Iraq War Poems 1. Early poems

Poems on this page
(Some of the first poems on this war to be received by this website.)

Total Security by David Roberts

The President of the United States of America by David Roberts

Spitting image by Curt Bennett

President of the United States by David Roberts

Baghdad 2003 by Nick Kollestrom

'Twas the night before Baghdad by Cynthia Anderson

US=us by Mclain Pray

24 by Kaneix

Shock and Awe by Kaneix

By dawn's early light by Kaneix

Iraq legacy by Curt Bennett

The last days of love by Simon Carroll

For more Iraq poems see drop down menu under "Modern" above.

Two poems which may serve as a prelude to the Iraq war poems


Total Security


By arming themselves
with sufficient bombs
to destroy the world,
and being 
the world's number one country
at dropping bombs
America is making enemies
of the entire human race.

If the human race
ever dares to strike back
America will have no alternative
but to destroy the entire world
in self-defence.

David Roberts
13 February 2001

 

President of the United States of America


The President of the United States of America 
is not God.

He is not 
the international community.

He is not the ultimate arbiter 
of right and wrong.

He is not 
the law.

He has no right to allot death 
to this or that continent, 
this or that country, 
this or that man or woman or child.

The true international community, 
the five billion people of this earth 
who are not the President of the United States of America 
could easily resist 
his power 
and would do 
if it had the organised resolve.

And will do 
in time.

David Roberts
26 December 2002

Spitting Image

The Cardinal balances his tree limb,
Magnificent red feathers splendidly flaming
Burning the clear morning sunshine, 
Cocking his proud head at the window
He stares intently at the kitchen window.

Without warning he launches
Headfirst into the reflecting glass
With an explosion of feathers
He assaults the window 
Attacking viciously with hammering beak.

He bangs, recoiling off and away
Shaken he flutters back to his tree
Safe on his branch, he turns.
Tilts his head glaring at his image  
Quietly watching back from reflecting panes.

Once again, he smashes the window,
Fiercely screaming at the bird within the glass,
For this bird he thinks he sees 
Is real and attacking him!
He strikes once more and wobbles back.

He will not acknowledge he cannot win,
Is unable to grasp or comprehend
The real adversary is his imagination,
And all his frenzied energy and attention
Are both fruitless and pointless.

As long as there is imagination,
There will be perceived threats
From an enemy who does not exist,
In a battle that cannot be won.
In efforts futile from the start.

Throughout the day he assaults,
Until darkness falls and he cannot see.
He flaps away exhausted from the battle.
The bird in the window flaps away with him.
But both…will be back tomorrow.

As it is getting dark,
I turn on TV to see President Bush
As he leans forward, cocks his head, 
Staring intently at the reflecting camera lens.


Curtis D. Bennett   (U.S. pilot in the Vietnam war)

President of the United States of America

The President of the United States of America 
is not God.

He is not 
the international community.

He is not the ultimate arbiter 
of right and wrong.

He is not 
the law.

He has no right to allot death 
to this or that continent, 
this or that country, 
this or that man or woman or child.

The true international community, 
the five billion people of this earth 
who are not the President of the United States of America 
could easily resist 
his power 
and would do 
if it had the organised resolve.

And will do 
in time.

David Roberts
26 December 2002

Baghdad 2003
 

The Vampire Elite takes control 
We must bomb your ancient capital to save it. 
We bring democracy with our tanks. 
We first got you as fully disarmed as possible, 
Through labyrinthine UN protocols, 
Before we struck. 
We needed to start the war quickly, 
As our case about you having secret 
chemical weapons was falling apart - 
Our forged documents had become known. 
We bring you Starbucks and our pornography 
You must be grateful for us re-bombing Baghdad 
Your oil will be safe in our hands.

Nick Kollestrom
 

'Twas the night before Baghdad

Twas the night before Baghdad
And all through the base
Not a heartbeat was silent
Not a smile on one face
 
The soldiers at attention
Fists raised in the air
Saddam is a monster!
We must all go there!
 
