Poetry for the War
A whole new way to slam Saddam.

BY JAMES TARANTO, Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Last month we noted that the White House had canceled a poetry event Laura Bush planned for today because a group of "antiwar," anti-American, anti-Semitic and pro-Saddam poets, declaring today "A Day of Poetry Against the War," had announced their intention to hijack the event in the name of their infantile politics. (Roger Kimball in The Wall Street Journal and J. Bottum in The Weekly Standard both subsequently wrote excellent commentaries on the subject.) These poets have a Web site,, featuring such lovely sentiments as " 'God Bless America' would be blasphemy / if there were a god concerned with humanity" and "Jews who learned their comportment from storm-troopers / act out the nightmares that woke their grandmothers."

Well, two can play at this game. We declared today "A Day of Poetry for the War" and asked our readers to submit pro-American, pro-freedom, anti-Saddam, anti-idiotarian poems. And we got one heck of a response: more than 300 e-mails--some from published poets, most from amateurs. Some were very good, some were very bad, most were in between, and some were so bad they were good. Some made us laugh, and some made us sad; what follows are the ones we liked best. Thanks to all who responded.

We begin with a group of poems paying tribute to those who risk their lives to defend freedom. First, "The Immigrant Soldier" by Capt. Matthew Guilanians, a U.S. Army maintenance officer:

I was born in Middle East
I left to escape terror
My family came to America
To make our lives better

Mom and Dad worked
I got an education
Joined the Army
to show my appreciation

Now the region suffers
Worse than when we lived there
An evil man is charge
The horror's too much to bear

Let's go free the people
Who live in those lands
We're their other hope
In Iraq and Iran

Put down your signs
Come join our team
You have been lied to
War is not what it seems

I know you want peace
But your ideals are misguided
The world is not safe
Your views are one-sided

Let me go fight
Let me go win
Let my people be free
Now tell me: Are you in?

And here's "In the Name of Freedom" by Elliot McGuken:

The night fell fast, I found myself alone,
A D.C. summer storm was blowing in,
I stood at the tomb, these soldiers unknown,
and knelt and prayed for the rain to begin.

Not for the monuments nor any money,
nor pomp, circumstance, nor the pedant's pride,
the politician's smile, nor lawyer's fee,
for these present treasures, none of them died.

I ran to Jefferson to read the wall,
to make sure that God was still written there,
then to Washington, and across the Mall,
where Lincoln invoked his immortal prayer.

Winded and ragged, lightning everywhere,
I slowed to a walk, pondered what would be,
if God's great Enlightenment weren't there,
we could still be brave but never be free.

I found comfort in the Mall's mud and rain,
without mines nor cannons nor raining shells,
so free from fear, iniquity, and pain,
because thousands had endured a thousand hells.

And I found myself back before the tomb,
humbled by the humbled, with naught for name,
shivering, though they had the colder room,
sans light, nor sound, nor tomorrow, nor fame.

I thought for a moment, what it could be,
the center and circumference of their dreaming,
it must have been the prophet's poetry,
that granted their souls eternal meaning.

So judges and congressmen, please don't forget,
the reason these patriots picked up swords,
not for perks nor power were their deaths met,
but for honor and duty--for mere words.

So do take pause before telling a lie,
for there's one more thing I saw on that night,
as the wind and the rain began to die,
I walked away, turned, and beheld a light.

Will 'o' wisp, reddish light, sailor's delight,
It hovered there--just above the tomb's stone,
As fading thunder whispered to the night,
"Freedom's the name of all soldiers unknown."

