Hakim Archuletta

Posted Sep 2, 2002      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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1 Do we feel for the world?

If the world grieves over

our arrogance while we

project ourselves onto it

are we given then the chance

to voice the sadness of the

sea or the pain of the tree?

Do we sing for the world?

Are we the mouth for the

centuries and the groan

and drum for its years of

war and strife and peace?

Are we the eyes for the stone

the storyteller for the plains

the advocate of the races

are we the tears of the cities?

Do we cry for the world?

As we listen to the song of

the flower the wail of

the wind or the melody of

the dawn and the moon

Do they cry for us?

2 Are we moving through the world

or are we standing still

as the world passes by us?

Floating down the Rio Chama

silently surprising the heron

that didn’t expect us

Through the desert in Morocco

on a hot and dusty crowded bus

smelling of charcoal chickens and mint

Down the long straight highway

like a line drawn through

the middle of an enormous Mojave bowl

In a window seat high in the air

watching small anonymous towns

and rivers pass in slow motion below

Standing uncertain in the back of a tiny pickup

whining up a steep hill in Damascus

to a cave where Cain is said to have slain Abel

Hours into the night and dark

with no road signs to follow

through the Navajo Nation

Chugging through the snow

on the Donner Pass until

the bug would go no more

In an old Citroen on the freeway

in Paris with the pedal to the metal

and old cars passing as if we were still

Hours off course on a freeway from

New York City with an old friend

to Atlantic City instead of Philly

Through thick fog in the middle of the night

in the Central Valley with the radio

and Jewel singing Only Kindness Matters

And my thirteen year old son telling me

he loves it when we’re traveling

cross country and in the morning

it’s dawn and we’re on the road

to some place we’ve never seen

and never been before.

3. How many songs are left to be sung?

How many pleas still wait with complaint in our

picturesque dictionary of tales

How many pages left to be turned

in our prolonged and fatal journal?

How many more plays

on the stage of stone and rubble

How many more nights and moons

will write upon the blood

of young and old seekers after treasure?

The gold and silver of trail and scent

wrought by a pen of majesty

and scrupulously inscribed

on the hearts of those who weep?

Smoke rushes in with the dust

and sounds of electronic warning signals

They cannot be heard by any animal

water in streams flow deaf to their call

Light from the houses radiates darkness

and a small child with great eyes

stares unmoving

waiting for us

to what? Draw our sword?




Or to sheath it?

How many breaths

how many beats

still to be pounded out

on the drum of continents

how many births how many loves

to be played out in scripts and screenplay?

How much more try is left

to fill the empty spaces of childhood

cries and aches in the muscles of memory?

How many more?

How much more?

How many opportunities are left

How much longer

will we continue

to ask the impossible?

4 It comes like rain

It comes like snow

It comes like milk

It comes like a package

on the flatbed of an old truck

on a winding country road

from far away on a hill

And after our face is sticky with it

licking our fingers and

wiping it on our clothes

After we’ve made a mess of it

then we say

I should have used a spoon


What comes to us

is like your breath and mine

we both have to breathe in

and breathe out

And I saw in the color of your eyes

and heard in the turn of your voice

and felt in the flow of your tear


We knew everything

everything we wanted to know

and everything we didn’t want to know

It came like rain

It came like snow


It came like milk

Celestial and Divine

it falls from heaven

With resistance

there are floods and destruction

With stillness and acceptance

the dead earth is brought to life

It comes like milk

It comes like wine

It comes like honey

5 It’s a semi-permeable membrane

some things pass out

and some things come in

This one and that one

rub their cheeks up against it

I’ve seen the children giggle

squealing with pleasure

until I see them heading

towards that wall of constraint

and bang up against it

Without constraint

without constraint!

Without a fence

without a wall!

There’s an all black flag

there’s an all white flag

it flaps and rages in the wind

of a blizzard beyond all blizzards

with stillness at its center

And those who pass through

musicians, poets, lovers, saints

swimming through that membrane

to the other side

dip into and out of it

like otters diving into and out

of their sea

The heart when it falls in love

falls there

and as it falls discrimination goes

Details of this world and the things in it

become hard to hold onto

I stand here in a ragged body

on the shore of a sea

my tongue groping its way

right now into that place

Through you and with you I have

attempted to go there

To the pond of plenty

the dance hall of namelessness

the field of fearlessness

the mirror of formlessness

the battlefield of peace illumined

by the darkness of light

the lies of truth

the particular of everything

the Heaven of earth.

Hakim Archuletta