Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Poem of the Day: Hand Grenade Bag by Henri Cole


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.
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Copyright © 2014 by Henri Cole. Used with permission of the author.

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
Henri Cole is the author of Nothing to Declare, forthcoming from Farrar, Straus, and Giroux in March of 2015.  He teaches at Ohio State University in Columbus and lives in Boston part-time.

Most Recent Book by Cole

(Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2015)

"War Rug" by Henri Cole


"Mosul" by David Hernandez


"Bagram, Afghanistan, 2002" by Marvin Bell



Launched during National Poetry Month in 2006, Poem-a-Day features new and previously unpublished poems by contemporary poets on weekdays and classic poems on weekends.

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