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Joseph E Bird

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Poetry

Glory

This from poet laureate of the Shelton College Review, Larry Ellis.


Psalm 57: 8

Awake up, my glory; awake psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early.


Think of David as he lies on the mountain

He looks at the night sky

Unending, unfathomable, unreachable

The diamond stars

The firmament that declares the glory of God

And he aches

His heart panting like the hart after the waterbrook

At his side are sword, spear and bow

His body is cut from oak, his skin like leather

His mind a blade itself, with razor’s edge

He breathes the open air and the day’s tension dissolves

He rests in the shadow of the wings of the Almighty

.

This man who killed the giant

And tens of thousands

Hears heaven’s choir and plays on his harp

Songs that soothe the savage breast of Saul

His poems are those very psalms

That have charmed and inspired

Over millennia

And he aches

.

At first light, at first rustling of dawn

He turns and shakes away sleep

Here is a new day

He rises, believing the promise

“Awake up, my glory”

.

What is his glory?

One more win in bloody combat?

Or is it that unknowable thing

That all men share with him

That desire beneath all desires

That lesser men have long since forgotten

And forfeited to the unrelenting fates

That lesser men are afraid to confess

.

Does David wake early

Expecting glory in bloodshed

Or does he crave

That his righteousness will shine like the dawn

And the justice of his cause like the noonday sun?

Does he crave that gift, that grace, that dispensation

That is his and his alone?

That unspeakable grace promised to him

When he first came to know himself?

.

Is the difference between him and me

That he believes it will happen

And maybe this very day

And so he wakes early

And takes in hand

Psaltery and harp


Copyright 2017, Larry Ellis

she sings

she sings
a soulful song
in a minor key
of trials
and overcoming
and faith
and perseverance.

she sings
and reads
the music
with her fingers
as her guide
sits dutifully
at her feet.

she sings
and her voice
is strong
and her spirit
is strong
and her will
is strong.

she sings
and we marvel,
as if singing
while blind
gives her
special grace
to share.

she sings
and she is
ours
and she is
always there
to sing
for us.

but

she sings
no more
and great
is her pain
and lonely
are her days
in darkness.

she sings
no more
and friends
talk with her
and friends
pray with her
and be with her.

she sings
no more
but she
will have faith
and will persevere
and will overcome
and she will sing.

she sings
and we will
lift her up
and we will
thank our God
for every
remembrance.

she sings
and she
will always
sing
and bring joy
to all
who hear.


copyright 2017, joseph e bird

 

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.
chilling winds and
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

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

Camaraderie of the broken.

She stood for a moment, taking it in, but her father brushed beside her, flipped on the light, and went over to the workbench where all of his tools used to be, where the greasy parts would sit for weeks at a time until the project was finished or until he would finally toss them into one of the wooden bins under the bench, even the parts that were no good, because you never knew when you might need to scavenge a part from a part, or look at the old part to see how the new part is supposed to go together, or, more likely closer to the truth, the parts had become too personal, had served so long and so well, that they deserved a fate more fitting than a trip to the dump in a trash truck with the rotting lettuce and soiled diapers, and so they were dropped into the wooden bin with a dull clunk, where they would be with their own kind, a camaraderie of the tough, the loyal, and the broken down, who, by the weight of their own existence in the hand of a knowing mechanic, would still have value in some as yet unknown way.


copyright 2017, joseph e bird, from the novel Heather Girl.

seasons 

The babe looks up

and doesn’t know.

The child sees the

sunshine and believes all.

The boy runs ahead

and ignores the peril.

The girl sees the future

but keeps her hope.

The woman knows better

and carries on.

The old man rests

and finds peace.


 copyright 2017, joseph e bird

 

Brace against the cold.

Dolly Sods 1 (small)

It was a grey day, fitting for a place like Dolly Sods.

It’s not easy to get there.
It’s not easy to climb over the rocks.
It’s not easy to stand there, braced against the cold wind, and take in the views.

The best things in life are seldom easy.


Dolly Sods Wilderness is part of the Monongahela National Forest in north-central West Virginia.

gentle assault

sunday afternoon
at the home on top of the hill,
the first of two.
trying to make small talk
with the neighbor we never really knew.
but he can’t speak
and the effort is unrewarding
for any of us.

down the hall
we smile at the new faces,
say hello to the old.
the old man who used to
believe he owned the home
and offered help to visitors
now sits and mumbles to himself
and stares ahead.

our friend is awake
but looks so frail.
she remembers and talks
though all is not clear.
we offer snacks and she says
put them in the drawer
which is now full of unopened
packages and soft drinks.
thanks for coming,
and we leave.

we drive two hours
to the top of a mountain
where these homes always seem to be.
an alarm whistles and never stops.
down the hall a man screams
and screams
and screams
ignored by all because
nothing can be done.

my brother asks for a cola
which we have brought,
and applesauce and pudding.
on the other side of the curtain
a football game is in double overtime.
a man in bed watches,
his son sits in his wheelchair.
a lady also sits in a wheelchair
not knowing if she belongs there.
and down the hall the man screams.

it’s an hour before supper
and meds are being distributed
and laundry dropped off
and cleaning, always cleaning
of the spills on the floor.
we leave the room and pass doorways
where sounds and smells and sights
we don’t want to experience
gently assault.

through the over-sized door
and into the courtyard
that is seldom used
because in this courtyard
you can’t light a cigarette.
there are plants and flowers
and hummingbirds and sculptures
and the quiet hum of the air conditioners.
there are no smells no desperate souls no screams.
a breeze blows in from the mountains
and there is peace and
we pray and give thanks
for all that is good.


copyright 2017, joseph e bird

 

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