War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

horse trading


end of tour clean out/VIP quarters/KAF 2009/smsteele

a chalk gathers, deploys, lands clean and ready for a hard go. another flocks for the homeward bird. filthy, skinny, war worn, they bear their year in their neck muscles, their backs, their upper arms, hard and pumped, sleepless, exhausted but restless. it’ll be months before they’re home (“drinking to thinking”, says a loved one to me worriedly, some of them for at least a little while).

and where the two meet, in KAF, or outside the wire, the middle of the sand box, the sand pile, there’s a bazaar of barter, sell. horse trade. “how much do you want for X? will I get jacked up if I wear it instead of issue kit?” the shacks’ garbage cans filled to overflow with holy boots, old towels… and a grab-all place filled with paperbacks, mosquito spray, tins of Nivea for God’s sake, everything that no one’s going to want to take back home.

and the old guys show the new guys how it goes. find it hard to believe they once landed in the shit looking so clean and clear-eyed.

and for the last month, the vets heading homeward are lining things up. vacations. renos. time alone with girlfriends or wives. and the single ones are clicking rvs with women they met once or twice before they deployed, or on HLTA, into their shiny new iPhones, their laptops, their cells. their dialing up relief.

and then there’s greenman, Pashto slipping from his gucci lips (did I tell you I heard from him the other day?), he gets the double-take from the new guys, “how long’ve you been here anyway man?”

greenman’s brain registers centuries, “three rotos. two years in total” greenman’s voice replies.


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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled horse trading. It was posted here on May 03, 2010.

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