Shadow War: A Poetic Chronicle of September 11 and Beyond, Volume Five

(Revised, second edition)

by Louis Daniel Brodsky


All Earth's Tomorrows

Yesterday, we rose to memory’s occasion,
Of our own free will, in our own individual ways,

To mourn our lost innocents,

Speak our souls common language of anguish,
Lay wreaths on the graves of America’s grief.

Symbols bestowed an eloquence words couldn’t intone.
Some of us planted trees, lowered flags,
Unloosed white doves and balloons, read names;

Many recited poems, held flowers, lit candles, said prayers;

Others played bagpipes, bugles, drums, fired salutes.

A few of us flashed headlights, gave blood,
Sang "God Bless America"; most did nothing
But go about our daily business of being free,

Though our eyes belied a glistening
And our hearts were charged with love for each other.

Yesterday was our day, Patriot Day.

Today, we breathe a deep, unified sigh

And look to all Earth’s tomorrows

To provide refuge for the generations of man,

Untormented by the shadow of war, born of hope, peace.


Use the player below to listen to Louis Daniel Brodsky read this poem.



Louis Daniel Brodsky’s Shadow War, Volume Five begins on June 17, 2002, and concludes with an epilogue written the day after the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, thus bringing the series to closure.

The initial focus of this book is on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with its point-counterpoint of suicide bombings and retaliatory incursions and curfews, as well as President Bush’s diplomatic pressure on both sides to find a solution.

Gradually, the administration's call for war against Iraq grows louder, deflecting America's attention from its commitment in Afghanistan, to protect President Hamid Karzai and stabilize his government by pursuing al-Qa'eda. All the while, two questions continue to taunt the U.S.: is Osama bin Laden alive, and if so, where is he?

Several poems deal with Americans paranoia about terrorism in their homeland, especially around Independence Day and Labor Day, which fall in the period chronicled by this volume.

In the last month and a half recorded in Shadow War, Volume Five, the poems alternate between escalation of rhetoric about war with Iraq and commemoration of the first anniversary of 9/11. Many of them explore the debate over a potential preemptive strike and the increasing opposition to it from nations around the world. The final poems concentrate on how America honors those who died at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, providing a poignant and sobering account of the events surrounding September 11, 2002. The epilogue looks forward to a time untormented by the shadow of war, born of hope, peace. 


Shadow War is full of powerful, clear-eyed, honest reactions to what has become of our country and its place in the world . . . I like the way Brodsky negotiates the uncertainty, the lack of real answers, in these poems, and the ways (as in the poem "'I Love Pakistan'" — a fine one) politicians use rhetoric to blind and confuse. "Where is America?" is a terrific response, by the way; the tone is just right.
— Jay Parini, author of The Art of Subtraction: New and Selected Poems

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