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Joseph E Bird

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

Beginnings

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

–Genesis, Chapter 1

What evocative language. What a way to start a story.  What a choice of words.  The prose is so strong, it’s poetic.

Of course the original writing was Hebrew.  Does the Hebrew translation have the same effect on the reader?  I don’t know.  The translation above is the King James Version.  Here’s the New International Version.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”

Basically the same meaning, and probably more grammatically correct.  No sentences begin with “And”, which I know drives some people nuts.  And the last two sentences have been combined into one, which modern grammar-check software would undoubtedly suggest. It may be more correct, but as literature, it loses a little of its punch, a little of its rhythm, a little of its beauty.

The choice of words matter.  Subtle changes can make powerful differences.

Let’s look at another beginning.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The same was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”

–The Gospel of John, Chapter 1

I find this language intriguing. If one were to pick up this story without knowing anything about it, the first two sentences would produce a shaking of the head. What??? A mystery right off the bat. Then the third sentence introduces the main character. Quite a powerful guy, it would seem. Then the talk of light and darkness. A sense of foreboding.  Yeah, this would be my kind of story.

Many of my favorite books begin this way. A sense of mystery. The introduction of an intriguing figure. And you know something is going to happen.

This week we’ll take a look at beginnings, and we’ll see that words matter.

 

 

 

 

coming home

washington avenue sunset

She turned right onto Virginia Street. As a child, in the back seat with Wayne, coming back from the family vacation or a visit to Grandma’s or a Friday night out to eat, turning onto Virginia Street had meant they were home. The street, where they rode their bikes and played kickball and walked to their friends without worry or fear of anything other than staying too late, was as much their home as the big brick house, where on cold winter nights they sat on the worn out couch in the living room and watched television on the boxy console, where they did homework on the dining room table next to the folded dish towels and rolled up socks, and where she had dreamed of places faraway in a bedroom covered with posters of rock bands and pop stars. And though it had only been two weeks since she had left for Texas, she felt her body relax, and the tension that she didn’t know she had been carrying, slipped away.


copyright 2017, joseph e bird

on the brink

talk that is shocking with mocking and hawking
they say what they will, and neither one’s balking
cross over this line, i ain’t gonna blink
so much to lose, with war on the brink

minds that know all and know all to be
tell us what’s best, ‘cause we just can not see
your way is right, and there’s no other way
my voice must be silenced, i can’t even pray

.

so sing me a song
of the girl with the smile
whose laugh will stay with me
and linger a while

sing me a song
of our walk on the shore
i’ll think of her touch
and worry no more

.

fear that is chilling with a spirit unwilling
to stand for what’s right, and stop all the killing
the innocent too, will fall to their fate
because even the good, they must desecrate

hate that is righteous and noble and pure
just ‘cause you say it, does not reassure
love is a concept you can’t comprehend
and meek is a virtue that you won’t condescend

.

so sing me a song
of the girl with the smile
whose laugh will stay with me
and linger a while

sing me a song
of our walk on the shore
i’ll think of her touch
and worry no more


copyright 2017, joseph e bird

75 in Tehran.

09:30 PM, Eastern Daylight Time, St. Albans, West Virginia, USA.

Here, it’s 65º. Perfect sleeping weather.
In Cusco it’s 48º.
It’s 66º in Kiev.
At 9:30 in the morning it’s already 81º in Qingdao.
46 in Soweto.
75 in Tehran.
In Jerusalem, it’s 73.

Some are sitting at their computer.
Some are sleeping.
Some can’t sleep, worried about tomorrow.
This one is lonely.
Another is scraping together loose change for a drink.
A mother is worried about her son.
A father goes to work at his second job.
A child is very sick.
A boy meets a girl, and the world stops.

If it rains tomorrow, I can’t work.
If it doesn’t rain soon, the beans will die.
If it rains tomorrow, there will surely be floods.
If it doesn’t rain, the fires will rage.
If it rains tomorrow, we’ll dance in the puddles.
If it doesn’t rain, I’ll skip school.
If it rains tomorrow, I won’t have to walk to the well.
If it doesn’t rain, I’ll wear my new shoes.

