The title A Sinking Ship Is Still A Ship holds the secret to Ariel Francisco’s sincere and quirky vision: even when all else fails, there is the matter of still being alive to ponder dilemma. Ah, yes, and to survey what is near at hand whether a flooded parking lot replete with an octopus, the usual alligator stopping traffic before waddling off into the highway brush, or the dilapidated mall left standing so the bats inside don’t take over the city. You get the picture. Then there’s also, the unnerving observation of an arrested man’s handprints evaporating off an alley wall. Quirky in its own way. But sincere? Isn’t that a terribly old fashioned quality? You know, dear reader, it’s about time to claim a bit of that back, humor and all. Enjoy.
–Kimiko Hahn, author of Foreign Bodies
Ariel Francisco is the quintessential poet’s poet, by which I mean poetry is his constant, necessary companion. His speaker is always reading—Keats, Basho, Lorca, James Wright, Tu Fu, Emily Dickinson, Bukowski, and others—in bars and on subways, on balconies and at breakfast tables, in Miami and New York City. Francisco knows life is both preposterous and sublime, sometimes simultaneously, and his meditations will dazzle you. Perceptive, wise, and enduring, these poems will become necessary companions to all those who read All My Heroes Are Broke. I predict the very best of the next generation will write poems with titles like “Reading Ariel Francisco on the Metromover.”
—Denise Duhamel, author of Scald
In Before Snowfall, After Rain, Ariel Francisco writes, “I was born in the city/ that never sleeps so perhaps/ insomnia is my birthright.” Surely poetry is his birthright, too, the way Francisco never fails in every poem to make us see the ordinary world anew, even transfigured. In these poems, “morning arrives like an express train” and “winter arrives every year like a janitor,” “the sky cr[ies] its apologies” and “the breeze ghost-/ writes the ocean’s sorrow into tumbling waves.” Here is a poet who, with skillful grace, graphs the heart’s great landscape onto the natural world, showing how even water can be “jilted” like a lover, how “Even dead stars give us their light.”