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Alejandro Murguía: California Poets Part 6, Five Poems


Alejandro Murguía


October 18th, 2023

California Poets: Part VI

Alejandro Murguía

Five Poems




You Will Know the Devil When You Meet Him


When the Devil arrives—he won’t be sporting a pointy beard or pitchfork. Hell no. He will dress in a fancy suit, lathered in expensive cologne to hide the stink of Sulphur, and he will reside in a high tower, surrounded with gold which at night, he will turn into dog shit on your sidewalk.


You will never see him at church or place of worship, a shrine, an altar because his orange hair would catch fire revealing his horns. He will never show his birth certificate because they don’t hand those out in the ninth level of hell. You will know him by his destruction of God’s creation: he will pollute the air and poison the water—annihilate bees and butterflies, unleash tornados, hurricanes, floods and call it a hoax.


And his followers, to prove their loyalty, will eat maggots in his presence.

Remember this when the Devil comes to steal your country.

If you still have a country.




13 Lines for Roque Dalton

In Memoriam


Because no one could write a poem so full of love and anger

Because he could make fun of his own Central Committee

Because humor has a place in the Resistance

Because a revolution without humor or poetry is absurd

Because poetry is revolutionary

Because Roque was a true revolutionary

Because—at the risk of sounding ridiculous—

he was motivated by great feelings of love

Because love & struggle are twins joined by poetry

Because the rich and the ultraleftists accused him of being a poet

Because Roque was a poet

Because he was un hijo legítimo guanaco hijo de la gran puta!

Because he loved El Salvador more than El Salvador loved itself

Because he was Roque Dalton and there will never be another poet like him



Not that it Matters


When Mother Nature made the lobster

She was in a mood—you can tell

Like maybe lonely

Or thinking of someone

Who is absent

Like I think of you when it rains

When the mail drops in the slot

The time at the zoo in awe of the giraffe

Now that’s Nature at her creative best

But I return to the lobster in my hands

And the vagaries of life—

Syria bleeding on the news

The absence of rain for years

A train wreck somewhere

A bastard of a flood wiping out cities

A fire storm in the north country

The fading end of this smoky late October afternoon

So brief

So quickly gone



Silicon City


They evicted Mia from her storefront on Valencia

Then they burned down the apartments on 22nd Street

The good die young and isn’t it a pity

But the beat goes on in Silicon City.

You’re a stranger now in your home town

With strange faces on once familiar streets

And strange shadows at four o’clock

And cops—strangers on a strange beat

Where the days and nights are mostly gritty

But hey, it’s ok, you’re hanging in Silicon City

So I was told everything that rises must fall

And that the wicked shall be denied

But now a day’s it’s hard to tell who to trust

—and watch out you don’t get run over by a google bus

It be’s like that, all down and dirty

In the heartless heart of Silicon City

Now everybody knows the center cannot hold

But prophecy is cheap

And politicians are slippery

So baby get your high heels sneakers and your black beret on

Because tonight we fight the power in Silicon City.



Bad Luck Coming


Cat caught a hummingbird today—

59 missiles were fired at Syria

Only half hit their target

Homeless camps crowding the underpass

Poisoned food is the main staple at the local fast food market

And a fire broke out in a rundown apartment building

A twenty-car pile-up on the freeway in bad weather

Caused 13 deaths

And angry employee at the local minimum wage job shot the owner

With a shotgun and stabbed two others before taking his own life

A tornado struck Kansas and wiped out a trailer park

Home team lost 23 times in a row

Stock market crashed and gold became worthless

Luck so bad fortune cookies went out of business

Knock on wood three times

Repeat three times

Knock on wood

Burn incense, sage, copal, myrrh

To your favorite saint or goddess,

Deity, plant or animal

Then book the next boat out the harbor



Author Bio:

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. He was the Sixth San Francisco Poet Laureate and the first Latino poet to hold the position.

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