgia Review, Iowa Review, The Nation, Poetry, Southeast Review, and in The Best American Nonrequired Reading. He is the author of a collection of prose poems: The Fire Eater (Texas Review Press, 2020).