Waiting for Al-Qaeda


 Waiting for Al-Qaeda



Unit transfer orders after eight months in Baghdad to here,

Anbar, where the sun's rays are relentless spears, where

the sand wears a day fever shimmer camel train apparitions

sometimes wade through in the uncertain distance


The first day out we knew we were living the dream

in Baghdad, despite our weekly deaths, there where

Apache rescue helos perched ready for a call, guns loaded,

pilots already belted in for flight shift takeoffs


Now an hour's flight out, "Don't call unless you have casualties,"

birds of prey gunship superiority a dream of another army, one

not sent out to nowhere where we roll into a village to meet

a minor sheikh, no more


Than a single street of mudbrick houses along the green

bank of a Euphrates tributary, with a small mosque, a souq

of paltry looking wares stacked on dusty carpets stretched out

under canvas awnings. We park and wait in the sun.  Some of us

dismount.  Hot sharp smell of halal sausage cooking I pour


A warm liter bottle of water not worth drinking over the iron

Humvee hood just to hear the low hiss, finger the trigger

guard of my rifle The captain moves across with his interpreter

to a group of men whose eyes glint like knives as they talk

among themselves thick as thieves, as gunpowder about


To light, and I think I've seen this movie before, shemaghs as

sombreros, wind blowing through dishdashas of standing men

like it would through switchgrass on a high sierra plain, and

as we wait two boys herd some goats past the mosque, and

I snap a photo  Tourist in a spaghetti western


Steven Croft



An Army combat veteran, Steven Croft lives on a barrier island off the coast of Georgia on a property lush with vegetation. His poems have appeared in Willawaw Journal, Ariel Chart, So It Goes: The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, San Pedro River Review, Poets Reading the News, Gyroscope Review, The New Verse News, and other places. A Croft poem is nominated for the Pushcart Prize for Poetry, 2020.


  1. amen, brother, take them sob's out and no regrets. love this action poetry. makes me wanna read more books.

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