Iliana Rocha

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Iliana Rocha is originally from Texas, and she earned her PhD  in English-Creative Writing at Western Michigan University. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing-Poetry from Arizona State University, where she was Poetry Editor for Hayden’s Ferry Review. Her work was chosen for the Best New Poets 2014 anthology and has previously appeared in Bennington Review, Banango Street, Blackbird, andThird Coast. Her first book, Karankawa, won the 2014 AWP Donald Hall Prize for Poetry and is published by the University of Pittsburgh Press.


White Mexican Girl

The rivers ran like couplets until they fell off the earth,

& she named each loss for its stone: father, yesterday,

chasing them across the water, until the muddy afterbirth


ruined what little clean was left of her socks. Mexico’s mouth

open wide—like a row of blond dolls, stalks of maize sang,

& the rivers ran like couplets until they fell off the earth,


her mother’s geography at fault, dough covered in cloth

like a casket. A circle of vultures, like butts in an ashtray,

chase their reflection across the water, until the moon thirsts


itself dry like a widow. There, her first & last curse

strangling the trees, a rosary around her wrist, she obeyed

the rivers running like couplets, falling off the earth,


beer escaping a bottle’s safety, diminutive amber urn

comfortable with each slow death. My mother’s carefree slang

chastising snakes across the water, until it’s adulthood’s turn


to forget: I love you, meeeeeeha, my little core-a-zone, burning

         like history in reverse.


Rita Hayworth Tryptych

         "If this was happiness imagine what the rest of her life had been!" –Orson Welles



The heart is pushed through the city streets like a
homeless man’s shopping cart, a wire husk. You
were admired for your fragility, a scorpion
suspended in a paper weight, the stale asshole of a
rose drying on a wall. There is a reason we keep
these things: every loss is a phobia. A woman who
punished herself, as if her own body were a staircase
in feces. Her lovers in constant burp like her
refrigerator. A woman with a collection of dolls
from her own twisted, pink jaw. Her middle finger at
attention, poking the ceiling.


White Mexican Girl

My whole life has been self-hatred, never marry a
, there have been countless Jasons, Jeremy,
Ryan, Shanes, Justins, so many more I can’t even
remember. Carrie, Kristen, & I collected our white
boys as if they were stolen cigarettes I’d keep in my
back pocket, a faded denim rectangle. A crime scene
outline of heritage. But what have the boys ever
done except mispronounce my name, shake the dust
from the dresses of history? Kiss like the Gulf of
Mexico, the Deepwater Horizon Disaster? My upper
lip is rotten like a window shade in my
grandmother’s house, threads loose everywhere,
close it now: The little girl who was warned into this



Men were disappointed when they went down on
her, & she tasted of pencil shavings rather than
baking bread & suntan lotion. She didn’t unravel as
easily as they expected, despite the delicate lingerie
that wore her, sewn by French nuns. She murdered
the woman she was in order to become herself: bad
mother, good. Electric shocks killed her follicles. She
bathed in bleach. Like her sadness, we have all been
misdiagnosed, memory in remission: father, father,
father. Rita Hayworth is not my mother. Rita
Hayworth is not my grandmother. Hey, don’t lecture
us about our drinking—we needed it to straddle
Mexico like a thimble.

© The Acentos Review 2016