from Articles of War, Section II

By John Barr John Barr
The coastline edges to the edge of our chart.
We move on a central, generous blue.
Wind high, ocean plain smack
tonnage our bow plows through,

the boiling salt excitement of our wake,
gone in minutes,
then birds on our bobbing crates
a thousand miles from land.

To pass the time
I try to teach our bosun mate
"Sailing to Byzantium."
Good-natured, he laughs and laughs.

It is by no   means enough that an officer    o
f   the Navy should be a capable mariner.   H
e   must  be that,  of  course, but  also  a  grea
t deal more.  He  should   be  the  soul  of  tac
t,   patience,   justice,   firmness  and   charity
.  No  meritorious  act  of  a  subordinate  sho
uld  escape  without  its  reward,  even  if  the
reward  is  only  a  word  of  approval. Conver
sely, he  should  not  be  blind   to  a  single  f
ault in  any  subordinate  though,  at  the sam
e time,  he  should  be  quick  and unfailing  t
o  distinguish  error   from  malice, thoughtle
ssness from  incompetency, and well meant s
hortcoming from heedless  or stupid blunder.

John Barr, "from Articles of War, Section II" from The Hundred Fathom Curve: New & Collected Poems. Copyright © 2011 by John Barr.  Reprinted by permission of Red Hen Press.

Source: The Hundred Fathom Curve: New & Collected Poems (Red Hen Press, 2011)

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Poet John Barr

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Nature, Seas, Rivers, & Streams

Poetic Terms Prose Poem

 John  Barr


John Barr served as the first president of the Poetry Foundation from 2004 to 2013, where he worked with the board to develop the Foundation's strategic plan and to build a permanent home for Poetry magazine, the first in its 100-year history. He has taught in the graduate writing program of Sarah Lawrence College and has served on the boards of the Poetry Society of America, Yaddo, and Bennington College.

Barr grew up in Lisle, . . .

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SUBJECT Nature, Seas, Rivers, & Streams

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Prose Poem

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