top of page

Ode to My Parents Who Immigrated from México

     Jose Hernandez Diaz



Sometimes, I feel guilty for having been born first-generation

Mexican-American. My parents went through a lot

for my siblings and I. Crossing a massive, deadly border,

entering a country without knowing the language, culture,

working tedious jobs for endless hours. Guilty, for having it easier,

though not compared to my American friends, growing up.

They didn’t really know about hand-me-downs, free lunches,

getting hit with a belt for saying curse words in both English

and Spanish. Still, my parents and other immigrants sacrificed

leaving their families behind, being despised by Americans,

for simply seeking a better life of hope. Yet, they never complain.

They’re not perfect, no, but if you want to see the true strength

of America, it’s in the rough hands, bright eyes,

and in the frank smiles of immigrants.

Jose Hernandez Diaz is a 2017 NEA Poetry Fellow. He is the author of The Fire Eater (Texas Review Press, 2020) Bad Mexican, Bad American (Acre Books, 2024) and The Parachutist (Sundress Publications, 2025). His work appears in The American Poetry Review, Border Crossing (CAN), Cincinnati Review, Circulo de Poesia (MEX), Gigantic Sequins, The Hooghly Review (IND), Huizache, The Iowa Review, The London Magazine (ENG), The Missouri Review, The Moth (IRE), The Nation, Poetry Magazine, Poetry Wales (UK), The Progressive, The Southern Review, TriQuarterly, The Yale Review, Witness, and in The Best American Nonrequired Reading. He teaches generative workshops for Hugo House, Lighthouse Writers Workshops, The Writer's Center, and elsewhere. He serves as a Poetry Mentor in The Adroit Journal Summer Mentorship Program.

bottom of page