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Two popular and long-established collections of  war poetry of the
First World War

Minds at War
A comprehensive
anthology of poetry of the First World War. All the greatest war poems of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon and war poems of over 70 other notable poets. All set in the context of the poets' lives and historical records. With historic photographs and cartoons.  Edited by David Roberts.
 400 pages £15-99 (UK)



Out in the Dark
Anthology of
First World War poetry recommended for students and the general reader.
19 poems by
Wilfred Owen
, 27 by Siegfried Sassoon and over 90 more war poems by 45 significant poets including women writers. Contextual information and basic notes on many poems. Illustrated.  Edited by David Roberts.
185 pages - £10-99 (UK)



Falklands War Poetry cover

WAR POETRY 2010

Don't miss other 2010 poems. During 2010 poems have been added to several other pages in this website including the Afghanistan page, the Africa page and the Danny Martin page. Links can be found on the main index page.

Click here for index to 2010 war poems on this page


Iraq War - is it all over?

obama in oval office
President Barak Obama's speaks to the American people from the Oval Office announcing the end of the combat mission in Iraq, August 2010.
In spite of the "end of the war" 50,000 US troops will remain in Iraq indefinitely plus private security guards (quasi soldiers/mercenaries).
See President Obama's video address on this page.

THE COST OF THE WARS IN IRAQ
AND AFGHANISTAN

Casualties of war - Iraq and Afghanistan

Deaths in War in Iraq 2003 to 31 December 2009
US soldiers killed - 4,300

UK soldiers killed - 241

Iraqi civilians killed - 100,000 approximately


Deaths in War in Afghanistan 2001 to 31 December 2009
US soldiers killed - 935

UK soldiers killed - 179 (299 18 June 2010 - BBC Radio 4, 6 o'clock news)

Afghan civilians - 30,000 approximately

Statistics from BBC programme, Defining the Decade, presented by Edward Stourton, Radio 4, 29 December 2009. (With one subsequent UK death added after the programme went out.)

Financial costs to the UK - £18 billion
In his answers at the Iraq War Inquiry (the Chilcot Enquiry), 5 March 2010, UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown said that the two wars had cost "£18 billion in total in addition to the existing defence budget." The Iraq war had cost "some £9.2 billion".
When the war started Gordon Brown made it clear that, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, he agreed that the budget for the war was without limitation. The UK would pay whatever it cost. - Enquiry transcript pages 101, and 103. Click for link to the transcripts.

Costs to the US and the rest of the world
The financial cost to the US has been enormous. This and other costs are analysed in a book by the former Chief Economist of the World Bank, Joseph Stiglitz, The Three Trillion Dollar War. Click for more about this book.

Poems on current and recent wars on this page

Felicity Currie Unto US This child is born (poem about Palestine)
David J Delaney An Old Vet's Christmas (An old soldier's Christmas torment)
Boghos L. Artinian The unknown snipers (Experience in Beirut.)
Boghos L. Artinian 2006 Simulations of the Old Testament?
Emma Wilson Belfasts Child
Suzanne Nielsen Sharing Moonlight (Thinking of her son in Afghanistan)
Patrick Campbell Ambush of a bus, Baghdad, 4 June 2006
Patrick Campbell Tommy
Steve Carlsen Take your pills
Steve Carlsen We slept with our boots on
Steve Carlsen Thunder in the valley
Steve Carlsen Death of a hero
Hubert Wilson Rainbow Death  (About modern chemical warfare.)
Sgt John Norbury  Goodbye young soldier (Afghanistan, January 2010)
Edward Porter A soldier's demon
Henry M Bechtold Children in the Darkness
R R Ledford Silence Condones McEmpire
Laura M Schultz Quagmires of the past
David Roberts We bomb in peace
David Roberts The trouble with terrorists
David Roberts Kill or cure
Richard Y Ball Three poems about the effects of war
Richard Y Ball Cave Canem  (Who is the villain?)
Richard Y Ball Homecoming
Richard Y Ball Foreboding
George Moor A Desert Rat headband
George Moor Falling

A Christmas war poem from Australia

An Old Vet's* Christmas

He shuffles down a quiet darkened street,
alone, he always dreads this time of year,
cause locals, he just cannot bear to meet.
He eats collected scraps and drinks warm beer.

Now as the rain begins to softly fall
he crawls beneath a long deserted shop,
and hears the singing from the nearby hall
while all the time, he wishes, they would stop.

A flash sends goose bumps covering his skin
the sky now rumbles with a long deep tone,
then, brings back horrors hidden deep within,
again, he fronts the enemy alone.

Now mortars fall as with each lightning blast
he’s foetal in his cardboard box and prays,
and shaking as his heart is pounding fast,
arms wrapped around his head, he rocks and sways

He flinches and he moans with every burst,
relives the scenes held deep within his brain,
and wishes that the visions would disperse,
the sight of blown up bodies, still remain.

The rain’s like thunder on this roof of tin,
like non stop gunfire in a jungle dense.
He’s once again a soldier inthe din,
where many boys, lost all their innocence.

The ‘war’ is easing as the thunder dies,
he now releases clasping hands from ears,
remembers politicians and their lies
and how so many died throughout those years.

He hears again the Christmas Carols clear,
his shaking starts now slowly to decrease,
while in the darkness, sheds a lonely tear,
and knows that only death can bring release.

