Javier Zamora


Javier Zamora (1990-present) was born in La Herradura, El Salvador and immigrated to the US when he was nine years old. He received his BA from UC Berkeley and an MFA from New York University and was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. He is the author of the collection Unaccompanied and the chapbook Nueve Años Inmigrantes/ Nine Immigrant Years. He is the recipient of a National Endowment of the Arts fellowship, a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, a Lannan Foundation Fellowship, and is currently a Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard University. Source

The Pier of La Herradura

When I sleep I see a child 

hidden between the legs of a scarred man,


their sunburnt backs breathe cold air, 

the child faces me


and the pier’s roof swallows the moon

cut by the clouds behind them.


Sometimes, they’re on the same roof

wearing handkerchiefs


and uniformed men surround them.

I mistake bullet casings


for cormorant beaks diving

till water churns the color of sunsets,


stained barnacles line the pier

and I can’t see who’s facedown


on boats lulled by crimson ripples.

Once, I heard the man —


alive and still on the roof — say 

today for you, tomorrow for me.


There’s a village where men train cormorants

to fish: rope-end tied to sterns,


another to necks, so their beaks

won’t swallow the fish they catch.


My father is one of those birds.

He’s the scarred man.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:




Poems of Place

Literary Devices:


the repetition of the same letter or sound at the beginning of words appearing in succession


a comparison between two unrelated things through a shared characteristic


the attribution of human qualities to a non-human thing