Joseph E Bird

Let's talk about reading, writing and the arts.


December 2014

The well.

From the Chris Offutt story, A Good Pine.

“He couldn’t recall the last time he had laughed or cried.  Both came from the same well with different buckets, but his water table had dropped forever, the spout long sealed shut.”


A Sunday Meeting

I saw him then, that look of dread
Though months before I thought him dead.
His gate unsure and out of sync,
A scrape of red across his head.

He stepped too close, I did not blink.
His breath was sweet from heavy drink.
And though he looked as if quite mad,
He was a gentle man, I think.

Two bills he knew I always had.
His needs were slight, his wants were sad.
Someone to see his soul was right;
Though rough and worn, he was not bad.

In church, he said, he’d be that night,
As if a debt were owed to rite.
He walked away, his thanks polite,
My guilt and conscience to indict.

Coyright Joseph E Bird, 2014

Can you feel the wind?

Forget the movies, don’t think about the characters, or even the story.  Just enjoy F. Scott Fitzgerald’s mastery of the scene in The Great Gatsby.  You don’t just see it, you hear it and feel it.

“The only completely stationary object in the room was an enormous couch on which two young women were buoyed up as though upon an anchored balloon. They were both in white, and their dresses were rippling and fluttering as if they had just been blown back in after a short flight around the house. I must have stood for a few moments listening to the whip and snap of curtains and the groan of a picture on the wall. Then there was a boom as Tom Buchanan shut the rear windows and the caught wind died out about the room, and the curtains and the rugs and two young women ballooned slowly to the floor.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald from The Great Gatsby



Author’s Notes:  These are true memories that I wanted to get down before they drift away.  It’s written in a poetic style because my memories come to me in a sporadic, fragmented way.  My dad, who admonished us to stay off the hump, would say it’s not a poem because it doesn’t rhyme.  Let’s call it poetic expression.


morgan 11

A Sunday afternoon drive.
Like so many before.
We called it the country
though I know now
it was just outside of town.

A two-lane highway
heavy with tractor trailers,
me and my sisters pestering
each other in the back seat.

We would stand on the floor
and watch through the windshield.
Get off the hump, my dad would say.
We had worn the carpet
to bare metal.

The house was huge,
but it was tired and worn.
Bees buzzed from their hives
within the front porch posts.
Sheet metal was nailed over
the holes in the wooden steps.

There was an aroma
of old wood
soft wood
wet wood.
Earth shady from giant oaks.
And dogs.

Always family.
Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins.
All there to see Mom and Sid Morgan.
The oldest people I had ever known.
Ancient and intriguing,
they loved having everybody visit.

Open gas fires
and peeling paint on the walls.
Linoleum coming up from the floor.
So many rooms.
where no one goes.
An unfinished oil painting
on an easel
in the parlor.

And the museum.
A.S. Morgan’s life.
The two-headed calf.
A bald eagle.
The wheel of West Virginia trees.

Finally their lives could not go on,
the house could no longer stand.
Nature has reclaimed the land,
the museum was moved
and moved again.

It’s a hollow shell of what it was.
When I see it now,
it’s hard to think of Sid
or any of the rest of the family.
When my generation passes,
so will the legacy of
Albert Sidney Morgan.

copyright 2014, joseph e bird

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