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Thursday, September 06, 2007


by Rochelle Ratner


Right out of school, can't find a job, and now the Army's offering $20,000 just to ship out quickly. Well, it's working – nearly 4,000 recruits in just three weeks. Except he and his friends go out drinking. His vision's too blurry for the fine print. First comes basic training, then comes more training, then comes $10,000. The rest is doled out over time. Get killed and it stops right there. Lose an arm or leg and forfeit twenty percent. Fingers and toes barely matter. If the head is lost, the remaining bonus is forfeited. Here is a soldier no longer fit to serve.


No one defines what losing your head means.


First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Susie with a baby carriage. Okay, maybe not marriage. Still, the new soldier, actually a kind, caring teenager, would really like to help her out.


Should both testicles be lost, the remaining portion will be passed on to enlistee's children


Senator Dan Patrick has a great idea: $500 for any woman who elects to bring a child to term and put it up for adoption. That's about what she'd spend for an abortion. And there are so many Texas families desperate to provide loving homes for children they can scarcely conceive of. State taxes can cover the costs. There are a lot of rich Texans. 75,000 women in Texas had abortions last year. “If this incentive changes the mind of five percent of those women that’s 3,000 lives," Mr. Patrick said. "Almost as many people as we’ve lost in Iraq."

Rochelle Ratner's latest poetry books include Leads (Otoliths Press, 2007), Balancing Acts (Marsh Hawk Press, 2006), Beggars at the Wall (Ikon, 2006) and House and Home (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003). She is the author of fifteen previous poetry collections and two novels (Bobby’s Girl and The Lion’s Share) both published by Coffee House Press). More information and links to her writing on the Internet can be found on her homepage.