Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Floricanto for Francisco. Pushcart Floricanto.

Michael Sedano

Click here to view Francisco X. Alarcón's reading at the 2010 Festival de Flor y Canto Yesterday • Today • Tomorrow, held at the University of Southern California.

 USC's Visions & Voices program had approved funding for the 2010 Festival de Flor y Canto Yesterday • Today • Tomorrow and Francisco X. Alarcón and I were discussing his joining us and making sense of the poetry community. He'd launched Poets Responding to SB 1070 and was inundated with submissions. What to do with such abundance?

That's when it became imperative that La Bloga become the home for all those voices who needed to be heard. Thus, in 2010, La Bloga On-line Floricanto became a regular feature of La Bloga-Tuesday as an element of, and as a precursor to,  the mid-September reunion floricanto. The theme for the three days would be "yesterday today tomorrow" and On-line Floricanto is here and now.

Francisco recruited a dedicated crew of Moderators. Their task is reading all the submissions and nominating a lineup for, at first weekly, now monthly and special occasion, On-line Floricantos.  Regretfully, now in our seventh year of working together, a milestone.

Francisco died. His spirit remains among us, inspiring new work, new voices, a benevolent presence demanding no minutes of silence but instead hours of joyous voice. Like that time in Albuquerque when  Francisco,  Karen S. Córdova,  and I laughed away an evening of dinner, wine, chisme related to poets, poetry, writing, and various movimientos. An unforgettable reminder of the sustainability of our life force.

Today's La Bloga On-line Floricanto comes from the hearts and souls of poets who knew Francisco, who were influenced by Francisco, who loved and were loved in return. Orale, Francisco, they wrote these poems for you.

For readers, as you enjoy the work below, and whenever you hear poetry read out loud, listen behind the voice. Just before the first word, and with the closing word still in the air, listen. You'll hear it. Listen, a voice calling to the Four Directions, "tahui! tahui!"

Canto for Francisco X. Alarcón, by Juan Felipe Herrera
To Francisco X. Alarcón, by Allison Hedge Coke
Achcauhtli, by Odilia Galván Rodríguez
Let it Be Another Day, by Edward Vidaurre
Dador de Poemas, Giver of Poems, by Sonia Gutiérrez
For Francisco X. Alarcón, by Jose Faus
Ce Ome Yei, by Iris De Anda
Chicahua Invocation, by Meg Withers
Because He Teaches Butterflies, by Karen S. Córdova
Pachamama, by Genevieve Lim

Canto for Francisco X. Alarcón
By Juan Felipe Herrera

Francisco de la plumas de Quetzal of the Quetzal feathers

the one who walked with healing-heart calls and copal incense

for all - the ones on the sidewalks the ones in the cafés & corners

you do not mind singing for all you do not think of that you sing

you make offerings year by year for the migrants for the hungry

the bread you bake is for every table the house you build covers

every child every familia in every color & vision of life yes this is

how you have chanted in every barrio school and city how can it

be we ask -- it is your heart that answers the call and it is your sky

shaped life that that makes it possible -- today it is our turn to sing

to you - to send you healings from the life fountains

heal in your beauty

heal in your body

heal in our lives

heal in all life within all life

for all life once again

To Francisco X. Alarcón
By Allison Hedge Coke

each night a canto

each day a song

condor and eagle

bring us here to

circle your breast

whisper your voice

sing to you in this

presence this light

this dark this time

listen we are with

you keeping time

present for you here

Odilia Galván Rodríguez

dedicated to the Cēmānāhuac Poet Laureate Francisco X. Alarcón

You, King of Hummingbirds
of Monarch butterflies
of bluest gulf waters
whose waves rise the height of skyscrapers
to kiss winking stars
in overcast skies
You, a lighthouse
that has always beckoned me
from that shadowy place
of deepest dark
of being lost in tumultuous waters
of self doubt and fear
You, who is always sure
of the magia
our ancestor’s tongues
the glyphs of invocation contained
in sounds of sunrise and sunset
their energy transferred to
our own words
to the sacred stones that sing
sealed by the feathers of mighty birds
or a simple snap of our fingers
You, man of heart and wisdom
there is no place you can go
that the wind does not whisper
your name
its secrets in your ear
the eternal spiral that links
your healing words
to our lips
that flower
in flor y canto



Cēmānāhuac: the name used by the Aztecs to refer to their world. It is a Nahuatl name derived from the words "cē" one/whole and "Ānāhuac", which in turn derives from the words "atl" (water) and "nahuac."

