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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

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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,
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First I saw the round bill, like a bud;
then the sooty crested head, with avernal eyes
flickering, distressed, then the peculiar
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like pity or love, when I removed the stovepipe
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what was there and a duck crashed into the room
(I am
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Tired, hungry, hot, I climbed the steep slope
to town, a sultry, watery place, crawling with insects
and birds.
      In the semidarkness of the mountain,
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a salt-and-saliva-stained boy riding on his mother's back;
a shy roaming black Adam. I was walking on