Eric Cortez

by Paul Hlava Ceballos

In a lineage of effects,
proud scrapper who threw fists to fools
that dissed us little ones, you failed
only what teachers made you do,

and thrived in gripped communion of
backyard weight bench where a head nod
was more than history gave you.
When I made honor roll, you beamed.

When I woke in sudden spotlights
and looked out the blinds, grit and fleck
of the ghettobird’s quick updraft
blessed your name. Fuck how they tagged you,

conqueror cuffed and put away:
there was no Cortez before you.

Paul Hlava Ceballos has received fellowships from CantoMundo, Artist Trust, and the Poets House. His work has been published in Narrative Magazine, BOMB, the PEN Poetry Series, the LA Times, among others, and has been nominated for the Pushcart. His chapbook, Banana [ ], is coming out in 2021 from The 3rd Thing Press tête-bêche with Quenton Baker’s we pilot the blood. He has an MFA from NYU and currently lives in Seattle, where he practices echocardiography.