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About this poet

William Archila was born in Santa Ana, El Salvador, in 1968, and he immigrated to the United States with his family in 1980. He received an MFA from the University of Oregon. Archila is the author of The Gravedigger’s Archaeology (Red Hen Press, 2015), winner of the Letras Latinas/Red Hen Poetry Prize, and The Art of Exile (Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe, 2009), which received a 2010 International Latino Book Award. He lives in Los Angeles, California.

Bury This Pig

Behind the cornfield, we scaled the mountainside
            looking for a foothold among the crags,

rooting out weeds, trampling on trash,
            the trek as if it were a holy crusade:

bodies armored, mounted on horses,
            banners fluttering in the air.

Then one morning, we stumbled upon the thing,
            dead, cramped in a ditch, covered in ants,

trotters grimy, a purple snout of flies
            and not a dollop of blood,

but a thick piece of hide, cradling
            about fifty pounds of hog.

Someone said, "Kush! Kush!"
            as if to awaken the thing.

I thought about the carcass, blood-slick,
            staggering into the room,

grumbling and drowning as if deep in the mud,
            eyes buckled in fear,

bones breaking down to the ground, open
            to the chop and tear of human hands:

pork and lard, forefeet, fatback cut into slabs,
            an organ fattened and butchered.

It continued for weeks, a few of us
            meeting in the afternoons

just to look at the steaming belly, maggots
            stealing the gray of the brain,

each time, one more barefoot boy
            probing the eye socket with a stick.

Some of us came back armed
            with picks and bars, shovels dusty in our hands,

 until the ground groaned with war.
            The sky fell and cracked the earth.

 How was I to know
            they would be hooked, hacked,

snouts smashed on the wall,
            their bodies corkscrews on the floor?

 How was I to know
            I would bury this pig, rock after rock?


Originally published in AGNI. Copyright © 2005 by William Archila. Used with the permission of the author.

Originally published in AGNI. Copyright © 2005 by William Archila. Used with the permission of the author.

William Archila

William Archila

William Archila is the author of The Gravedigger’s Archaeology (Red Hen Press, 2015), winner of the Letras Latinas/Red Hen Poetry Prize. He lives in Los Angeles, California.

by this poet

poem
The ground cracked
like the rough pit of a peach
and snapped in two.
The sun behind the mountains
turned into an olive-green glow.

To niña Gloria this was home.
She continued to sell her bowl of lemons,
rubbing a cold, thin silver Christ
pocketed in her apron. Others 
like Lito and Marvin played 
soldiers in the
poem
When I read of poets & their lives,
  son of a milkman & seamstress, raised
in a whistle-stop town or village, a child
  who spent his after-school hours deep
in the pages of a library book, I want to go
  back to my childhood, back to the war,
rescue that boy under the bed, listening
  to what bullets
poem
Somewhere in Nicaragua or Guatemala,
it doesn’t matter, his wings ache
from so much wax, so much discord 
in his father’s voice, how once 
he fled the wards of the state
through air & sky; so simple
and so exact he fell from the clouds,
yet no one cared; not the hospitals,
not the impoverished nor the