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With a perpetual eagle on his crumpled beret,
Grisha Hartyuk, the quiet C-average dropout,
shot himself in a friend’s toilet
on finding a call-up summons in his mailbox.

He spent weeks on a hospital bed and survived.
The bullet had missed the heart by an inch.
He walks among us again, my lucky classmate
with a double life, the front of his suit patched.

Shall I now enlist among the bloody stoics
or join the goddamn cynics instead?—
he enquires of the scattered acacias,
his palm covering the hole in his chest.