Grisel Acosta

Master of Academia


Dr. Grisel Y. Acosta is an associate professor at The City University of New York-Bronx Community College. She is the editor of the anthology, Latina Outsiders Remaking Latina Identity, which features over 30 Latina contributors. Her book, Things to Pack on the Way to Everywhere, was a finalist for the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize and is forthcoming from Get Fresh Books in 2021. Recent works can be found in The Baffler, Red Fez, and The Lauryn Hill Reader. Dr. Acosta is a Dodge Foundation Poet, and a Macondo Fellow.

She can be found on Instagram at @grisel_y_acosta and at

you’ve made me into such a pretty doll
you like me that way: stiff-
limbed like the immobilized unions
appeased with banging pots outside the high-rise
windows of leadership who hear nothing

refused to look at my shaved head, an affront to
the required subscription to gender radioactivity,
disintegrating my DNA into long hair hedges and the many, “Oh!
Can you explain that to me?” and “I agree with [fill in white colleague’s name here]”
sentences like a feminized torture made of hands, feet, and eyes
bound with the pages of a canon that renders me invisible 

silenced my language into a cohort of students in the permanent
purgatory of perpetual remediation, forcing them to write
stories that center the exported version of your white
supremacy and how it tore off their own doll legs at the border,
all so you can say, “How sad,” and remind them of the difference between
“run” and “ran,” making sure the battery in my own back is kept on low
and the string you pull mimics your own voice 

placed a filter in front of my image that whitens
my appearance, straightens my doll hair, renders me into a bland
soup without flavor, like a classroom discussion devoid of application,
meaning and context, obscuring the paths Black and Brown scholars need,
or like the vapid creation of a committee to address the need for a committee
formed to address the statistics that show that Afro-Latinx professors
cannot move into dead muñeca leadership positions on committees in their departments 

despite tenure, I am an adjunct, a non-essential part, an accessory
ready to be dismissed by the child who grew bored with its toy,
tossed into a life without healthcare, certainty, or dinner
parties put on administrator’s expense accounts, held under rotundas
built brick-by-brick by our students’ ancestors who are forgotten by you
and them, because all of the statues on campus teach them nothing about themselves 

see the doll you created, or don’t see it, it is your choice, your whim
meanwhile, I have started a bonfire
set myself ablaze
parts are burning
smoke is rising 

facades are there to mask reality
you never saw me coming


© The Acentos Review 2020