He’ll fight no more this demon battle ground
as finally succumbed he starts to doze.
In time his lifeless body will be found.
This old mans story, scribes can now expose.


David J Delaney
Written 21 December 2009

* Vet is a term little used in the UK but familiar in other parts of the world to mean former or veteran soldiers or other service personnel.

A Christmas sonnet that draws attention to the brutal, incessant and long-running abuse of the Palestinian people by the Israelis.

Unto US this child is born

Last night I had this visionary dream;
I stood then trod on lonely, broken land -
I mean heart-broken. Something made it seem
This land was human. Lonely, frightened and
Abandoned. Just like me? No. By my feet
A naked baby lay, pale as a sheet
Of phosphor. Not the grandson that's now mine -
He's safe. He wasn't born in Palestine.

A voice inside said:"Jesus and . . . each child
Who's born for Zion's torture." Loud and wild
The land was now. The air now full of stones
Cast from the sky by unmanned, brutal drones.
I woke up sweating, knowing I must tell
The truth: of genocide by Israel.

Felicity Currie



The unknown snipers

The scene is Beirut - a poem about daily life in a war zone.

In some parts of the world people risk their lives daily. This poem is about living with a daily threat of death.

The author explains, "In 1975 we settled in Beirut where I started my private practice as a physician, after working in Saudi Arabia and England from 1969 to 1975. The civil war started in April 1975. From then on, I and also my wife, took the daily risk of crossing from west to east Beirut, where I worked for the Armenian Relief Cross and she taught piano playing at a music school, and back in the afternoon.. Crossing the green line was very tiresome and often risky from snipers who often stopped the crossing by wounding or killing a few citizens. We almost always crossed by walking, because cars often took two hours to cross.
We were just lucky not to have been shot or bombed. My brother was wounded by a Japanese sniper in front of the Holiday Inn Hotel on March 11 1976 but managed to drive to the American University Hospital for an operation. He left the country after a few months and is now living in New Jersey.
While crossing the green line at one of several locations I often imagined myself in the viewer of a sniper's telescope and wondered if he would decide to shoot or not.

In the poem I thanked them for not 'pulling the trigger'

Boghos L. Artinian MD

The unknown snipers

I will never know
how many times snipers had had me
clearly in their view,
yet for some reason had refrained
from pulling the trigger
to let me cross the green-line
twice a day, in fifteen years
of civil war.
For that kindness, many thanks
to the unknown snipers!

Boghos L. Artinian

2006 Simulations of the Old Testament?

The midnight call from the British foreign office urging my son to leave the country(Lebanon) with instructions to be at a certain place next morning, and offering to also evacuate us(immediate family members), sounded much like the two angels urging Lot to leave Sodom and take his immediate family out.

Though the caller never mentioned that the God of the 'chosen people' will smite the inhabitants of Beirut with 'brimstone and fire' from above, the similarity of the situation rendered the intended implications.

Are we, the citizens of Lebanon, so base in the eyes of Jehovah that he intends to smite us with 'brimstone and fire' and to turn us into 'pillars of salt' while the rest of the world watches the unfolding wrath of those pseudo-deities?

A Citizen of Beirut

Boghos L. Artinian

About the above

The 2006 war on Lebanon by Israel which started on July 12, led to the urgent evacuation of almost all foreign nationals by land through Syria, or by sea via Cyprus. Our son, holding British nationality was advised to leave the country the morning following the midnight call from the British foreign ministry, the urgency of which I likened to the call on Lot by the two angels in the Old Testament. Since the whole family did not want to leave so abruptly with him, my son opted to stay with us. We witnessed 34 days of devastating war which cost 1500 lives. Fortunately the damage in North and West Beirut where we live was little compared to south Beirut and the rest of Lebanon. I had written the above short article in 2006 but couldn't have it published anywhere.

Boghos L. Artinian


Belfasts Child

you are so young yet you walk to the beat of belfasts drum,
there should be promise in your eyes but its replaced by historys hate and dispise,
you play your flute with prody pride, religion always by your side,
your anger shows in your reflective stare each note a declaration of how much you care,
will no surrender be your lifes claim,
will you kill and maime in ulsters name
what will take you to your peace, what will make this madness cease,
our fight for our counties well in the past, but this hatred between us will always last,
our flags now represents our unforgivable sins, belfast child when will you see this is now a war that no one can win.

Emma Wilson

Note
Emma Wilson is writing about "the recent needless violence" and comes from Northern Ireland. (September 2010)

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Sharing Moonlight

Ruth has not heard from her cave-searching son
in 59 days. Not knowing how things are going
amidst the Afghan terrain causes her to sleep less,
eat more, bite her nails with enthusiasm,
and play with her hair. Yesterday she
pronounced that she was shaving her head
and surrendering to silk-lined gloves for
her own protection.

Regarding her sleep patterns she
insists on consulting the moon.
After all it’s the same moon that hovers
over her offspring 6,981.97 miles from the
Minneapolis boarder—the same moon
he sneaks peeks of while
she’s pretending to sleep.

