poetry quarterly

10th anniversary


Francisco X. Alarcón



we have no one
but each other 

this long night
is overtaking us 

we’re whales
singing all alone 

in this dark sea
trying to find 

each other
in this big storm 

oh, we’re singing
about blue skies 

about bountiful
satisfying times 

about rubbing
bodies and tails 

oh, they got us
right this time 

we’re harpooned
we’re going down 

falling straight
down in a pool 

of warm blood
singing as we fall 

brothers, sisters
ram their ships 

make them pay
for the blood 

they consciously
are willing to spill 

they’re pulling us
up to their decks 

we see their greed
on the long knives 

we’re not yet dead
but we’re being cut 

into mindless pieces
seagulls are plucking 

both of our open eyes
oh, we're now singing 

our last whale songs
calling out all whales: 

oh, Father Sun, take
us into your hands 

oh, Mother Sea, guard
the entrails they toss 

discard to the waves.
oh, ancient whales 

of the Arizona sea
desert, we call out 

for your mighty
healing powers 

make our nation
whole again 

a welcoming
open sea to all 

oh, sky whales
oh, sea whales 

oh, land whales
oh, spirit whales 

oh, whales
from the past 

oh, whales
from the future 

we call out
for you to undo 

the wounds
they’ve done 

set us free
all unharmed 

we’ll praise
sing forever 

the precious
gifts of this sky 

of this land
this vast sea 

that’s always
been ours 


Francisco X. Alarcón is author of many poetry collections, including From the Other Side of Night; Snake Poems: An Aztec Invocation; Sonnets to Madness and Other Misfortunes. His most recent book is Ce-Uno-One: Poems for the New Sun (Swan Scythe Press 2010). Among his honors: the Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award and the Pen Oakland Josephine Miles Award. He founded the Facebook page, "Poets Responding to SB 1070," and he teaches at the University of California, Davis.


Published in Volume 13, Number 1, Winter 2012.