Ivan Arguelles






houses houses lined up houses

some speaking dialect some in pure

up and down the remembered street

trees lining houses green remembered

children houses dolls broken green

remembered lined up summers long

frozen mirrored lined up houses

haunted emptied houses gone long

summers speaking dialect others

studied latin greek furniture dusted

lined in rows to eye’s end frozen

books of houses books more books

maps where houses lined up streets

imaginary maps of houses where streets

lined up or in curves circular bending

descending to harbors ascending

to hilltops malls and lawns and cemeteries

where houses lie on houses for ages

summers gone behind houses green

foraging hillsides houses worn emptied

haunted brooding dark crevices houses

abysses distances longing windows

rain sleet hail snow sunshine designs

patterns in dialect or pure houses

shining or not shining white board

shingle roof tile slate grey marble court

houses like castles tudor houses mansions

libraries houses of books maps documents

parchment signals waving high houses

flags staffed with slaves houses servants

quarters domiciles outhouses frozen links

to historical chambers portraits of houses

lined up in rows of unnamed streets houses

behind houses in front of houses sideways

stargazing houses verandahs grand lodges

bullets arrows slings unfinished houses

ditches sloughs canals ringing houses

cities like houses of cities ancient houses

enormous memories of houses palaces

skies even with houses clustered like

dynasties of solar systems and galaxies

houses with gods chattering at dinnertime

or goddesses irreverent having sex in beds

the size of ink houses remotely like caves

houses full of enemies in circular rows

going round and round night time houses

musical houses ghostly shrouded houses

many more houses out of sight suburbs

of houses houses of suburbs maps of suburbs

that have yet to be maps inside maps

maps unfolded on lawns of houses memories

memories of houses children parties

in houses maps unfolded or drawn on walls

showing still more maps within and without

strange sounds seeping through houses

spirits in decay ancestors dying again

wanting houses back wanting houses again

to die again in the right house this time

or no time at all houses rows of them

endlessly making of memory a vast house

stairs going nowhere attics basements

coal shoots slumber rooms rugs worn

burnt floor boards winsome tapestry

woven carpets persian delicacies death

behind the walls death below the floors

death in the guest room houses death

houses elevators unfinished smoke

parlors tea cups ashtrays houses of

infinitely losing memory infinitely

escaping through holes in the sky

heavens houses of heavens disappearing

eternally gone houses without shape

summers fading green without a trace

streets winding up in sand dust abysses

houses tossed off cliffs waters wailing

waves awash with houses memories

disappearing hold on to nothing

steps here and there sandboxes wood

chrome helium everything suddenly red

eye out of context seeing instead

of houses the long angel of Beyond

hands wrapped in curtains sobbing

muffled houses crashing in on houses

afternoons more afternoons evening

when there are no more houses

distances with a flash of tinsel

houses echoes of houses echoes

darkness fading itself out of

lined up places empty

syntax shot







(from the pali canon)


the little man from sri lanka

has a lot to do today

get passports in order

durable power of attorney

figured out

put friend to rest

on hill slopes great tea plantations

ready to burn under tropic light

to rest

friend dying of unknown

and sepsis sets in

to remember the words of the

buddham saranam gacchami

last things in order

to rest

farther north tamil tigers

waiting to resurrect

under fierce tropical sun

australo-dravidian dialects

retroflex consonants and clicks

humming in the weird grasses

insects with saucer size eyes

or petty deities gnawing on air

to rest

large fans turning slowly

on the plantation house ceilings

planters punch or ice tea

on the verandah

ghosts of british colonials

living in denial or put

to rest

the little man from sri lanka

hurries in a blur of karma

setting this here

setting that there

buddham saranam gacchami

friend dying of terminal

to be flown by medical transport

to nirvana

to rest





(this land)


what did the sikh

do to the america?

what did the america

do to the sikh?

guns boom boom don’t

kill people do

kill sikhs the america

its gun loaded big hunt

love game and gambling

buck stag roped across car

big man trusses shot

put in sights anything

the america loves shoot

the sikh comes from amritsar

where the golden temple is

the sikh goes to oak creek

in the green state of wisconsin

why do the sikh leave

his golden temple

what do the sikh

in blue turban and thick beard

believe in

do we know

is it christ is it krishna

it is One Immortal Being

the brotherhood of man

the america don’t believe

the america has right

to bear arms

the america goes on the hunt

lunatic macho trigger happy

the america don’t believe

it has manifest destiny

to bear arms

to bring democracy to the world

to shoot ‘em up

in schools movie theaters

and sikh temple

clouds of purple majesty

waving fields of golden grain

betsy ross blind in both eyes

fathers of the constitution

huddled in B’nai B’rith

plotting to kill algonquin

iroquois winnebago ojibway

with automatic weapons

the sikh has a dagger

guru nanak flowing white beard

preaching purity

god has no features

there are no avatars

who is the sikh

that the america wants to kill

is he terrorist because of turban

yes he is the other

come to live in oak creek

but he uses cell phone

just like you or I

he speaks english the sikh

filthy wogs

the sikh is your friendly

cab driver who wants

independence for the punjab

brotherhood of man

clouds of purple majesty

amber waves of grain

this land is your land




Ivan Argüelles is the author of many poetry publications, among them : The Invention of Spain; “That” Goddess; Hapax Legomenon; Madonna Septet (2 vols.); Comedy , Divine , The; The Death of Stalin; and, A Day in the Sun. His 1989 publication, Looking For Mary Lou won the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. A retired librarian, he resides in Berkeley.