Since 1996 Volume XXI

Alejandro Murguía

Alejandro Murguía is the author of Southern Front and This War Called Love (both winners of the American Book Award). His non-fiction book The Medicine of Memory highlights the Mission District in the 1970s during the Nicaraguan Solidarity movement. He is a founding member and the first director of The Mission Cultural Center. He was a founder of The Roque Dalton Cultural Brigade, and co-editor of Volcán: Poetry From Central America. Currently he is a professor in Latina Latino Studies at San Francisco State University. He is the author of the short story “The Other Barrio” which first appeared in the anthology San Francisco Noir and recently filmed in the street of the Mission District. In poetry he has published Spare Poems, and this year a new collection Native Tongue. In Spring 2014 City Lights Books will release his new collection of poetry Stray Poems. He is the Sixth San Francisco Poet Laureate and the first Latino poet to hold the position.


Parker’s Mood
           Naha, Okinawa
                                           For raúlrsalinas

Sax man blows
wild riffs that
feel like home
wayfarer lost in
alleys and backstreets
of Naha

“Nights in Tunisia”
in my rum
guitarist strums
  where is home
old sailor
where the pillow
to sleep strange dreams
I’m Mexican Ulises
washed upon
foreign shores
  messages reach me via transpacific
meta-telepathic wave
lengths of them solid beats
of poets long gone like jazz greats
Parker, Coltrane, Miles
here in groovy club where island
spirits mix with Chicano alma 
that knows the rhythm of this or that
clipped to stirring neon red & yellow
glowing in Naha alleys where time 
spills from my cup
and I toast this coast
joined to hip of this other shore
with blue notes strung
in the smoke of this jazzy
hip along
strip of melancholy
who knows what. 

Another Voice Speaking
     Somewhere between night’s chaos
And dawn’s bitter glow
Your fingertips fold hours into minutes
And a man waits at the end of a street
For something, someone

Somewhere a voice calls
An echo of another time—a land
Cupped in a sound that lingers
At the edge of consciousness,
—a name without a name—
something in the air
a clock ticking backwards
towards the sea
a moment when life sleeps
and death opens a door through a wall
we never suspect is waiting for us


Lorca’s Dream

They tell me that your clavicle 
is a star over Andalucia
that your melancholic metacarpals
still clutch a clod of earth in Sevilla
that your hips have not ceased dancing
in La Habana and in New York
that jasmines bloom in your eye sockets
and every petal a poem
that your jaw bone is the voice of all
the silenced ones, the undocumented ones
those insulted and executed
that the moon cradles your bones Fedérico
fragile as hummingbird wings

That’s what I was told one silvery night
by the hip red ants
                        that sleep in your cranium


“Lorca’s Dream” first appeared in Native Tongue, C.C. Marimbo Press, Berkeley, 2013


© Copyright, 2013, Alejandro Murguia.
All rights reserved.

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Mary Barnet


Grace Cavalieri

Joan Gelfand

Janet Brennan