Francisco AragónReading "Cuando el Pueblo" at the special tribute at La Boheme in San Francisco, CA, on January 10, 2016.
CUANDO EL PUEBLO
healing Francisco X. Alarcón
Cuando el pueblo learned the news,
earth and sky became one—lovers
entwined, as if touch could
stitch what dares unravel.
Blessings for the word, ella, she,
who knows no borders. Finds
hearth in every root and wing,
calls to winter leaves and lights
the nighttime alleys with a kind of
seashell music. The heart
endures the old light, and we
are the growth of what has passed.
Root and wing, healers,
sing of memory, sing of touch.
The air around you stirs
like clouds when the leaves
hang like raindrops.
How does the light
dance the water deep
and the droplets within the body?
It knows the routes starshine
through fine lines printed on your fingers,
mapping every atom, every breath
you’ve shared with us. Now
let your every in-breath earthen
your mind, let your out-breaths
sky the heavens of your heart.
Winter is a stranger in the orchard
as it blooms December’s trees. How will the peaches
taste in August without memory of spring?
This you ask, I know
because I have asked it too.
But imagine spring needs no memory to green.
Pancho. Chico. Francisco.
Lo que es y lo que está
siempre verde. Un corazón
en flor, en llamas, con estrellas,
poeta encorazonado endiosado
nos diste lengua y canto y todo
el fuego del cielo para quebrar
sueños abiertos—breath maps,
sky songs, and endless blossoms
the wind scatters to the four
directions, the petals
inscribed with your names.
In a neighborhood in Los Angeles your words
chat with chairs, waltz of a kitchen
forever mending, bold as a braid.
The x in your name, xicano, crosses
out borders. Xinachtli bed, xochitl kiss,
it hums phosphorescent as a xoxotla.
Look up, even the air traffic seems alive
with luciferin, beautiful insects in their weird
migration patterns—where are they going?
Of the petrichor, an assemblage
of reeds moistened by
the rhapsodic lips of poetry
hums a prayer that seeds out
the recreation of the lush world,
ceasing the red drought of earth.
Blue moon whispers affection
for your tender steps, its high tide
drenches your lexicon.
And daily, as we watch the sun rise,
warming our tired bodies, there too,
your name, urging them to speak.
These words alone on carmine & jade stone
as you carved them hermano with others
and all things come back to you with love.
The light you harvest for us, Huitzil
de la palabra, fold it under your wings—
know our chorus holds you up in flight.
This collaborative poem was commissioned by Letras Latinas, the literary initiative of the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies
Francisco Aragón is the author of Puerta del Sol (Bilingua Press) and Glow of Our Sweat (Scapegoat Press). He is the founding director of Letras Latinas, the literary initiative at the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies, which commissioned the poem “Cuando el Pueblo (healing Francisco X. Alarcón)”.
William Archila is the author of The Art of Exile (Bilingual Press). His second book, The Gravedigger’s Archeology (Red Hen Press), won the Letras Latinas/Red Hen Poetry Prize.
Fred Arroyo is the author of Region of Lost Names (University of Arizona Press) and Western Avenue and Other Fictions (University of Arizona Press). Arroyo designed and led a PINTURA:PALABRA workshop in brief ekphrastic prose in Salt Lake City, UT and is the guest-editor of the forthcoming corresponding p0rtfolio for Western Humanities Review.
Carmen Calatayud is the author of In the Company of Spirits (Press 53). Calatayud took part in the inaugural PINTURA:PALABRA workshop in Washington, D.C. and published in the corresponding portfolio in Poet Lore.
David Campos is the author of Furious Dusk (University of Notre Dame Press), winner of the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize. He will be reading at Notre Dame in April.
Brenda Cárdenas is the author of Boomerang (Bilingual Press) and co-designed and co-taught the inaugural PINTURA:PALABRA workshop in Washington, D.C. Her ekphrastic work is forthcoming in March in the PINTURA:PALABRA issue of Poetry Magazine.
Eduardo C. Corral is the author of Slow Lightning (Yale University Press) and launched the PINTURA:PALABRA initiative with a panel on ekphrastic poetry in Washington, D.C. at the Latino Art Now! conference. His ekphrastic work is forthcoming in March in the PINTURA:PALABRA issue of Poetry Magazine.
