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.
Iliana Rocha earned her PhD in English Literature and Creative Writing from Western Michigan University. Her work has been featured in the Best New Poets 2014 anthology, as well as The Nation, Virginia Quarterly Review, RHINO, Blackbird, and West Branch. Karankawa (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015), her debut collection, won the 2014 AWP Donald Hall Prize for Poetry. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Central Oklahoma.
Arturo Gutiérrez Plaza is a poet, essayist, and university professor. He serves as the Associate Editor and Book Reviews Editor of Latin American Literature Today.
He has published the following verse collections: Al margen de las hojas (Caracas: Monte Ávila, 1991), De espaldas al río (Caracas: El pez soluble, 1999), Principios de Contabilidad (Mexico: Conaculta, 2000), Pasado en Limpio (Caracas: Equinoccio, bid&co, 2006), and Cuidados intensivos (Caracas: Lugar Común, 2014). His books of essays, literary research, and anthologies include: Lecturas desplazadas: Encuentros hispanoamericanos con Cervantes y Góngora(Caracas: Equinoccio, 2009), Itinerarios de la ciudad en la poesía venezolana: una metáfora del cambio (Caracas: Fundación para la Cultura Urbana, 2010), Las palabras necesarias. Muestra antológica de poesía venezolana del siglo XX(Santiago de Chile: LOM, 2010), and Formas en fuga. Antología poética de Juan Calzadilla(Caracas: Biblioteca Ayacucho, 2011).
Among other prizes, he has won: the Mariano Picón Salas prize for poetry (Venezuela) in 1995, the Premio Hispanoamericano de Poesía Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (Mexico), in 1999, and the Premio Transgenérico de la Fundación para la Cultura Urbana (Venezuela) in 2009. He is a retired senior professor at the Universidad Simón Bolívar (Venezuela), and he currently works as a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Oklahoma.
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.