Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

POETAS PUENTES / Bridge poets


                                                               POETAS PUENTES

poetas puentes

no reconocen


poetas puentes

tienen poemarios

como pasaporte

poetas puentes


los brazos

cruzan túneles

poéticos fuera

de la ley

escriben versos

que dan visas

a perpetuidad

hasta formar

puentes humanos

sobre ríos

son mariposas


de la palabra

son arañas

que tienden


poetas puentes


poemas puentes –


que se reúnen

a plena luz

con seda

tan fina como

los suspiros

del mundo

son el alma

el corazón


                                                                   BRIDGE POETS

bridge poets

don't recognize


bridge poets

have chapbooks

as passports

bridge poets


their arms

they cross  

outlaw poetic


they write verses

granting them

life-long visas

until forming

human bridges

over rivers

they are migrant 


of the world

they are spiders


their webs

bridge poets


bridge poems -

catacomb goers

who meet

in broad day

with silk

as fine as


they are the soul

the heart of

the world


© Francisco X. Alarcón

Tijuana, Baja California Norte

August 12, 2012




este no es

un poema

sino un altar

este no

son palabras

sino flores



un camino

en el desierto

para ánimas

en pena

doradas del Sol


en floreros

a la Tierra


a todos



el desierto


de chocolate

pan de muerto


el principio

de los Tiempos


una mejor


velas prendidas




en el desierto

descansen en paz


una Muerte



de humo

de salvia y copal


sus familias

los restituyan


de plena vida

y sueños


para incontables


a la vida

con sus risas

lágrimas y todo

con familias




intentando cruzar

la Frontera


del olvido

más cruel


su seguro



sin nombre

sin tumba

este Día

de los Muertos

y ¡cada día!


© Francisco X. Alarcón

2 de noviembre de 2013





this is

not a poem

but a desert

these are

not words

but golden


you find

a path


for spirits



Sun flowers

in vases

To the land


to all



the desert


of chocolate

sweet breads


the beginning

of time


for a better


Lit candles

sage and

copal smoke


you rest

in desert peace








your families

bring you


of life

and dreams


for countless

dead migrants

back to life

big laughs

tears and all

with worrying




to cross

the Border


from the cruellest



for their safe



little folk skulls

without tombs

this day

of the Dead

and every day!



23.03.2015 05:24


Francisco Alarcon

These two poems, one titled "Poetas puentes / Bridge Poets"  and the other one, "Altar en el desierto / Desert Altar," are from my recent book, Borderless Butterflies / Mariposas sin fronteras, that has a leif motif the monarch butterflies, the ultimate migrant beings that leave Mexico in Spring and go north to the USA and Canada and after the 4th generation return to winter in their homeland in Mexico. *

For me, borders are not only ideological constructs but physical, everyday realities that some times turn lethal. The USA - Mexico border is a open bleeding wound since the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo of 1848 when half of Mexico was taken by the USA as a result of an unjust war and the territorial expansion driven by Manifest Destiny, the supposedly divine design for the exceptional nationalism of the USA.Hundreds of Latinos died every year trying to cross this border. The world for the most part is indifferent to the horrific fate. 

I founded four years ago a Facebook page, "Poets Responding to SB 1070," in response to a xenophobic anti-immigrrant law in Arizona. The response was immediate and tremendous. Some weeks we have had 600,000 visitors to our Facebook per week; poetics and politics engaging in a public forum open to all. Some dozen poets have served as moderators for this page.  You can visit this page at this link:


At this moment more than 130 readers have visited the Facebook note "Como agua" with the translations and some 8,293 people have visited our page this past week.  I understand some of you don't have Facebook pages for varied reasons. If you do, let's become Facebook friends. We have posted 3,000 poems from all over the world and the University of Arizona Press is publishing an anthology I co-edited with the works of 88 poets.

The poem "Poetas puentes / Bridge Poets" celebrates an event where Chicano/Latinos poets from the USA joined Mexican poets in the border city of Tijuana, Mexico. For us poets, borders do not exist and we as poets are building human bridges across national frontiers just like you, Hatto, Gabriel, John, Yiorgos, Najet, and many other poets all over the world do.  Hatto, you have my permission to include these two poems, the texts and materials I am sending you in your borders / bridges project. 

