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Iraq War Poems 3


Poems on this page

Coming Home by Curt Bennett May 2004

Iraq 2003 by Jason Shelton, British soldier

This Place Called War by Joanna Calman, the sister of a US soldier, and two more poems, Blink and Smile and  I Live On.

We don't need a foe by Dave P Nottingham

Statements attributed to George W Bush.

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

Coming Home

Inside the gray, steel womb of cargo space.
Flag covered caskets quietly lie
In rank and file, line on line in silence.
Bound together in final military formation
Flags of blood reds, cloud whites and ocean blues,
Drape and caress the dull, pewter boxes
Encasing the broken, ashen, hallowed remains
Of dead young boys and girls,
Forced to pay the ultimate price
In this foreign land with strange people,
Where brutal Death forever lurks,
Beneath the surface, around the corner
Watching with cold eyes that never sleep.
Outside, hot desert night winds
Sweep down from the northern mountains
In biting, stinging clouds of dust
Blowing and swirling the tarmac, ruffling flags.
Steel, hydraulic doors whine and close tight

Sealing the precious cargo inside.
Engines come to life and rumble the air,
The huge cargo transport trundles away
Disappearing in the darkness of the taxiway.
Moments later, re-emerging, a roaring shadow
That races and climbs sharply up and away
Into the night air to seek the stars.
Floating suspended between earth and sky
The westbound plane heads for the full moon.
Carrying its sleeping, youthful cargo home.
To the land that gave them birth,
To the parents who loved and raised then
To the government who sent them to fight,
And the politicians who killed them.
In the early morning hours, it touches down
On glistening tarmac of the sleeping base.
To taxi off and away towards the dark distant hanger 
Where black hearses wait under tight security.

Once again hydraulics hum the cargo doors open.
The setting moon softly illuminates the caskets.
So quietly they lie, so well they sleep,
With no more promises to keep,
No more miles to go.
Curtis D. Bennett
May 12, 2004

Iraq 2003

As I travel through the sun baked sand, 
rifle in hand ready to repel, I ask
Why?,who? why?....WHEN?
The children begging for food and water terror in their eyes 
are we the liberators or the new order?
Little hands out stretched, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE!,
The violent roar and the breath forced from your body
hell is a place called Earth!.
Then death comes from the dust and darkness, 
all around the sights and sounds of horror and suffering, the children....
they are no more!
Brothers in arms
Why?, Who?,  WHY? 

This is IT!

Jason Shelton

British soldier, 2004


Note: Three poems by the sister of an American soldier who served in Afghanistan and Iraq

Here are three war poems that I wrote for my brother - one when he got his orders to go to Afghanistan and the other two after he was killed in Iraq. 

SSG Edward W. Carman 
Nov. 1976 - Apr.2004
US Army, 2/12 Cavalry


This Place Called War

Ed never cries; 
I hear him crying in his bed. 
Tomorrow he leaves, his day is near. 
His tears, against everything he said 
about this place called War, 
where women and children, like me, 
are saved from monsters. 
He stood tall when he told us, 
brave as he patted my head 
and told me to have trust 
in the soldiers to come again - 
to come home again? 

Might he not come home from War?


Ed never cries. 
Mom and I are crying for him. 
His back all packed, his day is here, 
But Ed looks really scared. 
He's not tall and brave anymore; like us, 
he's afraid of the monsters. 
He picks me up and squeezes, 
won't let go of me. 
He cries and hugs, and holds on tight. 
What if I let him go?  
If I let him go... 

Will he come home from War?


Joanna Carman  




Blink and Smile


I'm the one who's not really here; 
breathe thick air that pinches the numb, 
squeeze fists to feel my way back home; 
painted lines, dots-per-inches, 
pictures I remember taking 
with a blink and smile.


Every time I see one, I cry 
Part of you stays with me. 

Chaos holds on to the past, 
prints dusted back into existence; 
memory charms - part mine, the other yours, 
spellbound to cross paths again, 
cast it upon you: call you brother 
with a blink and smile. 

When I hold my part, I cry 
Keep part of me with you.

Tell me what you know that I don't; 
what space are you trying to save now? 
Are you listening another frequency? 
Can you read these pages, 
scraps and pieces of my soldier's life, 
through a blink and smile... 