Neils Christiansen tells us he wrote "Many Are the Acts of Bravery" in "about 1996":

Many are the acts of bravery
That go unrecorded anywhere
Many are the seeds of hope
That in the end have no fruit to bear

Many are the ones who are deaf
To songs of depth and insight
Many are the one who listen
But for their turn to say they're right

Many are the judgmental voices
That cut and slice and pry
Before they've looked inside themselves
And have had to answer why

Many are the feelings that are blunted
To another's pain and sorrow
And how they've had to struggle
To make it till tomorrow

Many are the roads that are taken
And many are the stars that shine
But they do so to no lesser degree
For having been seen only by

These eyes of mine

This is "The Soldiers," written by 12-year-old Amy Allison:

There they go, off to war,
Leaving loved ones, whose hearts are sore.
Children weep in their mothers' keep,
As they hear their fathers' leaving feet.
Wives and mothers cannot speak,
Watching them leave makes them feel weak.
But, they know they must be strong,
For they might hear the bells toll,
Dong, dong, dong, dong,
And sincerely hope that they are wrong,
That their beloveds, whose love they've won,
Will return to them when all is done.

From here on, we'll go chronologically. Robert Clippard tells us he wrote this poem, titled simply "Iraq," on Feb. 27, 1991, just after the conclusion of Operation Desert Storm:

The ancient dead look down from Ur
Along the Euphrates towards the sea
And wander what the wailing is for
And what the commotion can be.

Upon the road to Babylon and home
Limp the ragged remnants that remain
Of the broken army left to roam
Without the glory they hoped to gain.

In military pomp and smart display
They set off on that August day.
Now crawling back in disarray
After learning war is not child's play.

Believing just in military might
They stormed into Kuwait that day
And quickly forgot wrong from right
Where the dead women and children lay.

They listened to a wicked man
And cheered the great blood bath
To glorify their desert clan,
And foolishly walked down that path.

Believing their leader before their God
They marched without question or doubt.
Not a one of them ever thought it odd,
There was not a way out.

High above the fear struck road
They listened for the echoing sound
Of a bomber with a heavy load
Coming in for another round.

It was not the tears of heaven
That rained down from the skies,
But bombs that tore the earth, when
They shattered Hussein's lies.

Allah listens, it is said,
To the prayers of those not yet dead
That lay in pain and wonder why
Saddam has sent them here to die.

Like thousands before them in the past,
Eyes fixed upon the searing sun,
Ears still ringing from the blast,
"Tell me Saddam, what have we won?"

It is a road that leads to nowhere
The road that leads to war
If no one knows or seems to care:
"What was the dying for?"

The horrific terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, summoned the muse for some of our readers. Here's "The War Takes Shape" by Colin Dodds:

I was never much of a smoker,
but it was all so thick in the air.

The gods were aroused, desirous.
Their pheromones of fire and screaming
overtook our plans.

The stink below Canal Street
makes us mad for retribution.
The race of airplanes
unleashes its warrior caste.

Bloodlust is no weaker,
nor more complicated to arouse
than any other lust.

In the bars, the restaurants,
we talk war until we love each other.

Our conversations begin in diplomatic morass
and end in nuclear consummation,
tasting every permutation of horror in between.

And we hurry to the final explosion
just to be over with it, just to stop
wanting such things for a moment.

History and the old animal gods
squeeze us close.

We do all we can
to escape their embrace
and end up doing all that they ask.

Eugene Schlanger dedicated "Traders' Call to Arms" to Constantine Economos, a 41-year-old partner at Sandler O'Neill & Partners, who worked on the 104th floor of the World Trade Center's south tower and perished on Sept. 11:

Our apparent greed mocked by the media;
Our insatiable need condemned by professors,
Who condemn materiality, lest their
Discussions of Foucault affect nothing.
Until you are part of a trading floor
You will not understand the excitement of
Real-time screens, of offers to buy that
Bid up dealers' prices around the globe
Instantaneously, uniting buyers and
Sellers in an enterprise that promotes
Enterprise. 3,000 dead by terrorists.
I'm short on Afghanistan, long on bonds.
Liberty is specious without a sound
And active economy. Position yourselves.

"Compass," by Robert Bove, was originally published at National Review Online:

We marked four winds by an acrid smoke,
Smoke first black, then white,
Driven across East River and New York Harbor, Carried east across Brooklyn Heights, then south over Staten Island,
Out over the Narrows, down the shore, up Long Island, out to sea,
Carried north over Central Park, over Harlem, Washington Heights,
Over and into the Bronx, over and into Connecticut beyond,
Carried west over Hudson, raking up and down New Jersey Palisades, Fort Lee to Bayonne.

