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We Lived Happily During the War

And when they bombed other people’s houses, we

protested
but not enough, we opposed them but not

enough. I was
in my bed, around my bed America

was falling: invisible house by invisible house by invisible house.

I took a chair outside and watched the sun.

In the sixth month
of a disastrous reign in the house of money

in the street of money in the city of money in the country of money,
our great country of money, we (forgive us)

lived happily during the war.

—Ilya Kaminsky

Ilya Kaminsky “We Lived Happily During the War” from Deaf Republic. Originally published in Poetry (May 2009).

Copyright © 2009, 2018 by Ilya Kaminsky.

Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota, www.graywolfpress.org.

Poetry 180

About the Poet

Ilya Kaminsky (1977- ) was born in Odessa, former Soviet Union, and arrived to the United States in 1993. He is the author of two poetry collections, Dancing in Odessa (2004) and Deaf Republic (2019).  Kaminsky is the recipient of a Whiting Writer's Award, a Lannan Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, among other honors.

Learn more about Ilya Kaminsky at The Poetry Foundation.