Thursday, 10 February 2011

War Poetry Afghanistan

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There are many poems on this topic on The War Poetry website.


  1. On Radio Watch

    Boots up on desk, all’s quiet, it’s two thirty a.m.
    Bored, I read a book, or clean my rifle, or think about home
    Especially home
    Christmastime’s been and gone, they celebrated without me
    Yet with me, strangely
    There’s no sound on the radio, nothing’s going off tonight

    Whoosh, flash, the schermoulie’s gone up
    BOOM! I’m startled from my reverie
    The loudest noise I’ve ever heard
    I fall from my chair
    Shit, what the hell was that?
    Mate, wake up, something’s going off tonight

    Frantically turning the radio dial
    Still nothing
    Did I miss the tell-tale?
    Trying to stay calm, but my heart’s beating like a machine gun
    Stood down, there’s no-one injured this time
    Could have sworn there was nothing going off tonight

    by Russell Makinson

    I write this poem from personal experience of my time in Afghanistan. For those who don't know, a schermoulie is a night-time illumination flare, and on this particular night was set off by the guard of the base when he spotted some unexpected movement outside the base.

  2. Hannah Carpenter29 May 2011 at 09:47

    A Mourning Soldier.

    Row upon Row carved in to stone,
    the names of the soldiers, who never came home,
    You recognise many but there were some that you knew,
    Your friends that shared moments on tour with you.
    You may feel guilt that your'e stood there today,
    and all you can do, is a poppy wreath lay,
    but treasure this silence and know deep inside,
    they fought for their country, their kingdom their pride.
    So take your memories, knowledge and thought,
    stand proud at this memorial for those who have fought,
    for you were the lucky one, you came back home,
    be proud my man, for your never alone.

    By Hannah Carpenter Author of I am with you.
    This was written after going to The national war arboretum to lay a poppy wreath for my fiances friend who he shared a tour with.

  3. Still In Arms
    R.M. Jacobs

    breathe in,
    breathe out slowly.

    Push, cry
    push, cry
    breathe – breathe in,
    thank God.

    ten fingers, ten toes.

    Holding him in arms
    close to my breast
    nurturing his needs
    so easy
    when he was
    ten moments into
    life outside
    of me.

    ten thousand kilometers away
    still in arms
    but differently
    I wonder
    does he cry,
    does he breathe,
    is he ten hundred years old
    of everything?

    This was the first of a series that began when my son was deployed in 2009/10. I write from the helpless emotions contained in the wait, wait for word, wait for calls, wait for the return.

  4. We didn’t eat well, in the 'stan'

    We didn’t eat well, in the 'stan'
    The blood, the rats, and congealed sand
    From bullets to bombs, from mud to guts
    To broken children and terrorist hunts

    We didn’t eat will, in the 'stan'
    What hope we had to clear this land
    We cried we laughed, we died as well
    This life of war, is a life of hell

    We didn’t eat well, in the 'stan'
    I've shaken it now, I must I'm a man
    I'll never forget the bonds forged
    Nor the torso's, the legs, the arms just torn

    We didn’t eat well, in the 'stan'
    My mother would kill me if she know who I am
    I served with honor, I laughed at fear
    I cry in my sleep now, of the devils snear

    We didn’t eat well, in the 'stan'
    The rats they loved it at the Trench café stand
    Ill hope for my brothers, the ones that are gone
    To their kids sing daddy is brave and strong….

    Jason Owen (AUS)

  5. Fallen Soldiers

    As I watched the trucks go by
    With two caskets lined up side-by-side
    I could not help but wonder
    At the Essence of our grief
    As we gave our salutes goodbye
    Under the moonlit sky

    The mountains were clothed in serenity
    As the valley dust whistled in the air
    The words of Sisyphus harkin to our ears
    That life’s laden tasks are ours to bare


    As I watched the plane arrive
    With two caskets waiting side-by-side
    I could not help but wonder
    At the nature of our lives
    As the tears began to fall
    Under the moonlit sky

    The Engines Roared to life’s unrest
    As voices echoed a world’s lament
    Sisyphus rises to thoughts reborn
    As we wait at heaven’s gate


    As I watched the crew walk by
    With two Caskets lined up side-by-side
    I could not help but wonder
    At the pain they held so dear
    As our fear began to rise
    Under the moonlit sky

    The tractor’s squealed as if in pain
    Their burden’s heavy without refrain
    Sisyphus weeps as if to say
    Two more hero’s have died today


    As I watched the base go by
    With two caskets flying side-by-side
    I could not help but wonder
    At the nature of our quest
    As the air grew cold
    Under the moonlit sky

    The Clouds hover beneath our wings
    As angels sing our souls to flight
    We fell to man’s disgrace
    As others toil in our wake


    As we watched the crowds go by
    Our caskets moving side-by-side
    We could not help but wonder
    At the nature of their cries
    As the hatred filled their eyes
    Under the moonlit sky

    The soundless tremors of the earth
    Lay quiet before the storm
    As Sisyphus rises to wage his war
    We each decry our given fate


    As we watch our families go by
    Our two caskets lined up side-by-side
    I could not help but wonder
    At the nature of our lives
    As the love streamed from their eyes
    Under the moonlit sky

    My name is Lewis Campbell, each line of this
    poem represents one fallen soldier's pass and review as their bodies were taken to a waiting plane to be delivered home

    I wrote this during the 18 months of my last tour in Afghanistan.....


