This is not a war poem #poetry

The only war I know is a war with myself 
and that is quite enough war for anyone
I fought it for such a long time 
until I realised I didn’t need to.

Then there are those other wars: 
the ones that happen on the outside 
I’m happy to say I’ve never been involved in one;
perhaps it’s a privilege. 

Women don’t start wars,
I doubt the Helen of Troy tale was true: 
a bar brawl maybe, but 1000 ships?
No way.

Women don’t start wars but they get dragged into them
this awful masculine posturing 
an extension of a stand off between two cars
at the traffic lights.

And sometimes there’s more to it of course;
sometimes there’s a Hitler:
some people need to be stopped.
Thank God Trump didn’t manage to spark off a civil war.

Nowadays war’s a global business
there’s always a pretext here, a pipeline there, an arms contract: 
‘We will openly criticise your human rights record
while selling you arms under the table.’

The rich get richer while the poor are killed
by the thousands, millions even. 
I hope to avoid all further wars, especially the ideological kind:
if they start killing people for having ideas again, I’m screwed. 

© Experimentsinfiction 2021, All Rights Reserved

Written for dVerse

Tonight, Bjorn is hosting poetics. He has given us some excellent examples of war poetry, and then the following instructions:

‘please pen yourself a new war poem. I think no matter our own experience I am sure that we fear what war can do, maybe it’s something you meet in the eyes of a refugee, in your nightmares or from reading a book, or if you prefer you can use one of the poems above as the inspiration for your own poem.’

Mine is a stream-of-consciousness poem, words which came to mind immediately I thought about war. I stuck with the ‘This is not a…’ idea from a previous poetics on object poems, because I have no personal experience of war, as explained above. No offence intended to anyone apart from Trump and Hitler.

66 thoughts on “This is not a war poem #poetry

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      1. I suppose it is only in the last century that women have had power on a par with men to be able to start wars. Probably we will catch up on these more dubious points as well as in every other area…

  1. A different perspective on war, Ingrid, with which I identify. I have no personal experience of war and hope I never do, and I know something of war with oneself. I agree that ‘Women don’t start wars but they get dragged into them’.

  2. Succinct and crisp, this poem deserves a standing ovation! 💝 I especially agree with; “Women don’t start wars but they get dragged into them this awful masculine posturing an extension of a stand off between two cars at the traffic lights.”

  3. Warmongering is what the powerful do, and as you say, the powerful have, until very recently been men. Elizabeth I didn’t start wars. Europe was in an almost perpetual state of war then, she just inherited (from her belligerent father) alliances and grievances. If you look at our modern states, of those at war, how many are led by women? Look at the states led by women; how many of them are at war? I rest my case.

  4. War is an ugly business and I appreciate your perspective on it, Ingrid. How can one person “speak” for war (i.e. Helen or Hitler) is evocative, as it takes masses of bodies to share the illusion and manifest its evil.

  5. Oh this is awesome Ingrid. Great poem. The only war I know as well thankfully. The biggest one is right inside of our psyches and that’s enough for me.
    There is newly elected cra cra woman (rep from Georgias 14th Congessional District),
    Marjorie Taylor Green that seems to be stiring up a lot of lies and spreading conspiracy theory’s like a cancer…. War on …. when will it end! She fit’s right in with the T & H.. I can’t say their names anymore. Erase this right away…. I don’t want hate mail.. or my my ideology under sieze or I’ll be screwed too. 🤣💖

    1. What have I started 😱 I think all of those external wars start with the demons inside of us, which are especially dangerous in people who are good at getting others to believe in them…

  6. Nice work, Ingrid, though I’m not sure about your Trump analysis: he might have tripped a Civil War, it’s just that (most of) the shooting hasn’t started…..yet.

    Great work.

