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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
My father lived in a dirty dish mausoleum,
watching a portable black-and-white television,
reading the Encyclopedia Britannica,
which he preferred to Modern Fiction.
One by one, his schnauzers died of liver disease,
except the one that guarded his corpse
found holding a tumbler of Bushmills.
"Dead is dead," he
2
poem
I found a baby shark on the beach.
Seagulls had eaten his eyes. His throat was bleeding.
Lying on shell and sand, he looked smaller than he was.
The ocean had scraped his insides clean.
When I poked his stomach, darkness rose up in him,
like black water. Later, I saw a boy,
aroused and elated, beckoning from a
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.