Bribing Fate



Bribing Fate



"Near the end, though, only one thing matters,

and nothing, not even the fox, moves as quietly."


--David Bottoms




Walking a no man's land in moonlight

from the sirocco canvas wind-snaps

of tent barracks to the motor pool, an eerie

screeching bark makes me turn, tug

the mini maglite off my body armor.


I've never heard a fox's call, but in the beam

of light is a scrawny dog-like creature,

skirting, slipping through shadows,

pacing this way and that and then sitting.

I think a soldier must be feeding him, amazed

he's inside the walls of camp, imagine

he lives in Saddam's T-55 tank graveyard,

the ruined old vehicles in the middle of camp.


"I'm not your guy," I say, knowing

if I threw anything, he'd be gone.

But I don't throw anything, just

shuffle shoulders out of my Army knapsack,

slowly take out an MRE saved for the long patrol,

push the button on the flip knife.


I bend down, expect him to scamper.

A beef patty slides out onto the brown MRE bag

I've flattened.  Squeezing out the congealed gravy,

cutting into the cold packet of mashed potatoes,

I lift the light again.  He's all serious stare

and sentinel ears.


I gather the odds and ends: shrink-wrapped

crackers, plastic spoon, hot sauce,

to toss into a mortar crater along the way

and move on thirty feet.

He slinks up, and his gusto is savage.

We both live hoping at the edge of disaster.

But now it's one more night

and both our hearts still beating.



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 Anti-Heroin Chic, Ariel Chart, Chestnut Review, The Dead Mule School, San Pedro River Review, Synchronized Chaos, and other places and have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.


  1. has potential to be an epic poem of great power and insight. thank you.

  2. He's all serious stare

    and sentinel ears." Great line. A fine poem.

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