Published on Academy of American Poets (

Hand Grenade Bag


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.

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

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

Date Published: 2014-08-12

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