Suzanne Nielsen


Ambush of a bus, Baghdad, 4 June 2006

(Based on news reports of an actual incident)

What kills pity in a man?
Why, the cause.
In the cause we find strength.
Fifteen of the faithful,
We were ready to do God’s will.
A dozen boys and as many men,
Diminished by our Kalashnikovs,
Lined up by the roadside.
We inspected their ID’s
And told four to flee,
For they were of the faith.
The others, outside the fold,
Were ordered to their knees,
The whimpering schoolboys and the old.
Others, weaker, might have paused,
Afraid to spill the brains of boys;
But, rapt completely in the cause,
We scarcely heard the sobbing of the young
Nor their whispered prayers.
Nor the pleas of the old men
For the young to be spared.
And when the rifles spoke,
Blind were we to the twisted faces
Of the student infidels
As blood-red death crept up their line,
Leaving them still, one by one,
Meeting their fiery Hell.
It was a brave action,
But, brother, between me and you,
From whom I can conceal no truth,
Just for a moment I paused
When I saw in one of those traitorous youths
A likeness to my own dear son.
But I did not fail the cause.
He fell like a slaughtered lamb.

Patrick Campbell

Note
Patrick Campbell explains
I am retired from the Diplomatic Service and can claim no military experience save national service in the RN back in the fifties. I live with my wife in Alicante, Spain, having decided to stay on here after my posting as consul here.

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Tommy

(with apologies to Rudyard Kipling and the modern Army)

They flew me ‘ome from Baghdad with a bullet in me chest.
Cos they’ve closed the army ‘ospitals, I’m in the NHS.
The nurse she ain’t no Britisher, so she ain’t too impressed.
It’s like I’m some street corner thug who’s come off second best.
Yes, it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “You’re not welcome ‘ere”.
But when Saddam was collar'd, they was quick enough to cheer.
They’re proud when Tommy Atkins ‘olds the thin red line out there,
But now he’s wounded back at ‘ome, ‘e has to wait for care.

Some stranger in the next bed sez, “Don’t you feel no shame?
You kill my Muslim brothers!”; so it’s me not ‘im to blame!
An’ then the cleaner ups an’ sez, “Who are you fightin’ for?
It ain’t for Queen and country ‘cos it’s Bush’s bloody war!”
It’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’“Tommy what’s that smell?”
But it’s “God go with you, Tommy,” when they fly us out to ‘ell.
O then we’re just like ‘eroes from the army’s glorious past.
Yes, it’s “God go with you, Tommy”, when the trip might be your last.
They pays us skivvy’s wages, never mind we’re sitting ducks,
When clerks what’s pushing pens at ‘ome don’t know their flippin’ luck.
”Ah, yes,” sez they, “but think of all the travel to be ‘ad.”
Pull the other one! Does Cooks do holidays in Baghdad?

It’s Tommy this, ‘an Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, know your place,”
But it’s, “Tommy take the front seat,” when there’s terrorists to chase,
An’ the town is full of maniacs who’d like you dead toot sweet.
Yes it’s “Thank you Mister Atkins,” when they find you in the street.

There’s s’posed to be a covynant to treat us fair an’ square,
But I ‘ad to buy me army boots, an’ me combats is threadbare.
An’ ’alf the bloody ‘elicopters can’t get in the air,
An’ me pistol jammed when snipers fired. That’s why they brought me ‘ere.
Yes, it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, “We ‘ave to watch the pence”;
Though bold as brass the P.M. sez, “We spare them no expense.”
But I’ll tell you when they do us proud an’ pull out all the stops,
It’s when Tommy lands at Lyneham in a bloomin’ wooden box!!!

Patrick Campbell

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Richard Ball

Metamorphoses

Performing,
A skylark hovers and sings,
Surveying the countryside.

Forest trees rustle,
Harmonising
With the insects’ hum.

Lovers entwined:
Pleasure overwhelming
Distant warnings.

A lake sparkles:
Millions of jewels,
Children’s chatter.

At once, grey stifles azure.
Wailing wind and relentless rain:
A landscape transformed.

The water becomes
Dangerous, despairing:
The people’s tears.

Leaves stripped from the trees,
Tossed and drift.
Their bones exposed.

Towns cower
Under an alien tread.
Farmland gouged and pocked.

Broadcast seeds of pain,
The churned soil yields its harvest:
A field of bloody petals.

Richard Y Ball

Richard's comment
I woke with the idea in my head and then played with it. I suppose that southern English landscapes and the rituals of Remembrance Day were factors in its creation, but I would prefer to regard it as of no particular place or time.

Biographical note:

I qualified in medicine in 1979. After house jobs, I trained as a pathologist and undertook research in cellular pathology, becoming a consultant pathologist in Norwich in 1990. Until recently, my writing has taken the form of professional reports and papers. In October 2009, I attended a meeting that included a short session on creative writing. Such was my enjoyment of it that I have continued to write for pleasure ever since. My scribbling has been fairly crude, but guided by friends, I think that it is beginning to improve. My profession and Christian faith inform my outlook and are important influences on such writing that I manage. I wrote this poem, one of several, in response to a request by a local priest, who is holding a meeting between his church and members of the local Unitarian Chapel on the eve of Remembrance Day to discuss issues to do with war, remembrance, and so on.

A diabolical din

A forest of metal tubes,
The organ pipes rise,
Each calibrated and
Awaiting a caress,
The maestro’s touch.

A deafening discord erupts.
Rocking woodland floor,
Stabbing shafts of flame,
And all-enveloping smoke
Announce the overture.

The opening tutti
Rapidly degenerates.
Each pipe plays ad lib:
A dissonant cadenza;
A calamitous cacophony.

The distant audience cowers,
Seeking shelter wherever it can,
The ear-bursting barrage
Searing its notes
On their reluctant lives.

