Anti-War Poems

1)Battle Lines   by Carole Satyamurti   They wear the same boots, the same touching hair-cuts, they're smiles on the News, digits on print-out, our brave boys; names, ranks and numbers, action men splitting the night with mind-trash noise.   Below them, the lights are the Fourth of July, the screen shows cursors falling, converging on other brave men - abstract enemies with blanks for faces. The mission's to smash them and smash them again.   Each leader works at poses, inflections: strong on screen, bluff on the air-waves, caring friend. Each of them bathes in his own propaganda; his currency's lives, and he's plenty to spend.   It's no use praying for some clean ending, the God of the cross, of the star, of the crescent is deaf and blind. The fall-back, an echo of voices from childhood: Don't cry big boys. Never mind.     2)Poppies   by Jane Weir   Three days before Armistice Sunday and poppies had already been placed on individual war graves. Before you left, I pinned one onto your lapel, crimped petals, spasms of paper red, disrupting a blockade of yellow bias binding around your blazer.   Sellotape bandaged around my hand, I rounded up as many white cat hairs as I could, smoothed down your shirt's upturned collar, steeled the softening of my face. I wanted to graze my nose across the tip of your nose, play at being Eskimos like we did when you were little. I resisted the impulse to run my fingers through the gelled blackthorns of your hair. All my words flattened, rolled, turned into felt,   slowly melting. I was brave, as I walked with you, to the front door, threw it open, the world overflowing like a treasure chest. A split second and you were away, intoxicated. After you'd gone I went into your bedroom, released a song bird from its cage. Later a single dove flew from the pear tree, and this is where it has led me, skirting the church yard walls, my stomach busy making tucks, darts, pleats, hat-less, without a winter coat or reinforcements of scarf, gloves.   On reaching the top of the hill I traced the inscriptions on the war memorial, leaned against it like a wishbone. The dove pulled freely against the sky, an ornamental stitch. I listened, hoping to hear your playground voice catching on the wind.     3)After the Stealth Bomber   by Robert Minhinnick (Umm Ghada at the Amiriya Bunker)   It is years later now but time can also run backwards. Still she squats in candlelight, Umm Ghada in the caravan, or in 125 degrees Fahrenheit, a cockroach ticking on her divan.   At night they come out of the bunker, the children, the old people, but all a fog of flesh. one body with four hundred souls is exposed in a photographic flash. They pick the wedding rings and wisdom teeth from crematorium ash.   Who was it dreamed a stealth bomber? Stealth steals. Think of a smart bomb. Not so smart. Where the missiles entered Amiriya daylight was star-shaped in the sarcophagus, the concrete blasted back, all the bodies foaming like phosphorus in a bunker in Iraq.   The old women took off their shoes to welcome the fire that jumped into their mouths. How quickly the children found themselves unborn.   Yes, stealth steals. But still Umm Ghada guards. Umm Ghada who goads God with her grief and the ghosts she carries, Umm Ghada my guide in the charnel house corridors.   What is she but a woman in desert black. Yet no desert was ever so black as the sackcloth that Umm Ghada owns. Not the Syrian desert's Bedouin black, its cairns of cold stones.   • The Amiriya bunker in Baghdad was destroyed by the USAF on 13 February 1991. More than 400 civilians were killed. Umm Ghada, lost many members of her family in the destruction, became a guide at Amiriya, living on the site. I met her there in September 1998. Her whereabouts today are unknown. 4)Big Ask   by Carol Ann Duffy (In memory of Adrian Mitchell)   What was it Sisyphus pushed up the hill? I wouldn't call it a rock. Will you solemnly swear on the Bible? I couldn't swear on a book. With which piece did you capture the castle? I shouldn't hazard a rook.   When did the President give you the date? Nothing to do with Barack! Were 1200 targets marked on a chart? Nothing was circled in black. On what was the prisoner stripped and stretched? Nothing resembling a rack.   Guantanamo Bay - how many detained? How many grains in a sack? Extraordinary Rendition - give me some names. How many cards in a pack? Sexing the Dossier - name of the game? Poker. Gin Rummy. Blackjack.   What's your understanding of 'shock' and 'awe'? I didn't plan the attack. Once inside the Mosque, describe what you saw. I couldn't see through the smoke. Your estimate of the cost of the War? I had no brief to keep track.   Where was Saddam when they found him at last? Maybe holed under a shack. What happened to him once they'd kicked his ass? Maybe he swung from the neck. The WMD ... you found the stash? Well, maybe not in Iraq.   FALLOUJA   Discotheque, Numb, Beautiful Day, Just Breathe, Vertigo   Bono, Pearl Jam, U2 take me where I want to go   Prisoner abuse, death, bombs and chemical warfare   Fallouja you have caught America in your lair   Belching fire, missiles, grenades, and destroying homes   Children running, crying, hiding in Islamic domes   Iraqis swimming with arms raised and white flag waving   American Monarch their oil and riches is craving   Easy targets for military insanity   Named insurgents so we ignore their humanity   Spread human misery where mercy cannot be found   When emboldened patriotic minds are tightly bound   "Love and peace or else," the words ring out so very true   Fundamental intolerance, the red, white and blue   Conservative greed, arrogance, unbridled power   An ugly cancer increasing with every hour   Love is so much more powerful than this wicked hate   But bullying the Iraquis opens wide the gate   To a worldwide revulsion from each and every one   Who longs for peace with all people under Earth's bright Sun   American military policy is wrong   Like in Vietnam you still sing a repulsive song   When with these Third World people it could possibly be   Helping them build  their nation's foundation peacefully   The friendships, understanding, and love the world now needs   Rather than spreading war's pain, suffering, and death seeds       Daniel C. Lavery      

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