The War Poetry Website
Iraq War Poems 5
Poems added to this collection at the end of 2005 and later
On the second anniversary of George W. Bush proclaiming the end of major combat operations in Iraq.
The aircraft is loaded and ready on the tarmac.
Tonight for Delaware he flies.
A world away from this land of sand and heat.
To her land of lush greenery and cool nights.
He and others finally aboard.
The aircraft is filled with silence.
During his year away
He thought of her azure eyes.
What would they hold on his return?
Would they be the same?
Would he be too different?
Would they reclaim their past together?
Flags are in place.
Fresh crisp uniforms for the departing.
He and others aboard no longer fear death.
Those left behind still do.
The war still rages.
The brief fighting of months has now turned to years.
Distant tracers briefly fill the heated night.
A sharp rapid climb
And the aircraft is soon away from the horrid
Smells of frustrating death.
Within a day he will return to Emma Seaberry.
Down through the coastal mist
To the saddest azure eyes waiting to claim his body!
A son, a brother, a husband, a father, a veteran.
Derek Sellen's introduction:
I have been writing poetry for forty years and wanted
to express the way that the shames of this war cannot
and should not be escaped but shadow us in our daily
Shadows of War
I walk in the gardens,
on the run from the news.
The orange waste-sacks,
bellied with swept leaves,
crouch between the limes
all along the bare avenue -
prisoners of Guantanamo.
I walk in the orchards,
abandoned to autumn.
A dog leaps playful
out of its owner's control,
runs with the leash trailing
among the shit-coils in the dirt -
barking an echo of Abu Ghraib.
I walk in the break-time,
see poems on a classroom wall,
Owen, Sassoon, Sorley,
the texts of this year's syllabus:
words wailing like shells,
beyond the limits of our hearing -
mourning the corpses of Fallujah.
Road Through Hell
I took the road through hell
one along the Tigris and Euphrates;
Death fouled in the air
and Agony had no place to sleep.
Three hundred and thirty days in the trail
piercing ill memories in my heart,
unpleasant dreams aplenty,
and the struggle to remember who I am.
Predators ravaged the land
while scavengers fed on the less fortunate
the weary, bloody stained desert roads
reminded me that death could be eminent.
Will I finish the journey as I began?
The next thirty some days will tell me so
as I go back along the Tigris and Euphrates
and leave the place I once called home.
If My Eyes Could Talk
If my eyes could talk
what would they tell you?
And if they did
how would they say it?
Could they or would they tell you
about places that I have been
of the things that I have seen
of the things I have done
or the ones I didn't do.
Could they tell you so much
or could they tell you so little.
Or, would they tell you just enough
to judge me- and then would you?
If only my eyes could talk
and tell you the stories that I am keeping quiet,
would you call me a coward?
Would you think any less of me,
or shake my hand and buy me a drink?
If my eyes could talk
and told you what I have seen and done
would you be here with me
or would you walk out the door.
Remembrance Day 2004
Remembrance Day 2004.
More British soldiers dead
In another British war.
Yesterday some of their parents
In anguish and anger went to Downing Street
To lay a wreath
To lay the blame
At the door
Of the man most responsible
For our latest war.
But their sons are gone.
And Iraq's cities are in ruins.
In many thousands Iraq, too, has lost its sons.
Their sons are gone, their children maimed.
Chaos and trauma are everywhere.
For the shattering of this nation
We share the blame.
No fine words can give these crimes
The slightest gloss.
Parents grieve. Such a quantity of grief.
Such needless destruction. Such needless pain.
Let us reflect on
Their needless loss.
Let us reflect on their needless loss.