Theresa Haffner

Rookie - 81 Points (August 25,1945 / Plainwell, Michigan)

The War Begins - Poem by Theresa Haffner


No more protests—no more discussion pro or con—no more dissent—the war is on as cruise missiles bombard Baghdad and marine forces cross Kuwaiti border into Iraq.

The ghostly green infrared night vision images.

The orange blasts of the exploding cruise missiles.

The U.S. tanks and armored troop carriers painted the same deadly slate gray of the Iraqi desert.

Periodic Kuwaiti air raid sirens signaling citizens and U.S. personnel to don gas masks and enter shelters until the all clear. The Iraqi missiles intercepted or landing harmlessly in the desert with no trace of chemical or biological warheads.

The typical information, disinformation, and misinformation from the usually unreliable sources.

After the all clear, the streets of Baghdad and Kuwait City—empty—deserted-still. Businesses closed. No traffic on the streets. Nobody out. Frozen in silence. Waiting for the morning and the second wave.

# # #

The game of chess. Coalition forces open with cruise missile to government bunker in Baghdad.

Saddam counters by setting fire to oil fields near Kuwaiti border. A defensive move to interfere with coalition communications and night vision devices to slow the progress of the land invasion.

U.S. marines cross Iraqi border and begin the march on Baghdad.

# # #

The first gulf war was a comedy of errors. the bungling inept Iraqi soldiers falling over themselves trying to surrender. The erratic ineffectual Scuds lobbed hodge podge at random targets. The inept Iraqi military.

Not so 12 years later. Both Coalition and Iraqi forces exhibit a cold precise professionalism. Both sides exhibit deadly restraint.


1000 antiwar protesters jailed in San Francisco.

Coalition helicopter crashes killing 16.

Turkish forces ready to cross north Iraqi border to secure Kirkuk oil fields and occupy Kurdish lands.

11: 38 A.M. Baghdad. Clear sky. Traffic on the streets. Buses running. Private cars. Station wagons. Sedans. Four lane divided highway. Tree lined urban streets.

# # #

8: 30 P.M. Baghdad. Night. The streets now empty. British aircraft bombers left Britain 2 ½ hours ago. For 2 ½ hours Baghdad has known the air attack is coming. Now the first anti aircraft artillery fire. The green night vision. The expectancy of high ordnance bombs.

Anti aircraft fire. Incoming bombers. Explosions on the outskirts of the city.

Saddam has offered a $14,000 reward for each Coalition soldier killed. $28,000 for each prisoner captured.

The anti-aircraft subsides.

One U.S. officer has been killed by hostile fire. 14 accidental deaths in helicopter crash.

30,000 soldiers advance on the Iraqi desert.

Vast expanses of empty desert—flat—gray brown—empty. Endless flat horizon. Local dust storms.

Along the Tigris River—oases-palm trees—canals-cultivated areas. Paved roads. Railroads. Power lines.

'Shock and Awe' has begun.

# # #

Over 50 presidential palaces in the vicinity of Baghdad. The digital virtual computer imaging like a sophisticated video game.

Seven oil wells afire. A second U.S. marine killed.

Scattered vehicles on Baghdad's night time streets.

American Armored division moving toward Baghdad.


9: 45 A.M. PST. Friday.

The night desert dreamscape like the surface of the moon.

Cruise missiles launched against Baghdad.

Islamic call to evening prayer.

Air attack on Mosul-the second largest city—near the Kirkuk oil fields in Northern Iraq.

Shock and awe.

# # #

A - Day. The northern war seems to have started..

Smoke rising among the palm trees and high rise office buildings. Orange fireballs. Bombs falling across Baghdad.

Incendiary fire balls. Baghdad under heavy bombardment.

This beautiful city.


Baghdad, population 5,000,000.

General Tommy Franks, Commander of U.S. forces.

# # #

Saturday Morning, Iraqi time.

After the most punishing bombardment of the war destroyed the presidential palace-the military headquarters- the secret police - the offices of security- government TV and radio-leaving the high rise buildings in flames—

Dawn found the streets deserted and smoke rising over the ruins.

Shortly later there were vehicles on the street, public transportation, Saturday Morning, first day of the week after Friday, the Islamic day of rest.

Power still on. Reservoirs not flooded. Streets still open. Civilian businesses could conceivably open.

Coalition smart missiles precision piloted by laser guidance or Global Satellite Positioning.

U.S. intelligence believes Saddam to be injured since preliminary bunker busting attack on the Hussein family compound.

The massive troop movements—column of combat vehicles—moving north over the desert moonscape.

U.S. television returns to normal programming, periodically breaking away for news from the Gulf—

Preparing the way for the Academy Awards broadcast on Saturday night.

# # #

One day all this will be a memory.

In the first Gulf War I found many images that reminded me of the images in the Biblical Battle of Armageddon.

But it was not Armageddon.

This war is much larger. 300,000 almost numerating the grains of sand on an ocean beach. Gog and Magog.

But it is not the final battle. It will soon be Day Four.

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Poem Submitted: Friday, February 15, 2013

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