Leonora Simonovis


Leonora Simonovis grew up in Caracas, Venezuela and currently lives in San Diego, CA, where she's a full-time faculty of Spanish, Latin American, and Caribbean literature at the University of San Diego. She's a latina woman of color, an exile, a VONA (Voices of All Nations Arts Foundation) fellow, and a Contributing Editor for Drizzle Review, where she highlights the work of emerging and underrepresented writers. Her poetry, en English and Spanish has appeared in The American Journal of PoetryPoets Reading the News and Fron/tera.  She also has work forthcoming in Roar, Literature and Revolution by Feminist PeopleTiferet and the 2018 Cosmographia anthology. 



after the flight I stumble

down a metal staircase,

shivering in the sun’s

insipid warmth               


to my right the Pacific

glints like a chemical element,

no smell of rotten fish and

brine, nothing shimmers here


a Customs officer asks

question after question after

question         i autocorrect

and apologize going over


prepositions and past tense

conjugations. thinking about tv

shows where Colgate smiles

invite viewers to bleach them-


selves into perfection

this is no Hollywood movie

i am not arriving and my

fingerprint is not cooperating


my name an unpronounceable

obstacle       More questions

from my cab driver         where are

you  from? ah, the land of


beautiful women        what’s

it like? i tell him farther than

Mexico, no English          i tell him

we fry the fish whole


and suck on the eye for luck,

until all that remains is a little

white ball rolling “erres” on the

tongue                  i tell him we watch


lighting tickle the top of the ocean

from the shore. radiance prying

open the top of the horizon

sounds like a wonderful place!

you have beautiful skin, you know?

your teeth are so white!


i read about a little boy telling

his mama not to cry. He opened

his mouth, showed his teeth, no scars

on his back so a planter bought him


i finger my passport, shredding

myself in unrecognizable layers 

stamped into a ready-made exis-

tence  like the hook on a fish’s


lip pulling flesh away from memory




Necessary Rituals


a goat’s carcass dozes on hot

coals, flavors infused by soil and


dung. men tear meat pinked

by the setting sun. another life


lost in the crossing. they drink

pulque, slice grains of sand with


their blades, toss them in the

water to exorcise their fears


living on the border they become

storytellers, edging words towards


the fence, loosing La Llorona and

Huitchilopochtli on the other side


if you swallow a fallen star you can

cross to the other side on the back of


a flying coyote, they tell the children,

like Aladdin and the genie making


wishes to stop reality from happening

but no Disney soundtrack can play the


disembodied silence coming from the

other side. El Norte means nowhere   


a pinky finger slides through the metal

grid, reaching for hope and finding it gone





The women in my family iron

my curls, fumes of burning hair

stiffened by water and heat


No te cases con un negro, don’t

marry a Black man. Your children

will look like pan quemado


It’s all in the hair they say, Abuela

wearing her red turbante,

like the Jamaicans selling fruit


at the metro station   She only takes it

off for special occasions

too much work and she doesn’t need a


man   Abuelo being dead and all

I look at my reflection, wondering

who I want to be   wondering if I


want what they never had   Their

voices bring me back:

hay que mejorar la raza, mija


prune the family like an orange tree

spoonfuls of aloe slime on my skin

Un carbón, mija, pareces un carbón,


I stand in the line of redemption

Sisters, mothers, grandmothers,

godmothers whispering: find a man,


grab him, make sure he stays   The

lighter the skin the better the outcome  

They pray to the Virgen de Coromoto


our patron saint     my brownness


scrubbed, straightened, peeled like a

scab rawness starts to settle   I pray

too    but not with them  I hope


Mary Magdalene is listening

© The Acentos Review 2017