Penelope Romo | Poetry

p(o)em (o)n changing the spelling (o)f my name t(o) make it s(o)und mexican again

accent the o in mi nombre:

my ó

so that when he calls

and demands my name

i     say   it

in a voice he thinks is sex y

–not because i actually moan

but because have to say “moan”

to say mónica, and my ó isn’t

a moan at all but it’s almost like scat

singing, like   ó    nó ,   mató pó   …   eia!

for his pleasure.


the risk of accenting my name is this: it’s like me ó

-pening my legs for him through the phone, and when he hears my

pronunciation he is determined to know whether i am

An American Citizen; just by lengthening my ó longer

than the wind capacity of Yankee lungs does his my o pia   come

to bear and he wants to have a closer look at my ó.


my ó is pregnant

the accent is the shirt tail left untucked easily grabbed and Yanked

as the conduit to my nudity

to my new


i added it



because i had to, because

there is no room in the anglo o     rthography

for an accented o, an ó

who is a mother with an umbilical cord

hanging out loose  un    bridled               but   still

filled with a child. ortho is from the greek orthos and means

just that: straight and erect, which describes my ó

as it is plucked up, straight and erect as

if by a stem, straight and erect like an apple’s

only my apple was never an apple at all;

when i accented my o i transformed it into

an ópal


my ó pal abides by no legislation

it is in flucks between the American Forces

[who sought to nick the tick off my ó

the small plucked up straight and erect appendage

that granted me, my name its pleasure

that rendered me, upon introducing myself,

an opportunity to moan. Colonialism

is the same as Clitorectomy

because they found it threatening

because it was small but had the capacity

to power over the human brea (d) th      and surge

the space that a vowel, unshapen and without hard edges

could come over every other bony consonant surrounding it

in totality

they took it away]

and my —


Penelope Romo is a California-raised, recent East Coast transplant who has taught English and creative writing to young students in classrooms across the U.S. and the world. If you wander into a coffee shop and survey the room for illegible notebook scribblers and daydreamers, chances are she’ll be among them. Penelope is also an activist committed to fighting for women’s and immigrants’ rights; when she’s not protesting on the front lines, she’s probably writing a poem about it.