So we loaded our planes 
With our guns and our tanks
And we sent all the soldiers
To Kuwaits outer banks
 
From Kuwait, from Turkey
From Saudi and more
With battering rams
We knocked on his door
 
The Fedayin heard
All the military clatter
And ran to Saddam
To ask what was the matter
 
Don't worry he said
With a heartening ring
They financed my reign
They won't do this thing

We bombed all the buildings
Til the fires were glowing
While Baby Bush yelled
Keep the oil pipes flowing!
 
He should be a magician
Our Baby Bush, cuz you see
He created the biggest illusion
The WMD's
 
He lied to us all
About terror and pain
When all that he's after
Is monetary gain
 
For Daddy, and Barbara
And Baby Bush too
There is no such thing
As too much oil revenue
 
Some people believe
That it's for our own good
To bomb and to kill
To shed innocent blood
 
They sleep in their beds
Oblivious to lies
While we who have wakened
Hear bloodcurdling cries
 
Cries of our fathers,

Our brothers and sons
Sent to fight in a war
That cannot be won
 
We liberated them!
Our Baby Bush chimes
That is why they attack us
Time after time
 
With Christmas upon us
He steps up his work
Of campaigning again
The self serving jerk!
 
He’ll don his flight suit
He’ll have all his fun
Wishing “Merry Christmas! Keep fighting!”
And to all....Duck and Run!
 
Cynthia Anderson
Mother of a soldier

 

Note: A rare poem in favour of the war

 

US=us

Massive protest blowing like sand,
To the recent outstretch of our hand
Clutters the capitals of the land. 

US, whose lives lack,
The treachery and suffering of those in Iraq,
Fail to see the aim of our attack. 

US only sees death and pain,
And to our steady government complain
Not realizing that which the world has to gain. 

Oil flows there once again,
But does not reward US for the win,
It gives hope to those there, within. 

A new country, patriotic, free, and pure,
Seeded in land once controlled by an evil ruler,
Is reborn….with a promising future. 

Let US regain the patriotism and purity which made US so grand,
And together in hope and love let US stand,
With a new free nation hand in hand. 

Mclain Pray (American, age 17) 

24

History mimicking art
24
That's all there is
There is no more
The clock is ticking down
Inexorably to war

Bush at his desk, fingers drumming
Blair with his kids, stares at the floor
The world watches the clock
Ticking down through 24

The time of slaughter 
grows ever closer
To heart-rending screams
Of dying sons
And disfigured daughters

This time it's for real
But in real time it's not the president
But innocents who are in danger
In the cradle of civilization
Death comes from the sky
And the brutal stranger

24 hours
And the deadline looms
In every Baghdad doorway
In 5 million rooms
The roulette wheel spins their fate
While the world holds its breath
And death can't wait

The American smiles to think of killing
Such arrogance is its own fate
In the coalition of the willing
Willing partners forward hate

These 24 hours 
are a deadline in the sand
Like the lines of dead 
on the Basra road
The ghosts will return 
ever more
To haunt America

Kaneix 2003

Shock and Awe (poem follows note.)

Note: this was a term used by US Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, to describe the onslaught of fire-power and destruction that America would use to terrify and overwhelm the country they had decided to take over. He was explaining what the US had planned based on a theory developed by military strategists, Harlan K. Ullman and James P. Wade. They stated that " that the need to "minimize civilian casualties, loss of life, and collateral damage" is a "political sensitivity [which needs] to be understood up front", their doctrine of rapid dominance requires the capability to disrupt "means of communication, transportation, food production, water supply, and other aspects of infrastructure",[8] and, in practice, "the appropriate balance of Shock and Awe must cause ... the threat and fear of action that may shut down all or part of the adversary's society or render his ability to fight useless short of complete physical destruction." - Quote from Wikipedia.

Shock and Awe

Is it shock and awe we want?
To terrify those who have done us no wrong?
Almost half of Iraq's population
are aged 14 and under
Is it really our goal to horrify
and terrorise them?

Is it shock and awe we want?
To fill our hearts with hate
and lust for blood?
Do we want military songs
full of bravado, jingoism
and pride in killing?

Do we want to hear military men
talk of hammering the enemy
to screams of delight?
Is that what we want
raw hatred and desire to kill
and kill again?

Is that what you want in your heart?


If it is...

Are you any better than them?

