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Anthology of First World War poetry recommended for students and the general reader


Poetry about the Second World War
 


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 Poetry for Remembrance Day


 

 

 

THE WAR POETRY WEB SITE

War poetry written in 2004
(mainly about Iraq)

 

 

Harbingers by Curtis D Bennett Curtis's war experience shows in his appreciation of the D Day Sixtieth Anniversary Celebrations

Three poems in tribute to the memory of her brother. Joanna Carman

Joanna's brother served the American army in Afghanistan, and Iraq where he was killed, April 2004.

Make the pie higher by G W Bush  -  Lines by GWB arranged by by Washington Post writer, Richard Thompson  American President reveals poetic gift and his character
The Invisible Jury by Madan G Ghandi, President, Gandhi Earth Vision Foundation, New Delhi About a vision of responsibility for the condition of the earth.
We didn't need a foe by Dave P Nottingham Questions the need to attack Iraq
Iraq 2003 by Jason Shelton who served in Iraq for four months. His first poem. A British soldier's impressions and reaction to being in Iraq.
Bomb and Bomber by Adrian Salamon  Pilot's experiences
Over again by W A Peach Repeating patterns of war
   

Three poems by Joanna Carman

Three war poems that I wrote for my brother - one when he got his orders to go to Afghanistan (explanations are on my memorial site) and the other two after he was killed in Iraq. 

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

JC

This Place Called War

Joanna "Joey" Carman 

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? 
 
 

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Blink and Smile

By Joanna "Joey" Carman 

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? 
 
 

I Live On

By Joanna "Joey" Carman 

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? 

Links to the memorial web site

In Loving Memory of SSG Edward W. Carman
Nov. 1976-Apr.2004 - US Army, 2/12 Cavalry
Erica's Tribute Site - David's Tribute Site - Ashley at Funeral - McKeesport Soldier Killed in Iraq - Portraits of Sacrifice

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Harbingers 

(From Normandy)

Frail, old men with weathered hands stand, 
Alone, lost on the wide sandy beaches,
Each turning back his rusty mind clock 
Piercing the veil of memories
When they were young, anxious and terrified,
Boy-soldiers in battle fighting for their lives, 
Experiencing the gamut of fear and death
Watching friends died horribly,
Scarring their young minds.forever.

Blue beaches murmur waves
Splashing old, rusted war remnants.
A sea bird flaps wet beaches
Where the sea swells and crashes gently on wet sand,
Retreating back erasing all footprints.
The men stare the distance,
At blurred memories through  tears.
Trickling down their cheeks dripping softly,
To merge with the sea like before.

They came to say good-bye to their friends,
To a confused past which has no answers.
The graveyard crosses watch in stony silence, 
Stoically from tree shadows on soft meadows,
In eternal military formation fronted by small, flags,
Wind-shivering in the hush of silence. 
Marching the stillness in quiet precision
Protecting the young soldiers buried there,
Frozen in time and death
The old veterans stand awkward, unsure with the dead.
Experiencing those familiar, dreaded, sick feelings
Of remorse, regret, blame, and fault for what happened
To their generation who gave so much for their country.
They have gathered one final time 
To share history, blame and guilt for all eternity
Banding together as one, they embrace the moment,
Experiencing once more, this terrible place of
memories.

And the same salt sea air, still blows up from the beach 
Once inhaled in panic by all the young fighting men 
Mired in the beach mud conducting the senseless slaughter of children, 
Trapped forever in the obscenity and vulgarity of war,
The pain returns for a moment, overwhelming them,
It hangs suspended, as real as yesterday, then drifts away and mellows away.
Now time, history, and denial blessedly blur the horror and inhumanity
Of what they did; of what was done to them.

The War President from America
Mounts the podiums to prattle the virtues of war,
Attempting to rewrite history, to deny war's reality, 
He exploits the moment for selfish means, 
To justify his war as a noble cause, ignoring its brutality,
Thoughtlessly attempting to validate, substantiate, and authenticate,

War's vicious crimes against civilization
Turning the senseless slaughter of innocents
Into a righteous cause, to be proud of and condone..
Turning war into a sound-bite of empty words
Of praise, blessing, glory, and accomplishment.
Something to be proud of, to revel in,
To relish with sacred, biblical rhetoric
From a shallow, self-centered political opportunist. 
Whose meanings and oratory become quickly lost,
His words floating away with the wind, out of relevance, out of touch
Out of context, drifting, beyond the restive crowds.
To fall useless and disappear, in the cold, impassionate mud.
Falling deaf on the ears of the dead warriors
The ultimate, wasted sacrifice, from another generation

It is at this moment, the old veterans 
Eyes mist up, overflow, and tears flow shamelessly

As they at last comprehend all their sacrifice, all their pain,
All their sorrow, all their suffering, all the death,
Did not change or alter a thing, was not a lesson learned
Nor an experience not to be repeated.. 
Realizing their friend's painful, brutal, ultimate sacrifice
Was only a necessary evil of Mankind's political process
Which has never changed, and never will, 
For each generation brings anew to the world
Its own self-styled madness of universal death, tragedy and suffering,
In wars to be fought by the young, bright-eyed children of the world 
Unknowingly raised as sacrificial lambs of slaughter,
To be killed and gone forever, for nothing. 
That is why, all Veterans cry.

