Ode to a California Neck Tattoo

By JOSE HERNANDEZ DIAZ

A man in a Chicano Batman shirt got a tattoo of the state of California on his neck. He rode his longboard to the tattoo parlor early in the morning. This was going to be his third tattoo. He also had a tattoo of palm trees on his chest and a skeleton on a surfboard on his calf. He smoked a cigarette as he arrived at the shop.

Everything went smoothly. It didn’t hurt much. He was a little worried he might be perceived as a gangster, but he knew real gangsters could tell the difference between soldiers and civilians. He rode his longboard home. The sun peeked through the fog.

The man in a Chicano Batman shirt was born in southern California. He went to college in northern California. He’d never lived anywhere else. He didn’t want to. Couldn’t imagine living in a place that didn’t have Mexican-Americans. He wasn’t arrogant about it. He just loved the sunshine and the ocean and the tacos and the murals to La Virgen de Guadalupe.

 

Jose Hernandez Diaz is a 2017 NEA Poetry Fellow. He is from Southern California. He is the author of The Fire Eater. His work appears in The American Poetry Review, Boulevard, The Cincinnati Review, The Georgia Review, The Iowa Review, The Nation, Poetry, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2011. Currently, he is an associate editor at Frontier Poetry andPalette Poetry.

[Purchase Issue 21 here.]

Ode to a California Neck Tattoo

Related Posts

blackbird upon a puddle

Translation: Poetry by Esther Ramón

ESTHER RAMÓN
Two of those brief animals / that populated the branches / and the furniture made useless / by humidity and neglect. / They were separated / From time that burns as it passes, / from this insignificance, / from the feeding cycle, / my desires in the shredded remains

Mogadishu: a man holds an assault rifle while people walk by, with a crumbling building in the background

November 2021 Poetry Feature

ALDO AMPARÁN
Nights alone I tread / I drag the cloak // through the mud of the old  / municipal gardens / ancient heirloom my family’s ghosts // exhale / between its woven thread / of silk & cotton / some old // cousin too distant / to have known me // in his life speaks / broken Spanish...

Still image from movie: two women in each others arms

Film Review: El Planeta

HANNAH GERSEN 
In Amalia Ulman’s debut feature, El Planeta, which she wrote and directed, Ulman and her real-life mother (Ale Ulman) play a mother and a daughter awaiting eviction. Ulman’s character, Leo (short for Leonor), has returned home after the death of her father, whose sporadic alimony payments barely supported her mother.