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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, September 28, 2018.
About this Poem 

“I wrote this poem as part of a collaborative series with the visual artist Victoria Martinez. Victoria’s Celestial House series plays with visual elements of nostalgia. She takes pieces of old dresses she loves and gives them a new life via collage. I tried to write a poem that worked like a collage does. I wanted to make nostalgia nauseating.”
—José Olivarez

now i’m bologna

my parents were born from a car. they climbed out
& kissed the car on its cheek. my grandmother.
to be a first generation person. 23 and Me reports
i am descendant of pistons & drive trains. 33%
irrigation tools. you are what you do. my first job
was in a lunch meat factory. now i’m bologna.
it’s not so bad being a person. the front seat of a car
is more comfortable than the trunk. when they were babies
my parents dreamt of being Lamborghinis. not
people. you are what your children grow up to do.
if i put my parents' names on papers, what happens?
the answer is no comment. the answer is quién sabe.
the answer is yo no sé, pero no es abogado.
people are overrated. give me avocados.

Copyright © 2018 by José Olivarez. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 28, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by José Olivarez. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 28, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

José Olivarez

José Olivarez

José Olivarez is the author of Citizen Illegal (Haymarket Books, 2018). He is the marketing manager at Young Chicago Authors and lives in Chicago.

by this poet

poem
i know we exist because of what we make. my dad works at a steel mill. he worked at a steel mill my whole life. at the party, the liberal white woman tells me she voted for hillary & wishes bernie won the nomination. i stare in the mirror if i get too lonely. thirsty to see myself i once walked into the lake
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