Joseph E Bird

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


March 2016

Time Alone

mountains for web


The leaves that rustle in the breeze.
It’s just the stirring of the trees.
To bend and sway at nature’s pleas.
And sing the song of time alone.

The sound of paper as I turn.
The book I’ve read, of life to learn.
My eyes are heavy, this rest I’ve earned.
And comfort in my time alone.

I speak, my friend, but you’re not there.
So many things we used to share.
I sit beside that empty chair.
And curse my hated time alone.

The soul is restless, thoughts fill my head.
Of troubling times, so full of dread.
But there is peace; a prayer is said.
So strong becomes the time alone.

I hear a voice, it’s someone new.
Talk with me and stay a few.
I’ll be your friend, you’ll be mine, too.
And share our precious time alone.

The leaves will fall, no sound to make.
As winter brings the heart to ache.
But know that spring will soon awake.
The gift of no more time alone.

Copyright joseph e bird, 2016

Unsalted Pretzel

“Hey, do you guys think I’m an unsalted pretzel?”

“I could eat.”

“No.  Am I like bland and a safe snacking choice?  I was just wondering if that’s what people think of me.”

“Uh, I don’t think people think of you.”

“Well, I want people to think I’m spicy and fun and dangerous.”

“Like a bullet made of chorizo?”

“Kind of.”

“Where are you going?”

“Oh, I have to renew a library book.  It’s not due today, but I don’t want to cut it too close.”


This is a scene from the animated television series, Bob’s Burgers.  I’d never heard of the show, but yesterday when driving back from Logan, the show’s creator, Loren Bouchard, was interviewed by Chris Kimball on America’s Test Kitchen radio show.

It’s gold, Jerry.  Gold.

See the clip from Bob’s Burgers here.

Alfred Einstein

Editor’s Note:  The following account is basically true, in the sense that high drama has eluded the author’s life. And in the sense that the author does not have a particularly engaging personality.  And in the sense that the author is pretty much forgettable. It’s not that he hasn’t experienced a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.  He has.  And there will be more such times.  Nonetheless…


Everyone has a story to tell.

I heard that most recently from a writer at a gathering of St. Albans Writes.

“I don’t,” I said.

A lot of people do.

Andrew does.
Chris does.
Ashley does.
Larry does.
Sharon does.
Kevin does.
Amos does.

I could tell you about the most interesting things that have happened in my life, so technically, yeah, I have a story, but it’s not worth telling.  I have no great triumphs; no spectacular failures. I have not experienced war. I have (so far) dodged personal tragedies. I have not traveled the world.  I have not been in the crucible. Even the lessons I’ve learned along the road of life are not associated with intriguing vignettes that might elicit empathy.

You know the guy who throws a dart on the map or closes his eyes and picks out a name in the phone book (remember phone books?) and then goes and interviews them to learn their story?  If he came to my house, it would go something like this.

“So, Joe.  Tell me what it was like growing up in St. Albans.”

“It was nice. We played a lot. Rode bikes. Played in the creek.”

“What was the most traumatic thing you endured as a child?”

“I remember one time I came home from school and the front door was locked.  I couldn’t get inside.  That was pretty bad.”

“How long were you locked out?”

“I don’t know.  Maybe five minutes.”

The clock ticks in the background.  He looks at the guitar setting on the stand.

“Do you play?” he asks.

“A little. I’m really not very good.”

“Can you play something for me?”


Tick, tick, tick.

“What about your family?”

“I was found in a shoebox, brought up by welders, and educated by wolves. Then I went to Harvard.”

He raises his eyebrows.

“That’s a line from In Sunlight and In Shadow, a Mark Helprin novel.  No, I’m from a conventional family.  Mom, Dad, two sisters. I was a middle of the road student. At work, just a steady manager type. Been married for almost thirty years.”

He takes a deep breath and exhales slowly.  He taps his pen and looks around the room.  

“What difficult challenges have you had to overcome in life?”

I think for a minute. “People tend to forget my name,” I say. “Sometimes they call me Jim. Or John. So I’ve had to learn not to get offended when they don’t remember me.”

He looks at his watch, but he’s not wearing one.  

“Ok, then.”

He leaves.  The segment never airs.

I have no compelling story to tell, but I’m not complaining.  I’m glad that my life has been absent of trauma and gut-wrenching challenges. Boring can be good.

If I want to tell a story, I’ll just do what I’ve always done.  I’ll make one up.

Remind me some day to tell you about Albert Einstein’s brother, Alfred.







Afternoon Poem

It’s snowing.
Are you kidding?
Soft little snowflakes that make me think of something nice.
That’s a lie.
It’s snowing and I’m cold.

The end.

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