Overhead, shells explode,
Buildings dance and crash,
And exposed bodies are ripped.
The town groans and screams
Against the incoming music.

A fearful calm
Stifles the diabolical din.
The artillery train trundles past,
Seeking new concert halls
And fresh listeners.

Richard Y. Ball

Note
As before, it is not supposed to relate to a particular war. However, the impression is of modern mechanised warfare, with its industrial-scale activity and destructive power. R.B.

Explanatory notes follow this next poem

O tempora, O mores!

Splintered buildings, ruinous trees:
Arms stretched heavenward.
Curling smoke
Mirrors their prayer,
Reflecting the stench of death.
Blackened bodies,
Prostrate in homage to Mars.

Created in love by Love,
With families and friends,
Libran had been their living.
Then Jupiter’s son’s cavalcade came,
Calling them forth
To join him
In heroic acts.

It was cataclysmic.
Sheets became bandages, shrouds,
Furnaces ceased their roar, and
Fields grew like scrub.
Man glared at man
Through previously welcoming eyes,
Now blind to Love’s command.

Why can we not learn?
Thousands of years ago
Isaiah foresaw a remarkable re-forging:
Swords and spears into ploughshares and pruning hooks.
We know the score!
Yet Discordia’s shrieks still overcome
Concordia’s sweet song.

Littering the land,
The rotting corpses
Speak eloquently.
For them, no joy of human interaction,
Of shared experience and achievement,
But enforced carriage to the Styx,
Tongues tainted by a coin.


Richard Y. Ball

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Notes

The idea was to provide something for a church congregation to reflect upon the evening before Remembrance Day. I thought that it would be interesting to add classical allusions to biblical references. The reference to astrology was a late change, but an improvement on what went before.

O tempora, O mores – A sentence of Cicero (“Oh the times! Oh the customs!” or, more freely, “Oh what times we live in!”) uttered during his denunciation of Cataline, who had conspired to overthrow the government of Rome and to kill Cicero. An expression of the evil of the present time.

Mars – Roman god of war (and many other things), son of Jupiter and Juno, father of Romulus, the legendary founder of Rome, and husband to Bellona, a war goddess.

Libra – Weighing scales, a constellation and a sign of the Zodiac. It is said that Librans are sensitive, cooperative people, who avoid conflict and try to be cooperative and to compromise in disputes.

Jupiter – Roman ruler of the gods, the patron god of Rome. Married to his sister, Juno, and father of Mars.

Isaiah – See Isaiah 2: v4 (And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. King James version)

Discordia – Roman goddess of discord or strife; warlike and ferocious.

Concordia – Roman goddess of harmony. Her emblems included an olive branch, symbolising peace, and a cornucopia, representing the abundance produced by people working harmoniously together.

The Styx – The river in Greek mythology forming the boundary between Earth and the Underworld. Charon, the ferryman, is believed (erroneously: in most sources, it was the river Acheron) to have transported the souls of the newly dead across this river into the underworld. Placing a coin in the mouth of the dead body was thought to pay the toll fee.

RB

Cave canem*

The villain lurks.

Tumbling colours

Disappear into blackness.

The flick of a switch.

An orchestra’s fortissimo

Struck dumb, mid-bar.

Approaching stealthily,

Few escape his jaws.

A Cassius,

His appetite is all-devouring:

Baby, child, parent, crone.

Nobody is spared.

Machiavellian,

He dispatches his victims

With boundless ingenuity.

Trauma a specialism;

Displacement, disorder and disease

Get his juices flowing.

This cur has many names.

It could be muzzled

If we chose.

But beware:

Careless of propriety,

It sometimes bites its master.

Richard Ball

* Cave canem - Latin - Beware of the dog

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Home-coming

A great bird lands and
Gathers strength after its flight.
Her oviduct contracts,
Discharging precious cargo,
Covered in a bright membrane.

It is carried shoulder-high
By adopted brothers.
This offspring,
Once nurtured in a mother’s womb,
Now enveloped in wood.

Safe from life’s buffeting,
It is sterile.
Nothing will erupt from its shell.
Instead, it focuses a nation’s awe,
The nidus of a family’s grief.

Richard Y. Ball

Foreboding

I once lived.
A Lowry or Brueghel;
A stream cascading over rocks;
A glass of champagne;
Palpitations in a lover’s arms;
A sunset’s palette;
A mayfly, dancing over a pond.

I am, now.
A Malevich or Rauschenberg;
An autumn afternoon;
A cup of tepid tea;
Parkinson’s face:
An affect like the pond’s surface,
Coated in winter’s rind.

I still wait.
He left for war:
Duty and comrades to share,
But no thought of danger.
I fulfil that role,
Apprehensive of the postman’s knock,
The telephone’s call.

Richard Y. Ball

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UK Soldier's coffin is carried

Goodbye Young Soldier

Sgt John Norbury explains how this poem came about:

I was moved to write this following a Vigil Service on 4th Jan 2010 in Helmand Province . I have a son of my own, he is a similar age to the majority of these brave young warriors, I can only imagine what the parents, family & friends are feeling at this time in their loss.

I think when I wrote it I initially wanted for the soldier's family to read it, to know that others care.

Please take a moment in reading this, say a little prayer for those who grieve, for those who wait back home.

To those out there, reading this, take care & stay safe.


