“In the large room in the small home on the outskirts of Baghdad, our host cracked a bottle of tepid beer and poured us each half a shot glass full.”
“I thought he said ‘Come in,’ but when I open the door to his conex, my platoon sergeant is standing on his desk wearing nothing but a purple thong and holding a banana.”
“It is a cool, crisp October day in the year 2017, and I stand in the bathroom holding a shiny and sharp, beautiful night, the instrument of my deliverance.”
The above are just a sampling of the intriguing opening lines to stories and essays in 0-Dark-Thirty‘s February issue, which has been entirely written by women veterans. I had the pleasure of reading the magazine this weekend and found myself fully absorbed in the stories, poems, and ideas shared by women who’d served in the military in times as varied as Vietnam, Serbia, Iraq and Afghanistan, on Coast Guard cutters, and so on. The collection has been well-edited to showcase unique voices, thoughtful perspectives, striking and alarming confessions and well-crafted fiction.
The collection can be enjoyed by civilians just as easily as veterans; even though, as Anna Weaver writes in her strong poem “jokes with civilians,”
Our jargon has no synonyms. Our alphabet
isn’t made of letters. There is no signal
to tell you when it’s safe to laugh.
Our jokes do not translate
into any of your languages.
…Which is true, but the whole point of this February issue is to nudge and challenge and attend to that difference between military and civilian, to keep on pressing with the conversation we need to keep on having. Reading the issue, I was hungry for more. Tell us, I thought, how the jokes don’t translate; tell us the knee-jerk reaction you get when you walk into a roomful of men; tell us about the fellow soldier you dated; the one thing you’d like the world to know about veterans; the time you knew you wanted to join, the minute you decided to walk away.
Buy the February issue here