In our first installment of 'This Work Will take Dancing': Latinx Poetry from the Southern U.S., we wanted to encapsulate the breadth and variety of the work Latinx poets are creating across our region. Experiences, storytelling, and imagination writhe together to create poems that transport us and ones that ground us in the muck and mire of home. This we we are featuring pieces by Iliana Rocha and Aline Mello that do exactly that. 

Read more from 'This Work Will Take Dancing'  here.

The Many Deaths of Inocencio Rodriguez
Iliana Rocha

The street hangs from the sky, held in suspension

by summer's dark hair lazily in a braid,

exhausted power lines. Someone has thrown a pair

of sneakers, joined together by knots,

over the wires, insistence of we walk away from.

Or declaration of staying's ease. What's gathered

overhead—recognition of a cloud-shaped hurt.

Happiness won't find a home here,

escapes through each home's latticework like papel

picado chiseled down into a pair of doves.

Hanging on the wall of my grandmother's kitchen,

a wooden scene of her kitchen, with its miniature pots & pans—

on the tiny table, a vase of daffodils given

to her before he left. This scene never

expands. It stays its little size, despite the trial &

want for it to expand beyond is diminutive

yellow. Can we reposition La Llorona's creek behind

another house? What must stay pinned to the map

like a butterfly: the view, the sugar factory where he worked

when he at last modified Texas geography

to stretch all the way to Detroit

by letting his gun follow his steps in the grass.

After Long Distance Phone Calls
Aline Mello

Arrozcomfeijão with ham on Thanksgiving.
Arrozcomfeijão and Copa do Mundo in Spanish

We keep dog-eared, stained cookbooks,
and manicurists who still wear clothes that smell like Brazil.

Arrozcomfeijão in Tupperware in school
Arrozcomfeijão and Caesar salad

If I don't pull enough I sag with feeling,

of foreignness,
see through green and yellow lenses.

Arrozcomfeijão on Independence Day.
Arrozcomfeijão translated for my stepfather.

I keep the old music
that disrupted the military regime.

But can't escape the US flag
in front of every Home Depot,
as if we need reminding which country we live in.

Read more from 'This Work Will Take Dancing'  here.

Iliana Rocha earned her PhD in English and Creative Writing from Western Michigan University. Her work has been featured in the Best New Poets 2014 anthology, as well as The Nation, Virginia Quarterly Review, Blackbird, and West Branch. Karankawa, her debut collection, won the 2014 AWP Donald Hall Prize for Poetry. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Central Oklahoma and lives with her three chihuahuas, Nilla, Beans, and Migo.

Aline Mello is a writer and editor living in Atlanta. She’s an immigrant from Brazil who spends much of her time volunteering with immigrant students, and caring for canine best friends. She is an Undocupoet fellow and her work has been published or is forthcoming in On She Goes, St. Sucia, Saint Katherine Review and elsewhere.