Monday, May 10, 2010

Francisco X. Alarcón Remembers Rane Arroyo

by Francisco X. Alarcón 
a personal remembrance
of playwright/poet extraordinaire
Rane Arroyo (Nov. 15, 1954 - May 7, 2010)
whom I first met 
at the AWP Conference 
in New Orleans, March 2002

I found out about you crossing
the final border through 
Facebook--a message by Richard Yáñez
as I read you name, Rane Arroyo
I feel the cold water of a border creek
running down the length of my spine
how ironic that you had deactivated
your Facebook page on December 30th:
“I’m done with Facebook and Twitter”
--you wrote on your last Facebook entry--
“only keeping www.myspacecom/rane 
arroyo. I’ll try to send this message out
again a couple of times—until I’m cut out.
Simplifying things and prefer myspace
over all others. Best, Rane”-- your adieu
I close my lap top and run to the UC Davis 
Conference Center where I will be doing
the keynote for “The Real California Gold:
Conference on Indigenous & Immigrant 
Heritage Languages of California”—as I speak 
I can’t forget that wondrous day we met:
the 2002 AWP Conference in New Orleans
a ground-breaking poetry reading/panel,
“Boca a Boca: Poetry Reading by Gay Latinos”
I had convened to shake up the dust a bit
of this annual writers’ conference;  Rane, 
you were one of five gay Latino bard sharks
taking in the silent air and exhaling flowers;
you, Francisco Aragón, Rigoberto González,
Eduardo C. Corral, and myself did our own 
Gay Latino Floricanto, in xochitl in cuicatl,
yes, our very own flower and song festival;
right there, the pages we were reading from 
were the smooth skins of our male lovers;
the letters of our poems were itched tattoos
that had made us bleed in silence for years
now, we were horses running free through
the aisles and chair rows of this crowded hotel
conference room; and no matter the low ceiling
we were eagles soaring in full flight with wings
spread open like the long table in front of us; 
our poems were smeared with the Seed of Life
we laughed, we cried, we embraced each other;
we recognized the time had finally arrived
to say to each other, without a word, “In Lak’ Ech”
the Maya sacred mantra: “tú eres mi otro yo /
you are me and I am you”- and we rejoiced;
we knew we were blessed when we went out
for a ramshackle dinner in the French Quarter
and all pulled tables together to form a circle
of new friends in brotherhood, sisterhood
I remember, Rane, you and I were the last ones
of the group to go bar hopping through the streets
of pre-Mardi Grass New Orleans; éramos unas locas
we ended up listening to soulful jazz and confessing
to each other our lives; we were two singing sharks
taking in the night, worry-free, flowing in the Big River
hermano, I’m reading your poems con velas encendidas
through the night;  your Puerto Rican voice is flooding 
your native Chicago with ghosts; as I open my e-mail
I find a Facebook message from you, it’s your partner,
Glenn Sheldon; oh, I want to meet the daybreak not alone,
but with you whispering me verses and biting my ears
© Francisco X. Alarcón
May 9, 2010
I want to thank Francisco Aragón for his suggestion that I write a personal remembrance of Rane Arroyo around the day we first met during the AWP Conference that took place in New Orleans in March 2002.
Francisco X. Alarcón, award winning Chicano poet and educator, born in Los Angeles, in 1954, is author of eleven volumes of poetry, including, From the Other Side of Night: Selected and New Poems (University of Arizona Press 2002), and Snake Poems: An Aztec Invocation (Chronicle Books 1992).  Together with Rodrigo Reyes and Juan Pablo Gutiérrez, Francisco is co-author of Ya Vas, Carnal (Humanizarte Press, 1985), the first collection of homoerotic poetry published by openly gay Latino male poets in the US. He teaches at the University of California, Davis. He recently opened the digitally hot Facebook page POETS RESPONDING TO SB 1070, and encourages all to post poems, artwork, and comments. 


Anonymous said...

Francisco, this is a beautiful elegy to Rane. I'm honored to be brought into your deep friendship through this poem so full of life.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Francisco, thank you for this lovely remembrance of Rane in life--active, vital, full of living essence. Such a talent! Such a truly kind man! The world is a little bleaker without Rane in it.

Rich said...

I have strong memories of Rane's generous spirit, first in New Orleans (getting lost, Alarcon driving like crazy, a long table full of brown, smiling faces) then in New York (martinis y amigos).

He had a way of making the smallest moment matter.