Since 1996 Volume XXIII


                    Los Angeles born and raised Naomi Quiñonez is a poet, educator and activist.  She is the author of three collections of poetry, Hummingbird Dream/Sueño de ColibriThe Smoking Mirror and The Exiled Moon. A recent recipient of The City of Berkeley’s Lifetime Achievement Award in poetry, her work has appeared in many publications including the Colorado ReviewInfinite Divisions and From Totems to Hip Hop. Quiñonez edited several critical and literary publications including Invocation L.A: Urban Multicultural Poetry, which won the American Book Award, Decolonial Voices: Chicana Chicano Studies in the 21st Century and Caminos Magazine. She is cofounder of the Bay Area Librotraficante network, a founding member of the Los Angeles Barrio Writer’s Workshop and she offers poetry and literacy workshops to diverse communities in the California. Quiñonez holds a PhD in American History and contributes to the scholarship of Latino/as and women of color. She is the recipient of a Rockefeller Fellowship, the American Book Award, and a California Arts Grant, and is featured in Notable Hispanic Women and the Dictionary of Literary Biography. Quiñonez is part of a larger genre of U.S. writers of color and has appeared in programs with Quincy Troupe, Cherie Moraga and Luis Rodriguez.  She currently resides in Oakland, California, where lecturers in Ethnic Studies at CSU East Bay.         

For her latest book, see exiledmoon.com 

The New Warsaw Ghetto

The new Warsaw ghetto
is around the corner
on the Texas Mexico
border down the street
on the California border
the Arizona border

Publicly financed
corporately owned
government operated
enclaves of despair

The new Warsaw ghetto
in the not so good ole USA
in detention camps
in cages in isolated
windowless prisons
driven like spikes
into the southern border

In the new Warsaw ghetto
children are torn from 
their families 
and warehoused
like like animals
Shivering under
aluminum covers
or left to sleep on 
unforgiving streets

In the new Warsaw ghetto
tear gas smothers
and the feds de-mother,
thousands of refugee children.

They are red meat
for the haters
for men of means
  and for mean men

When You Look At Me: A Brown Woman’s Lament 

When you look at me
you see motel maids
changing sheets
in the pink & grey rooms
your parents stay in.

you see dark brown women
on their knees scrubbing floors
in Baja restaurants
or standing with a blue-eyed child
on each hip.

It doesn’t matter if I wear
tweed suits and pace the floor
on Givenchy heels
in front of busy chalk boards

You see Lupita the nanny
in your t.v. mind.
she wears mismatched clothes
and slides heavily on leather huaraches
towards her unwashed children.

To you I am an aberration
that confuses your senses
and blurs your vision.
It is difficult for you to 
recognize me as “Dr.”
You want me to remain nameless
silent, invisible.

But I stand before you  
speaking your language
and teaching you things
you are not sure of.

Now you must either change
your misguided notions of who I am
or kill the me
that cannot live in your world. 

–appears in the book by the author, Exiled Moon

My Ear Ring

time is disappearing
poles are shifting
glaciers are melting
oceans are heating
volcanoes exploding
mountains sliding
air evaporating
land is losing
light is dimming
men manipulating
media minds

lawyers are looting
our children are shooting
developers polluting
the doctors are drugging
the papers are plugging
politicians lying
the president spying
the government is dying
winds are crying
land will not be drying

the schools are closing
principals posing
students are supposing
the end is near

dealers are winning
the elite class whining
workers not working
poor are pouring
into pits of warring

the water is wasting
oil men taking
priests are raping
boys shaking
bodies caking


Indigo holds
the rainbow together
above a stark Oakland sky
irradiated air and gunshots
shatter the music of rain

She strains softly 
into dark blue shadow
pulling tattered bags
off her shopping cart
to place over her head

Her swollen eyes
bruised by time
and misfortune
lift heavily
from the weight 
of want

Oh Mama that you are
or have been
or could be
the blues have stolen
your life
and placed you
on an Oakland
street corner

A dark, wet
island of exile
a nether world
of gnawing hunger
parched muttering lips
and relentless rain
that will not wash out
the indigo stains
of your heart

Just This Once

just this once
the rain slides onto my window like memory
just this once
the wounded healer gives up her wounds to heal
just this once
the star studded amazement of wisdom and truth resonate inside me
just this once
words surround me like ceremonies like sage smoke
just this once
the black obsidian sucks out demons from my breast
just this once
the crystal egg opens to cellular regeneration
just this once
an angel sideswipes my assumptions
just this once
I feel the atoms jumping on my skin
just this once
I see my face behind a curtain of eternity
just this once
the wind pounds a familiar language on my door
just this once
I understand it

–appears in the book by the author, Exiled Moon

All poems are 

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Mary Barnet


Grace Cavalieri

Joan Gelfand

Janet Brennan