Shrapnel Maps

Shrapnel Maps

by Philip Metres


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Writing into the wounds and reverberations of the Israel/Palestine conflict, Philip Metres’ fourth book of poems, Shrapnel Maps, is at once elegiac and activist, an exploratory surgery to extract the slivers of cartography through palimpsest and erasure. A wedding in Toura, a suicide bombing in Jerusalem, uneasy interactions between Arab and Jewish neighbors in University Heights, the expulsion of Palestinians in Jaffa, another bombing in Gaza: Shrapnel Maps traces the hurt and tender places, where political noise turns into the voices of Palestinians and Israelis. Working with documentary flyers, vintage postcards, travelogues, cartographic language, and first person testimonies, Shrapnel Maps ranges from monologue sonnets to prose vignettes, polyphonics to blackouts, indices to simultaneities, as Palestinians and Israelis long for justice and peace, for understanding and survival.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781556595639
Publisher: Copper Canyon Press
Publication date: 04/24/2020
Pages: 170
Sales rank: 812,470
Product dimensions: 7.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Philip Metres is the author and translator of eleven books and chapbooks, including The Sound of Listening: Poetry as Refuge and Resistance (University of Michigan 2018); Pictures at an Exhibition (University of Akron 2016); Sand Opera (Alice James 2015); and I Burned at the Feast: Selected Poems of Arseny Tarkovsky (Cleveland State Poetry Center, 2015). Recipient of two NEA fellowships, the Lannan Fellowship, and , two Arab American Book Awards, he is a professor of English and the director of the Peace, Justice, and Human Rights Program at John Carroll University in Cleveland.

Read an Excerpt

One Tree

They wanted to tear down the tulip tree, our neighbors, last year. It throws a shadow over their vegetable patch, the only tree in our backyard. We said no. Now they’ve hired someone to chainsaw an arm—the crux on our side of the fence—and my wife, in tousled hair and morning sweat, marches to stop the carnage, mid-limb. It reminds her of her childhood home, a shady place to hide. She recites her litany of no’s, returns. Minutes later, the neighbors emerge. The worker points to our unblinded window. I want to say, it’s not me, slide out of view behind a wall of cupboards, ominous breakfast table, steam of tea, our two young daughters now alone. I want no trouble. Must I fight for my wife’s desire for yellow blooms when my neighbors’ tomatoes will stunt and blight in shade? Always the same story: two people, one tree, not enough land or light or love. Like the baby brought to Solomon, someone must give. Dear neighbor, it’s not me. Bloom-shadowed, light-deprived, they lower the chainsaw again.

excerpt from When It Rains in Gaza
for Deema Shehabi


When it rains in Gaza, children run out

of noise, lift their open lips to heaven.

IX. White Phosphorus

A jellyfish of smoke,

you say aloud, look!—

the beautiful photo’s

white tentacles and head

swim the sky

before they fall. A privacy

of glass. Ripples

of division. Flesh

from flesh, true god

from true god, made

in the walled

island of unforgiven

not not forgotten, dreaming

where the past will lead.


When it rained in Gaza, the ancient graves

of Beit Hanoun revealed themselves again.



of barbed wire I clear a line

sharp enough to ribbon the flesh


& the village, where Omar nests

in his palm a bird whose wing is broken


he strokes & holds to his lips

coffee with cardamom & the circle of men:


all day, nearby, some machine putts

as if trying to set the whole village to


motion: it won’t start

but something is happening, or will:

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