The KBR workers call you “Blonde” over the radio. They go to Thailand instead of home for a little R&R. Go to see their wives or just for a good time. Never mind these women are my age. Never mind they’re old enough to be my father. My male battle buddies complain of the Monet Effect. Spotting a female soldier at a distance believing she’ll be pretty. But when up close looks more like a hot mess. One soldier passes by me and tells his buddies I would be a perfect ten. If only, I was to lose twenty pounds. With the scarcity of women each woman’s level of attractiveness goes up two points. A plain six becomes an eight. An eight becomes a ten and so on. Maybe that’s where the term Desert Fox comes from? The men from Southeast Asia don’t speak to me when they serve the food in the DFAC. From what I’ve heard from others. They call me one of the six-foot-tall twins behind my back.
Kristine Iredale is an Iraq War veteran. She deployed to Iraq with her identical twin sister in 2008 as part of the Washington State Army National Guard. Her poems have been published in Eastern Washington University's student literary magazine Northwest Boulevard, The Veteran's Writing Project quarterly publication O-Dark-Thirty, Collateral Journal, the anthology Footsteps by Cave Moon Press, among others.
Art: “Red Rock” by Sandy Coomer - 10X10, acrylic pour on claybord
Statement: The piece of art is born with shades of red - red for heat, for an actual fox, for war, and for anger in having to deal with the treatment of women in the military that the poem describes. This is a powerful witness rising into a call for action.