Battle Dress: Poems

Battle Dress: Poems

by Karen Skolfield
Battle Dress: Poems

Battle Dress: Poems

by Karen Skolfield


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Winner of the Massachusetts Book Award

"A terrific and sometimes terrifying collection—morally complex, rhythmic, tough-minded, and original." —Rosanna Warren, 2018 Barnard Women Poets Prize citation

In a poetic voice at once accessible and otherworldly, gutsy and insightful, U.S. Army veteran Karen Skolfield offers a rare glimpse of a female soldier’s training and mental conditioning. Through the narratives of a young soldier, her older counterpart, and her fellow soldiers, Skolfield searches for meaning in combat preparation, long-term trauma, and the way war is embedded in our language and psyche.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781324003014
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 08/13/2019
Pages: 80
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.30(d)

About the Author

Karen Skolfield is a U.S. Army veteran and former photojournalist. She is the author of two poetry collections, Battle Dress and Frost in the Low Areas, and teaches writing to engineers at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She lives in Massachusetts.

Table of Contents

Enlist: Origin < German, to court, to woo 1


On Veterans Day, My Daughter Wishes Me Happy Veterinarians Day 5

Double Arm Transplant 6

Grenade: Origin < OFr. pomme-grenate 7

The Throwing Gap 8

Private, PV2, Private First Class 10

Soldier Rendered as All Five Types of Sand Dunes 11

Army SMART Book Section 1-8: "The origin of the hand salute is uncertain" 13

Combined Plow and Gun Patent, 1862 15

"The Great Sacrifice of the Romans on Undertaking a War" 16

Anticipate Gunshots in the Second Half of the Play 17


Rifle: verb, noun 21

Army SMART Book: "Small-arms fire may sound like mosquitoes" 23

Saltpeter 24

Soldiers' 'Fun' Photo with Flag-Draped Coffin Sparks Outrage 25

Classic Green Army Figures Give Up Guns for Yoga 26

The Sentry Responds 28

Army SMART Book: Identification Tags, with Silencers 30

CNN Report: Rise in Sexual Assaults, Reprisals in the Military (2016) 31

Why I Never Wrote About the Army 32

Due to Historical Accuracy, Hazards Are Present 34

Concertina Wire: Origin < from concert 36

We Invaded Two Weeks Later 37


War: Origin < Old German, to confuse 41

Poem with the Moment the Infantry Unit Is Given Clearance to Shoot Children 42

Chevron: Origin < rafter, also goat 43

Manassas 45

Army SMART Book: Inspirational Quotes (I) 46

Army SMART Book: Inspirational Quotes (II) 47

Bayonet: Origin < from Bayonne, France 48

Third Platoon Learns Cover & Concealment 49

Ode to Meals, Ready to Eat 50

Army SMART Book: M18A1 Claymore Mine 51

Wyoming Field Tactics 52


Nurse Voted Best in SAC 55

Most Lauded Advances in Medical Technology from the Global War on Terror 56

CNN Report: Symptoms of PTSD Mimic Lyme Disease 60

Details Emerge of Bowe Bergdahl Captivity 62

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base: Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles 63

Sergeant: Origin < one who serves 65

Rescued Parrots Used in PTSD Therapy 67

Nocturne with Tracers 68

Company B Graduation Booklet: PV2 Skolfield 70

Army SMART Book: This Page Left Blank Intentionally 71

Discharge: Origin < Latin, to run away 72

Civil War Reenactment, Look Park, Massachusetts 74

Sailor's Creek Battlefield 77

Notes 79

Acknowledgments 81

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