The free spirit.

Here is a piece that my colleague, Joe Bird, just wrote about his mother. It’s just beautiful. I read it over and over and repost it here with Joe’s permission.

Joseph E Bird

GCB-sailor edited

This hip chick is my mother.
The photo was taken around the time she began her career as a stay-at-home mom.

After giving my father credit for his hidden artistic talents (and at the risk of turning this forum into Joe’s nostalgia corner), I wanted to take a look at a different creative type.  If my father was a left-brain analytical, my mother personified the right-brain free spirit.

My mother had artistic ambitions. She was good with sketches, and I think I remember her working with pastels. But she was raising a family and it was hard to stick with it.

She was also a musician. She played the clarinet in the high school band (or faked it, as she would say, a skill I managed to master when I was in the band), and she was an excellent piano player. But she was raising a family and it was hard to…

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Morning Poem, April 27, 2017


These early Spring mornings remind me of Taos

Yellow sunlight filtering, being prismed through the mist

And Herbie Hancock playing Joni Mitchell songs

Soft and low, sweet and low, piano low

Each riff a whispered secret


From a full fridge I pull eggs and bacon, cheese and tomato

Now they are all red and yellow in the pan

Through the back screen door I heard the

Cardinals, Robins, Jays and Mockingbirds

Piano notes of their own

And a car gliding in the distance

(Was anyone in Taos so bourgeois?)

Is a mellow saxophone

Smooth as butter melting in the skillet

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Every Tree I Planted



I waited long, too long, it seemed

And nothing came to flower

My work, my passion and my dreams

Were locked in some far tower


“Be brave, walk not by sight, but faith”

At last, I finally heard

I left the crowd and quit the race

And listened to the Word


And now the spring has come at last

And opened up the tomb

Disappointment now is past

And every tree I planted is in bloom


Look here and there and everywhere

And see the vivid color

The seed explodes into the vine

And light goes on forever


And every day the postman brings

More dividends and praise

My friends all write and come around

And talk of our old ways


I dreamed of having such a day

To be by love surrounded

With afternoons to run and play

With interest all compounded


The sunlight rushes through the panes

And glory fills the room

And I am shocked to see the world

When every tree I planted is in bloom.



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Morning Poem #2, April 25, 2017


I had a list of plans today

But rain and cold got in the way


The raindrops fall slowly

On the leaves outside my window

Like the ticking of a clock

They go drip, drip, drop


And the little leaves shake

With each kiss the rain makes

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Morning Poem, April 25, 2017

This morning the quiet fills the house

And lays on the floor

And streams through the windows

Nothing moves

And I sit and watch and listen

And see into this old house

Its floors and walls and hallways,

Once grand.


Who lived here before?

And did they know mornings

Of flowers and music

And coffee and bacon and eggs

Did they watch their children grow

And then catch a train to somewhere?

I heard that Duke Ellington

Wrote his best music

In the mornings

When the door to his hotel room was open

And he could hear the maid’s vacuum cleaner

Somewhere down the hallway

Then the morning breathed

And everything inside him relaxed

That’s what I feel now

Touching all that is invisible and left over

From all that was visible and has gone,


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morning poem, april 24, 2017



Oh, how I love

Wandering out in the day

The sun high above

And its gold on the hay


I’ll wander till night

I will work and I’ll play

And I’ll feel myself right

To be out in the day


And when I get home

Then I’ll sleep like a king

For all those who roam

Have hearts that can sing


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For John Fogerty

I’ve always been a John Fogerty fan.  Back when Creedence Clearwater Revival was in its heyday I waited anxiously for each new single and each new album.  Rock and Roll was never better.   Broke my heart when they disbanded.  Anyhow, here is a lyric I wrote with good, old John in mind.
If you find this, Mr Fogerty, and want to make it into your next hit, all I want is half the writing credit.

I want to hear an old, familiar song

That I’ve never heard before

I want to understand that time

Has stopped before my door


I want to think the spirit there

That prospered way back then

Is still alive and waiting for

It’s sun to come again


They say the past’s not really gone

The thought makes my heart quiver

‘Cause I left the keys to my T-bird

Beside that old Green River


The years have passed since then, I know

But if the stars were right

I’d drop this suit and tie right now

And go back there tonight



Oh, if I’d hear just one more song

That had that flying sound

I’d turn the radio up loud

And I’d turn time around

copyright 2017

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Morning Post, April 21, 2017

How long has it been since I have noticed the seasons?

I walked out this morning to get into my car to drive to work.  Just like every morning for the past thirty years.   That twenty-yard walk is about all the time I spend out of doors anymore and I don’t even feel that.  I have one coat, a light jacket, really, that I wear all year until the summer.  It’s all I need for the five minutes between leaving the house and getting the heater going in the car.  And it is simple.  One coat; one day; one more day.

This morning I did not wear the jacket.  I had misplaced it and it was April and not cold enough to justify the time and frustration it would have taken to find the jacket.  And when I went out I felt the spring chill and it was like feeling the world again.  I took my first, regular steps toward the garage, but then I stopped, not knowing immediately why.  But I had caught the scent of something that reminded me of something else.  I still don’t know the source of it.  It was probably some mixture from the blossoms of those little ground plants that come up in the spring on the hillside above our subdivision.  But it was the same – or seemed the same – as the light scents that floated in the air on my walks to school at this time of year, this season of the year, so many decades ago.

I knew the seasons then.  I looked forward to summer.  The freedom from the classroom; the freedom from the morning alarm.  And Christmas and the anxious hope of better surprises than I had actually asked for.  And later I learned of the magic of spring.  How the scent of the blossoms could transport me and whisper promises.  There were days then when the forsythia and azaleas and ironwood painted the hillsides with such vivid crimson and gold that I knew I had entered another world or at least knew that there must be another world.  These days promised and pointed to something that summer, despite its heavy green growth, never quite delivered

As I stood there that morning, between the door of the house and the door of the car, I knew I was in danger.  I admitted to myself again that what I had forgotten of the magic of life, the magic of the earth, I had forgotten deliberately.  I had to face the day.  Face the days, that is.  Reality.  The fact that bills had to be paid and that every bill was getting higher and every paycheck lower and every day at the office taught me that the only wisdom was anxiety.  There was never enough time; never enough energy.

The danger was that this morning – my brief and unplanned experience of it – would remind me of who I once was, what I once believed and hoped for, and what I had become.

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Waking Early


The marble sky

And birds that fly

The blossoms blue

And crimson, too

I close the door

And sweep the floor

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Night Poem, April 18, 2017


They walk through the cloudy night

The two of them, arm in arm

The night is warm

No jacket required

In and out of the streetlamps, slowly

They talk of some day long ago

When the children were young

And they piled into the Chrysler van

And sailed south to some ballfield


Those were simple days, they say

Yes.  And these are good, too.

Yes, all of it is good.


copyright 2017

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