The Many Deaths of Inocencio Rodriguez
A neutron walks into a bar & orders a drink.
A farmer walks into a bar with a horse.
A leprechaun walks into a bar.
A man walks into a bar & orders a glass of fluid daisies.
A woman walks into a bar & undresses her lips on his glass’ rim, half-mirrored. Stain of Upper Peninsula he cleans away with his thumb, turns into a streak of pink light no one’s ever been able to capture in paint. To capture should not mean to reflect. He carries his grief alongside him, a colostomy bag filled with gray urine. She gets this or doesn’t get this. It doesn’t matter.
A man walks into a bar & vows to raise hell to honor drunk men & lonely women everywhere. Their blues exorcised from the dusty acoustic he plucks at. Minor chord, broken arm, cracked neck, glass undoing its liquid, undoing its stuck, minor chord, minor chord, major, liver, shot glass, shot glass, shot glass, darting crystal wood thrush. A jawbone soaked in mop water like a zygote. A couple making up the rumba as they go along, boleros, canciones, Rosa Carmina. Sí, es ella.
If you put an alcoholic in Technicolor, he is less likely to appear threatening. Like when my aunt Elma’s high school photo came to life as a cartoon, bounded with thick, stark borderlines. Full ligne claire & Ben-Day dots. He was never threatening, always threatening. When he pulled the trigger, a white tongue with Bang! exploded from the barrel’s mouth. The only machete he ever used was to crack a coconut. But the past is constantly being replaced with itself, & we were told never to speak ill of the dead.
Beaten. My grandmother’s body thundered against the faux wooden paneling in their little house. He was drunk again, & that’s the best excuse he could give. Her body & unborn baby found murdered in a closet. Her skeletal remains found on an island in Panama. Her car backed into an abandoned barn, but her body never found. Her body suffocated, stabbed, or shot, discovered in the wrecked womb of her bed. A television cracked into her skull, the kitchen all vertical colored lines. The rabbit ears found its point of origin, the heart, from which Elma was sprung, along with my mother, two more aunts, uncle. As the VHF signal rotates & transforms, they resurrected. I’m sorry I lit you on fire.
Iliana Rocha earned her PhD in English Literature and Creative Writing from Western Michigan University. Her work has been featured in the Best New Poets 2014 anthology, as well as Bennington Review, Blackbird, and Third Coast. Karankawa, her debut collection, won the 2014 AWP Donald Hall Prize for Poetry and is available through the University of Pittsburgh Press. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Central Oklahoma.
Photo by Omye