Iraq War Poems 2

Iraq War 2003/2004. The inhumanity and dishonesty of the claims made by western leaders about the war began to be apparent to even the most gullible of western citizens.  

Stories of atrocities, committed by US troops begins to emerge. People around the world begin to evaluate what was happening in Iraq. Few details or pictures came out about the scale of the destruction or the civilian deaths or the huge numbers of refugees - many of them Christians who had been secure under Saddam Hussein's regime.

On this page

Samira by Kaneix

A Message from Tony Blair to the People of Iraq by David Roberts

The Feast Of The Holy Innocents  by Roger Hume

Mission Accomplished by Curt Bennett

Abu Ghraib by Curt Bennett

Combat eyes by Curt Bennett

There will be Peace by David Roberts

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

Samira

Her name is Samira
She is five

She sees the silver bird flying through a clear blue sky
It glints in the sun and catches her eye

Fifteen seconds pass slowly...

The sight brings happy memories to her mind
Little tinsel squares thrown at a joyous wedding
The tiny silver horse she had loved so much
in the bazaar
A sparkle of water in the market square

Ten seconds pass, a leaf falls gently...

She smiles and squints in the sun
and closes one beautiful brown eye
The better to see her silver bird fly

The bird makes a long slow arc
She loves the shape of the curve it makes
Like the curve of her arm shielding her eyes
Her thoughts go to her very own tree
And the soft shapes of its lovely limbs
And she thinks of the sound
Of the leaves at night
How they take her off to sleep

Five seconds of love and light remain...

The sun has warmed her to sleepy dreaming
Creeping under the shade of her protecting arm 
And in playful loving and new thoughts waking
She touches her cheek
And runs to tell....

Kaneix 2003

A Message from Tony Blair to the People of Iraq
(a week after the start of the attacks by US and UK forces, March 2003)

I wrote this bitter sarcastic poem shortly after the first bombing of iraq feeling extremely angry about the sanctimonious arrogance, dishonesty and criminality and cruelty of Tony Blair. I feel the same way today and regret that he has not been brought to trial as a war criminal. - DR, 2019.

A Message from Tony Blair to the People of Iraq

Look into my honest eyes. 
Listen to my honest lies.  
Look into my angel face. 
Just hear the sincerity in my voice.

I want you all to understand 
the better future we have planned. 
We bomb with Christian love, not Christian hate. 
We come,  
not to conquer, 
but to liberate.

It is essential, and I want to make this very clear,  
that our first aim is to make the world a safer place. 
And with precision bombing you need have no fear. 
And though you've not actually uttered threatening words 
to Britain and America, or indeed the world, 
and though you haven’t acted yet, 
we believe you pose a threat 
a threat that cannot be ignored.

I tell you frankly that so great is the threat  
that act we must, while there is still time,  
or we may live to reap the bitter harvest  
of regret.

I’m sure you will appreciate 
that we have the right 
to remove regimes 
that we dislike. 
We have the right to assassinate. 
We have the right to decide your fate.

So the purpose of our mission, 
now that war has started, 
is also perfectly clear: 
we come to bring you hope 
and take away your fear.

Your army, as you know, is hopelessly outgunned. 
Resistance by your soldiers is completely senseless. 
We’ll simply massacre. We’ll wipe them out. 
They cannot touch us. They’re defenceless.

We wreck your homes, your lives, your infrastructure. 
You needed help. 
Without it you would have had no future.

Our peace, justice and democracy 
you will soon enjoy and celebrate. 
Remember, we come,  
not to conquer,  
but to liberate.

Your cities shake and thunder with our bombs. 
Tumbling buildings. Plumes of flames. 
Roaring jets and shrieking men. 
The crash of glass and children's screams. 
We see the mushroom clouds again. 
Now you can appreciate the genius of our civilisation. 
Remember, this isn’t war:  
it’s liberation.

We destroyed your tv station. We cut your phones. 
Your power and water supplies we cut. 
We destroy public buildings and private homes. 
You see billowing smoke and conflagration. 
But it isn’t war:  
it’s liberation.

Your hospitals overflow. They cannot cope. 
We are killing you softly with our love. 
Death and destruction are everywhere. 
Your future fills with hope.

