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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 survive during times of conflict."
—Henri Cole

War Rug

Henri Cole, 1956

The pony and the deer are trapped by tanks,

and the lady with the guitar is sad beyond words.

Hurtling across the sky, a missile has mistaken

a vehicle for a helicopter, exploding in a ball

of white flame. Upside-down birds—red specks

of knotted wool—glow above the sideways trees.

Hidden among plants, a barefooted boy waits—

like the divine coroner—aiming his rifle at something,

enjoying the attentions of a gray doggy, or maybe

there’s a bullet already in his head.

Copyright © 2013 by Henri Cole. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on October 29, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Copyright © 2013 by Henri Cole. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on October 29, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Henri Cole

Henri Cole

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

by this poet

poem
I saw you 
unexpectedly 
on the street today.
Though it was midday 
your eyes were dilated,

and you seemed 
almost electrically 
charged with thought,
with an increased 
speed of speaking:  

"I garden, I grill meat, 
I prowl the bars."  
But I was having
difficulty listening.
Your teeth were growing.  

A
poem

 

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

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.