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

(Revised, second edition)

by Louis Daniel Brodsky

New Beginning

These days of the new millennium,
Anyone with a public or internalized grudge
Can go postal, blow the lid off his teapot,
Take out a politician working a crowd
Or splatter a judge's brains in court.

Insurrection and anarchy are hope’s stepsisters,
Jealously subverting their sibling's chances
Of attracting a splendid prince,
Taking his hand in glamorous marriage,
Which might lift the family out of squalor.

"You don't like my idea, bub? Too damn bad!"
"Like it or lump it, country bumpkin!"
"It's my way or the highway!"
"Hit the road, jack, and doncha come back no more!"
Fascism? Despotism? Theocracy?

By whatever name, the negation of freedom
Threatens man's peaceful coexistence.
Earth is a nest of hatching rattlesnake eggs —
A breed of unrest and hatred
Slithering across the planet.

Yesterday, Nanking, Auschwitz, Hiroshima.
Today, Jenin, Ramallah, lower Manhattan.
Tomorrow? Who knows what it will bring,
If, indeed, tomorrow brings anything.
Could it be we've seen the beginning of nothingness?


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



Starting on April 22, 2002, and concluding on June 16, 2002, Louis Daniel Brodsky’s Shadow War, Volume Four traces the primary sources of terrorism that erupted in America on September 11: Israel, India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. These poems describe, in bold detail, the desperation of Palestinians and Israelis trying to survive what appears to be an intractable knot of hatred and retaliation. Suicide bombers, demonstrating the depths of radical depravity, are at the center of many of these pieces, as is the Israeli military, frustrated by its inability to deter them. The specter of nuclear war looms as well, in vivid poetic accounts of the political and religious tensions assailing India and Pakistan throughout their struggle to resolve the fate of Kashmir. Brodsky also examines the fledgling government of Afghanistan, as Hamid Karzai strives, with the help of the United States, to keep civil war from regaining control of his country.

Other poems in this book are set in the U.S.: the workers at Ground Zero finally complete their grim ordeal of exhumation; the Bush administration warns that future terrorist strikes are inevitable and proposes creating the Department of Homeland Security; Washington prepares to strengthen its infrastructure, to ensure America’s political institutions will continue functioning in case of attack.

As in the preceding three volumes of Shadow War, Louis Daniel Brodsky writes provocative, compelling poetic narratives about the worldwide fight for stability and order in a climate of spreading terrorism.


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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