  7. I enjoyed your take on wars, I agree, even as an army wife, I know more of the internal conflicts we all endure than war on literal battlefields. So hard to write from that perspective unless we’ve lived it. We are definitely living in an age where there is a war of ideas. Social media is the battlefield. We are all being called to take sides, it seems. I want to be Switzerland. The keyboard warriors are often men as well. 💯

  8. Transitioning from self to a select few (with screws loose) to universal, made for intriguing and effective writing. I appreciate that you don’t shy away from tough subjects. My closeness to war comes only through the box of letters, memorabilia, and medals owned by my late grandfather, who served in WWII. They are just relics, not a reality I can begin to fathom.

    1. War is a huge tragedy for all those involved, even when it is necessary. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what it’s actually like.

      1. Nor do we want to, but I suppose writing requires us to think about things that are displeasing and painful. People and humanity can not evolve and change (for the better) if we aren’t facing hard truths from the past.

    1. Thanks David. I hope it doesn’t come across as disrespectful for those who have lost their lives in war. It wasn’t meant that way. Certainly disrespectful of the ‘Masters of War’ though!

  9. Loved your poem. Wars may have been fought over women but they hardly ever started wars…not even Indira Gandhi. India was caught between two warring sides, quite literally, and had to step in. 🙂

  10. You have shared this so well Ingrid. I like the way in which you transition form personal inner warfare, to the wars around us, to the ideological warfare. Very well done.

    1. Thank you, Dwight. I was a bit worried after I wrote it that it might sound a little insensitive, so I hope it didn’t come across that way!

  11. The conversational tone and the simplicity with which you’ve laid this powerful piece is outstanding! Really loved the closing stanza. I also conside it a privilege that I never had to see a war and hopefully never will.

      1. Keep having those ideas, if you don’t you are already dead anyway. Personal and broad both. As a person who once lived in a testosterone world and is now in an estrogen world, I think aggression happens in both, but is very different. I pray for the day when women will have the same power to start wars, then we will have fewer, but they will still happen.

  12. Well done–you’ve fought your own internal battles. I also have not been in a war though I know people who have. There are some pretty horrible women, who, if given the power, would probably start wars. I shudder to think of what would happen if some Trumper women had that power.

    1. Yes, this has started a lot of debate, and it was something of a sweeping statement. Certainly so far more men than women have started wars. I suspect that on the whole women would make better leaders but it will take years before we catch up with men in terms of opportunity to prove (or disprove) this…

  13. Really appreciate your very personal and feminine take on this prompt Ingrid! The only real enemy is within, that’s the only battle worth fighting … the rest are only about profit with complete disregard for life ….

  14. Good example of stream-of-consciousness writing….your mind really covered a lot of ground. I do believe sometimes a war within oneself can be as devastating to that one person as any kind of global or gang or physical war. Sometimes a war within oneself can also lead to physical abuse of oneself. Anyway I look at it, I agree with the adage “war is hell”.

      1. Yeah, alas but that prime minister of Myanmar, and the former Chile female president in South America as well really mixed it up with the men, amongst others

  15. I’m not at all convinced that the rioters are really so gullible as to believe the implausible (even by many other conservatives’ standards) assertions of mass voter fraud uttered by a man who will, even as president, behave so childishly in public.

    Long before election day, Donald Trump was saying he may not respect a Biden win, as though preparing his voter base for his inevitable refusal to leave office.

    Post-election, just the loss itself is still touted as sufficient proof of the unverifiable claim Trump was cheated from a victory due to atypically massive electoral-ballot fraud.

    It is possible the claim that Trump actually won the election is a pretext for their attempt to overturn Joe Biden’s electoral win. Along with a sense of entitlement to another term of Trump, the rioters may have been enraged enough at his defeat by the supposedly ‘socialist’ Biden, they were now going to raise hell.

    Or the Trump supporters may consciously or subconsciously believe that he has to remain in office for some perceived greater good (to save the nation or even to do God’s work), regardless of his election loss. Thus the ends justify the means.

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