...the two poems (are) in columns. The intentions is that the poems can be read in the traditional vertically manner or diagonally, horizontally or any other way preferred by readers...

Yes, there are no borders for poetry!


Francisco X. Alarcon


* Borderless Butterflies / Mariposas sin fronteras - Copy, blurbs and bios – complete set

From the “Intoduction” by John Peterson:

Borderless Butterflies / Mariposas sin fronteras by Francisco X. Alarcónis a book of poems for the earth and the people, crafted by a poet at the peak of his power. It speaks to the porousness of our boundaries, and the futility of all attempts to separate people and regions so intimately intertwined. Alarcón is a man who, like the monarch butterfly he eulogizes, lives in and migrates between many worlds. From Los Angeles to Guadalajara, from the Mission barrio in San Francisco to Stanford and UC Davis, he has lived fully immersed in the diverse cultural landscape of California and Mexico.

This is a work of rare beauty and intelligence. Through tierra, fuego, agua, and aire, Alarcón takes us on a journey into our own psyche and through the concerns of our world – immigration and identity, the fragility and strength of our natural environment, the many faces of love, and the politics of a world in great need of illumination. Through everything he gives voice to our own unspoken feelings, and does so with delicate yet powerful language. His language is lean and brief; his poems puncture the skin and pierce the heart. These poems are a constant source of wisdom and grace.

Borderless Butterflies / Mariposas sin fronteras is a book of poetry, but it is also a declaration of unity with the earth – and with all the varied cultures, languages, and beliefs that interweave to create the unimaginable vastness of our lives. It arose out of poems written for Poets Responding to SB 1070, a Facebook community started by Alarcón which stands in opposition to a racist, dehumanizing law in Arizona aimed at undocumented migrants. Now every week thousands of people share poetry, videos, and articles of resistance.

Short bio:

Francisco X. Alarcón teaches at the University of California, Davis, where he directs the Spanish for Native Speakers Program. He is the author of twelve volumes of poetry, including Canto hondo / Deep Song, From the Other Side of Night / Del otro lado de la noche: New and Selected Poems, Of Dark Love, Sonnets to Madness and Other Misfortunes, and Body in Flames. He is also an award-winning author of six books of bilingual poems for children.


I am glad Francisco let his global reach and universal mind take over – and his tireless traveling shoes. This makes the difference and shows us how to write in the post 9-11 era.  Amazing book... an old world structure breaker.  

Juan Felipe Herrera, California Poet Laureate

Since the late 70’s when I first met Francisco, he has been sculpting his Roots poetics and mapping his travels to literary, cultural and people’s centers in the Américas. This is that travelogue. It is filled with the openness of spirit wings, of Chican@ Floricanto revolutionary poetics for social change and most of all, it is flourishing with incandescent love chants and calligrams that all can read, hold up to the sun, and bow to humanity. It is the Yolteotl, the divine heart, the Toltecs heralded as the core of the true artist of the people. I see this collection as the mind-path for our times. A groundbreaking text and rising inspiration fountain.

Juan Felipe Herrera, California Poet Laureate

Borderless Fireflies: Earth Haikus and Other Poems is a remarkable collection, where “all of a sudden/landscapes become poems--/and the road is a page,” where every poet is “but a single/letter of this immense poem/called ‘the universe.’” Alarcón is a master of architectural poetry. The book is divided into four main sections, one for each of the elements, the four annual cycles of nature, and the four stages of life. Some poems are designed as columns of short stanzas that can be read in any of the four directions and combinations thereof. In the midst of this complex architecture, Alarcón’s poems are as minimal and vital as drops of water and light distilled by fire to their purest potency. The poet’s voice is fueled by “an honesty so fierce/no ceasing till it gets/at the naked truth.” Words like seeds fall to the fertile earth. Green springs again to nestle the fragile egg. It feeds the insatiable caterpillar’s desire to dream in its time capsule of becoming a winged companion to the wind, oblivious to borders and frontiers. To finally fulfill the promise of life: “a new beginning/a cycle of (universal) hope.” ¡Enhorabuena, Francisco X. Alarcón!