Achcauhtli: Leader

IN LAK'ECH - HALA K'IN: Mayan for ~ I am you, and you are me.

Let it Be Another Day
By Edward Vidaurre

for Francisco X. Alarcón

I’d like for you to stay
because I promised myself to share
un cafecito with you
come March, when all the words make their way
west to speak of unity and hope
What color do you suppose this poem is?
Let’s find out together
Let’s close our eyes and listen to our breathing
Let’s listen to our skin shedding
Let’s listen to the cry of the unborn poets calling out your name
They’re telling us the reasons why you must stay
Let it be another day
to search for the wild wind we chased away
to search for the leaf that carries your echo, translated in ancestral tongue
to bathe in the river that drowns your pain
to forgive the men and women that licked your heart
Let it be another day
Today, let’s celebrate your life
and heal you with a wrap of begonias
leaving your chest in full view for the

moon to shine on your bronze skin 

Dador de Poemas
By Sonia Gutiérrez

para Francisco X. Alarcón, mi Santo Literario

En mis sueños
Dador de Poemas,
sobre sábanas
blancas de papel
listo como siempre
para escribir,
donde el cielo
está lleno
de letras
y con tus manos
las amasas
para formar nubes
hechas de poemas.
Y después,
y subes la escalera
de una gigantesca
letra A mayúscula
y bajas
su resbaladilla
con los brazos abiertos,
riendo y sonriendo.
Y así pasarás
los días de enero,
febrero, y marzo
mientras por las mañanas
mis lágrimas ruedan
por mi rostro,
espejo de luna,
pero contenta
que huele
a poesía.

Giver of Poems
By Sonia Gutierrez

for Francisco X. Alarcón, my Literary Saint

In my dreams,
while awake,
Giver of Poems,
you awaken
on white
sheets of paper
ready like always
to write,
where the sky
is full
of luminous
and with your hands
you knead them
to form clouds
made out of poems.
And then
you take a break,
and go up the stairs
of a gigantic
uppercase A
and you go down
its slide
with your arms wide open,
laughing and smiling.
And that is how you will pass
the days of January,
February, and March
meanwhile during the mornings
my tears run down
my face,
mirror moon,
but happy
that it smells
like poetry.
Translation by Sonia Gutiérrez

For Francisco X. Alarcón
By Jose Faus

On this cold December night
the words drop on the paper
easy as the light
from the sliver of moon
that hovers over these lands
Where Hopi Navajo Anasazi
dwell off the side of cliffs
drawing the breath
in fits and gasps
like the first laugh of a child
where coyote crosses roads
and crow gathers pebbles
near first second and third mesas
and the old villages mirroring
the belt and heft of Orion
I see you shaman
with the spark of your eye
drawing us closer
to the gathering places
the wave of your hair
strands ladders to the old tales
and sacred halls
Cibola Aztlan Quivira and El Dorado
Set the dinner before us
there are many to feed
before turtle glides to the bottom
The sun holds its breath
as your children come for the blessing

Ce Ome Yei
by Iris De Anda

for Francisco X. Alarcón

The four directions have come to visit you here & now
They say you are the center
The hummingbird brings nectar of hope to your heart
It says you are the honeysuckle
The sun is dancing across your cheeks
It says you are the fire
The moon is illuminating the pathway to your dreams
It says you are the light
There is so much more to say
In your spirit the flor y canto of generations
Listening to you
we bloom palabra
Ce Ome Yei
count us into your world of words
they say you are the Poeta of ceremony
Tata Francisco X. Alarcón
Hijo de Tonantzin
Hermano de la Humanidad

Chicahua Invocation
By Meg Withers

For Francisco X. Alarcón

Over and over

hummingbird flurry

winged buzz and hum

in the mind.

His smudge bowl

pearl smoke

Tiahui! Tiahui! Tiahui! Tiahui!

lashes us to one another

fierce Ocelotl

proud humility.

