This month we welcome ANACAONA ROCIO MILAGRO, whose “Nine Twelve Poem” appears in our new print issue.
Anacaona Rocio Milagro is a poet born, raised and living in New York City, uptown Manhattan’s Washington Heights. Writing poetry since the age of four, she earned an MFA in Poetry at NYU’s Low Residency program in Paris, an MPH at Columbia University, and a BA with a double-major in Social Anthropology and Journalism/Creative Writing, and a minor in Art from Baruch College/CUNY BA Program. Her “Nine Eleven Poem” is now part of the Smithsonian Museum’s 9/11 archives. Her poetry has been published in The BreakBeat Poets Latinext Anthology, Narrative Magazine, LitHub, Oh Dear Magazine, and Raising Mothers to name a few. Her poem “Stillmatic” was released as a spokenword/Hip-Hop/Jazz single on all streaming platforms. Her father is from the Dominican Republic and her mother is from St. Thomas, The U.S. Virgin Islands. She is the single mother of two—Nirvana Sky and Zion.
Table of Contents:
— To Deify a Roach: An American Horror Story
— Fear of Water
To Deify a Roach: An American Horror Story
Dedicated to my brothers/ aka my guerrero’s/ D, K, & G
Because there weren’t any fireflies in the hood
as a child i imagined roaches were angels on a
mission. To save lives, they’d crawl into the mouths
of the chosen. Initially i found them disgusting.
They’d infest my Fruity Pebbles cereal. i’d pluck
them out—loved the sound of the homerun pop
when fingernail flicked their fat hollow bodies.
They survived the end of the world—so it wasn’t
the end of the world. i knew the gods would be
pleased knowing i could see angels in roaches.
Eventually i became ill and broke out in rashes.
If this was a test, i passed it. i’d be just like Job
from the bible. Except i had no wealth to be stripped
of, no pride to call sin. A good citizen. Then one day
a toolbox of crime was left on our doorstep, inscribed
paradox. Hoping to fix things, what curious child
wouldn’t pick it up? Instead it morphed the drug
dealers & murderers into my young brothers: Elegua,
Chango & Ogun. Toy guns became real guns, kids
who couldn’t get new shoes or lunch, books or coats,
got semi-automatic weapons on their own. Kids who
could barely read or count suddenly ran labs, modified
molecules of white rocks; became botanist breeding
cannabis hybrids. We were hexed/ cloaked in deception.
And i, a prepubescent Oshun, prayed to angelic waterbugs
for help. i wanted to manifest all our freedoms but just
sobbed fuck the police—a torch song clutched in my lungs.
i watched my Orishas walk cuffed, lined & chained into the
courts of 100 Centre Street, New York. i thought we consumed
enough roaches to protect us from these devil’s Armageddon
but my brothers were reduced to 12/14/16 year old super
predators, sucking on thumbs, three strikes and auctioned to
prisons up north. These magistrates game with fake crowns
& real bars. The 1994 new age evil Crusades killed or caged
our beloved warriors. By 1995 i was alone. My brothers were
gone, along with all the little boys i’d known growing up.
Fathers/uncles/sons: locked up or shot. us little girls were
left on the block unprotected for cops to pick up & try to fuck
in the back of police wagons—and all praise went to Clinton
and the nefarious Giuliani. And i won’t tell you what they do
to little gods in Spofford, won’t tell you about the
adolescents at war in Rikers C74. Or about my beloved
brothers’ broken ribs, multiple stab wounds, burned toes,
cracked skulls, stomped-out teeth, scars lined from forehead
to jawbone. i won’t tell you about teenage Chango and how
grown men stomped the life out of him over fruits that he
stored. Woke up days later chained to a bed inside the ward
with a different face than before. i won’t tell you how the
guards left Ogun in chains and proceeded to use sticks, fists,
boots and mace. Sent him to a cell full of his enemies, kept
him chained, let them carve & stab him as they pleased.
i inhaled a bottle of pills to stop suffering. Selfish & dumb,
generic Tylenol does nothing. Then finally, my brother Ogun
was released. That day, i came home and found him asleep.
i tiptoed in to wish him sweet dreams but he’s forgotten he’s
free, punches me so hard my head hit the ceiling, chest caved
in, i struggled to breathe. But i forgave him before i dropped
to the floor, before he rushed over apologizing in horror
and before i could sob, he told me crying was for suckas
and it wasn’t allowed. i hushed, neck clutched, tears
swallowed, frown fixed. i pretended to be as tough as him.
I rose and fixed us some infested Fruity Pebbles
and that’s when I realized
roaches were just roaches
and no one’s coming to save us.
Dedicated to D. Martinez & Julia P.
She isn’t tired from swimming through dark rivers
or propelling her four children in tires
through the border—said she kept it simple
even played games, stopped the kids from crying.
She isn’t tired, she swallows fears and sorrows.
Country on fire, she can’t reconcile home.
Aborted her atlas of tomorrows
left behind all she’s ever known and owned.
She isn’t drained from learning a new language
or from dodging the drills of ICE EROs—
“Don’t aliens come from other planets?”
daughter asking what makes them a third world.
Trying now with no rivers, roads, license—
it’s the belonging that gets exhausting.
All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying
to get back to where it was. —Toni Morrison
Fear of Water
Almighty Water, the pure most
powerful of elements: solvent, transcendent,
and immortal; with its ability to resurrect and reinvent
itself without religion, God’s existence, magic, or the need
for human worship—it is proof that reincarnation is just nature, neither
miracle nor myth, nor paired with karma nor sin, nor enlightenment. Even all-
knowing Water, with its capacity to heal, cleanse, disappear, then condense,
always returns falling as it rains again. Glorious Water, showing the ever-full Sun
how life requires so little fire— even Water suffers loss —stuck and hopeless in
its pursuit, how it gets close but never close enough to touch it’s first love. Doomed
to watch the moon slowly fall apart, then pull itself full each month, just to
restart. I think of this when hitting head-first crystal ceilings, or when missing
my imprisoned brothers and sisters—that life by nature isn’t fair and death
offers no guarantees all of our ancestors are still here. Our spirits stuck,
looped in the perfect memory of this iron rocks’ imprisoned life-giving
force. Therefore, my greatest fear of all is that we won’t return
to stars or have our souls released beyond because
this blue globe is inescapable.