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Joseph E Bird

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

Month

November 2017

a cold winter’s night, and all that jazz

fog for web

yeah, here we go again.
another season change.
cue the poets.
oh, this is a good one.
dark and brooding.
windswept days.
grey clouds.
lonely days.
lonelier nights.
let’s talk of the promise of spring.
hope in the future.
if we can just hang on.
look, do we really need all the jibber jabber?
maybe what we really need is a good nap.
maybe i’m just speaking for myself.
wake me up when it’s over.


copyright 2017, joseph e bird

across the room

she smiles at him from across the room.
she means nothing.
well, of course she means something,
because she’s the kind of person
whose heart can do nothing
but smile,
because she’s the kind of person
who cares and loves and can do nothing
but smile.
even at this young man
who is a stranger who she will
never see again.
and because he is there,
she smiles.

and he will think of her
in the days to come
and will visit the coffee shop
again and again in hopes of catching
her smile
once more.
and he will think of her
in the weeks and months and years to come
because one day she made him
feel worthwhile
and he will love her
forever.

ok.
maybe not forever.
that’s a really long time.
and it’s not really love.
but, he thinks,
given the chance,
it might have been.
because he can’t help himself.
anything is possible.


copyright 2017, joseph e bird

she wasn’t supposed to go there by herself

leaning headstone b&w for web

she wasn’t supposed to go there by herself.
up the steep gravel road,
through the woods
to the clearing
where the old grey headstones
were covered in moss
and leaned toward the earth
as if they were too tired
to stand up straight,
for so long they had stood in testament to
the forgotten lives
of those whose names were
were worn from the stone
by the unrelenting and unforgiving
passage of time.

she wasn’t supposed to go there by herself.
because there were snakes
and yellow jackets
and maybe bears
and at night
across the hollows
voices and laughter and music
and now and then
a gunshot
would echo
from neighbors unknown,
and though the graveyard
was close
it was no place for
a little girl alone.

she wasn’t supposed to go there by herself.
but with the grey, rough tablets
of ancient men
and their wives
and their children,
were smooth slabs
of curved and polished marble
with praying hands
and crosses
and Bible verses
written in script,
and names her grandmother knew
of this cousin and that uncle,
and her grandmother’s husband,
the grandfather she had never known.

she wasn’t supposed to go there by herself.
under the deep shade
cast by towering oaks and maples
where grass wouldn’t grow
and moss and lichens
clung easily to the old stones
and left her grandfather’s grave
untouched by nature,
save for the pollen in the spring
that she would wipe with her finger
from the smooth headstone,
that also promised
that her grandmother would
someday
rest with him.

she wasn’t supposed to go there by herself.
but her grandmother worried too much,
she had never seen a snake
and stayed clear of the bees
and the idea of bears
just seemed silly,
and it was peaceful
always peaceful
and she would talk to God
and ask why other kids
teased her,
though she knew
it was because her clothes
were old and
she was poor.

she wasn’t supposed to go there by herself.
and she sat beside the grandfather
she knew only from photographs,
and read Psalms
from his old Bible
and drew wisdom from the words
that would stay with her
all of her days,
and give her
comfort
through her pain,
and strength
through her weakness,
and courage
through her fears.

she wasn’t supposed to go there by herself.
and when she saw him
she knew her grandmother
had been right,
and she had been foolish,
and as he came toward her
he took a drink
from a bottle
and wiped his mouth
on his sleeve
and laughed,
and she knew
that he had come
from the valley
of the shadow of death.

she wasn’t supposed to go there by herself.
but she would fear no evil
and she always carried a staff,
for walking, she thought,
the iron pipe
from her grandfather’s workshop,
and she stood
and gripped it in both hands
and drew back
and stepped toward him
and swung,
and he screamed as it struck
against his ribs,
and his bottle dropped,
and she ran off the hill.

she wasn’t supposed to go there by herself.
she didn’t tell her grandmother
and she didn’t sleep
for days,
and when the kids
teased her because
she had to tape the soles
of her shoes,
and because she lived
in a shack with her grandmother
because her mother had
killed herself with a needle,
she cried into her pillow
softly,
so her grandmother wouldn’t hear.

she wasn’t supposed to go there by herself.
and it was weeks before she went back
to find her staff,
her grandfather’s iron pipe,
which had given her protection,
and to find the peace
that had left her.
but it wasn’t the same.
she couldn’t read
she couldn’t pray
she couldn’t close
her eyes
because he might
be out there
still.

she wasn’t supposed to go there by herself.
and though she was afraid,
she still went there by herself,
because it was there
she learned of
comfort and strength and courage.
and she would grow
and live far away
from the hollows,
and the kids who teased her,
and she would become a woman
strong in her will and
strong in her faith
and when she was alone
she went there by herself.


copyright 2017, joseph e bird
photo copyright 2017, joseph e bird

tomorrow will come

sid-on-porch-for-web

tomorrow will come, and i’ll sing an old song
and think of the day, that the words came along
i didn’t know then, that song was my last
i didn’t know then, that time flies so fast

tomorrow will come, and i’ll look toward the sun
and remember the spring, when i went for a run
i didn’t know then, that it was my last
i didn’t know then, that time flies so fast.

so remember the day, of all that was good
when youth was forever, we’d play when we would
remember the day, of life with no fears
tomorrow is coming, and with it the tears

.

tomorrow will come, and i’ll think of my friend
and read all the words, that he took time to send
i didn’t know then, that they were his last
i didn’t know then, that time flies so fast

tomorrow will come, and i’ll hear her sweet voice
and laugh at her jokes, her spirit rejoice
i didn’t know then, that her smile was her last
i didn’t know then, that time flies so fast

so remember the day, of our one last good time
when I touched your face, and your hand held mine
remember the day, and when we would dance
for tomorrow is coming, leave nothing to chance


copyright 2017, joseph e bird

Stairway to Almost Heaven

top of steps for web

I’ve been rehabbing my latest running setback (adductor tendonitis, a particularly uncomfortable malady) by biking.  But in search of something that will approximate running, I’ve discovered I can run steps without aggravating my injury.  The best steps in my neighborhood are at the cemetery.

The view from the bottom can be intimidating.

stairs for web

But once you get to the top and turn around, it’s worth the trip.

Almost Heaven, West Virginia.  Even more true in the cemetery.

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