And if you cannot comprehend this desecration. 
Just try to understand,  
it isn’t war:  
it’s liberation.

Cruise missiles, depleted uranium, 
pulse, cluster and bunker buster bombs 
may shock you. 
And perhaps, you’re just a little awed. 
But please understand we come to help 
and this is your reward.

Regrettably we can treat nothing as sacred: 
it is a fact of war. 
No artefact of God or man, 
no suffering, no pain, no law 
can impede the progress of our plan.

One advantage of our attack 
is that we will build for you 
a new Iraq. 
So don’t worry about the scale of the destruction. 
Our companies will make it all as new 
and your oil will pay for reconstruction.

Look to the future. 
Your children will not easily forget 
how we came to help. 
Round the clock bombing 
may have left them traumatised 
and perhaps a little mad, 
but soon we are sure they'll realise 
just what luck they've had.

Some ask if I'm untouched by human suffering. 
I can tell you my sleep is undisturbed, 
though I deeply mourn the thousands killed. 
I am not shaken, 
and I am not stirred.

So finally I say,  
that for a brighter future 
a little bombing is a small price to pay. 

Ignore the carnage, terror and destruction.
Our purpose 
is not 
domination or exploitation. 
This is not 
a war of conquest. 
It's a war of liberation.

David Roberts   
28 March-9 April 2003

The Feast Of The Holy Innocents 

Herod perceiving that he was deluded by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and sending forth killed all the men children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the borders thereof, from two years old and under, according to 
the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremias the prophet, saying: A voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great mourning; Rachel bewailing her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.


The Bible, Matthew 2:16-18

 

once a crusade has begun
such consequences are inevitable
once the line is placed in the sand
there is no turning back when crossed:

they play upon the dusty street
heedless that tomorrow may never come
for immorality is the greatest ally of youth
until it faces the brutality of the sanctimonious

a quiet pause the eye of storm
before the shrieks of laughter drown
in a crimson flash which melds with the red
that slowly seeps over the dampening soil

lifeless unclosed eyelids
pale cold outstretched hands
flaccid broken limbs
taut silent ashen lips
undone dreams

and the mothers rush in with tear filled eyes
a chorus of voices unable to comprehend
the instant that shattered their hope and lives

they kneel in the sand
kiss the unending horror
stroke the disheveled hair
clutch the limp bodies
which had held the promise
of a future that disappeared quicker
than their sobbing exhaled breath

only women can create the universe of life
and only they truly understand the meaning
when the candle is snuffed
and no more than darkness remains

Roger Humes

Mission Accomplished 


The Navy aircraft eases down across the ship’s fantail,
And slams on the deck, engines screaming,
Its hook catches the number two wire 
Jerking it quickly to a pitching stop.
The wire drops away and it taxis to the bridge.
Emerging behind the pilot and crew 
From the old gray Viking aircraft,
He steps out from the shadows
Into the warm, afternoon California sun
Sparkling gently from a cloudless, blue sky,
Shining the calm Pacific Ocean off San Diego.

The man is on a mission of great importance,
He advances purposefully, marching
Down the polished, steel deck 
Of the anchored carrier, Abraham Lincoln.
His new boots are spit-shined and polished,
The new nomex flight suit is highly starched,
His torso harness gleams; stiff with crispness,
The metal buckles shining brightly, 
With the complex webbings perfectly aligned.
His new, Mae West life jacket has original tags. 
The sleek, nylon G-suit, cinched a little too tightly.
On purpose, to demonstrate one’s manhood.

Like a bow-legged gunfighter, he strides meaningfully
Across the glinting deck cradling his new, white helmet
He casually salutes left then right at the crew,
He turns his head; he nods indifferently to the crowd, ,
Then stops, raises his right hand, smiles coldly,
And turns in a full circle waving like a queen 
To be lustily cheered by baseball capped Officers
And orderly, rank and file mobs of sailors.
Like Caesar returning triumphant from the Punic Wars,
President Bush basks in the adulation 
As he benevolently waves, smiles and nods
Then points at the huge sign over the bridge 
Declaring "Mission Accomplished."

