“Counsel,” composed for the Seattle City Council as part of Nick Licata’s “Words’ Worth” program.
by Thomas Hitoshi Pruiksma
How do we build a city, a safe refuge
for many people, a place of many places
where many people wish to dwell,
when the many may have many
ideas about the city, the people, and the places
the place might become?
So many that,
at times, it can tear them apart, pulling at
till the fibers start to fray, till what
had felt whole and truthfully woven
begins to look ragged, and not just
around the edges, where the words that once carried
music in their meaning have ceased to carry
anything at all.
can we do to bring it back together, to bind
the many pieces without pieces
In ancient Tamil Nadu, “Land
of Tamil,” the great kings of three kingdoms
held council with poets, learned men and women
who advised them in song, calling them
on their errors, praising them
for their hearts, teaching them
always the root of all art:
the courage to listen and then act.
So listen, listen, listen
to the people, to their pains
and to their plans, and to the voice great
within us, rising up and rising out, showing us
the next step, the next way, the next word,
the next wonder that will make
the poem once again, piecing the many pieces
into more than just many, where everyone
is welcome, where everyone
is heard, where everyone finds shelter
in the shelter we make
from the words that weave us together.