Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

poem-sculpting August 10, 2015

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 10:45 am
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I’m sculpting an image of you

molding and twisting clay into your likeness.

You emerge from mud as a miniature relief

and I sigh that I remember your face at all.

I’m sculpting you, creating who I wish you were

You emerge determined to be yourself,

no matter my intentions.

In the end, clay is inadequate for both of us.


poem- Mom May 10, 2015

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 11:05 am
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So many mothers:

mine with her great gardening gams

independent and active, just like always,

and I with my empty nest

working, writing, studying and more.

Busyness channeled in different directions,

but independent.

I always said, “I’m raising independent children,”

like my mom

I did my job.

Far away my children lead their independent lives

and only rarely feel the need to call home to update us

on the latest news.

Other mothers,

keep their chicks under their skirts,

want to be involved in every aspect of their lives,

with weekly dinners, frequent phone calls,

dependent interconnectiveness whatever their ages.

‘Not better,

not worse,

Just different’

like the exchange student mantra.

Family is the place you begin.

Family is where they have to take you in.

Family is many things

and there are many mothers.


poem-nesting April 2, 2015

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 5:33 pm
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The nest is empty

and without the chicks holding them together

some birds fly in different directions.

Job done.

So sad,

for others find the absence of young

brings far more joy in one another

than they could find while struggling

to satisfy the demands of youth.

The empty nest is the next gentle chapter

where romance can thrive again,

when laughing songs of

swooping lovers twitter through

the afternoon air and soft whispers

fill the nights.



poem- sticks November 4, 2014

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:30 am
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As they approach

your relaxed droop stiffens

your body tightens

each cell constricting.

You’re too old for

oppositional defiance

yet you shiver with it.

“Myself!” I hear your

two year old self echoing

through the decades.  “No!”

But look,

this is a time of change,

and nothing changes without effort.

You have experts at your fingertips

and you refuse support and aid


Why, exactly?

You were so ready to fly,

and you’ve gone so far,

but now you’re quivering beneath the nest

while the parents flap about squawking

about winter migration,

and that cat on the porch.

You heedlessly tuck you head

beneath your wing

to nap.


poem-laughter June 21, 2014

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:35 am
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You toddle over,

your two tooth grin wide.

When tapped

upon your button nose

you burst with

belly laughs.



I met Iona today.  Iona is little, and doesn’t speak yet, but she oozes personality!


poem- parents and child February 16, 2014

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 9:52 pm
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What you wanted to be

Everything you wanted to see

Was it you who lied?

Or was it me?

What dreams did you hide

in the tears you cried?

Was it you who lied?

Or was it me?

When your mother sighed

When your father denied

When you tried to foresee

Was it you who lied?

or was it me?

Were we lacking in pride?

Why could you not confide?

We simply could not see

so was it you who lied?

or was it me?


poem- mother December 28, 2013

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 3:22 am
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He said

his mother was dead,

because the gulf

between them

was wide with guilt

and jumping it

was beyond

their capability.

She said

her son was lost

because his choices

marooned him

on an island of his own making

and would not let

anyone in.

They said

their journeys

were in opposite directions

but eventually,

on the other side of the world,

they’re bound to intersect.


poem- stranger November 17, 2013

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 11:36 am
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were the stranger in the house

the sullen face across the table.


were the accuser in the house

certain of your imaginary world.


were the lost in the house

confused by our reality.


were in the house,

but we did not reach



poem- parenthood September 26, 2013

On a non-stop eight hour drive,

we paused for fuel.

“What?” you asked

As you intercepted smirks

passed over your head,

when you climbed into the back seat

after the gas station bathroom break.

“Nothing,” we said, as we pulled

back onto the highway.

Even though your sister had been

traumatized when I left her

standing in the driveway as we tore off to the bus stop

that time,

while you waved at her from the back seat

and waited for me to notice,

this time

when your dad slammed the car door,

buckled up,

and drove away,

destination in his mind,

she was the one who said,

“Missing anyone?”

so when you climbed into the car,

you never even knew

you’d ever been left behind.


drain kids August 14, 2012

Filed under: Commentary — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:31 am
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I’m thinking about grown kids and pondering some things I’ve been noticing lately.

First, it seems that a lot of twenty-somethings these days seem to expect that their parents should still be supporting them financially (and the odd estranged spouse who thinks the OTHER spouse should be supporting adult kids who have been poisoned against them).   I’m kind of baffled by this concept.  It seems to me that if you are no longer living at home, if you are healthy, if you are in school, or if you are in a couple, you are definitely old enough to be responsible for yourself.  I observe many who seem to think they’re entitled to a nice house, a nice car, an expensive education, and a large entertainment budget, and that their parents should still be footing the bill for this.


When do they plan to grow up and be responsible for themselves?

I was married at 21.  Our wedding budget was $1000.  We went to school, scrimped, shopped at thrift stores, had babies, and we never moved back in with our parents.  We couldn’t afford a honeymoon, or even vacations for many years.  We visited our parents.  Now, our parents definitely tried to help us out.  They would always send us home with groceries, baking, canned goods, and even clothing.  But we never would have imagined monthly financial support from them.  They didn’t even help with tuition unless we were paying them back (which we did promptly).

We still earned degrees, bought progressively bigger houses, and eventually went on vacations.   I know it’s possible to do this even now, and know young couples who have a mature and responsible view to their independence.

The drain children alarm me.   I feel particularly for their parents, who are being manipulated by kids who won’t talk to them if they’re not forking over cash.  At the same time, I recognise that parents often like to help their kids and feel good to know they’re giving them a leg up.  When those kids are ungrateful, malicious, or obnoxious, I don’t think there is anything wrong with  letting them live with the logical consequences and to earn their way.  When they’ve been supported, helped, loved and encouraged their whole lives and then are horrible to their parents, I think that is a sign of immaturity that requires some time and distance.  At some point they have to learn what mutual respect looks like.   I’ve heard the, “but then I’ll lose them” argument and I wonder at what point we let our kids make their own choices?  It’s like that poster from the 70s,

If you love something, set it free.  

If it comes back to you, it’s yours.  

If it doesn’t, it never was.

They can leave, and they can come back when they’ve matured a bit and learned to be responsible for their own decisions and budget.  (Or more likely, when they need grandparents to help babysit.)  We do the best we can as parents, but we have to let them go at some point!  They have to be free to make mistakes so they can grow.  They have to be pushed out of the nest even if they sit on the ground peeping frantically, convinced they can’t do it.  We have to force them to learn to use their wings, or they’ll never fly.

What do you think?  Are you a 20-something? Are you supported by your parents?  Are you a parent?  Are your kids a drain?


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