A man in an MF DOOM shirt known as “El Chacal” walked downtown in the city. “El Chacal” was looking for his favorite street taco vendor. The vendor sold tacos de asada, al pastor, and Coca Colas. The man in an MF DOOM shirt, “El Chacal,” was masked: a virus had spread that winter. It will all be over soon, he thought. Downtown, the city was a Ghost Town. He began to realize the taco vendor wouldn’t be there, either. “El Chacal” pivoted and rode the empty subway car back to his apartment on the southeast side of the city. As he exited the train, he resisted an innate urge to tag on the train’s window in all caps: “EL CHACAL.”
Jose Hernandez Diaz is a 2017 NEA Poetry Fellow. He is the author of The Fire Eater (Texas Review Press, 2020) and the forthcoming, Bad Mexican, Bad American (Acre Books, 2024). His work appears in The American Poetry Review, Boulevard, Huizache, Iowa Review, The Missouri Review, Poem-A-Day, Poetry, The Southern Review, Yale Review, and in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2011. He teaches, edits, and writes in Southeast Los Angeles.
Other stars in the Owl asterism:
Skin and Bone
Melissa Llanes Brownlee
Her toes curling in the sand, Tita counts the shells spiraling beside her. Their bleached bodies, remnants of once-living creatures, wondering if her bones will shine as brightly when she is dead.
Chloe N. Clark
The first time I’d held a basketball, I was four, and my Dad had passed it gently to me. In my hands, it was heavy and I dropped it. As it rolled away, I saw people climb up from the lines.
[i learned how to win in four moves]
i learned how to win in four moves at chess. i learned the three segments of every insect’s body. i learned that ms. jacqueline takes her smoke breaks behind the gymnasium and stubs out her cigarette on the oleander petals.