About this Poem 

"Over the past thirty years hand grenades, tanks, fighter jets, missiles, helicopters, and assault rifles have replaced traditional floral patterns in rug making and other textiles. Depicting these realities of war has helped the Afghan people to survive during times of conflict."

–Henri Cole

Hand Grenade Bag

Henri Cole, 1956

 

This well-used little bag is just the right size

to carry a copy of the Psalms. Its plain-woven

flowers and helicopter share the sky with bombs

falling like turnips—he who makes light of other

men will be killed by a turnip. A bachelor,

I wear it across my shoulder—it’s easier to be

a bachelor all my life than a widow for a day.

On the bag’s face, two black shapes appear

to be crows—be guided by the crow and you

will come to a body—though they are

military aircraft. A man who needs fire

will soon enough hold it in his hands.
 

Copyright © 2014 by Henri Cole. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on August 12, 2014.

Copyright © 2014 by Henri Cole. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on August 12, 2014.

Henri Cole

Henri Cole

Henri Cole was born in Fukuoka, Japan, in 1956 and raised in

by this poet

poem
Waking from comalike sleep, I saw the poppies,
with their limp necks and unregimented beauty.
Pause, I thought, say something true: It was night,
I wanted to kiss your lips, which remained supple,
but all the water in them had been replaced
with embalming compound. So I was angry.
I loved the poppies, with their
poem

[Nara Deer Park]
 

With my head on his spotted back

and his head on the grass—a little bored

with the quiet motion of life

and a cluster of mosquitoes making

hot black dunes in the air—we slept

with the smell of his fur engulfing us.

poem
Then out of the darkness leapt a bare hand
that stroked my brow, "Come along, child;
stretch out your feet under the blanket.
Darkness will give you back, unremembering.
Do not be afraid." So I put down my book
and pushed like a finger through sheer silk,
the autobiographical part of me, the am,
snatched up to a