Over all was blown this marvel, a dark compass in the sky.
We saw it from a hill in Green-Wood, by Tiffany's tomb,
Acorns, catkins, catalpa fruit littering the manicured grass,
Along with charred memos, letters, and newsprint
All covered, all covered with thankless ash--

In this ash, ashes, the ordinary become SOS, the truth of what was
And what is.

Upon the ashes of that work
Is our work--
Begun when theirs ended--
In smoke and ash,

Twisted steel, exploded glass,
When our towers, one after the other,
Shuddered and collapsed,

In "Act," Michael Billings laments America's failure to take previous terrorist attacks seriously:

They shot down our helicopters
And we did nothing
But talk with mock bravado and shuffle off

Down and forgotten

They blew up our barracks
And we did nothing
But grumble toughly and move our bivouac

Down and despised

They set off bombs in the World Trade Center
And we did nothing
But prosecute a blind man and shake our fist at bin Laden

Down and feckless

They exploded the side of our ship
And we did nothing
Except bury sailors and vow to talk tougher

Down in hurried shame

They flew planes into our towers
And we turned as one
But this time with steel in our eyes

Up and at them we came

They scattered like windblown chaff
And could do nothing
But bite at our ankles

Up we stood, resolved to act again

An unnamed reader submits this haiku about Islamic fanaticism:

Religion of peace
Seeks America's demise
Enough is enough

Tom Hedgecock contributes "America's Soul":

The bagpipe plays its somber trill through the last strains of "Amazing Grace",
As New York's finest is gently lowered, to his final resting place,
The tears aren't dry and will flow again as the rites begin anew,
But from these mournings, there brings resolve, which will see this nation through.

The Twin Towers survived their mortal blows as both struggled not to fall,
But as one twin fell and skyward looked as if beckoning to call,
For it would not be the same with one twin left, in that skyline for all to see,
And soon the second came crashing down to where a memorial soon will be.

The memorial will list the names of those who gave their last full measure,
For they sacrificed their lives for others and thus increased our nations treasure,
It will be there to honor all who answered duties call just then,
For as the workers were rushing out, America's heroes were rushing in.

The Pentagon, where soldiers serve, was terror's next objective,
Steering the plane through death-throes course to unleash their grim invective,
They wreaked their havoc at the citadel where now planning does evolve,
In the name of fallen comrades their fate's been sealed, with steely-eyed resolve.

As an aircraft flew PA's uncharted course, a plan soon came to be,
If Americans must die, it would not be in vain; that's why freedom isn't free,
These heroes then fought back the terror, thus lessening the nation's toll,
And forever their battle cry will be, it's time to go, "Let's roll."

As witnesses to this martial play we know horrific deeds were done,
Yes bitter blows were struck that day; the ironic date was Nine-One-One,
The shocking disbelief our nation felt, was hard to rationalize,
But when knocked down, we do get up; soon the world would realize.

We dusted off our soot drenched clothes and began our work anew,
As our enemies began to ponder just, what would this colossus do?
With patience and devotion we planned to strategically reply,
For history's lessons taught us to prepare, and soon our enemy would die.

The true leaders of the world then met, to collate what would become,
A united front to fight a foe, who used terror as a gun,
We're now lead by those who know the price and are willing to pay it too,
To eradicate the world from terror and the patience to see it through.

Yes when terror struck we were not prepared and paid an horrific price,
But as a tribute to those who gave their all and made the ultimate sacrifice,
We have been strengthened and we have united to reach the final goal,
And since 9-11 the whole world now knows, the depth of "America's Soul."

On Oct. 7, 2001, the bombs began falling in Afghanistan, whose brutal, barbaric terrorist regime harbored al Qaeda. Tabitha Szalapski wrote this poem this year, but it expresses well the challenge America faced in the autumn of 2001:

"War is hell," while not quite true,
Expresses how we feel;
And, yet, to war we go anew
To quell a threat that's real.

