Claudia Rojas



Claudia Rojas was born in El  Salvador and raised in the U.S. She has held an immigrant status since 2001. She will graduate May 2017 with a BA in English from George Mason University. Find her on Instagram as @claudiapoet.

Keeping warm  

after Carolyn Rodgers


In the mornings, I struggle with my hands,
drag myself out of bed.
Outside, a dozen crows gather
to scavenge the trash, the span of their wings
remind me of the winter I’ve yet to overcome.
No one can tell where the sun has gone
in this damned neighborhood.
I want to tell these hands
writing verses rich in delusion
about their dirt poor history.
There are days the police patrol
on their bikes or station their car
outside our doors.
They are here at the right place,
but here at the wrong time.
In a place like this
people like us find out
about the death of a neighbor
while watching the six o’ clock news;
there was that time
a neighbor’s daughter died
at the hands of a boyfriend.
One less woman,
and I am
getting cold.
There’s potential inside
all of us to murder
lovers, mothers, daughters…
well, what is one less brown woman?
And here I am
waking up every morning
still woman and brown
with hands that think they’ve got something
to say like something’s
going to change
in the name of poetry—
yes the white man downstairs is silent
of course the baby downstairs is crying
and the next door neighbors
are holding shouting matches that can start a fire.
Is this where I tell my hands
that fire burns
poems to the ground?
No. I have nowhere
to fall.




My mother’s hands are my sense of direction
los recuerdos de nuestro pasado, a life past,
& my hands hold two homes in cross section. 

I am my mother’s kaleidoscope reflection.
Las esperanzas de mi madre in me hold fast
My mother’s hands are my sense of direction. 

At the dinner table, I don’t have any objection
when las historias de mi madre are vast,
& my hands hold two homes in cross section. 

My bones have been ossified with her affection.
Mi poder tiene raíces en a kind warrior recast
My mother’s hands are my sense of direction. 

I listen and pull poetry from her recollection:
in a stutter, la lengua del abuelo lived in a cast,
& my hands hold two homes in cross section. 

The soles of our feet are a map projection.
La violencia y la guerra, we hope to outlast.
My mother’s hands are my sense of direction,
& my hands hold two homes in cross section.


For the Times You Heard an Accent 

As a seven year old,
you write in sloppy print
your name on a Social Security Card. 

Mom doesn’t say
memorize this number,
but you become this number. 

You become the little girl
in the passport picture,

but you don’t look at yourself
tucked in manila envelopes. 

You pick up the crayons,
trace the outline of butterfly wings,
the fleeing migrants of nature. 

At summer school,
your tongue is taught
to mimic the English language. 

You learn to divide numbers, words, too:
yo soy / I am Claw-dee-uh.

You stop remembering the heat
of your mother’s faraway country. 

You’re thinking in English as your Spanish
tongue stutters,  this is what
you call bilingual. 

You forget back home, they called you 
by your middle name, Vanessa
Vanessa’s too preoccupied. 

She’s spitting out words like 
Ca-ca-cat-tas-trophe, st-stat-sta-tis-tics, 

she sounds fine, 
tell her to stop panicking. 





Family Detention Center


In Texas, behind a ten foot barbed-wire fence there is
an immigration officer
and his arms are crossed
stiff like stone.
A boy
This morning
he will go to school.
A mother watches this son march
and she presses her round face between the metal bars.
She is raising a family
despite the border-
ing desert.
This place
the food tastes the same
or the son who has stopped playing
the same. The son, a child growing up in a prison.

© The Acentos Review 2017