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Steven Croft

Day One

After the roller-coaster dive out of the sky

I remember that step off the C-130 ramp, jogging

under generator lights, with the staccato of gunfire going

like a movie soundtrack:  Baghdad International Airport

Under Attack.  Waking, head on duffel bag, dawn’s

light painting the mud brick building beside me, the major

tells us thirty insurgents are dead just beyond

the building I’ve spent my first night against.  Soon after,

“prepare to move,” and we walk into this country,

the weight of a year in my chest.




KIA


“Sergeant Edwards is dead,”

As I awake before dawn, in the long tent’s double line of metal beds,

I hear two soldiers already up and in uniform say it, “Sergeant Edwards

is dead.”  I know it’s true.  He had just come to me to talk, but that

was before I slept.  I don’t want to rise up, dress, walk down as they

move along the aisle, to find the details.  And blessedly, in this moment

I cannot rise – my body won’t move.  Hours later, I read, “No Phones,

No Computers” posted as I walk into the empty MWR.  Under a string

of Christmas lights, three Marines play at a pool table by the empty

phone bank’s doorway, while somewhere across the world

men in uniform approach his wife.




War Enters Poetry


"Bullet,/ here is where the world ends, every time."

--Brian Turner


War enters poetry like Napoleon enters

a Russian ghost capital, the grand city

gutted by news of his coming, abandoned

buildings, shifting light of their burning

by passionate arsonists hung at street corners,

no one remaining to demand surrender of,

tribute from, hollow land where words

can paint a dark windstorm of bullets,

artillery's flashtube reveals of doom, name

the minefields of dying, all manners

of wounding, but its figures made lampblack,

no language can lift the dead city, war's

cancer on the world


An Army combat veteran, Steven Croft lives on a barrier island off the coast of Georgia on a property lush with vegetation. He has poems in Poets Reading the News, Gyroscope Review, San Pedro River Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, The New Verse NewsAriel Chart, Quaci Press Magazine, and other places.


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