• Skylar Hamilton Burris

The Poetry of Barry W. North


In today’s blog post, I’d like to introduce you to another Ancient Paths poet: Barry W. North. After retiring from his career as a refrigeration mechanic, Barry began to commit more time to his writing, and he won the 2010 A. E. Coppard Prize for Fiction as well as an Honorable Mention in the 2011 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards. He is the author of Terminally Human, a compilation of short poems.

Six of Barry’s poems have previously appeared in the pages of Ancient Paths: “Who Will Come to Save Him Now?” and “Prodigal Son” in Issue 15 (2009); ”Jesus Still Speaks in the Silence,” “Dawn,” and “Born Again” in Issue 17 (2012), and “Never Ending Story” in Ancient Paths Online.

Barry has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, once by me on behalf of Ancient Paths, for the poem you see below:

WHO WILL COME TO SAVE HIM NOW? (written during the First Gulf War) by Barry W. North

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 can not abide: who would sooner part with his humanity than with his cash; who can dismiss all of the homeless with a 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.

[Previously published in Issue 15 of Ancient Paths]

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