The Rest of Life

After the war is over the suicide bomber
who never got the chance to detonate himself
unpacks the explosives from his special vest.

He feels the sadness of someone whose big moment
has passed without a sound,
but the vest goes into the closet,

the dynamite goes to his cousin,
who gives it to her friend the engineer.
He knows a use for it: Kaboom,

and water runs unleashed into
the onion field. Then crops
turn green, and flocks of birds float

over them in swirls. Boys in shorts
are given work as scarecrows, singing
“Bird, Don’t Poop On Me,”

and “Shimmy Shmalla Wallah Balla Boo.”
At a table in the yard, men curse
the mysterious prejudice of cards,

and a woman wearing black
turns the pages of a magazine.
Cutting out the pictures, carefully.

Anthony Hoagland is an American poet and writer. His poetry collection 2003, What Narcissism Means to Me, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Other honors include two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a 2000 Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry, and a fellowship to the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. His poems and criticism have appeared in such publications as Poetry Magazine, Ploughshares, Agni, Threepenny Review, The Gettysburg Review, Ninth Letter, Southern Indiana Review, American Poetry Review, and Harvard Review.