In this hallowed place of the dead
The lonely graves of war's youthful victims
Who died for a thought, 
an idea, for a cause
Promulgated by selfish, insane men in power
These war graves and cemeteries are Harbingers 
Of the eternal, mindless death cycle of war. 
Young men killed by politicians' words and mindless acts,
Their promise and existence forever ended too soon.
Now, forever sleep beneath the green muffled grass
Sharing the earth with the youth and victims of past wars,
Too numerous to count, to numbing to contemplate,
The dead, as powerless and impotent as the now living 
To change or alter, or detour the inexorable course of madmen,
They patiently wait for the next generation to join them.

Curtis D. Bennett 

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The Invisible Jury 

Madan G. Gandhi 
 

My shadow is growing larger, 
its umbilical cord is becoming invisible 
and it is seen walking with giant steps 
encompassing the earth and heaven. 

I watch it merge into a life-cloud, 
sink into the Milky Way. 

A giant fish, leaping up and down, 
collides against the rim of a fleet 
on an espionage mission. 

Writing my name in darkness 
in lettering of fire, 
the idea crosses my mind - 
my moment has come. 

I close my eyes to pray. 
Suddenly, lifted by a tide, 
I become part of the longest current 
sweeping across the waters. 

I feel I am on some other planet, 
transported by a light beam. 

From within the life-cloud 
someone appears on the screen. 

Jutting out from a crystal ball, 
making 'V' sign pointing north, 
suddenly I fall into a spell, 
my shadow confronts me with a grin: 
"Are you the one who have devastated 
the land and the sea, 
spread pollution everywhere 
making the planet uninhabitable?" 

I feel the poison enter my being- 
my throat choked, 
my voice lost, 
my sight blurred. 

"See this woolly, exquisitely wrought, 
silken layer of ozone 
showing up patches here and there. 
Aren't you the one who punctured it?" 

The verve of the tone is electrifying, 
the accumulated guilt of all my sins 
rises up in my fevered brain, 
a heavy load weighs me down. 

Other shadowy figures join in 
pointing their bayonets at me. 
"O Gosh! I am ruined", I say to myself. 
Then from the jury someone thunders: 
"Aren't you who enacted Cheronobyl and Bhopal? 
How long have you been in this life-killing trade, 
making poisonous gases for chemical war, 
exploding the atom and the nuclei 
to unleash annihilation on earth 
and the outer space, 
to efface life from the cosmic womb?" 
The scroll of my crimes is too long. 
"Punishment for each one of them 
is eternal damnation", the jury thunders. 
The nightmarish shadows swirl in my brain 
and I taste the hellish pain. 

I carry a time-bomb tied to my waist. 
I feel like pushing the button 
to outwit the insistent inquisition 
but the fear of instant death restrains me. 

I picture doomsday 
staring at me. 
My whole cerebral mechanism, 
unable to bear the load, 
breaks down. 

I suffer brain haemorrhage 
into a coma, 
but they will not let me die; 
in an instant they revive. 
Again I am before the jury, 
dumbfounded, 
pleading guilty, unable to defend. 

hear a knock at the door. 
The milkman wakes me up 
from my nocturnal session 
with the invisible jury. 

Madan G. Gandhi 

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The words of George W Bush

Make the Pie Higher

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


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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 


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Iraq


As I travel through the sun baked sand,
rifle in hand ready to repel.
 
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!.
 
Confusion,
Confusion,
 
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

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Over Again


Why must they lie all day and all night?
Their reasons are feeble, the reasons to fight.
For what have they as humans, done to us?
never kicking up a storm nor making a fuss.
No wrong, no right, ,no reason to fight
So leave them alone and don't bomb in the night.

Children crying, parents losing such blessed weight
They can't see, the reasons are building, the reasons for hate.
They attack again, at dawn this time.
Nothing's the same or ever sublime.
The excuses they make, no truth or evidence
Vanished from their country any form of eloquence.

Why must they lie all day and all night?
There reasons are feeble, the reasons to fight.
And us ourselves, we also support them
Suck in their lies and further distort them.
Stop them now, before it's too late.
No chance, the world has immeasurable hate
and all the hate received from them
Starts the eternal chain over again.

W A Peach

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Bomb


The sky closes its arms in a tight embrace
The birds ceased to sing a long time ago
Your merciless hammers strike the anvil
Air sucked out of screaming lungs evaporates
Babies crawl lost, mothers weep biter tears
The blood stained theatre of tragedy -
The choirs of pain sing in harmony
Reverberating through the skulls of the guilty few
Even the crickets refuse to chirp -
Their heads bow in solemn thought
The air thick with the stench of torn earth
and broken flesh
The nightmare has only just begun for them
This disease lingers for all to taste

Adrian Salamon


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