We relish not the death and pain,
The loss of our dear sons;
But when the tyrants' terrors reign:
"Arise, courageous ones!"

Arise, rush forward to the fight,
Lift up sweet freedom's call--
If no one stands for what is right,
Oppression conquers all.

So--to the battle-line and wreak
Destruction swift and sure.
It is not power that we seek,
But life--for all--secure.

In late November, CIA officer Johnny "Mike" Spann became the first U.S. casualty in Afghanistan. Thomas Newton penned this tribute to him, titled "Farewell to a Hero":

From Winfield, Alabama, to the sands
Of far away Afghanistan; from strife
To solitude and friends and grateful hands
Soothing his son, his girls and his wife;
From happy hometown football fans' loud cheers,
To solemn ceremony, solemn praise,
All confirmed by a grateful nation's tears
As seven polished Marine rifles raise;
From aquamarine birthstone, childish fun,
Winfield High, Auburn, and a need to roam
To stately white headstone at Arlington
National Cemetery, his new home;
From their first words and Cupid's gentle shove,
To her last farewell, "Semper Fi, my love."

On a lighter note, in December 2001 anti-American polemicist Robert Fisk of London's Independent got mugged by a gang of Afghans at a refugee camp in Pakistan. Although his attackers obviously were after his property--he acknowledges that they repeatedly "grabbed my bag"--he wrote a column insisting that they actually were politically motivated and that they, like him, hated America. That prompted this limerick by Tom Spaulding:

There once was a writer named Fisk
Who opined at "great personal risk"
    Till a teed off Afghani
    With the strength of my granny
Kicked his "what used to be kissed"

In "He Called, We Answer," Chris Fahrenthold pays tribute to American resolve, which our enemies underestimate:

He beckoned us to Kandahar, we heeded him with haste,
Our forces drawn from cities that he proffered to lay waste.
Our barbecues, our trampolines, our swimming pools behind,
These things, he says,
Clear evidence
Of frail American minds.

From New York to Columbia, Atlantic mothers weep
Not only for their children who in the rubble sleep,
But also for those men abroad at war playing their parts,
Flight ninety-three
Emblazoned on their hearts.

Singing: Up! Up! Up! from our ashes we will rise!
And sow the same,
From whence we came--
Our sacred place in time.

He called us first from Kunduz to Mazar-e-Sharif.
And so we then took up the march, empowered by our grief.
One voice among the captured said (half with a traitor's fear):
" 'Felicity'
And liberty
Would never flower here."

And why are they supposed to? All peoples aren't the same.
The Taliban's deposal itself not why we came.
But when an evil despot comes gunning for the flag,
We say the pledge,
And then we hedge
Our bets by shooting last.

Singing: Up! Up! Up! from our ashes we will rise!
And sow the same,
From whence we came--
Our sacred place in time.

Singing: Up! Up! Up! Let high the flag still fly!
"In God We Trust"
Take back we must,
Our sacred place in time

Tim Murphy sounds a powerful warning "To the Enemy":

Ours is the only nation on this earth
with might to smash every Al Qaeda cell
whose homicidal members measure worth
by deaths inflicted on the Infidel.
Go reprehend the British and the French
who left you to your native tyranny.
There is no cave, Mujahedeen, no trench
to shield you from the sweetest victory
since the Iraqis, cast out of Kuwait,
fled from our tanks, a war so nearly won,
or since your forebears whom we deem so great
fled from Seville and storied Aragon-
since Caesar sank Queen Cleopatra's fleet
and ground your sands beneath his sandaled feet.

The liberation of Afghanistan happened much sooner than just about anyone expected, and it soon became clear that the next nation to be liberated would be Iraq. Some, like Dennis Pitz, author of "Iraq Today," started out ambivalent:

Righteous war is chewed on by so many.
You look at the despot and know he has to go,
but his face still gloats at you as if to say,
come on over.
And you wonder
if taking him out is exactly what he's after.
And you waver . . .
What must it be like?

