The Death Of Sardanapalus - And Other Poems Of The Iraq Wars


by David Ray

ISBN 1-882863-55-0

240 pages at 14.95 trade, 21.95 collector edition, softbound with dust jacket Howling Dog Press
PO Box 853 Berthoud CO 80513-0853


REVIEW by Barry Fitton

After reading this book I find that there are no words that can be said to do it justice, so all that I can say is, buy this book, read it and urge everyone that you know to do the same. This could be the most important book of verse of the decade and David Ray the most important poet of America living today.


2nd REVIEW by Laurel Johnson

Early reviews of this book extol David Ray's poetry. Among the accolades are: "relentlessly devastating"; "the master work"; "a visionary blessing"; and "exquisitely beautiful." The Death of Sardanapalus goes far beyond those words of praise. From the breathtaking cover and art work to

David Ray's words, the entire presentation is of the highest quality. As a reviewer, I must struggle to do this fine work justice.

From ancient times, when Persians, Greeks, and Romans plagued the world with wars, poetic voices have been raised in protest. It requires as much courage to protest as it does to take up arms. Through the ages, dissenters have been shunned, persecuted, or killed in an attempt to silence them.

Each war to end all war is made to seem heroic and patriotic by those in power at the time. David Ray looks to past wars and long dead civilizations, drawing disturbing correlations to the powers waging war today. He does not spare himself or readers the lingering sorrow and horror of 9/11. Nor does he sidestep the sticky politics involved with the Iraqui wars. You'll find no politically correct drivel here. This poet shines a penetrating light on smokescreens and enlightens as he educates. It shocked me to comprehend, for example, that what our political powers call "collateral damage" today was labeled ethnic cleansing in the days of Hitler and Stalin.

Although I know it is naive, perverse, and infantile, I cannot stop thinking of the children of Baghdad who will soon be dealt with as if they are no more than dust of the street, clay figurines to be shattered.

The crux of our present deterioration within America's boundaries can be boiled down to its essence in one poem, titled "Congress":

A few good women spoke up and a few good men.

The others voted Gung-ho for war.

And then gave more

billions every time

they were asked although

we cannot afford

such luxuries as

health care, clean air,

or voting machines

that will guarantee

an honest election --

the last thing desired

in our unique democracy.

Weapons of mass destruction haunt our world and this poet's thoughts. Americans watch the news for warning signs that air or water have been targeted by terrorists. Meanwhile, in "WMDS Anew", David Ray presents a view that many of us may have missed:

On the freight siding

the cars of DuPont and Dow

stand ready to serve.

Tax paying citizens, going about their daily lives, have responsibilities too. Regrettably, America lost her innocence long before 9/11. Ray makes that clear in this excerpt from "A Vision Emergency:

.....Peasants are fleeing

our planes, and we who fund a war

machine, even the gentlest among us,

are no longer the good people even

in our own eyes. Fear gathers around

towns and cities all over the earth

and we are what is feared, as Rome

once was.....

It's been said that poetry is man's way of expressing the inexpressible. In The Death of Sardanapalus David Ray weaves the inexpressible into every word, each poem, clearly and without the usual disguises. His work is shocking, thought provoking and sad because he has not given up on hope. Not entirely. He still hopes poetry can make a difference.

We looked forward to a clean millennium,

free of murder. But imagine our naievete!

Yet I praise our futile efforts, our going down

with our words the way soldiers fall in battles.

My compliments to David Ray and Howling Dog Press for this amazing book. If there is any justice left in the world, it will be a modern classic.