Twenty minutes later the "Commander in Chief"’
Reappears from the steel, grey island,
Carefully dressed in his dark, blue "power" suit,
(with an American flag pinned on the lapel)
He stands straight and tall on the platform,
Almost Presidential in both bearing and stature 
Before the TV cameras and clusters of microphones.
He leans forward in his most serious demeanor
To declare: "Combat Operations in Iraq have ceased."
He steps back; smirks a smile at his minions, 
At the swelling thunderous applause and cheers,
Of the captive military audience on the deck
Lustily cheering the American "War" President,
Their Commander in Chief, whom they all must trust,
With their very lives and future.
He has finally proclaimed those special words, 
Words they have longed to hear,
Because now, they believe the war is finally over.
Because now they can all go back home to their loved ones.

Half a world away the sun has long set,
In the deep, cold, Indian Ocean night,
The shadow carrier glows faint running lights
Rising, falling as it pitches, and plows, 
Smashing heavily through rough seas.
A bone chilling wind howls down from the north,
Wailing as it whips the dark, slippery deck.
Lurching from the shadowed, steel island door
A bundled Navy pilot emerges,
Hunching down low against bone-chilling cold, 
Leaning against buffeting winds. 
 
Zippered flight boots are scuffed, well worn,
The weathered, crusty flight suit grimy and damp, 
Stained in salt-sweat rings and earthy smells.
Under his armpit, a holstered automatic snuggles.
Tarnished, metal buckles of G-suit and restraining straps 
Jingle and chime, clanking the night.
Adorned in faded patches of squadron heraldry,
The old, green flight jacket is zippered high,
The flight bag, with helmet, kneepad, and maps,
Dangles loosely in gray-green gloved hand
Approaching the looming ghost airplane.
There, the plane captain watches, 
As he makes a cursory inspection
Around the aircraft left to right,
The small flashlight piercing the mist,
Glancing along under long, silver wings 
Dripping in armed bombs and war weaponry.
He climbs the ladder, straps in, 
Drops the canopy locking it tight,
A quick signal to the plane captain,
The "Huffer" blows heavy air to the turbines,
The pilot casually lights off his engines.
Which grumble, spin up, and roar to life.
 
He taxis to the catapult for a "night cat shot," 
A procedure, in retrospect only, is a Naval Aviator’s favorite,
That can only be experienced, not described to mortals. 
The plane is hooked to the steel catapult bridle 
As shadowed sailors dimly lit in pale deck lights.
Check connections and give hand signals. 
Seconds later he salutes, locks the throttles forward,
Engines scream to one hundred percent.
He lights the primeval heavy afterburners
And launches in a slam of heavy "g’ forces,
Roaring over the pitching bow into the night.
 
Gear and flaps up, ease the stick back, 
To disappear in the deep black clouds,
To shortly emerge from the mottled, cumulus
That covers the distant land below in darkness.
As high above, stretches the vastness of space 
Unfolding so deep and so far beyond the mind, 
Beyond the limits of mortal man’s imagination.
It watches with patient, immortal eyes,
This troublesome neglected corner of the galaxy. 
While to the west, a waning, half-moon shines low.
Silver-highlighting the cobblestone mantled clouds
Washing them softly with pale shades of greys.
 
The dim cockpit lights glow greens and reds, 
Radios hum soft static in the background,
The aircraft turns to heading, adds power, and climbs north, 
A frequency switch to a distant controlling agency.
Checking in crossing the beach, "feet dry" 
Automatically readying armament switches.
 
The moonlight slowly crawls the silver wings,
Its soft, luminous light blushes the aircraft.
Sailing miles above the sea of clouds.
Throttles ease back to cruise the night.
Sweeping radar paints the darkness ahead,
Where ancient, mountainous lands marches the scope
There, lurking, hostile enemy terrain awaits,
Appearing so still and peaceful in the night,
Where death, destruction, and danger 
Patiently wait with watchful eyes
For the approaching aircraft’s attempt,
...To accomplish the mission.

Curtis D. Bennett

(May 1, 2003)

Note: By this date American troops and troops from some European nations occupied Iraq. The bombing had started on 20th March.

Newspapers around the world reported their shock at the abuse by American soldiers of prisoners in Iraq.This is the front page story in British paper, The Independent on 22 May 2004.

