Iliana Rocha

True Crime Addict

He tells me to write something about a pig rolling in mud to cool itself off. Instead, I think of Susan Atkins writing PIG on the wall with Sharon Tate’s blood, after she tore Tate to pieces, ripping a red star from her womb, calling it a mass of grins. They fled far from L.A.’s chromatic buildings of despair, where they told themselves fame went to die. Yes, they were half-right. I picked up the phone Joaquin Phoenix used to call 9-1-1 when River was foaming angelic in dosage. I lay on the lawn where the Black Dahlia was found naked, her homesickness slashed in its crotch. The grass, faking its neon, the word blades even too much a symphony. Squeaky Fromme got her nickname because of the way men touched her. There’s no truth other than I haven’t written since the election. I’ve been elsewhere, researching serial killers & unsolved murders because at least I don’t have to convince people that this is horror.

Elegy for Kanye West

I would’ve voted for Trump.

For a man composed of bees, who leaves stingers
behind like a trail of capital I’s. A lesson in subjectivity

& curiosity draped in decadence, the self folded in on the self
seven times. You once asked, How many times can you fold

a piece of paper to reach the moon? & in a New Orleans
cemetery, the clairvoyant lifts the last flap, reveals the fortune

underneath: You will be Hover Board. You will be a ghost’s hostage.
Vacant champagne bottles, Mardi Gras beads strangling

their purple on Marie Laveau’s flower pots, we’ve all done
time in cleavage, triple-x yes. Levees’ fingers outstretched,

reaching toward the ponytail of a girl face down in water,
to the man who ran out of spray paint before he finished

PLEASE. Our dead, not just the fiction of daydreams.
You knew how we had disguised their bodies as columns

of smallpox, sacks of egg & hoof. The best predictor
of the future is the past spitting in our faces. Clouds, today,

heavyhearted as elephants.


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 CoastKarankawa, 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.