Francisco X. Alarcón


Chicano poet and educator Francisco Xavier Alarcón was born in Wilmington, California, on February 21, 1954. During his childhood, Alarcón straddled the line between cultures, spending time living with his parents outside of Los Angeles and his other relatives in Guadalajara, Mexico. This diverse upbringing would significantly influence Alarcón’s work, leading him to become, as he says, a “binational, bicultural, and a bilingual writer.”  Alarcón has published numerous poetry collections, including Canto hondo/Deep Song (University of Arizona Press, 2015), and Borderless Butterflies: Earth Haikus and Other Poems/Mariposas sin fronteras: Haikus terrenales y otros poemas (Poetic Matrix Press, 2014). An advocate of bilingual education and using poetry as a tool of empowerment, knowledge, and understanding, Alarcón has published several Spanish language instruction textbooks and written a number of award-winning, bilingual poetry books for children. His honors include the 1993 American Book Award, Carlos Pellicer-Robert Frost Poetry Honor Award, Chicano Literary Prize, Fred Cody Lifetime Achievement Award, and the 1993 PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award. Alarcón was a lecturer of Spanish and the director of the Spanish for Native Speakers program at the University of California, Davis. He died on January 15, 2016. Source

Words are Birds


are birds

that arrive

with books

and spring





the wind

and trees


some words

are messengers

that come

from far away

from distant lands


for them

there are

no borders

only stars

moon and sun


some words

are familiar

like canaries

others are exotic

like the quetzal bird


some can stand

the cold

others migrate

with the sun

to the south


some words



they're difficult

to translate


and others

build nests

have chicks

warm them

feed them


teach them

how to fly

and one day

they go away

in flocks


the letters

on this page

are the prints

they leave

by the sea






Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Ars Poetica


Literary Devices:


a line break interrupting the middle of a phrase which continues on to the next line

Extended Metaphor

a metaphor that extends through several lines or even an entire poem

Slant Rhyme

A rhyme where the words have similar sounds in their stressed syllables.