Braulio Munoz (photography: Laurence Kesterson )


MY SOUL aches brother

something not in your nature perhaps

inescapable experience in cracked

clay vessels like me

there are aches that only pain

others drip between puny fears
most demand accommodations in life

we end up embracing the saving tricks

as handouts wrapped in hope

there are aches that pair up

with blasphemies or remorse

there are those that urge us to lift

a fist and howl along canals and byroads

against those who will always win

            there are those that convince us

            that mouth heart elbow soul

            go on fighting against nothingness

            on golden blankets of silence


FOR ME gods are signs

of our own naked power

but to realize that is no liberation

            it is now useless to bray against them

            need brings about its own cure

            all remedy becomes tradition

nothing is left but to show fake wounds

pouts whimpers contrition

there is no taking back what has been given

            to blaspheme is to cover up truth and awe

            better to encourage supplications to a savior

            even though they are not worth it


LOOK brother

            my songs are bones hung

            on the string of my time they peer

            between hopes rejections and afflictions

let them hear me in the silence of their hours

let them suck my marrow when they walk

lost in their own shadows

            I hope they don’t celebrate life by remembering death

            better that they hang up their own bones

            on the string of their own time

let them lick their own elbows

let them knock their brains out

on their own desert

            what do you think?

Selected and edited by Eli Urbina Montenegro

BRAULIO MUÑOZ was born in Chimbote, Peru. There he was a student and labor organizer and a radio and print journalist. He immi­grated to the USA in 1968. He earned a PhD in sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Centennial Professor Emeritus of Swarthmore College where he taught social theory and Latin American Culture. Among Professor Muñoz’s works related to literature are Sons of the Wind and Storyteller: Mario Vargas Llosa Between Civilization and Barbarism. In fiction he has written Alejan­dro y los Pescadores de Tancay, which was translated into English and received the International Book Award at the New York Book Fair in 2009. The novel has also been translated into Italian. His other works of fiction include The Peruvian Notebooks (also translated into Italian), Los Apuntes de Alejandro, El Misha, the poem-novella Plaza mayor, a book of stories, El Hombre Que Sabía Morir y Otros Relatos, and Yaraví, a book of poems. He and his wife Nancy live in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.