Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 5
Spring 2012

[Two Poems]

Barry W. North


I’m in the middle
of a nightmare, brother,
watching our mother
scurry across the concourse,
like a frightened animal
a fierce, incomprehensible storm—
dragging my aching heart 
behind her, as she goes.

Like a shell-shocked marine,
I am sitting
in a cold, vinyl chair,
just a few feet away
from the airport bookstore—
the one we so casually browsed
through in our youth,
flipping through the books,
like bored cosmopolitans
awaiting their flight.

In this surreal world, 
I am struggling
to accept the fact that I am here—    
in this place
full of people alive
with nonstop plans—
waiting for a plane to come
and take me to your deathbed.
I close my eyes 
for what seems like a moment, 
to block it all out,
when, suddenly,
as though you have shaken me awake,
I bolt up in a panic,
there was something we were supposed to do—
something we just had to do—
before it was too late.


Watch What You Ask For

They have no trouble believing 
that a fat man will bring 
them presents through the chimney.
They love wizards and seeing
rabbits pulled out of hats, never, 
for a moment, doubting the miracle.
They delight in rainbows 
and faces in the moon, 
cloudbanks which look like 
mountain ranges they can climb, 
or entire cities they will one day visit.
But when they misbehave, 
you tell them, again and again, 
to grow up, 
as though this is something to aspire to, 
and one day they do,
right in front of you,  
at warp speed, 
before you can even say “I take it back,” 
and can’t,
no matter how much you want to, 
no matter how hard you try.


End Bug Issue 5

Barry W. North

Photo of Barry W. North by Holly Granier
Photograph by Holly Granier

Is a sixty-seven-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.

North’s work has appeared in, or is scheduled to appear in:

  • The Paterson Literary Review,
  • Slipstream,
  • The Dos Passos Review,
  • Iconoclast,
  • Green Hills Literary Lantern,
  • Amoskeag,
  • and others.
“...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