José Olivarez | Poetry

Hecky Naw

you can take the boy
but the hecky naw stays
announcing his nation
of origin shame i was
ashamed the first time
i left home i kept you
under my throat
your song a basement
juke party i was born
south side juking language
i thought i left that party
dreamt myself in an
Armani suit in an
Armani room with many
Armani suits
isn’t that what Harvard
was supposed to buy
where the border ended
in a boardroom my parents
proud for once
i thought i was gone
& might come back
on some save the hood
but the hood isn’t
a garment you can toss off
it’s a skin hecky naw
my classmates
giving me the look
they give lab rats
before they hit the switch
that shocks them
hecky naw
if my professors say
one more thing about
Chicago i might heck
-le them or throw eggs
hecky naw i never
could scrape myself white
hecky naw
you the music i bumped
in the night
in my headphones
when i wanted
to hear my one true name


José Olivarez is the son of Mexican immigrants, the co-author of the book of poems Home Court, and the co-host of the poetry podcast, The Poetry Gods. He is a graduate of Harvard University and the Marketing Manager at Young Chicago Authors. A winner of a 2016 Poets House Emerging Poet Fellowship and a 2015 Bronx Recognizes Its Own award from the Bronx Council on the Arts, his work has been published in The BreakBeat Poets, Vinyl Poetry and Prose, The Chicago Tribune, & Hyperallergic, among other places. He is from Calumet City, IL, and lives in Chicago. His first book, Citizen Illegal, is forthcoming from Haymarket Books.

2018-02-28T17:32:31+00:00 February 26th, 2018|