Dreams of Conquest

I’ve been having a recurring dream of Hernán Cortés and Cuauhtémoc fighting it out with swords and Macahuitls and shields. My therapist tells me she thinks I’m trying to make sense of my culture and the world at large, as if life should be fair. Fair enough, I tell her, but I don’t care who wins anymore. I’ve had enough. I’m thirty-seven. I just want the fighting to stop. Why can’t they just play chess, I tell her? What about a friendly game of basketball or that famous Aztec pelota game—no wait, someone always dies in that game, too. I don’t want to be obsessed with death anymore, I tell her. I just want to laugh, paint, and enjoy the California weather. As far as dreams go, I tell her, I’d be fine if I just slept through the night.

Jose Hernandez Diaz is a 2017 NEA Poetry Fellow. He is the author of The Fire Eater (Texas Review Press, 2020). His work appears in The American Poetry Review, Boulevard, Cincinnati Review, Huizache, The Indianapolis Review, The Iowa Review, The Nation, Northwest Review, Poetry, The Southern Review, The Yale Review, and in The Best American Nonrequired Reading. He teaches creative writing online and lives in Southeast Los Angeles County. He has a forthcoming collection, Bad Mexican, Bad American, with Acre Books in 2024. His website is: josehernandezdiaz.com

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