Many years ago, I got into some trouble. It started as a lark. A Halloween costume. Airline pilot. I had forgotten to pick up a few things at the mall before the party and I noticed the reaction I was getting from everyone. One thing led to another and before long, I was in the jump seat of a commercial airliner. Well, I thought, if I’m going to fly for the airline, I might as well get paid. So I started forging checks. I did this for a couple of years before they caught on.

So I moved to Atlanta, where I did the same thing. Only this time I was a doctor at a hospital. No actual doctoring, just supervising interns. More ill-begotten money.

Then I was a lawyer.

Eventually the whole thing came crashing down around me. I was caught.

I did hard time in prison. The clink. The hoosgow. Lock-up. I was on the chain gang, busting up rocks with a sledgehammer. The food was the worst. Nothing but gruel. But the dementors were the worst. I tried to stay away from the dementors, but they were everywhere.

So I started planning my escape.

Every night I would scrape away a little mortar in between the blocks of my cell. I replaced it with toothpaste so the screws wouldn’t notice. It took years, but I was finally able to remove the blocks and get out of that cell. I made my way to the laundry where I hid in a cart of dirty sheets and rode out of the rock. Free at last.

Oh. I almost forgot. Before I escaped, I had befriended the warden. He got me a job working in the prison library. That’s where I learned about haiku. Years later, I wrote this song. In haiku.

There was a woman
Isn’t that the way it is
And then she was gone

Seems so long ago
And time creeps into the night
So glad to see dawn


Verses come and verses go
Did everything to forget you
Strum the major sing the minor
Even try to write haiku

Every song turns to thoughts of then
And what we were when we were new
Memories fade but oh so slow
And leaves me lonely feeling blue

Life behind these bars|
My prison with no way out
My life as a con

No parole for me
Dark are nights and darker days
Because baby’s gone


I mark passing days
As the years grind without you
Pictures poorly drawn

Wish I wouldn’t dream
Pray to die before I wake
Lost in Babylon

So now you know my story, my sad tale of woe. Don’t believe everything you read.

copyright 2022, joseph e bird
photo by Hasan Almasi