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Goodbye Young Soldier

We said goodbye tonight
To a soldier whom I did not know
He did his duty well
But sadly he had to go


He did not travel this far
To leave behind family & friend
He came to do his duty.
He did not know it would be his end

His short life was just that
A soldier’s ultimate commitment he gave
This earth deserved him longer
He went too early to his grave

He is one of many heroes
Another poor young soldier
For he is not alone
No years left in which to grow older

What comfort lies for those he left
Never again to be by their side
A gallery of happy memories
And deservedly this Nation’s pride

So farewell young soldier
Whilst here you did just right
I hope your life was not a waste
Farewell young soldier, sleep tight.


Sgt John Norbury, Afghanistan, January 2010.


A Soldier’s Demon

A Soldier's Demon
In the fog of war
Believe me, unfortunately I know...
A lot can happen in an instant
In the instant after clear and present danger reveals itself…
Time then slows down, way down
You hear bullets and shrapnel whizzing past you in slow motion,
As if you could reach and pluck them out of thin air...
It is in this moment that you realize that you may be dead…
Before your next thought is able to collect itself in your conscience.

Your finger reaches for the trigger...
You start shooting before you even aim...
As if your entire existence depends on firing your weapon...
You cannot think about anything other than survival...
Not your past, not your family, and not your wife and kids...
All the training means ABSOLUTELY nothing...
No one in your training was willing to die in order to kill you…

Now you start to see red. Different shades of red.
You feel anxious and cosy simultaneously.
You feel inside of the whirlpool and yet on the outside of it as well...
YOU FEEL PROFOUND AND SHALLOW AT THE SAME INSTANT...
BRAVE AND COWARDLY AT ONCE...
Right and wrong means nothing...only alive and dead are on your mind.
WITH A WICKED DEMON AS YOUR SOLE COMPANION...
While you wish for an angel in flight to pass by.

As the dust settles you wonder when, how and why
Your mind is dull, yet your body could begin to fly
Is this the end or just another nightmare that will pass by …
No telling apart the screams of the enemy from a friend’s death cry.

Edward Porter

About Edward Porter

Edward Porter lives in Los Angeles, California. He has provided the following notes about himself and what inspired him to write the poem.

I am an Ex Brit who has been a US Citizen since 2000. Born in Tehran, Iran in 1971 to an Azerbaijani mother who is a proud British Citizen and who is fluent in French culture/language (more than anything she is a French woman). Raised by my maternal grandparents in Iran until 13, I saw firsthand the horrors of the Iran-Iraq war (it being the 3rd bloodiest war of the 20th century). As a pre-teen, I escaped a war-torn and revolutionary Iran to live with my mother and my British step-dad who then subsequently moved the family to the USA. I have many friends and family in the US Armed forces and their experiences are routinely conveyed to me through firsthand accounts from places like Haiti, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait. Being a trained and passionate writer, I do not have to experience an event firsthand myself, in order to be able to write about it as if I had...

I have been there in my thoughts, in my dreams and unfortunately in my childhood. I have been a writer for over 25 years now, mainly of Novels, Scripts and hundreds of poems. While being fluent in French, Azari and Farsi, I have a love and fascination for the English language which I consider my mother tongue, (in which I am currently writing a Novel about my experiences regarding my transition/experiences from my childhood in pre/post revolutionary Iran to my new homes in Europe and the USA). I am also working on two other Novels in addition, simultaneously.

I live and work in Los Angeles, CA as a Realtor and a Landscape Contractor. I also serve on our School District's Governing Board as an elected Trustee. My family and I live on a ranch in the mountains above Los Angeles in an area called Santa Clarita. Prior to becoming a Realtor / Landscape Contractor, I was employed in the Film Industry in the areas of Post Production, Production and Distribution.

I consider myself a patriotic American while being quite fond of our "Closest Friend and Ally", the United Kingdom where my siblings and parents reside, not mentioning a small piece of my heart.

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Rainbow Death

Hubert Wilson
SsgtUSAF, 1968-1972

This small poem speaks of a modern day ingredient of warfare that has caused appalling death and suffering – not only to its intended victims, the Vietnamese people, but also the service personnel that used or even just came into contact with “Agent Orange”.

Wikipedia reports, “Agent Orange is the code name for a herbicide and defoliant—contaminated with TCDD—used by the U.S. military in its Herbicidal Warfare program during the Vietnam War.

According to Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 4.8 million Vietnamese people were exposed to Agent Orange, resulting in 400,000 deaths and disabilities, and 500,000 children born with birth defects.[1]

From 1962 to 1971, Agent Orange was by far the most widely used of the so-called "Rainbow Herbicides" employed in the herbicidal warfare program. During the production of Agent Orange (as well as Agents Purple, Pink, and Green) dioxins were produced as a contaminant, which have caused numerous health problems for the millions of people who have been exposed. Agents Blue and White were part of the same program but did not contain dioxins.” To read more in Wikipedia go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agent_Orange

This poem may remind us that wars aren’t over when the wars are over.


DR March 2010

Author’s comments follow the poem.


Rainbow Death

America did not foresee
Green, pink, purple and other colors death potpourri!
Expecting others to pay a high price.
Now thinking twice?
Toll on the innocent and unborn.

Omnipotent and disregarding who will mourn.
Reflective about all the illness, birth defects and prematurely dead.
All the deceit continues to spread.
Nefariously America led astray -
Generations untold WILL pay -
Execrable effects of agent orange spray!


