Sample poems fromT.P. Bird's

A Loose Rendering: Of Time, Memory, and Other Considerations.


Of Time, Memory and Other Distractions


Poets walk in circles—coming

back to well hidden, captured

thoughts—inspecting a mental

trap-line like trappers after pelts.

These thoughts perform for

an audience of one before being

exposed to the external world.

Thus, my walk takes me to

another snare.

Standing in a group of men,

talking—a quick flash crosses

my inner sight, interrupting the

flow of my thought and

the conversation—if just for a

moment. It’s a view of myself

as an aging man—no longer

relevant, afraid of descending.


It’s also happened while I stood

before a mirror, shaving.

I saw my face grow out of focus

as steam washed across the glass.

Wiping at the reflection, a

stranger looked back out of eyes

like ice. The years are both a

friend and an impediment.


I can’t go after old images

disappearing around a corner;

I might get terribly lost. Yet,

there is a great temptation to

explore. Only a lack of strength

will hold me here.


I may laugh at the follies of youth—

yet, I grow impatient about the

impending conclusion of my life.

I see young bodies move with

ease—no pain in their rising

or falling. Often, I would like to

burst forth with bravado and

daring—to both conquer and

beguile the world at large.


Yet, the desire passes quickly,

amused at being noticed, a

mischievous smile at play in

the corners of its mouth. It will

probably return just for the

attention it receives. “Turn

away, turn away, go home,”

say I to my soul. It would be

folly to stay and wander; folly

to entertain distractions on

my way to other themes.



You Were One of Them

for Lynne


In my life many people have

passed through far too quickly.

After days, weeks, and six months

of working with you in Ft. Ord’s

old hospital, you went home

while I was away at my own.

I still harbor loss; our good-byes

never existed—just the missing

words that were never said.


I was a young man, maybe

more of an over-ripe boy—

an innocent—shy, and perhaps

considerate without even

meaning to be. You, a few years

older, were a warm smile in a

small frame, a light voice from

the upper Midwest. I knew of


your hometown’s name—yet,

none of its life and stories.

But it was okay; my recognition

forged a link between us. Maybe

a small thing, yet I will always

remember the small things.

They flash by now like passing

railcars at a lonely crossing;

like oncoming autos on a busy

highway, your face in each and

every window.


You seemed wiser, more knowing—

having seen pain, suffering, even

death—attending to the bodies of

eternally young soldiers—a cruel

time for a lovely, dark haired girl

in olive drab and lieutenant's bars.


The nurses’ station at the

beginning of our hospital shifts

was like a lifeboat—as the

names of patients were lifted

from the churning waters around us.


Often, when we shared shifts,

I felt your smile and calmness

from afar—a gift from across a

barrier of rank and duty. Your

eyes, like a message among other

messages, stayed upon me longer

than needed—keeping me from

falling overboard into my own

sea of inadequacy. I’m sorry

I never thanked you for that.


Many people in my life have

passed through far too quickly.

You were one of them.



An Instant Coffee Poem


After reading

an anthology of

Coffee Poems,”

I made a cup of instant,

and sat down

in the middle of

an imagined coffee

plantation, and myself—

a single bean—

trying to write a poem

about being planted,

picked, shipped,

roasted, packed,

stored, sold, ground,

run through hot water,

poured, and inhaled

before being swallowed by

a yawning black hole

in some strange cosmos

of a coffee shop—

whose pull of gravity,

sucked me into a vast

space beyond, where

I mixed with other

tired travelers.


This poem can only

end somewhere in the

vast recesses of this

city’s bowels. The

reader, if not happy

with my taste, may do

with it what they will.





If it’s a true poem,

it gets laid down

on paper like a jazz

player circling and

swirling around a

melody line

finally coming back

to finish the thought

after a time away.


And all the while

the reader gets lost

in the cycle of words

all like musical notes

bouncing around in

Saturday night’s

heavy air—looking for

form . . . until they

finally rest somewhere

in the imagination.