The Many _______ of Inocencio Rodriguez by Iliana Rocha

The Many_____________of Inocencio Rodriguez
                    plural noun


     Sleep’s body resting like a Chevy 4×4 slammed into a tree. Yeah, I lived, it says, as a million drunk ballerinas. As an arabesque upside down & backward. A papalote fractured. A windowsill made of broken tibias.
          His ziggurat terraced by aggression, stone scored into steps like Isabel’s hipbones. Nothing from him has ever escaped, not so much a microfiche wheeze or lawnmower’s razor-thin snore, not his carnival of women, buck tooth, ferris-wheeled, first kiss, & hiss. Light without radiance, a circle deviant under construction.
               Out of respect, birds drip the sky like stale coffee, dissimulate the parking lot where some automobiles stand unshelled. I shut my eyes the way I slam a door—puncture sleep, letting all this air out bored of its solitary room. His face is half-covered by blanket. He doesn’t dream.

Mariachi/El Rey

     metal & Spanish. You let me go too easily, the moon whispers to its shadow. A white rabbit jumping through a fence missing a picket, a sigh through his diastema—I can’t stay here anymore.

     I can’t.
     I can’t.

The misery of history in short refrain. I think of hurting him—throwing a compass toward the vastness of West Texas’ neon pink topography, my knuckles against his cheeks once adolescent with acne. The torrential rain of accordions: Con dinero y sin dinero, yo hago siempre lo que quiero


The only thing decorating the chapel, a motorcycle. A motorcycle that never went anywhere.


Iliana Rocha is the 2019 winner of the Berkshire Prize for a First or Second Book of Poetry for her newest collection, The Many Deaths of Inocencio Rodriguez, forthcoming from Tupelo Press. Karankawa, her debut, won the 2014 AWP Donald Hall Prize for Poetry (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015). The recipient of a 2020 CantoMundo fellowship and 2019 MacDowell Colony fellowship, she has had work featured in the Best New Poets 2014 anthology, as well as The Nation, Virginia Quarterly Review, Latin American Literature Today, RHINO, Blackbird, and West Branch, among others, and she serves as Poetry Co-Editor for Waxwing Literary Journal. She earned her PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from Western Michigan University and is an Assistant Professor at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Her three chihuahuas Nilla, Beans, and Migo are the loves of her life.

Editor’s Translation Notes:
papalote [a toy kite]
Con dinero y sin dinero, yo hago siempre lo que quiero
[With or without money, I do whatever I want…]

Image credit: Abstract image from Pexels