Francisco Xavier Alarcón (February 21, 1954-January 15, 2016) was one of seven siblings whose grandmother, incidentally, was a native speaker of Nahuatl, a language that Alarcón used extensively in his poetry. He moved to Guadalajara, Mexico with his family when he was six and returned to California when he was eighteen. A graduate of California State University–Long Beach, and Stanford University he spent many years on the faculty at the University of California–Davis where he served as director of the Spanish for Native Speakers Program and the California Poets in the Schools program.
In remembrance of his work as an advocate, educator & poet we reprint his poem “California Verde,” which first appeared in Hinchas #9. Requiescat in pace, Francisco.
California verde, verde tierno como las primeros retoños tras una semana de lluvia invernal pertinaz y unos días de Sol California es en verdad una isla, un estado de mente de soñador memorias débiles, un adolescente perenne en crisis de media vida California es una larga autopista a ningún lado desde El Camino Real a la “Gold Rush”, verde Valle del Silicón, verdes sueños, verdes mentiras en California los poetas se hablan verdes solos entre compradores de comestibles cerca de los estantes refrigerados de la leche de soya y el yogurt orgánico — California verde, verde lechuga, verde aguacate verde terciopelo de hierba, verde gozo de vacas, verde ensalada de gentes verde Isla Ángel, verde alegría, verde desespero, verdes cementerios
California green, tender green like the first sprouts after a long week of steady Winter rain and few Sun days California is really an island, a state of dreamlike mind feeble memories, a perennial teenager amidst a mid-life crisis California is a long freeway to nowhere since El Camino Real to the Gold Rush, green Silicon Valley, green hopes, green lies in California, poets speak green to themselves among grocery shoppers close to the cold stands of soy milk and organic yogurt – California green, lettuce green, avocado green green velvet grass, green delight of cows, green salad of peoples green Angel Island, green joy, green despair, green cemeteries