    Medal of Honor, five pointed star of war,
    Clover-like leaves trembling in sun and wind,
    Pointed and tipped to the gallantry of death,
    Wounded or killed with your names inscribed
    for the “VALOR” that only the dead children, women,
    old men knew and took to blood soaked graves,
    Minerva’s head, O how her shield stands proud!
    Roman-like, she bears the weight of sorrow, her left hand
    out stretched on the bundle of rods of ancient authority.
    That Roman air putrefied by invasions and crucifixions,
    Where is thy crown and oak of authority now?
    Minerva with her shield holding off the snakes of Discord,
    The bugler boy now dead and no longer in the barracks,
    The schooling and mastery of insidious behavior
    etched invisibly in the Blue-bird Ribbon that is displayed
    proudly around your necks, that medal now pinned
    over the left breast where the heart beats
    in the early morning dawn of this May.

    Luis Lázaro Tijerina
    Burlington, Vermont May 28th, 2012

  7. Epitaph for Afghanistan

    Yet still the toll is rising, and muted drums beat, low,
    While more young lives are squandered by those who do not know
    Or seem to care, for they, naïve and blind, would never see
    The sights and sounds of battle, and man’s inhumanity.

    For glory, there is none, save in romantic poets prose,
    The shining deeds of derring-do which vanquish all our foes
    Are mostly works of fiction, the truth will never sell,
    Known all too vividly by those who lived this man-made hell.

    Of bravery there is no doubt as with each dawning day
    A soldier knows full well that he could be the one who pays
    The price that many have before, and no doubt will, again,
    Yet discipline and duty means he will endure the pain.

    For pain it is to see his comrades fall, to hear their cries,
    As desperately he binds their wounds in anguished bid to try
    To staunch their life-blood as it flows, staining the very ground,
    That they came to protect, defend, by oath of loyalty bound.

    Yet even as they fight to help this wild, benighted nation,
    Observing all the carnage, they must feel the desperation
    That others armies felt in many decades past, as they
    In their turn, tried to show these warring peoples peaceful ways.

    It is a soldier’s lot to perform many thankless tasks,
    And without question he will do as senior leaders ask.
    But they who lead must also do their duty to their men,
    And give them respite when a futile campaign is in vain.

    The time has surely come when truth and reason will prevail,
    With no more lives lost needlessly as valiantly they fail
    To carry out the tasks that politicians glibly frame,
    They now deserve to come home without ignominy or shame.

  8. My Hero

    You kiss me an say "please don't fret"
    As tears crash down, our cheeks all wet
    "I love you" you say, as you walk away
    I whisper, "you too" and begin to pray

    I know you are hurting, it hurts me too
    I'd do anything to swap places, let them hurt me and not you

    No words can describe, the loss and the dread
    The heartbreaking images and thoughts in my head
    That I won't see you again, or kiss your lips
    Or feel your hand in my fingertips

    As you disappear, into the unknown
    I wait and I wait until you have flown
    The silence, for hours or days, until we can speak
    Is deafening to my ears and it makes my heart weak

    All I have is a picture, a moment frozen in time
    All I want is you home, you safe and all mine
    Please come back safely, I'll not rest till you do
    I'll be here waiting, forever, for you.
    My hero

    By Cara Bethell
    My husband served in Iraq 2005 and Afghanistan 2007. This is for him, he is my hero and came back safely to me. X

  9. A Day To Remember

    "Always remember,
    Never forget!
    It is, after all freedom,
    They sought to protect!
    Fighting in trenches,
    Deserts and plains,
    On dirty beaches,
    They left their remains,
    Honour the fallen,
    Respect the dead,
    For they gave us our freedom,
    Nothing more to be said."

    DK Godfrey 10 Nov 12

  10. Afghan Patrol

    Helmet, pooches, rifle,
    Ready for patrol,
    Long days in this heat,
    Is not good for the soul.

    Are the Taliban waiting,
    To take another shot,
    Or will they plant a dirty bomb,
    And blow the bloody lot.

    Shouting, screaming! In such pain,
    Where are all my mates?
    Please don't leave me all alone,
    I'm bleeding, I'm scared, Is it too late?

