Francisco Aragón


Upon his return to the United States in 1998 after a ten-year residence in Spain, Francisco Aragón began a period of activity that has included his own literary output, editing, translating, and curating. After completing degrees in creative writing from UC Davis (M.A.) and the University of Notre Dame (M.F.A.) in 2000 and 2003, respectively, he joined the Institute for Latino Studies (ILS) at Notre Dame, where he established the ILS’ literary initiative—Letras Latinas, where he has conceived of and overseen programs for Latino/a poets and writers. His work in this area has led him to serve the literary community at-large, including as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts a number of times, a nominator for various literary distinctions, and as a member of the board (2008-2012) of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP). In 2010, he was awarded the “Outstanding Latino/a Cultural Arts, Literary Arts and Publications Award by the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education and in 2015 a VIDO Award by VIDA, Women in the Literary Arts. Aragón, a CantoMundo Fellow and a member of the Macondo Writers’ Workshop, is the author of two books of poetry: Puerta del Sol (Bilingual Press, 2005) and Glow of Our Sweat (Scapegoat Press, 2010), as well as editor of the anthology, The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry (University of Arizona Press, 2007), these latter two winners of International Latino Book Awards, respectively. His poems and translations have appeared in various journals and anthologies. A native of San Francisco, CA and current resident of Arlington, VA, he spends the Fall semester on the Notre Dame campus where he teaches a course on Latino/a poetry, and spring and summer working out of the ILS’ office in Washington, D.C., where he teaches a poetry workshop and oversees a summer internship program.  Photo Credit: Mike Cook.





A dog I love growls

at the sight of me,


can no longer bear

his diablos, crazed


with the here, there,

how, all around him


the air howling. I sense

temptation to dive


into the void—glint

of his coat, hint


of a yelp a blade

to the throat.


Unclench, I say;

look: your ghost


father swims

in your ghost mother,


opens his snout

in your direction,


the sound reaching you,

soothes your sleep,


puts out the blaze

in your head,


is a quilt wrapped

around you, unfurls


down the path you tread,

or flaps in the wind


while you feed, keeps

you company, though


your spirit

is still a fuse.







Small, brown, like your father’s, cradle the golden timepiece he gave you, your eyes looking down at it, and your feet half in, half out, the Pacific, your shorts cut-offs, frayed, your t-shirt white, like the one he wears in the photograph, Marlon Brando in Street Car Named Desire, you half laugh a little, lips slightly parted, you gesture to kiss the salty air, if only you could talk again, into the wee hours, that time you visited twenty years ago, instead you mumble to yourself, your legs fatigued, blemished, you hadn’t noticed, phantom days, phantom nights, so many years beseeching, and now pretending to run along this shore, esta orilla, you have arrived by chance, re-creating him, here




Here I am again, attempting to swim, my breast stroke reduced to rubble after decades of sifting years, so many of them, I hadn’t noticed how flabby my arms had become, giggling in the moonlight a distant memory, summer nights we sneaked out, down to that corner of the river no one spoke of openly, side by side we would laugh and lick, laugh and lick, giving new meaning to a phrase, slip of the tongue, and no buttons to undo, no shirts to strain to see through, the rags of our clothes in a heap at the cabins, instead the wet sand films our arms, hands, our legs, as we cross, easily, the sea of our gaze





I soared across the sky to peer


Down at you all.


Each flap brought me closer—


Your idea of heaven.


No, I don’t believe.


My prayers are sheets of ice




By unforgiving heat.


Now my words are air.


Without remorse, I compose—


Hold you inside me.


Saints are sliced in four.


I sing the rhythm of their days.


Spirit endures, soft


As a kiss, calling


Us to chorus, to convene


Antepasados en el desierto.


To swallow what they teach.


for Carmen Calatayud

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