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

(Revised, second edition)

by Louis Daniel Brodsky

The Fires

The world’s burning from the top down,
The ground up, outside in, inside out.
Its arsenals are exploding left and right.
People are being immolated in this hellhole
Flickering candles, glowing embers, smoldering ashes,

Sparking wires snapped in a fierce wind,
Flags set afire by hatred and rage,
Human grenades.
Conflagration smothers Earth;
It’s suffocating from spiritual asphyxiation.

Soon, only scorched crust will be left.
Grassy pastures, farmland,
Concrete-steel-and-glass cities
Will be black, uninhabited patches of acrid silence
Enshrouding Armageddon’s aftermath.


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



Beginning on January 21, 2002, and concluding on April 18, 2002, Shadow War, Volume Three resumes Louis Daniel Brodsky’s chronicle of America’s war on terrorism. In forty-one poems, he records the aftershocks created by the September 11 devastations of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Significant events he portrays include the ongoing "cleanup" operations in Afghanistan and the search for the elusive Osama bin Laden; controversy over the detention of al-Qa’eda and Taliban forces in Camp X-Ray; preparations for bringing John Walker Lindh to trial for treason; and America’s return to complacency, with its politicians resumption of partisan bickering.

Brodsky follows President Bush’s shift in emphasis, away from Afghanistan and toward the next theater of war: the "Axis of Evil" — Iran, North Korea, and, especially, Iraq, where our leaders hope to initiate a "regime change" within a short time. Yet, the focus remains in the Mideast, on the escalating attacks and retaliations raging between Palestinians and Israelis — acts only fueling the Muslim world’s hatred of the U.S. Many of the poems depict the increasingly frequent suicide bombings and their bloody aftermaths. This book culminates with Israel’s full-scale incursion into the West Bank and Gaza, its sieges of Arafat’s Ramallah compound and the Church of the Nativity, seized by Islamic militants.


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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