Rocío Franco

BIO
Rocío Franco is a Chicana poet and activist from Chicago, IL. She’s a 2020 Frost Conference on Poetry Alum and a 2021 Rad(ical) DreamYard Consortium Fellow. Her poems have appeared in The Acentos Review, Outpatient Press, the Chicago Reader’s Poetry Corner curated by José Olivarez and the Poetry Foundation, and the Exposition Review. She works as a health insurance counselor at a non-profit union health fund and strongly believes in universal healthcare. She loves exploring the city with her family on the weekends, practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and approaches the world with a social justice lens. You can connect with her on Instagram at chio_la_chingona.

The Pedagogy Of A Poet

poets are frightened by tropes and cliches
workshops are boot camps in fresh language

a poet stencils poems onto concrete
in a city that yearns for soft sidewalks

it’s a familiar arrangement of words
academics would call it a good start

but I imagine the poet boards a train at twilight
plot the next corner they will turn into a page

a collection of haikus on hood corners
bruised by divestment and gold plated upscale

they maneuver their spray can like a wand
a community contribution in swift verse

a poet who breaks their lines into a free alphabet
mentors rebellion over machine politics

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 El 4 De Julio

is a day to smell
arrachera sizzling
on a corroded
grate caked in grind
while 13 coronas sweat
on a glass table splashed
with blood red salsa.
The only reminder
of colonial power
are the formation
of hotdogs and burgers
caked in american cheese.
The chatter of english
intermingled with
dame una cerveza
as the pool splash
means we can afford
the water bill.
The crack of 50 peonies
set the sky on fire.
We are harmony
to their dissonance.
A family of bruised warriors
whose independence
is this backyard
and the laughter
that didn’t surrender
to white flags

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Breakfast With A Poet

La mesera clutches
the carpal tunnel
which circles
her wrist like a vise.
She massages herself
before she takes
orders from gente
who sip cafe con chisme.
The expectation to serve
the masses will weigh on her
until she retires a broken servant
of eggs & bacon.

El mesero places
a short glass
in front of me
& sings buenos días.
His hair is gray
around the temples
and his smile sparkles
like the ice in my water.
A congregation of señoras
sit in a booth behind me.
They talk about el campo
and his eyes wander
briefly to their chatter.

He must be nostalgic
about the home
he left behind, but that’s
my romantic conjecture.
My father spoke
fondly del campo.
We were poor but free, he said.
No matter where a migrant goes
they can never have both.
It’s either freedom & poverty
or abundance & strife. 

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