Hubert Wilson

Rumors persist of still another more toxic color coded herbicide at the end of this deadly rainbow!

I am a Vietnam War veteran (as are my four brothers) who served in the USAF Security Service. I, along with a dozen or so intelligence school grads, prepped for about 14 months at Kelly AFB in San Antonio, Texas, before anticipating being sent to Vietnam or elsewhere in southeat Asia in 1970. About half ended up in Da Nang (an Agent Orange hotspot) in the 6924th Security Squadron. The rest of us were assigned to Shemya Island, Alaska, with the 6984th Security Squadron, and what eventually was a MORE contaminated environment than Da Nang!
My health problems started approximately 15 years ago with unexplained headaches and limb pains. Four years ago my central nervous system radically deteriorated with Parkinsonian type tremors, severe headaches, progressive limb pains, etc. No physician has ever diagnosed the specific illness. NO VA physician has ever rendered ANY medical assistance! My number one educated guess is the heavily contaminated drinking water at Shemya during my year there as an intelligence analyst. Organo-phosphate toxins may not run their toxic course until 20 to 30 years after initial exposure.

Since my brain still functions moderately well (and I have mobility issues), I have turned to writing just like my late Fatherand the late singer (and writer) Johnny Cash.


Hubert Wilson.

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Silence Condones McEmpire

McEmpire's
Dollar menu
Serves up fast kill.
We pay the bill.
Spent uran'um? -
Small watts; big ill.
To store, or sell?
Makes heavy shell.
Blasts through walls well.
Recycled hell.
Deployed now, swell.

Flash fries dark ass.
Such menu class-
Crispy critters!
Some sauce? Must ask.
Eat here? To go?
Death swift, then slow.

Too late to know
the drift, winds blow
the toxic flow
through lungs, bestows
a silent blow
to genes; there sown
such seeds of woe.

As profits grow,
Health defects show.
Yet who will know
how was bestown
this plague of glow?
With press in tow;
Truth's shaft - sans bow.
As Vets soon go
Six feet below
More graves to mow.
Their healthcare dough
Becomes ZERO!

Life's value: Low.
We watch the show;
Caught in the flow.
To war we go,
When few say: NO!
The status quo
Lets madness grow.
A shadow foe
Still strikes their blow.
We've sunk so low.
We make no row.
No threat we pose
To leaders, those
Who send the drones
that bombs the homes
In target zones.
Crushed family moans.
While killer clones
Just count the bones.
Silence Condones!

Richard Ledford 2009
© Copyright 2009 R R Ledford

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David Roberts

We bomb in peace

Innocent bombs
innocent bombs
the bombs of goodwill
are falling still.

Fall friendly bombs
destroy the threat.
Will what we sow
Be what we get?

We bomb.
We bomb
So that tyranny may cease.
We bomb with love.
We bomb in peace.

David Roberts

1 January 2010.


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The trouble with terrorists

The trouble with terrorists
is
that they have sunk to the level
of their enemies
condemning whole peoples
on the basis
of the actions
of a few
and with almighty arrogance
have assumed the right
to allot punishment –
torture, trauma and death
almost at random
as if they themselves
are innocents!

Let them forsake their hysteria
stop the rant
state their aims
make their case.

This cuts
both ways.

David Roberts
20 February 2010

Background to The trouble with terrorists
For background to this poem which particularly concerns US and UK foreign policy, please see, for example, the books, Killing Hope - US and CIA Interventions since World War II by William Blum, and Lawless World - America and the Making and Breaking of Global Rules by Philippe Sands.
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Kill or cure

What do we know?
What do we know
about anything?

We only live in this town.
We know nothing.
Politicians know everything.

Hello, lady,
do you have time to kill?
Our government does.

Kill or cure.
That's the choice.
which do you want?
You can use your voice.

Money for war
or money for life.

Accident? Emergency?
Where will you go?

"They are closing the hospital. "
Well oh dear,
Oh dear!

Money for health
or money for war?

Does anyone know
what we're fighting for?

David Roberts
14 September 2006.


Children in the Darkness

Author’s introduction
:
I was in Vietnam in 1967 - 68 and again in 1969. I go back often because my soul lives in Vietnam and I go back to visit it from time to time.
I was sitting in my hotel room in Saigon just before Christmas 2009 and I was trying to write a poem about the girls who work in the park and how badly men treat them. I was angry but unable to write anything that did not sound trite or weak. I looked at the TV and the news was on. I did not know what the news reader was saying but in the background was a photo of a small boy with a helmet and an automatic rifle. This poem flowed out. The words just came to me and I typed as fast as I could to get it all down.


Children in the Darkness

There are children in the darkness
Who have not seen the light
There are children in the darkness
Who someone will teach to fight

Chalk and blackboards will not be
To this door there is no key
From this life they can not flee
And these children are not free

Could we simply light a candle
Could we give them half a chance
Could we teach them how to read
Could we teach them how to dance

Or will a war consume them
Their body and their soul
Will their life and blood be poured
Down some endless thirsty hole

Back into the darkness
From which there is no flight
Back into the darkness
Into which there shines no light


Henry M Bechtold
2010

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Steve Carlsen

About Steve Carlsen

Steve Carlsen was born and lives in Dowagiac Michigan. He joined the United States Army in October 2000 and went to Infantry Basic Training, and Airborne School in Ft. Benning Georgia. He then reported to D Company 1st battalion 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment. 82nd Airborne Division in Ft. Bragg North Carolina. He deployed to Kosovo in November 2001 as part of peace keeping operations. He Deployed to Afghanistan in of December 2002 where he participated in combat operations. He was honorably discharged from the Army in 2003. He currently attends Southwestern Michigan College where his professor, Dr Michael Collins challenged him to write about his experiences.