He thought he could resist, even after the current stuttered through him.
He was sure he had the strength to eat the pain,
as his nails were pulled from his fingers like splinters.
He eyed the bucket and wondered about drowning in no more than a sink full of water; he was certain he could do it.
It was then they drug in his daughter, and his resolve fled from him.
In racking sobs he told them everything he thought they wanted--and more.
They drowned him anyway, right there in the cell while the girl watched.
Then, as they laughed, they did her too.

The war talk on the TV drones on.
Your child is saying
hey daddy! this
and hey daddy! that,
You listen, and love, and ask her to turn up the thermostat.
It's getting cold.

On the other hand, Rob Rice knows just where he stands. This is his "Upon the War in Iraq":

The time has come for thunderbolts
Of steel from the sky.
It is now right that murderers
Instead of children, die.
They have forged chains and thumbscrews while
We have made pleas and threats.
The portraits of the killer smile
But he must pay his debts.

A mountainside is split in two,
His coward legions fall.
His shackled cities fade from view
Beneath a smoky pall.
Armored treads sound in the street,
The tanks are not his own.
He has bid many to be slain.
He'll face his death alone.

Cineas told Pyrrhus that
'Rome has a thousand heads.'
And Rome was a republic, strong
After that king was dead.
The tyrant butchers live in fear
And we go on and on.
A century shall find us here
And every tyrant gone.

Our carriers loom off his coast.
Our bombers fill his skies.
And brave, skilled men with stealthy tread
Prepare his grim surprise.
Grant, and Sherman, Patton, Greene
Have taught us to make war.
We now pick up their legacy
And free the world once more.

A substantial minority (including the "Poets Against the War") emerged to press Saddam Hussein's case, or to attack President Bush. Many of our contributors had fun at the expense of the "antiwar" movement. Here's "A Liberal's Ode to Regime Change" by Dan Calabrese:

Murder, mayhem, torture
Unfortunate these acts
Would that we had a perfect world
We'd surely turn them back

But from my purview on the left
I've an enlightened view
No regime's a perfect one
We must accept it's true

So while Saddam is clearly bad
We all agree, oh yes
We mustn't lose our focus
On whom we do detest

He's the one who terrorizes
All that we hold dear
By cutting taxes for the rich
He makes it oh so clear

He wants to drill in ANWR
His lawman's known to pray
He doesn't bow at Kofi's feet
He needs to go--today!

We lefties want regime change
Oh let there be no doubt
We must depose this daunting threat
We have to throw him out!

Saddam may be an awful thug
Killing near and far
But he does not cut finding
Of our precious NPR

So let Hussein play torture games
It's no skin off our back
But for the tyrant cretin Bush
A pre-emptive attack!

David Curtin contributes this ode to pro-Saddam protesters:

Six feet beneath the punished ground
of Halabja, lay all around
those who know the blessed peace
that only comes with life's surcease.
Grandfathers, grandmothers, mothers, babes,
peacefully moldering in their graves.
Yet to the Mall the marchers came
"No Blood for Oil, Not in Our Name!"

Somewhere beneath the shifting sands
that slip through the inspectors' hands
sarin, VX, smallpox, anthrax,
wait patiently in plastic vats.
Somewhere unseen by satellite
a centrifuge spins day and night.
The chanters' mantra stays the same
"No Blood for Oil, Not in Our Name!"

And deep beneath the marble floor
of palace No. 44
The Obstinate One smokes his cigar
and steels himself for one last war.
But as he clicks to CNN
his jowly scowl becomes half-grin,
to see his willing pawns proclaim
"No Blood for Oil, Not in Our Name!"

Mary Ann Lomascolo also challenges the "Not in Our Name" crowd:

I wish they would
Take the time to think
about it. To think
about what their words mean.
They say "not in our name"
And pledge to "bring about
Justice, freedom and peace."
In the same breath they claim
Those of the opposing view
are mean spirited and hateful.

Perhaps they haven't heard
About the tens of thousands
Of canisters and vials.
What would they have done with
A regime dedicated to our eradication?
Not in our name will we defend our people.
Not in our name will we defeat terrorism.