Ce uno one poet/healer.

Attentive courage




Eagle of language

Cuerpo en Llamas.

By Genevieve Lim

I looked to the four winds

to the four seasons

to the four directions

Each cried out to me

with the lips of your prayers

with the storm of your poetry

slicing the boundaries that

were never meant to be

that kept us strangers

from the each other

nevermore, nevermore

We shall melt into the arms

of the sun

swallow the raindrops of

the clouds
vowing to be free, to be free







Meet the Poets
Canto for Francisco X. Alarcón, by Juan Felipe Herrera
To Francisco X. Alarcón, by Allison Hedge Coke
Achcauhtli, by Odilia Galván Rodríguez
Let it Be Another Day, by Edward Vidaurre
Dador de Poemas, Giver of Poems, by Sonia Gutiérrez
For Francisco X. Alarcón, by Jose Faus
Ce Ome Yei, by Iris De Anda
Chicahua Invocation, by Meg Withers
Because He Teaches Butterflies, by Karen S. Córdova
Pachamama, by Genevieve Lim

Juan Felipe Herrera is Poet Laureate of the United States.

Allison Adelle Hedge Coke’s books include Streaming, Blood Run, Off-Season City Pipe, Dog Road Woman, Sing: Poetry from the Indigenous Americas, Effigies, Effigies II, and Rock, Ghost, Willow, Deer. Awards include an American Book Award, a King*Chavez*Parks Award, Lifetime Achievement Award NWCA, and a 2016 Library of Congress Witter Bynner Fellowship. She teaches for VCFA MFA in Writing & Publishing and Red Earth MFA.

Odilia Galván Rodríguez, eco-poet, writer, editor, and activist, is the author of four volumes of poetry, her latest, The Nature of Things, with photographer Richard Loya. She has worked as an editor for Matrix Women's News Magazine, Community Mural's Magazine, and most recently at Tricontinental Magazine in Havana, Cuba. She facilitates creative writing workshops nationally, and moderates: Poets Responding to SB 1070, and Love and Prayers for Fukushima, both Facebook pages dedicated to bringing attention to social justice issues. Her poetry appears in numerous anthologies and literary journals, on and offline.

Edward Vidaurre, an emerging voice in Latino literature and Beat poetry. His work is forthcoming in The Beatest State in the Union: An Anthology of Beat Texas Writers and in Poetry Of Resistance: An Anthology Of Poets Responding To SB 1070 & Xenophobia. Vidaurre has also been published in other anthologies: Arriba Baseball!, and Juventud! and Boundless--the Anthology of the Valley International Poetry Festival 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014, and in literary journals, among them: La Bloga's On Line Floricanto, Bordersenses, RiversEdge, Interstice, La Noria Literary Journal, Harbinger Asylum, Left Hand of the Father, Brooklyn & Boyle--a newspaper published in East Los Angeles, his hometown. His first collection of poetry, I Took My Barrio On A Road Trip, (Slough Press) was published in 2013 and his second collection, Insomnia (El Zarape Press), was published in 2014. Beautiful Scars: Elegiac Beat Poems (El Zarape Press) was published in 2015. Conceived in El Salvador and born in Los Angeles, California, in 1973, Vidaurre is the founder of Pasta, Poetry, and Vino--a monthly open mic gathering of artists, poets, and musicians. He has been listed in Letras Latinas List of 2013 A Year In Poetry: a Weblog of the literary program of the Institute for Latino Studies, University of Notre Dame as well as La Bloga's On Line Floricanto Best Poems of 2013 (list of six poets). Vidaurre co-edited TWENTY: Poems in Memoriam, an anthology in response to the Newtown, CT, tragedy, and Boundless 2014: the Anthology of the Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He resides in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.

Sonia Gutiérrez’s work promotes social and human dignity. She is an Interim Assistant Professor of English at Mt. San Jacinto College at the San Jancito Campus.

Her poems have appeared in the San Diego Poetry Annual, La Jornada Semanal, and Poetry of Resistance: Voices for Social Justice, among other publications. Her poem, “The Garden of Dreams” is forthcoming in El Tecolote Anthology. La Bloga’s “On-line Floricanto” is home to her Poets Responding to SB 1070 bilingual poems, including “Best Poems 2011” and “Best Poems 2012.” Her vignettes have appeared in AlternaCtive PublicaCtions, Huizache, and Sunshine Noir II.

