Joseph E Bird

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


April 2017

A young woman sits at a table.

A young woman
sits at a table.
She is not alone.

A young man
sits at a table.
He is not alone.

He glances her way.
Again and again.
She notices.

She smiles.
He smiles.
There it is.

Her friends don’t see.
His friends don’t see.
But they see.

Do I know you?
Have I seen you?
Maybe running?

She learns his name.
He learns hers.
And that is all.

A young woman runs
along the river.
She is alone.

A young man runs
along the river.
He is alone.

He sees her.
His pace is quicker.
His strides are longer.

He is almost beside her.
He’s not sure.
He glances her way.

She hears his steps.
She doesn’t see.
But somehow she knows.

She answers the question
which he never spoke.
Yes, it’s me.

A young man runs.
A young woman runs.
They are not alone.

copyright 2017, joseph e bird

A Young Woman

A young woman

works at a fast food joint.
One of the old brands,
struggling to stay relevant.
It’s not hip.
It’s not cool.

A woman who looks like
she could be her grandmother,
who looks like a grandmother
wearing an unflattering fast-food uniform,
is her manager.

The young woman
wears a similar uniform,
but she is different.
She is blessed with features
that could grace a magazine cover.
A smile that is perfect,
and eyes that match.

She is friendly.
As if she knows me.
But she doesn’t know me.
Not at all.
you can’t have a soft drink,
she teases.

If I weren’t old and wise,
I would think she flirts.
But she doesn’t.
It’s just her way.

I won’t charge you
for the drink, she says.
I’m confused.
Is she teasing?
Charge me, I say.
She laughs.
She says,
I owe you a penny,
as she hands me my change.

If I weren’t old and wise,
I would think she flirts.
But she doesn’t.
It’s just her way.

A child approaches.
The young woman smiles
her priceless smile.
Would you like to work here?
she asks the child.
You could make lots of money,
she says.
The child says, yes,
I think I would.
The child is smiling.
We could hold you by
your feet and you
could clean all of the
tiny spaces.
The child thinks.
Maybe not,
she says.
They both laugh.

The child and her grandfather leave.
They wave.
See you next time,
the young woman says.

She brings my food.
Again she smiles.
Have a good day.

I’m old and wise.
She doesn’t flirt.
It’s just her way.

copyright 2016, joseph e bird

He don’t have good sense.

It was an early evening.  The wife and I had been too busy for dinner at home, so we drove to KFC for something to go.

I don’t like the drive-through of any restaurant.  The lines are usually long and I get quicker service by going inside.  And with the drive-through, you don’t get to see the menu until you’re up to the speaker.

But it was past the dinner rush and there was no line at the drive-through so I pulled up to the speaker.  On the menu board, KFC was pushing their Georgia Gold Chicken. Now I’ve seen the ads on television with the latest incarnation of the Colonel covered in gold praising the new Georgia Gold Chicken, but I still didn’t know what it was.  It went something like this:

KFC Speaker Person (female): “Welcome to KFC.  Would you like to try our chicken pot pie?”

Me: “No thank you.”

At this point I pause.  I want to ask about the Georgia Gold Chicken but I’m not sure what I want to ask.  I see that there is no one ahead of me and I thought it might be easier to have a conversation about chicken face to face with the KFC representative.

Me: “Can I come up to the window to talk to you?”

Wife: “Joe!!!”

There is a long, long pause from the Speaker Person.  And then,

Speaker Person: “No, you can just order at the speaker.”

Wife: “I can’t believe you said that.”

Me:  “What?  I just want to talk about chicken.”

When I tell this story in person, it’s at this point that everyone’s eyes are wide in disbelief.  They can’t believe I said such a thing to the poor Speaker Person.  Everyone has had the same reaction.

So I order the Georgia Gold Chicken and pull up to the window.  The window slides open and the female Speaker Person, now the Window Person, tells me how much I owe her, and the Colonel, without making eye contact.

Me:  “I’m sorry. My wife says I shouldn’t have asked to come up and talk to you.  I just thought it would be easier that way.”

Window Person: “That’s ok. We never know what kind of people are in line.  We have to be careful.”

I apologized again, took our chicken, and went home.

Here is what I’ve learned: I don’t have good sense.

I still don’t see why asking to talk at the window is a big deal.  I obviously have poor judgment.  And that makes me question everything else I do in the public realm.  I may be committing other social transgressions without realizing it.

Such as complimenting someone’s tattoos.  When I do so, it’s because I really like your rose tattoo, not because I’m trying to put any moves on you.  I will refrain from complimenting tattoos in the future.

Or telling someone who passed me at the end of a race that they ran well.  That’s what friends and relatives are for.  Not creepy strangers.  I will refrain from offering encouragement to sweaty people.

Or commenting on a blog post of someone I don’t know. Yes, I know people put their posts out there so others will notice, but when my comments are ignored, I wonder if they think I’m a stalker. I’m not.  I’m just trying to be encouraging.  But I will refrain from commenting on blogs of people I don’t know.

There’s more, but you get the point.  He don’t have good sense.  Apologies to all.

And the chicken wasn’t all that good.






This is no good at all.

Ever say that about your work? Consider this:

Self-doubt can be an ally. This is because it serves as an indicator of aspiration. It reflects love, love of something we dream of doing, and desire, desire to do it. If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends), “Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?” chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.

Steven Pressfield

another song

this is exceptional songwriting.

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