Barbara Brinson Curiel is the author of Mexican Jenny and Other Poems (Anhinga Press) and has taken part in a Letras Latinas reading at Bryant Park in New York City.
Diana Marie Delgado is the author of Late Night Talk With Men I think I Trust (Center for Book Arts) and a past recipient of the Letras Latinas Residency Fellowship.
Carolina Ebeid’s first book is forthcoming in the AKRILICA series, a publishing partnership between Noemi Press and Letras Latinas. Ebeid took part in the PINTURA:PALABRA workship in brief ekphrastic prose in Salt Lake City, UT and has work forthcoming in the corresponding portfolio in Western Humanities Review.
Laurie Ann Guerrero is the author of Crown for Gumecindo (Aztlan Libre Press) and Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying (University of Notre Dame Press), winner of the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize, selected by Francisco X. Alarcón. She was the recipient of the inaugural Letras Latinas ekphrastic residency in Washington, D.C. Her ekphrastic work is forthcoming in March in the PINTURA:PALABRA issue of Poetry Magazine.
Leticia Hernández-Linares is the author of Mucha Muchacha (Tia Chucha Press) and is slated for an author interview at Letras Latinas Blog.
Juan Felipe Herrera is the current U.S. Poet Laureate and will be taking part, on January 23rd, 2016, in a Letras Latinas event at the National Portrait Gallery inspired by One Life: Dolores Huerta. His ekphrastic work is forthcoming in March in the PINTURA:PALABRA issue of POETRY Magazine. He will be visiting Notre Dame in October of 2016.
ire’ne lara silva is the author of furia (Mouthfeel Press), Flesh to Bone (Aunt Lute Books) and Blood Sugar Canto (Saddle Road Press). She curates and conducts the interview series, Nefelibata, for Letras Latinas Blog
Raina J. León is the author of Canticle of Idols (Word Tech) and Boogeyman Dawn (Salmon Poetry). She took part in the Letras Latinas Latino/a poet-editors retreat at the Ragdale Foundation, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, in 2008. She also read in the grand finale of Latino/a Poetry Now, at Notre Dame, in 2013.
Manuel Paul López is the author of Death of a Mexican and Other Poems (Bear Star Press) and The Yearning Feed (University of Notre Dame Press), winner of Notre Dame’s Ernest Sandeen Prize. During his visit to Notre Dame he was interviewed for the Letras Latinas Oral History Project.
Sheryl Luna is the author of Seven (3: A Taos Press) and Pity the Drowned Horses (University of Notre Dame Press), winner of the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize.
Maria Melendez Kelson is the author of How Long She’ll Last in this World (University of Arizona Press) and Flexible Bones (University of Arizona Press). She read in the grand finale of Latino/a Poetry Now, at Notre Dame, in 2013. Her ekphrastic work is forthcoming in March in the PINTURA:PALABRA issue of Poetry Magazine.
Juan J. Morales is the author of Friday and the Year that Followed (Fairweather Books) and The Siren World (Lithic Press). He took part in the inaugural PINTURA:PALABRA workshop in Washington, D.C. and published in the corresponding portfolio in Poet Lore.
Adela Najarro is the author of Split Geography (Mouthfeel Press) and Twice Told Over (Unsolicited Press). She took part in the PINTURA:PALABRA workshop in Sacramento, led by Francisco X. Alarcón, and has ekphrastic work forthcoming in one of the corresponding portfolios, in Packinghouse Review.
Melinda Palacio is the author of Ocotillo Dreams (Bilingual Press) and The Fire is a Story, Waiting (Tia Chucha Press). She has been interviewed at Letras Latinas Blog.
Ruben Quesada is the author of Next Extinct Mammal (Greenhouse Review Press). Quesada took part in the PINTURA:PALABRA workship in brief ekphrastic prose in Salt Lake City, UT and has work forthcoming in the corresponding portfolio in Western Humanities Review.
José Antonio Rodríguez is the author of The Shallow End of Sleep (Tia Chucha Press) and Backlit Hour (Stephen F. Austin University Press). He has been interviewed at Letras Latinas Blog.
Emma Trelles is the author of Tropicalia (University of Notre Dame Press), winner of the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize. She took part in the inaugural PINTURA:PALABRA workshop in Washington, D.C. and published in the corresponding portfolio in Poet Lore. She went on to curate and lead the PINTURA:PALABRA workshop in Miami, FL.