Poetry from Steven Croft

Rock Stars Play Ukraine, Visit Mass Grave in Bucha

"if there is a dark now we shouldn't doubt,
and there is a light, don't let it go out"


The wounds of history opening again over their heads.
Where is love, true, beautiful, reliable, where is love?
Just a purple cast of light.

They open with "Vertigo," sick metaphor for a shaken country,
but they hope to bring ease, some joy, that could spread, rise
up the stairs to the grim, shattered land above.

Later they visit a mass grave by a church in Bucha.  Our tainted
past now our present, Falkenau the impossible, still possible,
still possible, how long, how long? still possible.

War is unthinkable, right above us, just around a sudden corner.
How long?  How long?  Still, there must be light, even if only one
small bulb, like still hangs in Picasso's Guernica, even if purple light

in an underground.  They won't let it go out, those old rock stars.


We all remember the castle work of mud-brick buildings,
their twisting byways a witch work of flowering bombs,
always leading to that backcloth of endless desert,
where sand and smoke of explosions clung to us
day and night

How we were shocked by the first death, not the next,
and the next, and the next, pruning us every
day and night

The guy ropes that held up the idea of our war snapped
quickly, but none of us left home to save a world.
Many died, some broke to shadows.  The truth is
war is just an endurance every day and night


I remember the day the Afghans won
at Darulaman Camp, a dusty way station for us

into and out of the mountains around Kabul,

that day's unexpected legerdemain of feet,

jockeying of bodies.  We rolled in from an overnight

in Paghman to see those Afghans who ladled

food out in the dining hall, worked in the kitchen,

kicking a soccer ball between shifts in the brown

dirt-field center of the camp's jogging track.  And

as we climbed from the Humvees some young Afghan

danced the ball on his toes and called something

over to us in a sharp, cheerful voice.  One of those we'd

never heard from or spoken to, only one of the camp's

assigned minders, some American who'd mastered

enough words of Pashto, a hired translator

always in tow, had, but Sergeant Hines, brash

and, always, brimful of stupid courage, instantly

took his words as a challenge, some childhood dare.

Stripping off body armor, ammo pouches, 9-mil

with holster, he called on his friends, who were game,

to also strip to the brown t-shirt under every combat

uniform and follow him onto the field given grandeur

by a vista of snow-capped mountains.  Motioning

for the ball, he matched the Afghan's toe dances, passed

it back, Sergeant Hines who cared little for academics but

played two years of enthusiastic soccer for Georgia Southern.

Sergeant Hines, who suddenly was playing informally

for Army, was star again as we leaned against the Humvees,

but his friends couldn't match the swift passes, quick steals

of the Afghans and after an hour passed and the scores

punched through the orange road cone goals were

one to three against us, the dust of camaraderie,

admiration of skill that blurs the lines between teams,

had risen over the field and spread over us too.  And

finally, Hines admitted defeat, with much shoulder

slapping and laughter from both sides.

And later in the pass-through food line, through

the glass sneeze guards separating Afghan servers

and Americans, there were, for the first time, smiles

from both sides.

Transcending Zero

Mummy's lapis and gold coffin

over fossilized death

Magician's behind the ear trick

of the coin

Aquarium-trapped seahorse's


Out of defeat,


Przewlski horses returning

to Chernobyl

A hanging man


A US Army combat veteran, Steven Croft lives happily on a barrier island off the coast of Georgia on a property lush with vegetation and home to various species of birds and animals. His poems have appeared in Liquid Imagination, The Five-Two, Ariel Chart, Eunoia Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, Synchronized Chaos, and other places, and have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.

One thought on “Poetry from Steven Croft

  1. We are to go by matching with war and conflict around the the world. Nicely reflection of thought. Let light not go out.

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