Sonia’s bilingual poetry collection, Spider Woman / La Mujer Araña (Olmeca Press, 2013), is her debut publication. She is a contributing editor for the The Writer’s Response (Cengage Learning, 2016). Her manuscripts, Kissing Dreams from a Distance, a novel, and Legacy / Herencia, a bilingual poetry collection, are seeking publication. Since 2014, Sonia has been a moderator for Facebook’s Poets Responding to SB 1070, founded by her Chicano role model, Francisco X. Alarcón. 

José Faus is a writer, visual artist and independent teacher. He maintains a studio in downtown Kansas City, Kansas. He is a founding member and past president of the Latino Writers Collective. He is president of the board of The Writers Place. He has presented locally and nationally as part of the Latino Writers Collective or as a visiting artist.

Iris De Anda is a Guanaca Tapatia who hosts The Writers Underground Open Mic at the Eastside Cafe every third Thursday of the month. Author of CODESWITCH: Fires From Mi Corazon. www.irisdeanda.com

Karen S. Córdova is a business woman and poet, who was born in Colorado and has deep roots both in Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico. Much of her writing reflects love of her heritage by weaving stories about la gente of the Southwest. Her ancestors are Spanish, Native American, and two extranjero mountain men who wandered west. Karen lives in Southern California.

Karen participates in formal spoken word performances across the United States. She is proud to have participated in the 2010 Festival de Flor y Canto at USC and many ekphrasis events—collaborations of poets, visual artists, and performing artists. Karen curated her inaugural show, Ekphrasis: Sacred Stories of the Southwest, in May 2014, at OBLIQ Art in Phoenix, AZ.  She also loves to give formal presentations about how genealogy and cultural history inform her poetry.

Karen’s work has been published in various journals and other publications. Her first book, FAROLITO, was published in 2015 by 3: A Taos Press. FAROLITO is a true story, which casts a Hispano light on the dark subject of elder abuse and neglect, but also illuminates a jagged path to solution and unexpected healing. After reading several of the poems in the manuscript, executives from a Chicago production company featured Karen in the 2011 documentary, Mary Kay Inspiring Stories. Karen is grateful to have been asked by Dr. Laura Mosqueda, director of the National Center on Elder Abuse, to do a reading of FAROLITO at the USC Keck School of Medicine for faculty and students in late February 2016.

Karen also is grateful to have attended workshops taught by Francisco X. Alarcón at the National Latino Writers Conference in Albuquerque. Through those workshops, private conversations, and experience with Poets Responding to SB 1070, Karen was indelibly touched by the maestro’s generosity of spirit and example of using writing and public speaking as a tool to fight for social justice. (WE’RE ONE/sea/dust/tear/pollen —Francisco X. Alarcón)

Genny Lim is a noted poet performer who’s collaborated with the late Max Roach and bassist, Herbie Lewis. Lim has performed at numerous jazz festivals and venues coast to coast, including the SF Jazz Poetry Festival and World Poetry Festivals in Venezuela, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Italy. Her poetry and vocals can be heard on Asian ImprovArts recordings with Francis Wong, Devotee and Child of Peace and on Jon Jang’s Immigrant Suite. . She is the author of the award-winning play, Paper Angels, Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island and several poetry collections, including Paper Gods and Rebels.

Special On-line Floricanto: Nominees for Pushcart  

Recently, La Bloga happily shared the news that indie publisher Golden Foothills Press, founded in Pasadena in 2014 by Altadena Poet Laureate Thelma T. Reyna, has nominated six poets for one of the oldest, most prestigious literary awards in the United States: the Pushcart Prize.

Nomination alone marks a notable step in a poet's career. Celebrating the nomination, Golden Foothills Press holds a public literary event on Monday, February 8 in the Altadena Library Community Room in Altadena, CA, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Free refreshments and special pricing on The Altadena Poetry Anthology, including the six poems here, add up to a festive reading.

lalo kikiriki

There is a
moonflower aching to bloom,
waiting for sundown
to unfold.

