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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
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,
small things loomed large: a donkey urinating on a palm;
a salt-and-saliva-stained boy riding on his mother's back;
a shy roaming black Adam. I was walking on
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