 

Kaneix 2003

By Dawns Early Light

By starlight
the skull flies off
spinning, crashing
by the tree bough
a rainbow of blood
like a peacock fan
lashes the sky

By moonlight
doves coo
side by side
warmed in down
in sleepy bliss

By headlight
a tiny body
makes an arc of grey
smashed by steel
broken bones
splinter in silence

By limelight
players create peace
men's hearts
softened by wit
and dreamy jest
long for what's right

By flarelight
broken bodies
lie mangled
legs butchered
and ragged
coils of colon
slick and gleaming

By candlelight
lovers stroke
warm skin alive
kissing warm dampness
moist in their passion
electric with feeling
soaring and blissful

By streetlight
a young man
scared almost witless
surrounded by hatred
is carved by a devil
tortured in cruelty
and knifed to numb coldness

By firelight
two friends
watch evening falling
dreaming of old times
awaiting the dawning

By gaslight
the ovens 
are crawling with dying
herded to slaughter
wrenched 
from their loved ones
heaped like some debris
and buried like cattle

By dawnlight
the sun shines
on all that is human
the saint and the sinner
the thug and the saviour
by each ugly scarface
and each selfless martyr
a world that is waiting
each day
to be born

Kaneix

2003

Author note: If you like you will find most if not all of my other poems under the name KANEIX at the following site:
 
http://www.thestarlitecafe.com/

Iraq legacy


One day we will look back and realize, 
Our kids all died…. for nothing.
One day, America will be forced to abandon Iraq. 
The American people will have enough 
Of war, personal sacrifice and waste of treasury. 
American voters will make the choice, 
Not Congress, not the President, not the military, 
But the people paying the taxes and sacrificing their children. 
Our military will be forced to pack it up and move out 
Leaving behind the hot, dusty, blood stained soil 
Where forgotten kids were butchered and maimed,
Were brutally murdered on behalf of America
Children sent there by spineless, cowardly politicians
Condoned by feckless, incompetent, Military Leaders
Who knew better, but said nothing to protect their jobs.
These kids selflessly gave the ultimate sacrifice of their life 
In the name of a misguided, confused, fearful country 
Whose President claimed to the American people 
He sent these kids to die in that savage land
With the blessing and approval of God. 
At that point our war with Iraq 
Becomes, the ultimate blasphemy.

Curtis D. Bennett

Curtis D. Bennett is a veteran of the Vietnam War

Note: Written in February, 2003, in the run-up to the Invasion of Iraq.

The Last Days of Love

The sharp-eyed birds circle in the bleak desert heat, 
Far below, a mottled array of black and smoking warts 
stain the rolling, rippled tissue, 
and mark out the coming feast. 
  
‘Hawks’ they call them: 
a misnomer and slight on a gracious bird 
for such an ignoble pursuit. 
  
It feels like an enormous weight of thoughtlessness, 
a great building mass, devoid of empathy 
progressing irresistibly to its pitiless terminal. 
Is this finally that rough beast 
slouching toward its untimely birth? 
  
Beneath the petty squabbles of the older vultures, 
in the midst of their high-minded scavengery, 
lies a broken body. 
Not one being fought over; 
a long forgotten figure, 
curled up into a lonely, wistful repose, 
her alabaster sheen blemished in crimson fissures. 
  
For this sad and fading imago 
it has, again, been a slow, slow dying. 
As ever, we weep for it too late. 
  
The echo of future lament sounds 
as a distant thunder to our ears, 
while great men see only the coming of a new tide. 
To this faulty vision we must again uphold 
the ancient wisdom of the fool and the blind man: 
to know the dark secret of desire and where it leads; 
for the labyrinthine soul of man is built 
on an infinite pile of rotting corpses, 
and those passions the worst in us holds 
overflow the firm barriers of resolve. 
  
We must remove this curse. 
With some lost titanic will, and deep inward promise made, 
we begin, first as murmur, a great incantation. 
Like a rumbling Prometheus, fire in his eyes, 
starting to loosen his bounds. 
  
Let the new emperors hide 
behind the uniform of fear and terror; 
and let the pantomime warriors 
mumble their dank platitudes, 
as they lay waste to our language; 
a prelude to the more corporeal slaughter. 
Let them murder truth casually. 
For our voices will be heard: 
We will keep our wisdom and endurance, 
and in our gentleness and virtue, faith 
That hope will indeed create, 
a courage to “defy Power, which seems omnipotent”. 
  