Lucha Corpi, author of Palabras de mediodía/Noon Words

Francisco X. Alarcón’s newest book is a silken thread strung with poems that bump up against one another, creating tremors of electricity, a litany of the brown peoples and poets of the Americas, dedications to those who have fought and are still fighting for justice and peace.  Alarcón traverses borders, but his heart resides in California where the green is like no other, an agricultural masterpiece made by the creator and tended by brown human hands.  His metaphor is the monarch butterfly, “the ultimate, borderless migrant” who is beaten down with “heartless fists” only to transform and rise again. A few of my favorite lines: “in absolute calm/poets carry deep inside/a hurricane”; “somewhere/other eyes stare in awe/at the universe,” and “I burn my ships/with no way back now – …"

Dorianne Laux, author of Facts about the Moon

Hearts are drums.” Deceptively simple, this is vintage Alarcón.  All throughout Borderless Butterflies he confirms what I’ve come to believe: he has forgedone of the most exquisite poetics of minimalism in American poetry these past thirty years. But what distinguishes Alarcón is that he insists on what I’ll call an indigenous spirituality that makes no distinction between animal (including humans), vegetable, and mineral—but still staying true to his activist sensibility, making music in poems that are both metaphor/image-rich (“droplets in clouds/join hands and let go/falling as rain”) and discursive (“you risked your lives/in poems—choosing/truth over lies”), all the while deploying that signature brevity—a spare, distilled poetry where words are moss-covered stones cobbled together: a trail I’ve been treading since I was a teenager in San Francisco in the early 1980s.

Francisco Aragón, Director of Letras Latinas, Institute for Latino Studies, University of Notre Dame

Though Francisco X. Alarcón's Borderless Butterflies is in praise of everywhere and all that is possible in the future, his mastery of the haiku and tanka forms is so completely a part of the reading of this beautiful book that one can't help but feel that it is a deep tribute to the Japanese people, as the victims of the Fukushima disaster, in a great solidarity from the Latino world.

Jack Hirschman, former Poet Laureate of San Francisco


Bio of Francisco X. Alarcón, award-winning Chicano poet and educator, was born in Los Angeles, grew up in Guadalajara, Mexico, and now lives in Davis, where he teaches at the University of California. He is the author of twelve volumes of poetry, including Canto hondo / Deep Song (University of Arizona Pre, 2015), Ce • Uno • One: Poems for the New Sun (Swan Scythe Press, 2010), From the Other Side of Night / Del otro lado de la noche: New and Selected Poems (University of Arizona Press, 2002), Sonnets to Madness and Other Misfortunes (Creative Arts Book Company, 2001), No Golden Gate for Us (Pennywhistle Press, 1993), Snake Poems: An Aztec Invocation (Chronicle Books, 1992), Of Dark Love (Moving Parts Press, 1991 and 2001), and Body in Flames (Chronicle Books, 1990). He is the author of four acclaimed books of bilingual poems for children on the seasons of the year originally published by Children’s Book Press, now an imprint of Lee & Low Books: Laughing Tomatoes and Other Spring Poems (1997), From the Bellybutton of the Moon and Other Summer Poems (1998), Angels Ride Bikes and Other Fall Poems (1999), and Iguanas in the Snow and Other Winter Poems (2001). He has published two other bilingual books for children with Lee & Low Book: Poems to Dream Together (2005) and Animal Poems of the Iguazú (2008). He has received numerous literary awards and prizes for his works, like including the American Book Award, the Pen Oakland Josephine Miles Award, the PEN Oakland – Josephine Miles Award, the Chicano Literary Prize, the Fred Cody Lifetime Achievement Award, the Jane Adams Honor Book Award, and several Pura Belpré Honor Book Awards by the American Library Association. He is the creator of the Facebook page “Poets Responding to SB 1070.”




















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