Indran Amirthanayagam

Two Poems

Orbit: The Asian American Issue
Volume 15:3, Summer 2014

Memo (About Ordnance)

The biodegradable bomb
causes no collateral
damage if left
in a field
when the war ends.

will strike the
material into
and farmers can
till again assured.

In this age
of restoring science—
flying cars and
sequestering carbon
at a healthy clip—
we should devote

to the unpleasant
but necessary task
of assuring our weapons
supply, that it keeps
to current ethical

standards, that future
killing by the State
will be precise, targeted,
not tied to elections
in this country or abroad,
and biodegradable.


Fire Department

Where is your village?

Where is your village?
Mined fields.

Where is your village?
Blasted in crossfire,

wounded under
jungle trees.

Where is your village?
Running across

marshes, shot
in the back.

Where is your village?
Waving white flags

frisked, registered,
supervised in a camp.

Where is your village?
Blowing up army

other villagers.

Where is your village?
Toronto, Berlin,

Tamil Nadu.
Where is your village?

Madagascar as option
has not been discussed.

Where is your village?

Hasta la vista,
Special Envoy!

Where is your village?


Indran Amirthanayagam writes poetry in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Haitian Creole. He is the author of twenty three books of poetry and poetry in translation, including Origami: Selected Poems of Manuel Ulacia, Blue Window (Dialogos Books) The Migrant States (Hanging Loose Press 2020),Coconuts on Mars (Paperwall, 2019), Uncivil War (Mawenzi House (formerly TSAR), Canada, 2013), and the Paterson Prize-winning The Elephants of Reckoning (Hanging Loose, 1993). Amirthanayagam is a 2020 Foundation for Contemporary Arts fellow in poetry, and a past fellow of the New York Foundation for the Arts, the US/Mexico Fund for Culture, and the MacDowell Colony. He edits The Beltway Poetry Quarterly; curates the reading series Poetry at Beltway Editions, and publishes poetry books with Sara Cahill Marron at Beltway Editions. He serves on the Board of DC-ALT. His blog is