The Haditha Massacre

The Haditha Massacre
Peter Branson

For Woody Guthrie

Haditha, Iraq, where 14 men, 3 women &
7 children were killed, Nov 19th, 2005.

Come all fair-minded people,
pray listen to my song,
You police a foreign country,
How things go badly wrong.

Small town down by the river,
no special claim to fame,
Till US troops were ambushed
And one of them was slain.

A passing car got peppered
Beneath a blazing sun.
Five bodies were recovered
But not one single gun.

They stormed the nearby houses
And heard their sergeant say
“Fire first, ask questions later,”
For someone had to pay.

Bad apples in a barrel,
The warning signs ignored,
Each time we turn a blind eye
Means bigger trouble stored.

Three women, seven children
And fourteen men lay dead.
The youngest still a toddler,
Aged one, the locals said.

It’s hard to find excuses
when so much blood was shed.
Yet no one has been punished,
No justice for the dead.

They shot some at close quarters,
A bullet in the brain.
An old man in a wheelchair
Was numbered with those slain.

I don’t know why we came here,
I’ve no idea at all,
‘less it’s for the money men
Who buy and sell our oil. 

The Haditha Massacre – Peter Branson

Peter Branson’s poetry has been published by journals in Britain, USA, Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, including Acumen, Agenda, Ambit, Anon, Envoi, The London Magazine, The Warwick Review, Iota, Frogmore Papers, The Interpreter’s House, Magma, Poetry Nottingham, South, The New Writer, Crannog, The Raintown Review, The Columbia Review, The Huston Poetry Review, Barnwood, The Able Muse and Other Poetry. His first collection, “The Accidental Tourist”, was published in May 2008. A second collection was published at the beginning of last year by Caparison Press for ‘The Recusant’.

More recently a pamphlet has been issued by ‘Silkworms Ink’. He has won prizes and been placed in a number of competitions over recent years, including a ‘highly commended’ in the ‘Petra Kenny International’, first prizes in the ‘Grace Dieu’ and the ‘Envoi International’ and a special commendation in the 2012 Wigtown. His latest book, ‘Red Hill, Selected poems, 2000-2012’, by Lapwing Press, Ireland, is due later this year.


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