Note on Abu Ghraib

The name of this prison in Iraq, Abu Ghraib, will tragically live in history, a place where events were and are terrible to contemplate. They were shocking and enacted face to face, unlike the destruction of Iraq and its society which was even worse because the destruction of societies is a crime beyond measuring. This sort of thing is part of what war means and what "civilised" societies permit their leaders to do. DR

Abu Ghraib

The photos were painfully clear,
In color, and graphically detailed,
In multi-pixel format
From across the world.
From another faraway land
In another place, and time.
They were undeniable, uncompromising,
Painful to look at, hard to accept.

Some photos showed naked men
Wearing black hoods over their heads,
Clustered in a pile on the floor,
As an American girl grinned and pointed at their genitalia,
As if she found it somewhat lacking.
Manacled hands embracing each other
Bare skin on bare skins
In a mangled group of bodies
Lying together in a jangled, confusing heap.
They lay helpless before the Americans.

One showed a prisoner like a giant moth-man
Standing on boxes with electrodes,
Attached to his fingers.
Still another terrified man,
Backed away, handcuffed,
Cringing against the wall
In total terror as excited dogs,
Eagerly strained and barked for the prize.

Most disturbing in that sinister jail
Known in Iraq as Abu Ghraib
A smiling American soldier,
Looks down at a prisoner,
Laying on the ground like a dog,
She held a leash to his neck
She stood there stoically watching
Her captured prize of Iraqi manhood
Cowering on the cold cement.
Helpless, powerless to resist,
Unable to act, unable to move,
Unable to think, defenseless
Totally submissive and subservient,
Totally at the mercy of the war.


These photos are a metaphor,
Of what America considers Iraq,
What we think of the Iraqi people,
Of our dominance, or our authority,
Of our cruelty, and our brutality,
Our inhumanity and callousness,
With total disregard for other peoples
Except ourselves and our selfish priorities,
Where the Military abuse their power,
Where the strong abuse the weak,
Where Leaders are beyond the law,
Beyond authority, beyond reproach
To unfortunate prisoners of war,
They appear to believe
They are answerable to no one.

A parallel metaphor emerges,
Of guards and prisoners,
Of leashes and hoods
Of the calloused indifference
The brutal treatment to Prisoners of War.
It is Cheney holding the Leash
Of a feckless, hooded naked Congress,
Secretary Rumsfeld dragging the leash
Of the military stumbling blindly behind,

President Bush leads the trio
Down his yellow brick road,
Paved with lies and misrepresentations,
False Fear, terror, deceit,
And fanciful, imagined enemies,
Dragging behind him the hooded,
Unseeing naked American masses
Down his deadly road
Of war and destruction,
All of us, unwilling participants in his War,
All of us…in America
Prisoners of War.

Curtis D. Bennett

Note: Curt Bennett, once a pilot in the Vietnam War, knows from acquaintance with military personnel returning from combat how war experience affects them.

Combat Eyes


It lurks behind their eyes,
Where the soul used to live.
Eyes, which have seen too much
Of war’s bad places
Where reality is too far
Beyond human comprehension,
Beyond human reasoning,
Beyond human sanity.

The nether world of death and carnage,
Flash-burned and sealed in a fixed dimension
Of atrocities bordered by unspeakable horror
That forever scars the psyche,
Everlastingly searing moments
That eternally burns too bright.

The blank vagueness of the eyes
Gazes through you,
Now past and far beyond,
Without judging,
Without emotion,
Without compassion
Without mercy, without humanity.

They stare, dead and blank, unfocused and vague,
Knowing everything, fixed on nothing,
Mirroring the soul.

Welcome Home.

Curtis D. Bennett

There Will Be Peace

 

There will be peace:

 

when attitudes change;

when self-interest is seen as part of common interest;

when old wrongs, old scores, old mistakes

        are deleted from the account;

when the aim becomes co-operation and mutual benefit

        rather than revenge or seizing maximum personal

       or group gain;

when justice and equality before the law

        become the basis of government;

when basic freedoms exist;

when leaders  -  political, religious, educational  -  and  

       the police and media

        wholeheartedly embrace the concepts

        of justice, equality, freedom, tolerance, and

reconciliation

        as a basis for renewal;

when parents teach their children new ways to think

       about people.

 

There will be peace:

when enemies become fellow human beings.

 

David Roberts

November 2003

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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.