Three Poems


Photo: Lukasz Szmigiel, Unsplash.

The Many Deaths of Inocencio Rodriguez

A fistfight of paper on the ground, his hello
as ancient as dinosaurs. Honeydews
bright as crayons.
        His donations to the sun,
the backbreaking work of immigrants. Human
battery. Decades of floral on the walls.

Lavender & homicidal, dusk. Everyone
in witness protection like Isabel’s recklessness.
        Where her spirit relocates,
she carries a fruit knife in her garter. Smokes grass
in the Badlands. But here, with a dandelion’s 

hostility, she robs dough from its shape
while he webs fetish into himself under running
water cold. Her apron 
        weighed down by niños
& migraine. The mescal tastes of nectar & 
heatstroke, the curdled milk, a hazy observer.

Time measured by eyetooth’s length, their bodies
nomads to each other, they fill jars
with night in order
        to fool chronology, but night
can’t fool anything except for moths, profanity,     
& these godless American orphans. 



If a tree falls in a forest, we hear it because it’s you. The sound it makes is hijo, hijo, hijo, as it isn’t a forest, but a six-story window. If we tell you we’re afraid, you’ll end up even more than dead, a rapid explosion of boyness. If I admit, I don’t think you have a heart, just a broken lamp beneath your chest, you’ll fracture another space, & that’s the darkness where we’ll be forced to live. If I say, I worry you’ll leave the dog strangled, you’ll pull another window from a room so that I can’t see its burial. Why we hate so deeply our own: brother, Mexican, brother, Mexican. Who do you think builds our houses? We need a new word for forest, something that captures the height of looking beyond woe. Genitalia has a certain ring to it, a wind chime, soft sound wrinkling like bark. For describing mockery of the body, maybe jigsaw. There’s no way to soothe the carnivore of you, but your steps on the ledge come close, a brief hush stamped in rubber. A sucker punch of stillness before the great leap: Good morning, world!


The Many Deaths of Inocencio Rodriguez

Her breasts, seagulls choking 
    on cinnamon gum, hands as pale as dough.

Her center: neon catalpa, wet
    leaves that circle like West Texas vultures. 

Her hair, an avalanche of grosgrain ribbon,
    divides the curtain from the window,

the window from its cartilage, cartilage
    from its piercing, the piercing from an ear,

an ear from gravity. His body incubates 
    under the pile of XX bright with its blankness, 

under a network of electric vines
    stubborn to a fence. The tugboat of his guilt

dragged home on a string from the river 
    where he taught his son the impossible

bottle. Ahogar: to drown, wasps giving
    birth in the lungs. The menthol of Virginia Slims 

forty-six years later. Black coral of blood 
    gathered in the colon, in the throat, the liver.

    The antonym for apology.


LALT Number 9
Number 9

Latin American Literature Today begins its third year of publication with an issue that takes in Venezuelan poetry, the writing of indigenous women, and the strange worlds of fiction. We open the journal's second volume with a dossier dedicated to Samanta Schweblin, an Argentine writer whose work tests the limits between the fantastic and the real, and then we shift to the poetry of Venezuelan poet Rafael Cadenas, winner of the 2018 Premio Reina Sofía de Poesía Iberoamericana. We also pause over Mapuche poetry, with a special selection of four young women poets who write in Mapuzungun and in Spanish, and we also stay up to date with the present debates surrounding one of the central figures of twentieth-century Latin American literature, Pablo Neruda, with an exclusive interview of his biographer Mark Eisner.

Table of Contents

Editor's Note

Featured Author: Samanta Schweblin

Dossier: Chicanx Literature

Indigenous Literature






Translation Previews and New Releases

Nota Bene