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Fresno Poetics: JJ Hernandez


If only I had enough

money to lose it all

in a recession, followed

by a pining depression

of my white postindustrial soul.

I want to name my cargo van

& travel for the sake of traveling.

Let me shake my pasty ass on camera,

I won an Oscar. So fun.

Post-pandemic America will be full

of broken-down motorhomes & white vans

that some nomadic white kid named for TikTok.

How do my dreams tell me that I am lost in the veins of society?

I hit a golf ball with my brother

after I spend hours watching his kids,

because their Bible school can’t go a full day,

& he works so hard to buy them black shoes

because I can see white socks in the toes.

Can you give me a free pass? I’m not living the white life.

The gradual release of responsibility is a theory

that some equity professor enacted in teaching pedagogy,

some professor, who ignored the communal teachings

of my ancestors, & wants me to tell my brown students

to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

What is a bootstrap?

           We wear Nikes or Adidas, puto,

                                   go read some Paulo Freire.  

And how can I tell them to stop working, to stop

driving forklifts, or cutting red sinews of flesh

from hanging cows on conveyor belts?

I have no release from my responsibilities.

I can’t build a cabin in the woods & jerk off,

I got shit to do.  

In the last days, men will be lovers of themselves.

What’s so bad about that? I love myself,

but I can’t help but think that “Whitman”

sounds so much like “Whiteman”,

& that to love oneself, you lose the souls

of those you are responsible for.

And yes, I ended a clause with a preposition.

I guess that’s just making

all the fucking difference, the body is electric,

but some of us don’t have to sing

JJ Hernandez

J.J. Hernandez is a poet in Fresno, California. He holds an MFA in poetry and served as an inaugural fellow in the Laureate Lab:Visual Wordist Studio under Juan Felipe Herrera. His work has been supported by the Community of Writers Workshop, he reads for The Offing, and you can see some of his work in Tinderbox, Queen Mob's Tea House, The Acentos Review, Crab Orchard Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, The Missouri Review, and The American Poetry Review.

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