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A Turning Point in the Clockwork WarA war of attrition
depends on supply and drawdown,
how much you have and how much you use up.
With personnel, the balance concerns
the influx of recruitment versus
the outflow of casualties, deserters, invalids.
There is only so much loss
that a fighting force can sustain
and still fight.
Pilot Claude Archer was the first
to challenge his invalid discharge.
"I don't need legs to fly," he said,
patting the healed stumps of his thighs.
"My Osprey runs on elbow grease."
The members of the discharge board
paused and looked at each other.
What he said was true.
The Osprey-class fighter jets
relied on hand controls,
and a sharp eye and iron nerve.
Fingers flicked through the stack
of discharge papers -- so many, many pages.
So many soldiers lost, never to fight again.
They could not afford to let slip even one
who might be retained, somehow,
to face the front line once more.
Far less could the war effort spare
one of its best pilots.
So they put Pilot Archer back on the roster,
may as well buy another packcollapse, and breathe into the carpet:
sunday mornings are not
for falling apart, but damn
the amphorics, this
is not an atmosphere.
you fell in love like you always
wish you didn't, made all their
smiles replaceable, interchangeable,
fell asleep with shadows and kept
drinking, just letting yourself sleep
with blue pills
and tried not to scream.
(keep this image in your head:
fire and nectarines, a sudden jerk
of realization, inspiration
breaking your neck and leaving you forever
breaking bones is not so different
from breaking hearts - it's all about
the leverage, the angle, the mode
(and at least it wasn't personal;
it can color in your own guilt
for starting lines and never ending
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