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Joseph E Bird

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free verse

Our Fathers

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Most are not leaders of nations.
Most are not creators of wealth.
Most are not icons of art.
Their names will not be written in the annals of history.

But without them, we would be nothing.

Their fathers worked with pride as pipe-fitters and welders and electricians.
Their fathers mined coal and dug ditches and toiled with dignity.
They did what was necessary to provide food and shelter and clothes.
They did what was necessary to provide hope for a better tomorrow.

Tomorrow came, and it was better,
and the sons and daughters of the fathers went to school
and became teachers and writers and lawyers and engineers.
They became fathers and mothers themselves
and likewise provided for their families.

They did all of this without the need for attention,
without the need for adulation,
without the need for self-aggrandizement.

Fathers persevere and sacrifice.
They do what needs to be done.
They are good and honorable.

No, not all fathers.
Some abandon.
Some abuse.
Some give up.

It’s not about gender roles.
Sometimes the mother is the father.
Sometimes she is both.

It’s not about being the breadwinner.
It’s about being strong for the family.
It’s about providing direction to those who wander
and encouragement to those who strive.

Now they rest,
their work less strenuous,
their lives less demanding,
and they sit quietly,
content to let others lead.

They have lived simply.
They have lived nobly.
They have given their all.
They are our fathers.


copyright 2019, joseph e bird

 

a bird lights on the ground

we sit
the two of us
at a table outside
on this warm evening

there’s not much to be said
because we’ve spent our words
and must wait for others
to come forth
and they will
because they always do

so we listen
to the birds flitting
in the trees
and the cars driving by
and to the people around us
talking

and we hear words spoken
but not sentences
and not stories
their words are simply
sounds that soften
the edges of our silence

the nothingness
is peace itself
and it holds us still
and a bird lights on the ground
next to our feet
and cocks its head

at the next table
a young girl offers the bird a crumb
and the young man who is with her smiles
and though they talk
we hear nothing
but their easy voices

and we sit
the two of us
at a table outside
on this warm evening


copyright 2018, joseph e bird

this morning

fog for web

this morning the skies are gray and the air is warm and dry like a mid-summer day.

this morning i stopped at Tim Horton’s and got a cup of oatmeal and a black coffee.

this morning i sit in my office planning for a day of phone calls and emails, and too little design.

this morning when i was young i worked outside tilling the soil and tending the plants and earning callouses on my hands.

this morning the birds call out in the quiet, reminding me of the days i worked the earth and toiled in sweat.

this morning it’s quiet inside, but soon the phone will ring and my day will start and i’ll forget this thought.

this morning i want to go outside and hoe the ground and smell the richness of the compost and eat lunch in the shade.

this morning the train rumbles on the tracks two blocks away and the bus roars by and and a siren wails.

this morning, like any other morning.


copyright 2018, joseph e bird

new york morning

sunday morning
by myself
and it’s cold
in the shade
of the tall buildings
as I unlock the doors
of the parish
a full hour before
the service begins

and I know where
she’ll be sitting
her hair falling
onto her shoulders
her brown eyes
and that perfect
practiced
professional
smile

because she is an
actor
like so many are
but she really is
and she is so
nice and friendly
and unpretentious
and
perfect

so perfect
and I can
do no more than
look her way
when she lingers
afterward
by the heavy doors
reading her bulletin
waiting

she has my heart
without knowing
but she is
perfect
and I am me
and the holy
and the profane
can not
be together

but I speak
and
she smiles
and I ask
her name
and I shake
her hand
and I tell her
my name

and I ask
where she’s
from because
everybody has
come to new york
from somewhere else
in search
of
something

cincinnati, she says

now I’m smiling

I’ve seen the
reds play there
I’ve skated
on the ice
at fountain square
and looked out
over the city
from the top
of carew tower

and I turn off the lights
and lock
the heavy doors
and she waits
in the cool
sunday shadows
and we walk
together
in the new york morning


copyright 2018, joseph e bird

Heather Girl (from an alternate universe)

Heather Roth has little to look forward to.

The alien overlords have enslaved Earth’s population.  Her two sons are working for the cyborg underground and her brother is the head of the Benevolent Alien Reconciliation Federation (BARF), which seeks to create a more peaceful world through mind control.  On top of all of this, Heather has a really nasty cold that just won’t go away.

And then she learns that her father is being paroled from the penal colony on Jupiter’s moon, Europa.  Which, as it turns out, is really not a big deal because he’s being assigned to work as a cook on the aircraft carrier Nimitz, which has been repurposed as a floating sheep farm.

Then Heather finds an old guitar, learns three chords and leads a musical revolution based on Nickleback songs.  The aliens leave.

A story of mathematics and free verse, Heather Girl takes the reader on the ultimate emotional journey, culminating in a long nap.

monika

a photograph of monika
her reflection in the glass
of the empty train
as time passes
with the sound
of the wheels
across the steel
of the tracks

there are no conversations
and no hidden meanings
in furtive glances
and no possibility
with the man
with dark eyes
because he’s not there
and never was

a newspaper
is folded on the seat
left behind by those
who have come before
and knew of the day
and of its end
and are now
home quietly

days upon days
and nights upon nights
weeks and
months and
years upon years
the mundane
passing of time
a blessing and curse

waiting and hoping
for meaning
beyond the ordinary
until one person
sees her reflection in the glass
on the empty train
and knows loneliness
no more


copyright 2018, joseph e bird

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

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