Noe Valley Voice May 2000

Last Page: Poems by Francisco Aragon

A View from the Park

A clear afternoon and the Bay Bridge
like a bow
to Treasure Island: a view
tourists could buy
at Fisherman's Wharf
but for the smudge
clouding the tip of the Pyramid -- panels
deflecting the sun glint
through, as if a beacon thinly shrouded in fog
were blinking a code across the city
to this green slope: a park named after
a mission...
Dolores Dolores
-- it simmers on my tongue, is
Pains in Spanish, is
her name... And beyond the grass
a dark-haired woman
in the sand
saying to a small boy, ¡Sácate los dedos
de la boca! Take your fingers
out of your mouth!


She and I on a bench eating prawns:
the first day of her fiftieth year and she points
at two street performers about to juggle
fire and a distant summer morning
surfaces, afloat on the light wind blowing
off the bay -- older sisters are hiding in the dark,
big brother is parading around the house
his hands outstretched and clutching large candles
I'm on a search! he shouts
marching from room to room
till he finds them huddling in a jungle
of clothes, his beacons flickering as flame-
hot wax begins to flow across his fingers...
while she is walking to Centro Adulto, her head brimming
with phrases: the words she needs to learn so she can quit
sewing, land a job in a bank...and the sitter
is arriving minutes late, finding us wet
and trying to save a coat, a shirt, a dress -- it's
a small one: nothing the green hose
and frantic assembly line of buckets
doesn't eventually douse, leaving walls and curtains
the color of coal -- ¡Mira! she gasps
her left hand rapping my shoulder, still pointing with the right
as the torches,
from one juggler to the other,
begin to fly

in memory of my mother (1932 ­ 1997)

San Francisco, 1985

to D.G.

It rolled past the Castro --
marquee big with NORTH
BY NORTHWEST -- and slowed
to a stop. He was at the corner
outside Twin Peaks, spotting me near
the front facing out the door -- the seats
reserved for the elderly and disabled
just behind the driver. Our eyes
met briefly before he turned
to his right and shouted your name
across the busy street, yelling
that I was on this one,
for you to come back.
You'd begun the jog, the game
you both played -- here comes
the 24-Divisadero:
Who will reach Alpine first:
you on foot, or him on wheels?
But you re-cross Market, both
of you boarding the bus -- alive
with holiday shoppers coursing
through the city, the three of us
exchanging phrases the short ride
together and I almost don't say it
turning to him anyway:
How are you feeling?
You smile touching my sleeve.
And so it's this. This is what stays,
what sticks to me. Gone
sooner than we'd expected:
I never made it to Alta Bates.
Afraid, perhaps, I'd undo
a ride on Muni one
December afternoon.

Francisco Aragon was born and raised on Fair Oaks Street. His travels have included a 10-year residency in Spain. Now a graduate student at the University of California at Davis, he is completing his master's in creative writing and finishing his first full-length book, a bilingual collection of poems.

Aragon's work has appeared in both print and new media. He is the author of "Light, Yogurt, Strawberry Milk" (Chicano Chapbook Series #26, edited by Gary Soto), and his poems and translations have appeared in various journals, including Chelsea, Luna, ZYZZYVA, and Poetry Flash. His work will appear in American Diaspora: Poetry of Exile, to be published by University of Iowa Press later this year.

Aragon also has published poems on the Web. One piece lives in the poetry section of KONCH Magazine (, a site edited by his former teacher, the novelist, essayist, and poet Ishmael Reed. Aragon also has three poems in Jacket (, edited by Australian poet John Tranter.

In 1999, Francisco Aragon won an Academy of American Poets Prize. Voice readers may recall his poem "The Last Days of My Visit," published in our May 1997 issue. Aragon can be reached at