    Quick-Clot, tighten tourniquet,
    Morphine in the thigh,
    Hang on in there Buddy!
    You are not going to die!

    9 liner on the radio,
    Chinook in the sky,
    Thank you to the MERT heroes,
    The speed in which they fly.

    Thump, thump, thump!
    50 Cal, watch my tracer fall,
    Enemy engaged and neutralised,
    Time to make that call.

    Rotors turning overhead,
    Racing through the sky,
    Hang in there mate, you'll be OK!
    I heard my Fire-team cry.

    The Golden-Hour saved me,
    Of that I can be sure,
    Thanks to my mates, the medics and pilots,
    Who brought me my best cure.

    Rehab wasn't easy,
    But nothing worth it is,
    I now have legs and strength again
    Enjoying all the fizz.

    Goodbye Afghanistan,
    I hope you find your peace,
    We left you schools, education,
    And we trained your Army and Police.

    DK Godfrey 11 Nov 12

    Dedicated to the Emergency Medical staff and fellow Rehabilitation Professionals of the British Armed Forces

  11. I Walk Alone

    I walk alone along the street
    Faces blur, I just see feet
    As I push my way out through the crowd
    I’m not here, I’m falling down
    Breathing out, breathing in
    Dark and black through my head spin.

    I walk alone full of despair
    Some people turn, some people stare
    No-one can help me, some have tried
    To ease the pain the tears inside
    The tightness grips my heart, the pain
    Will never leave, my life’s in vain.

    I walk alone my love has died
    A cruel and twisted turn in life
    My lips are numb, my feet are lead
    Please someone help me clear my head
    Despair and rage I stumble down
    Some helps me off the on the ground.

    I walk alone this busy street
    Some heads turn, some others greet
    My mouth is dry I cannot speak
    The dreadful words I must repeat
    He’s dead, he’s died my child has gone
    War has taken my brave son.

    I walk alone, freedom is won
    In this land where I belong
    But others do not have the choice
    Freewill to act or sound their voice
    We tried to help, protect, survive
    But is their hope worth all our lives?

    Tricia Lucas-Clarke

    In memory of a friends son killed by allied fire in Afghanistan

  12. The Animals I Observe

    The dust on the street turns into water, then turns into mud, then it becomes the footprints of the animals I observe.

    Cocker spaniel searches a truck for bombs. Some kind of spaniel, I think.
    Birds land in a puddle.
    Cats stalk around a dumpster.
    Cat shits in the volleyball court sand.
    Goats in the street eat trash.
    Black and white crows followed me from Rish Khvor.
    Millions of ants carrying tiny leaves through the grass.

    Andy Phillips (USA)
    Dedicated to Afghanistan's wildlife

  13. DEAR MUM
    Hi mum made back safe to sunny afghan, R&R was great, just getting my kit together no need to be sad, oh can you say hi to dad.

    Hi mum just waiting to go up to the Forward Operating Base cant wait to finally get out of this place

    Hi mum got your parcel today shared the sweets with the guys loved the photos, brought a tear to my eyes.

    Hi mum just got woke up again shots fired by the Taliban spent most of the day stood to with my mate wee Dan

    Hi mum its me the pest just back from a long patrol just thought I would drop you a wee message before I head for a rest

    Hi mum I’m feeling down and sad one of the boys was killed today he will be missed he was a great lad.

    Hi mum off out on a big patrol so will be out of contact for a few days don’t worry its an easy one the sergeant says

    Dear mum this is the medic by now you will know your son has passed on a few days ago just after seven, his last words to me were tell mum and dad not to feel sad I will see them again in heaven.


    Copyright © 2013 Tom Murray All Rights Reserved

  14. I’m Coming Home

    As I wave goodbye and walk away the kisses and cuddles from my loved ones still fresh in my mind I set my sights on what will be my new daily grind. To Afghanistan I flew to fight for my country, I’m with my brothers, never alone, a promise made to my family. I’m coming home.
    Day in day out protecting the base, going on patrol our sole aim, avoiding deaths ugly face. Living in conditions that are a right state whilst civvies whinge with hate “you joined up so why do you moan”? I don’t care but if they think they can do better they are welcome to take my place, if they dare. I only know. I’m coming home.
    Taking fire, it’s all go now need to get across this streambed then, “ pow”, feels like I’ve been punched like a boxer in the final round. All I can hear now is “man down, man down” will this be my last sound? I can see the medics and my mates working on me till I breathe my last as I’m carried from the field under the rotors hurricane blast, it’s finally got through my dome……. I’m coming home.

    Now they are all gathered round, family crying, mates recalling the best of times, the only sound, I’m carried in my union flag draped coffin on my final journey and laid in the ground, no more crying no more sound….. I’m home.
    Copyright © 2013 Tom Murray All Rights Reserved

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