Tomorrow we will rise.
We will go to work.
We will drink coffee.
No one will ask us what to do about
bombs,
or missiles,
or cyber warfare,
or identity theft,
or human trafficking,
or hunger,
or climate change.
Our world is small.
We just need to know if it’s going to rain.


copyright 2017, joseph e bird

wars, lies, ignorance, light

wars
and rumors of wars
and killings
and bombings
and shootings
and peace
that is nothing
but
a mirage

.

lies
and tales of deceit
and slander
and malice
and betrayal
and words
that are nothing
but
emptiness

.

ignorance
and shallow thought
and foolishness
and naivete
and banality
and ideas
that are void
of
wisdom

.

light
and shining brightness
and understanding
and truth
and hope
and peace
which passeth
all
understanding


copyright 2017, joseph e bird

tough guy

tough guy

A couple of weeks ago my father, who is 87, called me on a Sunday morning around 7:00. He asked if I could run him up to the emergency room. If I wasn’t busy. I told him I could be there in ten minutes. Make it thirty, he said.

His left arm was hurting. Had been for a few days. He had mowed his grass on Tuesday and sometime after that his arm started hurting. At the time he took pain pills, it felt better, so that was that.  Through the week it seemed to be getting better, so Saturday night he skipped the pain pills. But the pain was back and woke him up around 3:00. He waited another four hours before deciding that maybe he should have it checked out. You know, just in case it was that heart-attack thing.

So I drove him up to the ER.  He walked in while I parked. They took him right away and he got to exchange funny quips with the cute triage nurse. Then they took him back and ran more tests and blood work. More quips with another cute nurse.  All ER visits should go like his.

After four hours no one had rushed in declaring his need for bypass surgery so he was starting to get the idea he was ok. But he was bored. I didn’t notice when he held his breath to see what that would do to his oxygen reading.  Beep, beep, beep. Then he tried rapid breathing. Beep, beep, beep.  Then he wanted to know how that thing on his finger read his oxygen level.  So I looked it up.

A little while later a young Physician’s Assistant said they were going to send him home.  The nurse would come in and disconnect him from the monitors.  When she was slow to arrive he started to take out the IV port. I said that probably wasn’t a good idea. So he waited.

Though he was being discharged, they advised against any strenuous activity until he had a follow-up stress test, just to make sure. In the meantime, I mowed his grass a couple of times. I’m in pretty good shape, but his yard is no picnic. It’s strenuous for sure. I used the opportunity to suggest that maybe, at 87, it was time to start hiring it done. No. He wanted to do it himself.

So last week, after getting the green light from his Primary Care Physician, or PCP as he likes to say, he was back to mowing in the heat of the summer.

No big deal.

Yeah. One tough guy.

when you’re here

when you’re here
the world becomes so quiet
and we just can’t deny it
we’re meant for evermore

your voice
sounds like an angel choir
and takes me so much higher
than i ever could before

since you
found me
on that day

,

your touch
sends my heart to racing
when we are embracing
my feelings i can’t hide

please smile
and i’ll know that together
no storm we can not weather
if you’ll be by my side

since you
found me
on that day
,

so stay
we’ll laugh beneath the moonlight
and dance until the daylight
falls gently on your smile

we’ll live
and think not of tomorrow
when parting brings our sorrow
let’s love a little while

,

since you
found me
on that day

your love
is with me
every day


copyright 2017, joseph e bird

Between Us

There is distance
Between us
And no distance
Between us
When I see you
And you see me

And there are no words
Between us
But there are volumes
Between us
When your glance
Meets mine

Our hearts beat
Between us
And breathless
Between us
I know you
And you know me

There are feelings
Between us
And emptiness
Between us
Because I don’t know you
And you don’t know me

There is loveliness
Between us
And loneliness
Between us
Because our time
Was only a moment


copyright 2017, joseph e bird

talkin’ trouble

Hey, boy.
I ain’t no boy.
Hey, boy.
What?
Where ya’ goin?
Get some coffee.
Is that all?
It’s all I want.
You sure?
Don’t play with me.
Who says I’m playin?
That’s the problem.
No problem, boy.
I ain’t no boy.
I know that.
You want coffee?
I’m a lady.
Ladies don’t drink coffee?
Chamomile.
Whatever.
Can I walk with you?
To get some coffee?
Tea.
Come on.
And a biscuit.
See. Right there.
What?
That smile.
So?
Trouble. Deep trouble.

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