R.I.P. Francisco X. Alarcon, the poet who prayed for ‘a more godlike god’

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL January 17, 2016

francisco x alarconI got a shock when I read that Francisco X. Alarcon had died on Friday, January 15. My poem of the day had been ‘Prayer’, Alarcon’s beautiful fervent wish for “a more godlike god”, one who is like “an accomplice” and “doesn’t even have enough for bus fare”. (Complete poem below. Read it if you can.)

Curious about the poet, I started to read up about Alarcon, thinking as I learnt about his life and preoccupations that here was someone I’d like to meet one day. Then I realised he’d died this week.

A man who wrote about the Latino and gay identity, mythology, the Nahuatl language, Mesoamerican history, and American culture. One of his collections, Snake Poems: An Aztec Invocation, was described as full of “eco-poetics, in which a common language of the elements, plants, and animals is recited and celebrated.”

Even the titles of some of his 20 books spoke to me: Laughing Tomatoes and other spring poems; From the Bellybutton of the Moon and Other Summer Poems. Both of those were for children. Borderless Butterflies: Earth Haikus and Other Poems and From the Other Side of Night for adults. It was in Other Side of Night that ‘Prayer’ featured.



I want a god

as my accomplice

who spends nights

in houses

of ill repute

and gets up late

on Saturdays

a god

who whistles

through the streets

and trembles

before the lips

of his lover

a god

who waits in line

at the entrance

of movie houses

and likes to drink

café au lait

a god

who spits

blood from

tuberculosis and

doesn’t even have

enough for bus fare

a god



by the billy club

of a policeman

at a demonstration

a god

who pisses

out of fear

before the flaring


of torture

a god

who hurts

to the last

bone and

bites the air

in pain

a jobless god

a striking god

a hungry god

a fugitive god

an exiled god

an enraged god

a god

who longs

from jail

for a change

in the order

of things

I want a

more godlike