Sit down next to me, and cry  
Because only part stays with me?  


Joanna Carman

I Live On

Why do I live on? 
Soft lullaby, a song 
to my brother fallen, 
April morning; 
Thought I was stronger 
than the sun, 
splashing dawn; 
hollow sounds, my sobs, 
because you're gone... 
Why do I live on? 

Joanna Carman

A memorial website  Ed Calman link

We didn't need a foe

True, life was not so idyllic, the promised land  
It may not be full of milk and honey, only sand 

But to us, it is our home, our life, the way we know.  
We sought no aggression, we didn't need a foe. 

So why, oh why, did they seek us out with such a vengeance?  
Were the women and the children really such a hindrance? 

I had to watch my babies, committed to a grave  
Whilst Bush tells us he has all the world to save 

And as we fall, one by one upon our land, our sovereign soil  
We ask, "Are our lives really worth so much less than oil?" 

I had to watch my babies, committed to a grave  
Whilst Bush tells us he has all the world to save


And as we fall, one by one upon our land, our sovereign soil  
We ask, "Are our lives really worth so much less than oil?" 

Dave P Nottingham 

Statements attributed to George W Bush

I think we all agree, the past is over.

This is still a dangerous world.

It's a world of madmen and uncertainty and potential mental losses.

Rarely is the question asked

Is our children learning?

Will the highways of the Internet

Become more few?

How many hands have I shaked?

They misunderestimate me.

I am a pitbull on the pantleg of opportunity.

I know that the human being

And the fish can coexist.

Families is where our nation finds hope,

Where our wings take dream.

Put food on your family!

Knock down the tollbooth!

Vulcanize society!

Make the pie higher!

George W Bush


This poem may have quite a lot to do with Curt Bennett'e experience fighting as a marine in Vietnam, although here he is reflecting on the effects of war experience on American soldiers in Iraq.


The experience of fighting a war
Changes all men forever.
The experience of taking human life
And being responsible for death,
The ending of life of others
Becomes a, life-altering experience
Of any man who engages in a war,
Who experiences its ugliness, its cruelty,
Comes to know its pornography and savage brutality.

Those who have not been personally involved
In a war as a participant,
Or experienced first hand its aftermaths,
Will never know war’s reality and suffering,
Can never judge war’s validity or worth,
Should ever be involved in any decision
Resulting in a war between nations.
For their imagery of war is fictitious,
Evolving from one’s imagination
Man’s wishful thinking,
Based on movies and books and television,
Nothing more than a fanciful, false myth
Without appropriate context or validation,
Without merit or value.

Most men experiencing war
Become sombrely aware of their own humanity,
And the humanity of all human beings and life who share this earth together.
Who only want to exist in peace, live and let live,
These men emerge from a war as true men,
Evolving from warriors to human beings.

Yet others emerge from war on the dark side,
Down into that murky, deep hole of savage death,
Where they relish and find irresistible the war experience,
The exhilaration of total power and control,
The wanton and cruel destruction of life,
Driven by the primeval exhilaration of survival,
Flourishing on the elixir of adrenalin rush.
Unmindful of any consequence,
Disregarding tenets and precepts of civilization,
To immerse themselves selfishly
In the darkness and ruthlessness
Of the act of war.

War is addicting, all-powerful, all persuasive,
A reason for being, without means, only ends.
Where killing is acceptable and justifiable,
Is undeniably necessary and even honorable,
Despite the human cost and tragedy,
Disregarding the human suffering and agony,
And in some twisted minds
Spurred on by irrational reasoning
And self delusions the act of war
Becomes a sacred mission,
Condoned, approved, and blessed by God.

In war, a man who succumbs to war’s sirens,
Loses himself forever in its terrible beauty,
Embraces its undeniable lure and stimulation of the senses,
Wallows in his perceived power and authority,
To gain other’s approval and attention
This man who truly believes in the act of war
As the ultimate exercise of will, power and personal authority,
Without regard for any human life or consequences,
Is known as a Berserker.(1)

Curtis D. Bennett

(1) Noun: Berserker: One of the ancient Norse warriors legendary for working themselves into a frenzy before a battle and fighting with reckless savagery and insane fury.

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