From the bleakest times, though it seems impossible, 
we must find a space for an abiding charity, 
a stretching of the soul into a new skin; 
one the best part of us longs for deeply. 
  
Simon Carroll PhD
University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
  
Author's note: With apologies to Shelley for borrowing shamelessly from the conclusion of his great dramatic poem.

Home Come Your Sons
(Brize Norton 28 March 2003)

On this misty spring day 
at an airfield in Oxfordshire 
ten hearses wait.

Families in formal lines, bandsmen,  
commanders - the services' top brass, chaplains, 
the Duke of York, the Minister of Defence, 
here to do their bit, wait
and watch the sky, 
searching for a sign
of a returning plane.

Then suddenly with massive roar
the huge transporter touches down.

They wait again,
and how much longer must they wait this awful apparition?

At last 
unseen forces lower the huge tail door.

This is the moment.
Home come your sons - 
the first to die in this sad war.

One by one, 
ten coffins draped in union flags 
are carried shoulder high by six young men 
walking at a solemn pace.

Fine words are spoken - 
words of respect and consolation. 
In turn each coffin is borne 
to each waiting hearse 
and the band plays Handel's mournful march.

You know they did their duty - 
good-hearted, keen, they had so much to give. 
Yet this is their reward. It makes no sense. 
You shake with grief and utter loss. 
You are filled with pride 
and try to comprehend 
the reasons your sons died who should have lived.

Regrettably, the public also has a right to ask, 
was fighting in this war a necessary task?

Was it right 
that your sons went to bomb and kill 
people who bore us no ill?

They were a courageous band of brothers 
who went abroad 
to risk the lives of others.

It must take guts to drop those bombs 
on defenceless people who had no chance.

Was it really necessary to attack 
the innocent people of Iraq? -  
Children, half of them, 
and over half malnourished. 
What had they done to us 
to be so punished?

Your boys didn't have to maim and kill 
or break the hearts of mothers. 
This is the shamefullest of wars. 
They could have used their talents in a decent cause. 
They could have lived, 
and you could see them still.

David Roberts 

30 March and 6 April 2003.

   

Personal note

I feel the deepest sympathy for those parents, relations and friends of soldiers and victims killed and injured in war, in all their grief and pain. This year has seen calamitous and totally avoidable suffering in Iraq.

When young people sign up to serve in the armed forces of their country they do so in the belief that if the worst came to the worst they might be called upon to defend their country against an enemy invader. To find that they are called upon to attack another country is a abuse of their talents and courage.

I would hope that the loss of all the innocent lives would help in some way to make a better world, but I hold the conviction that attempting to "help" a country by first killing thousands of innocent people is an outrage, totally immoral, and illegal under international law. I believe leaders who initiate such crimes should be held personally responsible and tried as war criminals. They are the ones responsible for the deaths of the innocent and defenceless people of Iraq who never planned to do us the slightest harm, and the deaths of our own innocent servicemen who had no complaint against those whose country they were sent to help take over on behalf of America.

Several parents of soldiers killed in the Iraq war have contacted the British press to say how they felt that their sons died in a bad cause or were betrayed by the British government. Clearly, I agree with them.

On 10 November 2004 I watched Channel 4 news. It showed a group of parents of soldiers killed in Iraq laying a wreath on the step of 10 Downing Street. Afterwards there was a press conference. For several seconds the camera stayed on the face of one mother who cried uncontrollably. This to my mind is the essence of what is wrong with war. It causes such immense suffering which will take years if not generations to heal.

Another mother was interviewed outside the Houses of Parliament. She said that the war was wrong. There was no need for it. The Iraqis had never threatened Britain. See my poem Remembrance Day 2004. This is in the Iraq 5 section. See drop-down menu.
DR.

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The original War Poetry Website, researched and edited by David Roberts for nearly 20 years, 1999-2018 was number one in search results for "war poetry" for over 15 years. Re-written and re-designed 2019, it was launched 16 May 2019 at warpoetry.uk and replaces the original which used to be found at www.warpoetry.co.uk . Copyright 2019 David Roberts.