The New Compass: A Critical Review



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R. L. Barth



Veterans Day 2002


            Wherefore my worde is still (I change it not)

            That Warre seemes sweete to such as raunge it not.

                       —George Gascoigne




Battlefield Prayer


The dead a-gibbering, and we who ken

Hear “Fuck it!  Don’t mean nothin’.” Yea. Amen.




Veterans Day at Arlington; or

A Dialog Between the Heart and the Head


“The valiant populate these hallowed places!”

Along with cowards, fools, and hard luck cases.






Ghostly, we are like disembodied sounds:

Voices afar, echoes diminishing.







“Body count,” noun; unit of measure; see

“Battlefield,” “casualties,” “illusory.”



“To frag,” verb, transitive:

Kill one so others live.




Economics 101




Mother of cares, flattering brats about you,

I’m fearful with and sorrowful without you.


                       Palladas (fl. 395-408)






Well, Palladas, the latter statement’s true.

I can’t speak to the first one, nor could you.




To Maj. William Umbach*


You learned that Top Gun fantasies are dense

With blood and bone and human consequence;

And yet, you’re only the foreshadowing—

For somewhere just beyond your other wing,

Past orders what flight leader could contrive,

Another Guardsman rolls into his dive.


*Maj. William Umbach was the Air National Guard flight leader who, with his Air National Guard wingman, Maj. Harry Schmidt, bombed friendly Canadian forces in Afghanistan. The other wingman rolling into his dive is the former Air National Guardsman George Bush.






Barth, R. L. “Poems.The New Compass: A Critical Review 1 (June 2003) <>