José Olivarez

you can take the boy / but the heckie naw stays / announcing his nation


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