Take Your Pills

I’m home now and every thing is supposed to be okay
As hard as I try I still feel so out of place
trapped inside of a world deep within my mind
My thoughts keep rewinding backwards to a distant time
Instead of being a fuzzy picture projected on a screen
I see a high definition massive war machine
We all have demons deep down inside
Mine just come alive when I close my eyes
I yell and holler and cuss and scream
I can’t wake up from my violent dreams
Smoke burns my eyes, I see the face of the dead
The war is still raging inside my head
Paranoia slowly sets in
Lock the door, check the door, check the door again
It’s impossible to fall asleep without a loaded gun
A gun is not a guarantee that sleep will even come
Take a number. Wait your turn. Go to the end of the longest line.
“After a review of your paper work son, we believe that you are just fine.”
“Take this pill, and every thing will be all right…
Don’t let your kids piss you off and try not to hit your wife.”
Their concerns are not for me. Its for every one else around
I try to tell them what is wrong but they never hear a sound
I am not the only one who has these thoughts and dreams
Our numbers are growing rapidly because of the war machine
With the sound of mortar rounds still ringing in my ears
The intensity of battle will stay with me for years
I’m expected to be, a functioning member of society
So I do what I can, to hide who I am, so I can be who they want me to be.

Steve Carlsen

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We Slept With Our Boots On

They unloaded the dead and maimed right before our eyes
They washed out the blood, we loaded our ruck’s and then took to the skies
Over the mountains, villages, and valleys we flew
Where we would land we had not a clue
Bullets are flying, the LZ is hot
We’re leaving this bird whether we like it or not
30 seconds they yelled, Lock N Load and grab your shit
Get ready to go and make it quick
My heart is pumping adrenalin through all of my veins
I run as fast as I can through the lead rain
The noise is tremendous, terror I can’t define
The only reason I survived that day was divine
I kept pulling the trigger and reloading and pulling some more
You do what you have to do, with that I will say no more
We fought from the valleys to the mountain peaks
From house to cave, to car to creek
Dirty and tired and hungry and scared
We slept with our boots on so we were always prepared
Those majestic mountains so steep, so high they kiss the skies
The Hindu Kush has changed so many lives
Up the mountains with heavy loads we trod
Who knew hell was so close to God
Beauty and terror are a strong mixed drink
So we drank it like drunkards and tried not to think
Good men and bad men, Mothers lost son’s
Everyone loses their innocence when they carry guns
Washed in the blood, and baptized by fire
I will never forget those who were called higher
They say blood is thicker than water, well lead is thicker than blood
Brothers aren’t born they’re earned. In the poppy fields, the tears, and the mud
And when I get to heaven to Saint Peter I will tell
Another Paratrooper reporting for duty sir, I spent my time in hell


Steve Carlsen

Thunder in the Valley

Before the morning call to prayer, just before the dawn.
On an outpost in the middle of nowhere. In a valley high above the clouds.
We smoked cigarettes and talked about life, as we pulled guard all night
The whistle of incoming mortar rounds shattered the morning sleep
They fired rounds from atop a hill in a place we couldn’t see
They didn’t have a chance, once our guns were ready
As the 120’s pounded round after round, thunder echoed across the valley.
Lightning flashed from the mortar pits as hell was on its way.
They couldn’t run. They couldn’t hide. All they could do was die.
We helped them meet those virgins on their way to the other side
They said that there was nothing left. Barren all around
No stone unturned, not a leaf on a tree. Not a living thing could be found
Nothing left but ghosts in a dream before the morning call to prayer.

Steve Carlsen

Death of a Hero

Clothes soaked with blood, and blood on his boots
As he breaths he gurgles blood
He lays in the shadow cast by a wall of stone
A million miles from home
Eyes wide with fright. His brothers by his side.
He quietly prays as he slowly dies
As blood drains from his body, color leaves his face
His blood waters the flowers in this God forsaken place
They hold him so he doesn’t die alone.
They hold him until they have to bag him and send him home.
Tears leave streaks down a dirty face
Sorrow and emptiness now takes his place
With the utmost care they zip up the big black bag
and wrap his body in an American flag.
A hero is going home.

Steve Carlsen

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Laura Schultz

Quagmires of the past

As a psychotherapist for over 25 years helping people through various crisis, I began to see the long-term effects on vets including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, addictions, family/relationship problems and the like. As a poet and freelance writer I wrote this poem after the invasion of Iraq. I became concerned about the human community and losing touch with our lack of a global commitment to peace.

Quagmires of the past

As dusk is nigh
and birds take flight
to a resting place chosen
for the weary,
so, too, do we gather closer
to each other
and the shimmering stars
over our platoons
are about to enter the foreground.

The awe of sounds
in our midst
that are strangely familiar
lessen our burdens
a wondrous puzzle
infused with
glorious metaphors
coupled with terror
as our constant companion
abound with questions
and a cornucopia
of contemplations.

Will we risk being afraid
to falter?
can we proceed
without caution?
can we thrive
without the momentum
to ask the critical questions,
and investigate
the quagmires of the past?
and where will we go next
what country will we invade
if we don’t?

