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ADIOS: Francisco X. Alarcón Poeta, Maestro y Amigo

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Francisco X. Alarcón (l.) and Javier Pinzón, su compañero y alma gemela.
by Abel M. Salas

The rosary was both beautiful and heartbreaking. During a slideshow of his life in pictures, movimiento-inspired music comforted those gathered at St. Joseph’s Parish in Long Beach, California. Mercedes Sosa’s voice reminded the poets and trobadores among us of our sacred duty as warriors for peace and beauty.  When Francisco’s brother Arturo, an architect, recalled the conversation he’d had with our departed compa’ about the dwindling population of Monarch butterflies, I could no longer hold back my tears.

Francisco and I had been friends since 1985 when I dragged him almost kicking and screaming onto the boardwalk ferris wheel in Santa Cruz. He’d invited me Santa Cruz to meet his friend, poeta xingona Lorna Dee Cervantes. We reconnected many years later in LA, during the Floricanto revival reunion. We kept in touch, organized readings in Boyle Heights at Corazón del Pueblo and the Mariachi Hotel. Inspired by Dreamer youth who chained themselves together before the doors of the Arizona state capitol in protest of SB1070, a law that essentially legalized profiling, Francisco created a Facebook page where poets could demonstrate a creative community response in support of immigration reform. We eventually traveled to Washington D.C. and read poetry at the bottom U.S. Capitol steps. The group of writers who joined Francisco and me that day, among them Luís J. Rodríguez—now the official poet laureate of Los Angeles, Nephtalí De León, Susana Sandoval, Carmen Calatayud, Hedy Treviño and Odilia Galván-Rodríguez, were there in defense of those denied their human rights as result of similar anti-immigrant legislation sweeping the nation.

The day after the rosario, we celebrated his life with a misa conducted by his brother Carlos, an ordained Catholic priest. Danzantes entered the church in a historic first with cantos, sage y copal. The serape-covered casket symbolized Francisco’s commitment to cultura. During a heartfelt ceremonia at All Souls Cemetery, the danzantes blessed Francisco’s entrance into the spirit world with good energy. After the traditional rites, Bay Area poet Jorge Argueta led a profoundly moving and beautifully breathtaking indigenous ceremony that included Nahuatl prayers and songs as well as corn and water, representing rebirth. Poets from Tijuana-San Diego to Sacramento joined the emotional despedida. At the reception held despues in a bastion of old Long Beach elegance, friends and family shared memories and poems and stories in Francisco’s honor. His friends, family and colleagues will remember him fondly for the rest of our days.

In His Wake (para el poeta del pueblo)

There will be untold tropical storms and tsunamis
as well as an unkind, unearthly chill in his wake
frozen lakes and blizzards that blind all travelers
clocks will stop and paralyze dimensional time
there will be crows on East LA rooftops that caw
with a dread worthy of Edgar Allen Poe himself

A deathly silence will follow the sharp report
of cemetery rifles on hallowed Long Beach earth
And the ghostly desert whales in Arizona will
moan as they lift themselves from the arid sand

A boardwalk ferris wheel will begin turning slowly
in morbid reverse as seagulls speak in a decahedron
code only ancient Sanskrit seers would dare decipher
finally, at the poet’s undue and untimely passing
books will sprout heavy wings and crash land on
those achingly lunar Baja California landscapes.

a child who emerged thirty years before with the
poet as sire and midwife all at once will steel
himself for the journey from Tejas to Tuxtla, a
lonely passage with requisite stops in the Mission
and Fresno near the words assembled in a luminous
tower and where the poet stood wrapped in an Irish
shroud, hailing the mists from whence the boy came
forever echoes trapped inside every farewell tear

© Abel M. Salas

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Brooklyn & Boyle is a print and online magazine dedicated to Art & Life in Boyle Heights and Beyond. The publication features Brooklyn & Boyle stories from the Greater Eastside LA arts scene, including but not limited to the neighborhoods of Boyle Heights, City Terrace, East LA, Lincoln Heights, El Sereno, South Pasadena, Cypress Park, Arroyo Seco, Highland Park, and Eagle Rock, places every bit as creative and cultured as one another while aware and active in support of authentic arts and creative projects which support community integrity and respect for the history and heritage of the many Eastside neighborhoods.

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