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Poem in memory of Jose Antonio Burciaga

u burciaga t

by Alurista
San Diego, California

Muralist, artist, poet, writer and community leader Jose Antonio Burciaga died October 7, 1996. He was greatly admired and respected by all who knew him and his work. Several of the murals he created are on the walls of Casa Zapata at Stanford University where he and his wife Cecilia were resident fellows from 1985 to 1994. Among the murals are "Mythology and History of Maiz", "The Spirit of Hoover Tower" and "The Last Supper of Chicano Heroes" which depicts Che Guevara, Dolores Huerta, Cesar Chavez, Frida Kahlo, Luis Valdez and others. His most recent books are "Spilling the Beans" and "Drink Cultura". Burciaga received the National Hispanic Heritage Award for Literature, 1992, and the American Book Award, 1992 Burciaga was also a founding member of the theatrical comedy company Culture Clash. Those who want to donate funds can do so to the Burciaga Artist Trust, c/o Galeria de la Raza, 2857 24th St. San Francisco, CA 94110.

The following poem in memory of Burciaga is by the poet Alurista.


u burciaga t
what for the rush and bloody pain

what for the bloooming and the rain

what for the quest and odyssey

what for the swimming and the sea

there b no shore or beach that anyone can reach

and breathe, inhale, exhale, and love

all seems to ooze the stress that greed has carved in us

surely our species should b meek

before our motherearth's volcanoes

storms and huracanes

tornadoes, floods and tremors

and there we b secreting poisons for all leggeds, wingeds,

fish and even trees


what for the rush and bloody pain

we'll surely die, but then

must all sink with us in our grave?

can we dig deeper in our heartmindspiritbody one

and nurture glow and warmth

and light and peace and patience

and gladness and gardens

and gather all in oneness

and end the pain and bloody rush

desiring naught

expecting naught

missing naught

simply being being

we truly have no choice...though

we imagine, dream, hope, want

being all that we are we are all that is

and that is all there b .


burciaga brother, this b my writ to u, tony

antonio de las sonrisas grandes

de las carcajadas llenas

antonio de los murales

de los cuadros, los ensayos

antonio matador de pendejadas

terminator of guandajos and juanabees

burciaga hermano

your "death" is but our "birth"

porque tu amaste

te entregaste

y hoy, como siempre,

eres inprecindible

-- Alurista '96

 © 1996

Alurista is recognized as one of the most significant Chicano poets. He was born in 1947 in Mexico City and migrated to San Diego, California, when he was thirteen. He holds a Ph.D. in Spanish literature from the University of California, San Diego. Among his other collections of poetry are Floricanto en Aztlan (1971), Spik in Glyph? (1981), Return: Poems Collected and New (1982), and Et Tu ... Raza? (1995). His work played a central role in the Chicano movement of the late 1960s and 1970s and continues to inspire new generations of artists and activists.

Published in In Motion Magazine - November 14, 1996.