By Laura Schultz

2003? (Sent to this website 2010)

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A Desert Rat headband

George Moor introduces his poem


The poem is one of several put to music now and inspired by writing up my Grandfather's and his brothers' experiences in the 1914 trenches - hence the somewhat strange meter.
This one addresses the mental problems encountered by a number of troops returning home then and nowadays. Things don't change much for those who cannot make that mental leap back into society.
George Moor


A Desert Rat headband

Desert storm, eyelash grit, head shit.
Cluster balled life force. God keep me to my chosen course,
This 'Night cat', in black vest, seeks out chic’s nests
In pissed in trenches, skin ripped by stone,
Cut throat showing bone as gargled words pump out their rust
To blade fed dust.
Oil trees, sky cam. Go! Again! Sapper man!
See them run, strong, weak. Hide n’ seek.
Rise, fight, amber, red.
Lips dry, Eyes so dead.
Sunset hour's rough guts; needs must.
Wipe, cry, vision crash. Another night-sight’s zigzag hash.
Overtired. Underfed. Messed up head.
Sand-sleep, bring it on. Dream of all those medals won.

4 -14. Set free. Poet’s chi.
In victory's lonely parting tryst I kiss my survival crucifix.
A returning boy to Dumfries gals, old drinking pals. But they’re no more there.
Chevron free, Phoenix clubbed Thermopylae reborn,
Now bastard led; re-bigoted with fast-tracked, suit-cased wets, power freaks,
Jesus wept! Just a time slot, I’ve got.
But they’ve not a Diamond Rat’s head band.
No. They’ll never fuckin' understand this alley man, this rain-flecked circumspect
Why fellow rats won’t let me be. Dead to them, alive in me

All you hippy smeared, selfish twats,
You fat cats. You over-smoked, over-pilled, sad blokes slowly over-killed
Don't you see those foreign coasts? These scurrying ghosts?
My spirit's hosts will save me if I pray hard.
Maybe call my dead friend’s smart card before scattered winds scream "Destiny."
For the love of me I just can’t see for flash dreams, trace fed skies,
My mate's memorial writ black in fly.

So come whisky strike, lightning's veins,
Help loose me from these tightening reins,
Let the Heavens cry out " Guts and balls; then fuck em’ all, yes, fuck em’ all'.
Cos here I lay,
My Alleyway!

Well Rabbie, d’ya find it funny?
A Rat’s a rat for a’ that money.


© George Moor
Three Gates 2010
With thanks to Gordon Anderson for allowing me to build upon his experiences.

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Falling

Feels like I’m falling, falling further down
Can hear a voice call to me. “Don't turn around soldier, don't turn around!”
But once your mind's taken, once you’re full on track,
No mortal word spoken could ever pull you back.

For I came here to fight,
I came here to kill,
Pull up a flag on the top of a hill.
Cut through the wires, crawl through the mud,
Wade through oiled rivers of fallen blood.
Creep through the trenches,
Slit my palms on the stone,
Put my arms round their shoulders,
Feel my blade grate their bones,
Like a black cat at night I'll steal the chicks from the nest
Work hard for the medals they’ll pin to my chest.
Yes, we'll pray with the few at the end of the day,
And bury our 'cold ones', who once had some say,
For I came here to fight,
I came here to kill.
But I guess this wasn’t God's will.

And now I feel like I’m falling,
Falling further down.
Can hear a voice call to me,
“Come around soldier! Come around!”
But once your soul's taken, once you’re on that track,
No mortal word spoken could ever pull you back.


© George Moor
Three Gates 2009 12

A poem and song about trooper Arthur Bailey Moor of East Lancs (Lpl) Reg who was hit in the head by a Sniper's bullet at Ypres.

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President Barak Obama's speech from the Oval Office on the end of the combat mission in Iraq, 31 August 2010

Over 4,400 Americans were killed in Iraq

"Two weeks ago, America’s final combat brigade in Iraq -- the Army’s Fourth Stryker Brigade -- journeyed home in the pre-dawn darkness. Thousands of soldiers and hundreds of vehicles made the trip from Baghdad, the last of them passing into Kuwait in the early morning hours. Over seven years before, American troops and coalition partners had fought their way across similar highways, but this time no shots were fired. It was just a convoy of brave Americans, making their way home.

Of course, the soldiers left much behind. Some were teenagers when the war began. Many have served multiple tours of duty, far from families who bore a heroic burden of their own, enduring the absence of a husband’s embrace or a mother’s kiss. Most painfully, since the war began, 55 members of the Fourth Stryker Brigade made the ultimate sacrifice -- part of over 4,400 Americans who have given their lives in Iraq. As one staff sergeant said, “I know that to my brothers in arms who fought and died, this day would probably mean a lot.”

Not looking after America - spending a trillion dollars on war

"Unfortunately, over the last decade, we’ve not done what’s necessary to shore up the foundations of our own prosperity. We spent a trillion dollars at war, often financed by borrowing from overseas. This, in turn, has short-changed investments in our own people, and contributed to record deficits. For too long, we have put off tough decisions on everything from our manufacturing base to our energy policy to education reform. As a result, too many middle-class families find themselves working harder for less, while our nation’s long-term competitiveness is put at risk."

Parts of the statement of President Barak Obama in his address to the American people. (See video above.)

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