Letter to America by David Hernandez

Three Poems

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Those of Us Who Have Double Parked

are just as selfish as those of us who have split
two parking spaces. There are those of us
who label those kinds of people
assholes, who think the insult or shape it
to sound, and those of us who ink it to napkin
before wedging the flimsy paper square
underneath his wiper blade. I said “his”
because, come on, let’s be real,
let’s be surreal and picture a woman
hogging two spots with a lifted truck.
So uncouth. So parachute, her sailing
to the ground wearing a blue, blue dress.
Now a man arrives in a modest car who
recognizes her—that poised stride, a rapid mind
two cubicles from his. Same gig
and yet she gets the bigger paycheck.
It deflates his self-esteem, those extra dollars,
her taking more, her taking more
spaces than she needs. He parks
reasonably. So considerate. So swan—
his gliding toward the office building
in a blue, blue dress—the company uniform.



Mind If I

In the wake of the Senate confirmation process, my approach to life also 
remains the same. I will continue to heed the message of Matthew 25.
                                 – Judge Kavanaugh, swearing-in ceremony

Mind if I open
this bag of marshmallows and twist
one into each ear, mishear
the new justice to the Court?

       In the ache of the sunlit
       confiscation process,
       my encroach to life
       also retains the shame.
       I will continue to screed
       the vestige of my view
       when we fight—

end quote. Mind if I speak
on behalf of these black-robed men
raised Catholic, decades of Christ whispering
to unmarshmallowed ears?

       Sorry, ladies. We are just
       reminding you that Jesus
       spies on your vagina.

Pardon me while I
remove their mouthpiece—toss it
into a pool, toss the pool into an ocean
and the ocean onto the moon
beside the Sea of Tranquility,
prop a lifeguard tower on that empty shore
with someone leaning
against the wooden rail—a woman,
a woman on the moon,
only herself to rescue.



No End to the Things Made Out of Human Talk

With language, with all the talking
we talked, and the blue wall of protocol,
we protected each other,
discussed what was to be
said in separate rooms, uttered into
tape recorders, in the books.
What I recall: a black teenager stood
still, confounded as to why
he was surrounded by us.
Some called him Fits the Description, others
The Suspect. Our squad cars made him
shimmer, made him flame. When he
turned, a shadow from his unzipped hoodie
opened across his chest, and one of us
fired, kept firing, kept the sound
arriving. We had the wherewithal
to tell him afterward he felt
threatened, the way he had lunged.
These were our talking points:
lunged, threatened. In offices, unused
interrogation rooms, behind
drywall, concrete, brick, windows
shuttered closed, we corroborated,
tweaked the script.
Relief unfurled throughout the precinct
when we heard there was to be
no indictment. Now at night I see
the boy sprawled, see him clear, cheek
to pavement, my conscience glowing
like blood under luminol, grows brighter,
too radiant for sleep.




David HernandezDavid Hernandez’s most recent collection of poetry is Dear, Sincerely (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2016). His awards include an NEA Literature Fellowship, two Pushcart Prizes, and the Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry. David teaches creative writing at California State University, Long Beach.

Header photo by Roman Belogorodov, courtesy Shutterstock. is the first online literary journal of place, publishing award-winning literature, art, editorials, and community case studies since 1998.