Millicent Borges Accardi


Millicent Borges Accardi is the author of two poetry books, most recently Only More So (Salmon). Her awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Fulbright, CantoMundo, Creative Capacity, the California Arts Council,  Yaddo, Fundação Luso-Americana, and Barbara Deming Foundation. She lives in Topanga, CA.

Unlearning America’s languages 
From, “Lowering Your Standards for Food Stamps” by Sheryl Luna

We spit and spill and sit on our hands,

trying not to react. We found philosophical absolution

in not knowing, feigning knowledge that ours was the generation

where we were form-fitted into a dress of forgetting

language culture, food, Fit in Fit in Fit in

disappear into America and all of its joys

and death threats because that is a white wall

of promise there it is in front of you my friend.

A wall to blend into and hope for the best.

Be public-charming and the opposite of deliberate,

Un-thoughtful and loose. Let’s wait quietly

before the others speak and never let on

the name of your street or where your family

came from and that was and is how it was.

Parents came to California to rise above while

blending inside a fairytale Knott’s Berry Farm where

Old McDonald feeds the chickens and a city where

kids ride bikes and play Pong. It was sleep

and rise and keep damn quiet about anything

different. Tell the counselor you will ride the bus

and stave off the earthquakes, embracing a future

that does not resemble any past you heard whispered

and fought about at night after bedtime, where

we lie in bed and draw words in the air, spelling

out where we came from.




Come Angels! Come Beasts!

From “Angels in the Sun” by Ruben Quesada


And it talked about how the younger ones

were standing

out and they were naïve but the older ones knew and this boy

standing out in the parking lot of this father  Cimarron;

Starlight, Skydancer, maybe Cinnamon.

For years he would abuse and beat, making the boys suck him

and he was able to avoid

until no one said anything Even after he retired

and went to an old priests’ home,

where he relaxed and sipped brandy

talking about things.

He escaped it all.

I was trying to figure out when my older brother went there

1958. 1959. He came home ten years later,

Broken, on the couch. Crying

Before he got work at a fish cannery.

The time frame of an article about the priest

Was vague maybe the 1970’s, and it was talking about

St Anthony’s and Santa Barbara

Franciscan seminaries.

The name there, I mean,

If my brother was not actually touched,

he would have been aware.

Or, he noticed how certain students

Were singled out as weak or pretty.

The guy that wrote the article said

Those who stayed thru, til graduation

accepted that they had stayed through.


This was the way things were.

The priest held their responses

over their young heads, as if he owned them.

Midnight hernia exams, pressing through

the rolled sheets, thyroid massages

on their soft neck, their heads

bent over his lap for spankings

while he sweated.

The boys later described their faces as

Hot and red, being shoved face-down

into his lap.

as he prayed for them.

It was hard to know which was worse,

For my brother, if anything,

going though it or refusing to help

those he could have.





© The Acentos Review 2020