Perhaps they haven't heard
About the evil oppression.
Why don't the Iraqi people
Deserve the same freedoms as
Those who dissent in the US?
Not in our name will an entire people be freed.
Not in our name will the oppression end.

Perhaps they haven't heard
The United Nations has spoken
Not once, twice, but several times.
When will it be time
To promote and defend democracy?
Not in our name will human rights be exalted.
Not in our name will justice, freedom and peace
Be worth fighting for.

Sometimes I wonder
What they would have said
That fateful day on 9-11
Had they been on Flight 93.
Would they have said, not
In my name will you stop
This plane from diving into
The House or Senate.
Would they have told Todd,
Not in my name will you take the risk
To prevent a greater and more
Heinous killing.
Not in my name will you take control
Of this plane, in hopes that thousands
Of others might live.
Not in my name will you take a stand
To defend your government and your country.
What would they have said
in their name on that plane that day?

"Complacency," by Jacque Benson, pits the comfortable against the afflicted:

Opinions flow lightly
From those who have all,
Secure in their freedom
To make a differing call.

"No war for us,
For we love our peace!"
They, closing eyes and ears,
Demand unrest to cease.

But then who is listening
To the poor muffled cry
Of the forbidden voices
So forced to comply?

Ruled by a regime
forcing allegiance;
Through torture and threat
Buried unheard grievance.

So cruel not to offer,
If within our might,
A strong hand extended
For such long, troubled plight.

Yes, opinions flow lightly
From those having all;
But true freedom burgeons
From the brave giving all.

"The Cowboy" by Julie Redick pays tribute to President Bush:

They call him a cowboy, as they attempt to hide
From all their own failures, for they let the threat ride.
Terrorism building, zeroing in from all sides.
Selling out the country for political pride.
For eight years they played with our country's life.
"Leave all to the cowboy, he'll buckle under the strife."
Now they seem to have forgotten that autumn day
When their failures came to life in a horrific way.
Tearfully but firmly, the "cowboy" began to sing
Hymns for 3,000 souls that had suddenly taken wing.

There is more they've forgotten in their attempt to deride:
Those "cowboys" before him that we once hailed with pride.
Those men who risked everything for good over bad.
Founding Fathers and others--the best that we had.
Sons, brothers, fathers and husbands went forth
Taking up arms to bravely ensure democracy's worth.
Risking everything they had for liberty & freedom
For the cowards of today the right to spout all their venom.

So, they call him a "cowboy," and thank God he is.
He rides strong, firm and high in that saddle of his.
Most of us will never forget his words of that day
That are etched in our memory as he had his say.
"We will not forget, falter or fail."
Thus our fight for freedom will never pale.
Call him what you will--Our Constitution you enjoy.
Just remember all our heroes have once been cowboys;
Cowboys who shed blood to keep everyone free.
Starting with a call for Independence by decree.
Never backing down from all the Hitlers among men
Who would seek to undermine what we have always been.

Freedom and liberty started with the dreams of a few
Who then passed it down as a precious gift to you.
If you have the courage to defend all you enjoy.
Then set your course remembering
all our heroes have been "cowboys."

A reader who wishes to remain nameless penned this response to an "antiwar" doggerel that's been making the rounds on the Internet:

If your towers are collapsing, bomb Iraq.
Airplanes hijacked by Islamics, bomb Iraq.
But if you're a commie liberal
With your head stuck up your gibberal,
You would rather sing dumb songs than
Bomb Iraq.

Cuz you have no sense of justice, you're a hack.
And if it would your hair muss-tiss, you'd turn back.
So you'd die like German Jews
With VX gas up your nose
Cuz you haven't got the guts to
Bomb Iraq.

And from N. Rusk comes the "Protester's Lament":

No war for oil,
George W. sucks.
There's millions of us
And now we're in luck.
The Times interviewed me
Standing in the rain,
Sarandon's my hero
I feel Sean Penn's pain.

