To a Poet Going to War
Close your heart to what you believe.
On the roads, widows, orphans, will beg.
You will be told to ignore them. Ignore them.
No soft kindness will be allowed the redemption
On the roads, trade a summer tour of Europe --
castles, churches, museums, for a new lesson
in beauty and architecture -- bombed, gutted,
In battle, do not ponder what a hope may be
worth in the future. There are no moments
to go to Innisfree. Trade musing for scarifying
In battle, expect to use the f-word, its own
kind of poetry as trained movements drive you
like a machine. Breathe every sulfur breath
of gunpowder as your last --
If it is, no world will be made from a moment --
Homer's nymphs won't wail your death in stanzas
from sea caves. You will not hear the bullet
that kills you.
Steven Croft is an Army Combat Veteran of the wars in Afghanistan
and Iraq and now lives on Saint Simons Island, Georgia. He has recent
work in Sky Island Journal, Poets Reading the News, So It Goes: The
Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, Third Wednesday,
San Pedro River Review,and other places.