In our first installment of 'This Work Will take Dancing': Latinx Poetry from the Southern U.S., we wanted to encapsulate the breadth and variety of the work Latinx poets are creating across our region. Experiences, storytelling, and imagination writhe together to create poems that transport us and ones that ground us in the muck and mire of home. This we we are featuring pieces by Iliana Rocha and Aline Mello that do exactly that.
The Many Deaths of Inocencio Rodriguez
The street hangs from the sky, held in suspension
by summer’s dark hair lazily in a braid,
exhausted power lines. Someone has thrown a pair
of sneakers, joined together by knots,
over the wires, insistence of we walk away from.
Or declaration of staying’s ease. What’s gathered
overhead—recognition of a cloud-shaped hurt.
Happiness won’t find a home here,
escapes through each home’s latticework like papel
picado chiseled down into a pair of doves.
Hanging on the wall of my grandmother’s kitchen,
a wooden scene of her kitchen, with its miniature pots & pans—
on the tiny table, a vase of daffodils given
to her before he left. This scene never
expands. It stays its little size, despite the trial &
want for it to expand beyond is diminutive
yellow. Can we reposition La Llorona’s creek behind
another house? What must stay pinned to the map
like a butterfly: the view, the sugar factory where he worked
when he at last modified Texas geography
to stretch all the way to Detroit
by letting his gun follow his steps in the grass.
After Long Distance Phone Calls
Arrozcomfeijão with ham on Thanksgiving.
Arrozcomfeijão and Copa do Mundo in Spanish
We keep dog-eared, stained cookbooks,
and manicurists who still wear clothes that smell like Brazil.
Arrozcomfeijão in Tupperware in school
Arrozcomfeijão and Caesar salad
If I don’t pull enough I sag with feeling,
see through green and yellow lenses.
Arrozcomfeijão on Independence Day.
Arrozcomfeijão translated for my stepfather.
I keep the old music
that disrupted the military regime.
But can’t escape the US flag
in front of every Home Depot,
as if we need reminding which country we live in.