I bought Sheryl's T-shirt
It's karmic, you know
To struggle for peace
In the cameras' bright glow.
Peace is the answer
Whatever the question!
I just keep repeating
"The true villain's western."

I majored in English
I flunked out of math,
But what does it matter
I fight the bloodbath.
O please don't you tell me
To go get a job!
Life is much better
As part of the mob.

My parents protested
Back in the old days
They're right here beside
Faithful and gray.
But this is my struggle,
And this is my war
George W. sucks
And I'm an out-of-touch bore.

Come college professor
Come brave soccer mom,
Come million-man marcher
To join in the throng.
George W. sucks
No war for oil,
So what if 3,000
Died on American soil?

Jim Phillips's parody of Edgar Allan Poe is called "The Raving":

Once upon a Sunday dreary, while gazing, bleak and bleary,
Over many a shrill and shrieking rant of columnists galore,
In my heart I felt a sinking. "Have they lost their knack for thinking?!
It's enough to start me drinking!" And I must confess I swore;
    I confess I spat the vilest of invective as I swore,
        Spat and cursed, and stomped the floor.

For distinctly I remember, it was in the bright September
When a blast of flame and ember marked the starting of the war,
Yet this morning finds me tracking all these dodos, brains a-slacking
Still insistent that we're lacking all the proof which they ignore,
    All the proof which, head in sand, they so conveniently ignore.
        Quoth the peaceniks, "We need more."

And I scarce can watch the TV without the chill of heebie jeebies
At the sight of movie actors spouting off their gripe du jour.
To the Jimmy Carter stand-ins (Streisand, Baldwin, Penn, Sarandon):
If it's so dire, why not abandon this totalitarian shore
    For the greener lands of France? Depart this dark repressive shore!
        Quoth the peaceniks, "Nevermore!"

But there's just one valid answer to the throbbing media cancer,
And the queasy timid souls for whom there's naught worth fighting for,
And to Daschle's petty prattling, and Saddam's harsh saber-rattling:
We must now begin the battling of this deadly cheerless chore,
    For should we shirk the burden of our grim and somber chore,
        We shall know peace . . . nevermore.

America's determination to topple Saddam has drawn scorn not only from "peace" protesters, but also from second- and third-rate powers such as France. This limerick comes from Adam Flisser:

While the war in Iraq is engendered,
One reaction is already tendered:
    Mais bien sur, c'est tres chic!
Yes, in less than a week,
The French have already surrendered

And here's a parody of Rudyard Kipling's "If," from Toby Hopf:

If you can keep your patience with dictators when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming the U.N.,
If you can convince yourself that you're morally superior,
    While your multitudes are voting for le Pen;
If you can raise appeasement to an art form,
    Yet still demand your share when the fighting's done,
Then you are the lowest son of a bitch in existence,
    And--which is more--you'll be a Frenchman, my son!

In another Poe parody, Jeffrey Schallert takes a shot at Saddam's sympathizers in the press:

It was many and many a year ago
In a kingdom infamous
That a man there lived, whom you may know,
Who kicked up quite a fuss.
For this man lived there with no other thought
Than to bomb, or be bombed by, us.

Oh, he was a tyrant, there was no doubt,
In his kingdom there on the sand,
And he hated with hate that was more than hate
With a hate that was never bland!
With a jealous hate that made clear to us
That we could not trust this man.

And that was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom far from the sea,
A missile came out of a cloud by night,
Chilling and killing him, ASAP.
And the bitter man, who once threatened our land,
Now glows there from nine until three.

Yet the sun does not rise but I see the bright eyes
Of my dear and deposed S. Hussein.
And the moon does not glow, but I see fallout snow
On the grave of my dear S. Hussein.
And so, all the day long, with a sad, pensive song,
I will call to remembrance how Bush did him wrong,
At my keyboard here at the Times.
At my desk at the New York Times.

In haiku form, Leo Hughes pays tribute to weapons inspector turned Saddam apologist Scott Ritter:

Scott, Saddam's calling
Teen Iraqi girls online
No Burger Kings there

But Roger Johnson explains why toppling Saddam is so urgent:

The Kurds' blood ran red.
    Their lips turned blue.
If we don't whack Saddam,
    He'll gas us too!

