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.

Copyright © 2018 by Nomi Stone. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 27, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

"’War Catalogues’ is part of my forthcoming book, Kill Class, which documents my ethnographic fieldwork in mock Middle Eastern villages constructed by the U.S. military across America for pre-deployment cultural trainings. This poem wrestles with imperial theft and impulse to catalogue—not only of tusks and jade and porcelain, but also of human behavior, physiognomy, longing, grief, our outputs, our interiors. It is a record, too, of my feelings of dread and complicity around American Empire.”

—Nomi Stone