Last Night in the Mojave

Last Night in the Mojave

Just silence beneath silence in the desert
on our last night camped at the ridge of a slow-
sloping ravine.  I watch the plywood faux-village
we geared up and marched into for days, a soft wind
blowing cool dryness over its silhouette in the valley,
the onion dome of the central mosque soaking in
the moon's sliver of light.  For days we've forced
to surrender or killed men, the ex-military
contractors in long white dresses, picnic tablecloth
turbans, willing to shoot blanks from hidden corners,
throw flash-bang bombs, die fake-deaths or be cuffed
with zip ties and marched out of town in the hot sun
for the small fortunes the government pays them.

But that's over -- silence beneath silence now,
only the wind pushing the tent flap where I hear voices
of men playing the cards that appear after training
in lamplight.  In night vision binos only sentient spring
cacti flowers, a shag carpet of sage brush under flitting
bats.  Silence beneath silence -- I think of Henry V
the night before Agincourt moving from campfire
to campfire in a quiet like this.  In a week we board
planes for Iraq and the thought brings a pressing of fear:
facing real bullets and bombs, really killing men.  But,
tonight, nothing that startles me, just night's shadows
standing watch under stars over a wild desert's
nocturnal secrets.

 Steven Croft

An Army combat veteran, Steven Croft lives on a barrier island off the coast of Georgia on a property lush with vegetation. He has recent work in Willawaw Journal, Sky Island Journal, So It Goes: The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, Third Wednesday, Red Eft Review, San Pedro River Review, Poets Reading the News, Gyroscope Review, and other places. 


  1. Another winner representing the uninformed man. Keep up the good work.

  2. I so enjoyed this. The reference to Henry V was a
    magnificent touch.

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