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Francisco Aragón

Francisco Aragón was born in San Francisco, California. He received BA from the University of California–Berkeley and an MA in Spanish from New York University. After spending ten years in Spain, he went on to receive an MA in English from the University of California–Davis and an MFA from the University of Notre Dame in 2003.

Aragón is the author of Glow of Our Sweat (Scapegoat Press, 2010) and Puerta del Sol (Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe, 2005). He is also the editor of The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry, winner of the 2009 International Latino Book Award for poetry in English. His chapbook His Tongue A Swath of Sky is forthcoming from momotombito in 2019.

Of Puerta del Sol, the poet Sandra M. Gilbert writes, “These eloquent poems of mourning and memory move deftly, as in a beautiful grave sarabande, between Spain and San Francisco, past and present, enriched by what Francisco Aragón justly calls the ‘bilingual mirror’ of his ‘corazón.’”

Aragón is the recipient of a 2015 VIDO Award from VIDA and the 2010 Outstanding Latino/a Cultural Arts, Literary Arts and Publications Award from the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education. He is the founding director of Letras Latinas, the literary program of the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame. He also serves as the publisher of Momotombo Press. Aragón divides his time between Notre Dame, Indiana, and Arlington, Virginia.


Glow of Our Sweat (Scapegoat Press, 2010)
Puerta del Sol (Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe, 2005)

By This Poet



She and I on a bench eating prawns:

the first day of her fiftieth year and she points
at two street performers about to juggle
fire, and a distant summer morning

surfaces, afloat on the light wind blowing
off the bay—older sisters in the dark, hiding
as big brother parades around the house

his hands outstretched clutching large candles
I'm on a search! he shouts,
marching from room to room

till he finds them huddling in a jungle 
of clothes, beacons flickering as flame-
hot wax begins to flow across his fingers...

while she is walking to Centro Adulto, her head brimming
with phrases: the words she needs so she can quit
sewing, land a job in a bank; and the sitter

arriving minutes late, finding us wet
and trying to save a coat, a shirt, a dress—it's 
a small one: nothing the green hose

and frantic assembly-line of buckets
doesn’t eventually douse, leaving walls and curtains
the color of coal—¡Mira! she gasps

her left hand rapping my shoulder, still pointing with the right
as the torches,
from one juggler to the other,

begin to fly

                     for my mother (1932-1997)


after Rilke

Despite the absent head (whose eyes

were the green of apples)
the supple flesh hums
with the afterglow

of those eyes
which is why the curve
of chest shimmers which is why

the twist of loin turns
that look into a smile, snaring
your eyes, leading

them slowly to regions
below the waist...That block
of stone more than a figure

disfigured and short; cascade
of shoulder glints
like a sinewy beast

of prey, whose edges blink
like stars—that torso:
gazing on its own. Step closer:

go blind

City Moon

Perfect disc of moon, huge
and simmering
low on the capital’s filthy horizon—¡Ay,
qué luna más hermosa! she says
pushing the stroller slowly down Atocha.
And gorgeous too the firm-thighed

boys from Lisbon
a block away, who work
Kilometer Zero’s sidewalk, the neon
shoestore they lean against
cupping the flames
of passing strangers.

The sky above Puerta del Sol turns
a darker shade of blue. Who says
it doesn’t become night’s
one eye
as it scales the heavens, paling
and shrinking before it moves

across a late June sky? And below,
men persist and circle
the plaza, twin fountains brimming
over their brilliant waters. Hours
from now with the heat
waning, the same moon will spot

the figure of him
making past Neptune, the Ritz
the orange jumpsuits
hopping off trucks to sweep
and spray, hosing
down those electric streets.

Luna urbana

Disco perfecto de luna, enorme
y a fuego lento, rozando
el horizonte sucio de la capital—¡Ay,
qué luna más hermosa! dice ella
empujando el cochecito de niño por Atocha.
Y espléndidos también los muslos

de los muchachos de Lisboa
a una manzana, que trabajan
en la acera del Kilómetro Cero,
la zapatería de neón donde se apoyan,
escudando con la mano el fuego
de extraños que pasean por allí.

El cielo sobre la Puerta del Sol toma
otro tono de azul. ¿Quién dice
que no se convierte en el único
ojo de la noche
al escalar: palideciendo
y menguando antes de cruzar

el cielo de finales de junio? Y abajo,
hombres persisten, dando vueltas
por la plaza, las fuentes gemelas rebosantes
de aguas luminosas. De aquí
a unas horas con el calor
desvaneciéndose, la misma luna verá

su figura
pasando Neptuno, el Ritz,
los monos de color naranja
que saltan de los camiones a barrer
y pulverizar, regando
esas calles eléctricas.