Water, holding the heat of the sun,
relaxes, evaporates in opal air…
the perfect skeleton of a lizard
agonizes forever
on an anthill at the curb-line.

Desiccated roses,
with aphids trapped inside,
nod to the curled,
blanched leaves of swooning fuchsias
in the garden of an ersatz castle,
among peaked cedars.

The stucco shivers,
remembering earthquakes,
perfect silence,
perfect heat –
This is earthquake weather
And I have this craving for
shadows, shadows,
the coffin’s cool satin,
the comfortable grave.

Nancy Lind

Buddy Blount came to school barefoot,
Shared my bench,
Joked that his toes were handy for math.

At brown-bag lunchtimes,
Eating his bread with mayo,
He talked only about big brother Lester,
Brought letters with strange stamps,
Photos, news about Hitler’s death.
As much as first-graders could think,
We all had one thought:
“So that was love –
Absence, letters, pictures, hope.”

A quiet boy in class Buddy was,
Except for one day,
Right after the Pledge of Allegiance.
He saw a soldier at the door,
Jumped up, shouting,
Jumped into the soldier’s arms,

As if seeing a movie,
With all of us watching, yet in it,
We stood by our desks,
Mouths open,
And stretched our first notions of love:

It was like bear-hugs,
Like gushing tears,
Like kisses,
Like “Don’t go back, please, please,”
Like rocking the boy,
Like “I’m not – I’ve got you,
I’ve got you.”

Mark A. Fisher

sharp shards of poems
from ancient hands
shaped and fired
in vain attempts
to freeze myths
in clay and words
recited over a potters's field
where sextons dig to make room
stacking the bones of stories
in library ossuaries
to gather dust
and become mere ash
then return to the void

Luivette Resto 

The blend of Newports
and wine on my breath
remind me of her
as I light my next cigarette.

Holding it the way she does,
poised and lady-like
when she holds court during
unsanctioned smoke breaks.

Curve my left eyebrow like her
when I hear bullshit pick-up lines
or excuses masked as reasons,
talk with my hands
as I spew Spanish curses at
NASCAR-worthy speed.
We hold our vulnerabilities
like we hold back our tears,
with purpose and protectiveness.

Smile when we really want
the earth to swallow us whole,
enjoy the silence of solitude
(a bit too much perhaps),

dream to be a starfish
because, like comic book heroes,
they possess regenerative super powers.
Like the intersections of a Venn Diagram,

we share the shame of early pregnancies,
disgust for tolerated slaps to the face, but
today I rewrite the plot of our lives,
flicking ashes on the ground,
knowing we will be them one day.

Shahe Mankerian

Do not tell us about the rib cage
shielding the sinuous chambers
of Aristotle. He did not snuff

the internal lamp or allow
the woman’s heart to beat faster
than the man’s. Let the French

invent the stethoscope to avoid
placing the ear on the cleavage.
We've heard it before: "Grab

a tennis ball and squeeze it
tightly: that’s how hard the beating
heart labors." We’re more likely

to have cardiac arrests
on Monday mornings. You told us
the heart rate of a horse mirrors

the human subject touching it.
Then will a cracked mirror echo
the broken heart scraping it?

Tim Callahan

This bright visitor flitting
through the late and low
and luminous light of autumn
so surprising and superb
in her flashing orange flutter
now approaching now receding
lights with only fleeting favor
on the milkweed then with
seeming fickle nature flits away
as though startled yet returns
and lights again to once again
lay her eggs and yet again
flits and flutters away to scatter
light with unexpected color
as she dances in the air in
delightful and erratic flight
through a garden in decline
in shorter days and cooler
a garden she graces only briefly
with a presence so surprising
of her passing, flaming beauty

1 comment:

Thelma T. Reyna said...

Michael, thank you very much for this shout-out on behalf of our honored poets. You are so right that just being nominated for the Pushcart Prize is a milestone event for poets. These 6 poet nominees here are highly talented and very deserving of all the recognition they can get for their devoted, inspiring work. Thank you for featuring them and for mentioning my nascent literary indie press, Golden Foothills Press. We're all here for furthering the love of poetry, of good literature, and nurturing the growth of poets in our midst.