(Written during the first Gulf War)
- When did I become
- so hardened to human suffering?
- Who is this monster I do not recognize,
- who can sit in front of a T.V.
- watching a war
- as though it were a mini-series?
- Who taught me this trick
- of accepting the destruction of 200,000 people
- in the blinking of an eye?
- When did I learn to look at babies —
- with bloated stomachs,
- crawling with flies,
- starving to death in countries
- with names I cannot pronounce —
- as though they have nothing to do with me?
- Who is this creature I cannot abide:
- who would sooner part with his humanity
- than with his cash;
- who can dismiss all of the homeless
- with a backward flick of the wrist —
- the way Pontius Pilate dismissed a barefooted rebel
- dressed in rags —
- like so much rubbish,
- too despicable to be touched
- with his clean Roman hands.
Barry W. North is a 68-year-old retired refrigeration mechanic. Since his retirement in 2007, he has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize, won the 2010 A. E. Coppard Prize for Fiction, and, more recently, won Honorable Mention in the 2011 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Paterson Literary Review, Slipstream, The Dos Passos Review, and other journals. He has published two chapbooks. Along the Highway, a fiction chapbook, was published by White Eagle Coffee Store Press in 2010, and his first chapbook of poems, Terminally Human, was published in 2013 by Finishing Line Press. For more information visit his website: barrynorth.org