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Saturday, October 23, 2010


by George Held

  For Sergeant Jeff

75 percent of American teenagers aren’t eligible for the Army because they are overweight or have other physical disabilities, can’t pass the entrance exam, or they have a criminal record.
                            —Politics Daily, 17 October 2010

DuBois could draw on The Talented Tenth
to pull his people up by the boot straps,
and those folks were able to pull their boots on,

while we now have the unfit three quarters,
who are ineligible for military service
so the other 25 must deploy and redeploy

In Afghanland till they are drug addled
or go crazy or kill themselves.

Wait till the other 25 decide it’s not worth
it to serve in battle while the misfits
gorge themselves on burgers and smoothies;

wait till they reject the brass and the pols
who say the war must continue, like
a perpetual-motion machine, that chimera

no one ever has ever perfected, just models
that eventually tick-tock till they stop;

wait till they abandon the hilltop outpost
on the frigid peak near the border of Pakiland—
no “stan” to glamorize the hostile lands

where they fight and die or are maimed
for a slack obese tea-potted criminal
civilization that once bred the heroes

of Iwo Jima and the Bulge—wait till they make
a separate peace and they file orderly

back to face the other three quarters
of their craven, negligent cohort,
for whom they finally refuse to die.

Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick . . .

George Held’s poetry chapbook Phased is available in a print-on-demand version at