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Issue 18, Cualquiera | May 2016

     

In Memoriam: Francisco X. Alarcón, 1954-2016

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

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

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
In Memoriam: Francisco X. Alarcón, 1954-2016