Human Technology

Nomi Stone

Sunlit and dangerous, this country road.
We are follicle and meat and terror and

the machines leave their shells naked on the ground.
One soldier makes a museum in his basement.

Each mannequin in brass, incombustible coats:
I am walking between their blank faces,

their bullets traveling at the speed of sound. One soldier
who roasted a pig on his porch    barbecuing until sinews were tender

tells me he waited above the Euphrates and if they tried to pass
even after we told them not to, they deserved it: pop (deserve it); pop

(deserve it). Euphrates, your dark tunnel out is rippling around us.
In the war, a child approaches a tank as one soldier counts the child’s

steps. In the town, I drink a bottle of wine with that soldier
among barber shops, boot repair shops. Is she my friend? I weep to her. I’ve lost

who I thought I loved and she says I did
this thing and to whom was that child beloved? 

Find common ground, the soldiers say. Humanize
yourselves. Classify the norm of who you’re talking to, try

to echo it. Do this for your country, says one soldier; we
are sharks wearing suits of skin. Zip up.

This spring, in the chilly, barely blooming city
Solmaz says enough of this emptied word “empathy.”

Ask for more: for rage. For love. On the porch,
as the sun goes, the dark pools around us and one

soldier says it is nightfall. I am tired. I did not mean for it to go on
this long. That soldier across the table, we lock eyes.

He tells me: in the occupied land we are the arm, they
are the weapon. The weapon

in this case is a person. Choose a person
who knows who is bad. Make them

slice open the skin of their country: only they can
identify the enemy. Say yes or no: if a man squints while

under the date palm; if a woman does not swing her arms
while walking. Sir, my child was not with the enemy.

He was with me in this kitchen, making lebna at home.
The yogurt still is fresh on his wrist.

More by Nomi Stone

War Catalogues

Soldiers collect & number:
pigment, hair, jade,
roasted meat, timber,
cum. The enemy’s
flute; the face

of an enemy
as he holds his young;
the enemy’s face the moment
it’s harmed. The woods

are a class in what
they can take. The country
is fat. We eat
from its side.

Waiting for Happiness

Dog knows when friend will come home
because each hour friend’s smell pales,
air paring down the good smell
with its little diamond. It means I miss you
O I miss you, how hard it is to wait
for my happiness, and how good when
it arrives. Here we are in our bodies,
ripe as avocados, softer, brightening
with latencies like a hot, blue core
of electricity: our ankles knotted to our
calves by a thread, womb sparking
with watermelon seeds we swallowed
as children, the heart again badly hurt, trying
and failing. But it is almost five says
the dog. It is almost five.

Wonder Days

What I meant is that when the child shook the branch,
the beetles, quiet, somnolent, darkly, fell and again fell
like plums. Once woken, they bzzzed towards
the street lamps, loving each light well, thwacking
against them until they landed face down or face
up, trying to find their feet, reminding me of Eve’s face
as a baby when she tried to lift her head on her stem
of a neck before yet she could. Upon the child’s shoulders,
beetles landed, kinging him. The dusk’s gray mute
unfolded its scrolls, while his mother made toast
with boysenberry jam, his father played solitaire,
and think of his sister doing her biology homework.
But they are under the tree, he is, the bright ones falling
upon him like stars, and as they fall, he names them:
some doctors, some cooks, depending on the size
of their antennae. His face was a diary of leaves: dark,
lit, risen with laughter, then suddenly at rest. This
was one way to be inside the world rather than outside
looking into a bright window.