Feature image from Flickr by Joint Hometown News Service.


Goats mewling
in the Muslim village. Leafy footpath
into the bodiless
acre of graves. Pass.

Chickens (a fury, a pack)
One pig (Salma)

Instructors measure
soldiers’ fervor: Your machine must cover
the kill-zone100%
Notate this feverCarry

the lure of the apple
among the simulacra. Where are you Salma? Little ache
of sky. Killing
Field inside, branches latched. Arbor, what is beyond
this wood?

Anthropologists are practiced at the turning
pinwheels of faces; those at war are matchless.

Laith has skulls and flags flesh graven. In the war, L.
worked with the AmericansSo did O. so did R. so did
________. We split and cast away salt
seeds over the needles. Get more at the gas station
a mile outside. Outside, there are bursting cotton
bolls, molecule to sepal sepal to stalk
blowing their little snow over the red clay. Out there, is
a gas station, the breathing
roads. Even

you, dear you; you
have been waiting there now for
me a long time, haven’t you? Take this
road into the body return it
as a love letter. Body a simmering
lake of code, nutrient, and wishing. In Arabic,

there is a word that means the cleaving from dormancy or sorrow into first
joy. Or, in that word’s theological meaning, the arriving mouth
of the messenger. It is right on the other side of this wood.

Poet’s note: This poem is from Kill Class, a manuscript based on two years of ethnographic fieldwork conducted within combat simulations in mock Middle Eastern villages erected by the US military across America.

Nomi Stone

Nomi Stone is the author of the poetry collection Stranger's Notebook: Poems, an MFA candidate in poetry at Warren Wilson College, and a PhD candidate in cultural anthropology at Columbia University. She earned a master’s in modern Middle Eastern studies from Oxford and was a creative writing Fulbright scholar in Tunisia. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in Poetry Northwest, Drunken Boat, Plume, and elsewhere. She has lived in Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, and Jordan.