Many of our poets look forward to Saddam's end. Here's a brief couplet by Jim Godwin, which also takes a shot at the "Poets Against the War":

For sensitive poets
We have this news:
Saddam is why God
Made B-52s

Lawanna Palmer imagines what Iraqis, suffering under Saddam's repression, are thinking:

In hushed voices
spoken with fear
Iraqi people are asking
Is freedom really near

Do we get our hopes up
Just to have them dashed
Or is America really coming
To kick Saddam's ass?

A parody of a parody comes from Frank Bannecker:

Dark and lonely brutal tyrant
Cill that Saddam, cill that Saddam
The watchdog's barking, he will bite!
Cill that Saddam, cill that Saddam
Slip into his window, break his neck
Then his house we start to wreck
Got many reasons, plus, what the heck?
Cill that Saddam, cill that Saddam

C-I-L-L that Saddam

Betsy Mitchell puts things in perspective for Saddam:

We watch the man
with the black mustache
on TV and I wonder
why some crafty
James Bond type of secret agent
hasn't done him in yet?

What does it feel like,
To have the whole world
Want your head on a platter?

Is it really worth it,
Whatever it is you are doing?
No skiing, no fishing, no relaxing,
You've got it all wrong, man!

If there is a hell,
The souls of the people you hurt
Will poke and prod you every second of your
Meager existence.
we hope.

See you there buddy!

The next two offerings stop short of being poems, but they made us laugh. From Scott Burrington:

Candy is dandy,
But U.S. ground forces and tank battalions with air support and cruise missiles are quicker

And from Leonard Rutkowski:

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Oh the hell with it,
Just kill him

A limerick from Criag Furlong:

While Saddam smoked his Cuban cigar,
A whistling sound came from afar
    It blew off his ash,
    But left his mustache,
And the rest they could put in a jar.

A series of haikus imagine the Saddam's death. This one from John Gooderham even follows the rule of mentioning a season:

Underground Saddam
Thermobaric bombs away
Springtime love and peace

Brian Donnelly submits this haiku, inspired by Paul Simon:

Saddam sings, "I am
Iraq, I am an island."
Soon: Sounds of Silence.

James Robbins of National Review Online contributes "The Zen of JDAMs":

Imagine the look
On Saddam Hussein's kisser
The moment before

Yoav Griver envisions the aftermath:

All Saddam's portraits
Consigned to dustbins at last
God Bless the U.S.

This is Robert Reynolds's verse, "Paying the Butcher's Bill":

He'll search the sky,
Nebuchadnezar's scion.
And sigh,
That Iraqi lion.

His ears hear no roar
from the moon there's no light
and the nighthawks soar.
Make the infrared sight
Stand still on the door.
Steady, push the button, watch, hold the hairs tight.

He'll squint at the sky,
Nebuchadnezar's scion.

And sigh,
That Iraqi lion.

His ears hear one loud roar.
Baghdad's Butcher's no more.

And Charles Winokoor's "Ode to the Aftermath" takes the form of a nursery rhyme:

Hickory dickory dock,
Saddam played out the clock.

He waited too long,
And now he's gone.

Time for the left to take stock.

We conclude this Day of Poetry for the War with Mark Lukey's "Stand," a sonnet that pays tribute to American resolve:

There comes a time to stand for what you know
To be the right, whatever be the cost.
Then get you up to speak, or do, or go
To fill some gaping breach, though you be tossed
From wave to towering wave, while dervish winds
Pull sail from yard, and blind your eyes with spray.
Do what you must; go fight beside your friends;
Do what you can, and more; go seize the day.
Fear not the foe, and damn the shores alee.
To win the fight, you must run to the van.
The valiant prisoner's heart may yet be free;
The coward's heart is chained, and never can.
Go fight your fight; you must do what you ought.
It's better fought and lost than never fought

Next article: No Distraction (, 3/6/03)

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