Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 8
Fall 2013


by Barry North

I don’t want to be that nurse—
The one who acted like 
he was doing us a favor 
getting my father an extra pillow.
And I don’t want to be that son— 
the one who didn’t have the balls 
to make a scene 
right there in the emergency room 
by pounding his fist on the stainless steel table 
and demanding that his dying father 
be brought ten pillows if that’s what he wanted.

But if I had to choose 
which fool to be,
I’d say the son 
because I really don’t want to be that nurse, 
who doesn’t give a shit
and sleeps well at night.

—Previously published in Blue Lake Review


SHJ Issue 8
Fall 2013

Barry North

is a sixty-eight-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, and others. His published books are Along the Highway and Terminally Human.

For more information, visit his website,

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury