Nomi Stone

Human Technology
August 27, 2017 Stone Nomi

Human Technology


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

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

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

their bullets traveling here 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’ waters & 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 a soldier counts the child’s

steps. I drink a bottle of wine with one soldier in the town where I am alone
with barber shops, boot repair shops. Is she my friend? I weep to her over losing

who I thought I loved & she says I
did this thing & 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 it up.

This spring, at a conference 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 & one

soldier says it is nightfall. I am tired. I did not mean for it to go on
this long. This 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 here is bad. Make them

slice open the skin of their country: only they can accurately
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 from scratch.
The yogurt still is fresh on his wrist.

Nomi Stone is the author of the poetry collection Stranger’s Notebook (TriQuarterly, 2008). Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in Poetry Northwest, Memorious, The Painted Bride Quarterly, cellpoems, The Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish Poetry, The Margins at The Asian American Writer’s Workshop, at The Poetry Foundation, and elsewhere. She is currently researching and writing Kill Class, a collection of poetry based on her ethnographic fieldwork on combat simulations in mock Middle Eastern villages erected by the US military across America.