Shawn L. Bird

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

poem- confessions of an addict September 18, 2013

Filed under: Poetry,Reading,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:04 am
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Someone said,

“Books are a hard-bound drug

with no danger of over-dose.”


I am an addict.

I have clutched my paper-bound

or hard-bound drug until

my hands are frozen claws,

I have lost hours of my life

in the blink of an eye,

I opened the cover for

just a few pages before bed,

and blinked up at the dawn light

as the birds mocked outside my window.

I turn pages until my eyes

can not focus,

my lids rasp close,

my arms tremble,

my fingers numb,

my neck kinked,

but still I read on, until

my eyes


I stagger in a stupor

to my bed.

When I am lost to consciousness,

my dreams are vivid,

I wake with an aching head,

the morning after.

I am a book addict.

I know over-dosing

is a danger,


the paper smells so good,

the rustle of the pages

is music,

the story is magic,

and I am helpless in

its thrall.

That’s all.

My name is Shawn,

and I am addicted to books.



listen May 24, 2013

I am here

to listen.

I want to savour each word

of the story you create

to make meaning of the world.

I am here

to listen.

I want your words to come

clear on the air

to my ear,

each one a gift.

I want to listen

So speak your passion

in whispers and shouts




like leaves in fall

wisked away by wind.

I want to capture each one

so your story

becomes part of my story,

so I can raise my voice

sing my song,

tell my tale.

We share together:

I am;




Tonight I was at the Shuswap Association of Writers Coffee House, presented annually in conjunction with Word on the Lake Festival of Readers and Writers.  I heard some amazing writers and poets read, some were easier to appreciate than others.  I like when the poet savours his/her words, and crafts the reading like a performance piece, so you can experience the poem.  I dislike when a poet tosses off meaningless dribble, and then explains it, and the explanation is a better poem than the poem, itself.  Bad form, famous poet, bad form.  There was great stuff to enjoy, though, as there always is.


good advice August 10, 2012

Filed under: Pondering — Shawn L. Bird @ 8:57 pm
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Speak kind words: what you say is what you create.

~Shawn Bird


etymology June 28, 2012

Filed under: Commentary,Teaching,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 3:34 am
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Now, it might just be because I’m a nerdy English teacher, but I LOVE word etymology.  I find it quite fascinating to explore the history of word origins.  Imagine my delight to find a comic that shares some of this fascination!  Check out a chapter in the life of Etymology Man from!


weak words September 11, 2010

Filed under: Commentary — Shawn L. Bird @ 1:01 am
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Sometimes people do cruel things and when called on it, they whisper platitudes. They repeat positive mantras that they imagine make them seem calm and mature, when in fact the contrast between their words and their behaviour emphasizes even more how absurd they are.

How confusing for children who hear “I love you” while being emotionally abused. Picture the wife-beater cuddling his broken wife and telling her that he’s sorry and won’t do it again.  Of course, history shows time and time again how those words mean nothing.  The behaviour is repeated again and again.  An apology is nothing if the behaviour continues.  “I love you” is not an excuse to destroy someone.   “I respect you” is not an excuse to steal a business.  “I admire you” is not a reason to spread vicious rumours.  It’s all about power and manipulation.

I believe that words have power. We can set things into being when we write them down. I have seen this in my own life. Yet, for those whose words are meaningless, somehow the power has been removed.  I find this confusing.  You would expect that repeating “I’m sorry” or the “I love you” would make it true eventually.  Perhaps the problem is that the speaker doesn’t actually internalize the words.  If the apology doesn’t come from a gut-wrenching awareness that makes change imperative, is the person really sorry?  Doesn’t “I’m sorry” really mean “I won’t do it again?”  If the “I love you” doesn’t come from a heart that wants only the best for the other person at whatever the personal cost, is it genuine?

I keep wondering if repeating the mantra can bring the change.  I have been told that these types of manipulation can be related to borderline personality disorder.  These people (usually women) use words (and  possibly cutting and suicide attempts ) to manipulate others, to attempt to weaken and destroy.  They can’t understand real connection and affection.  They don’t know what love and respect actually look like, so they can’t respond in appropriate ways with other people.  Their words don’t fit their actions.  They believe they are entitled to everything they see, and don’t believe others have any right to have another perspective of their actions.

Surely that can’t explain everyone, though.  Why can’t people see the contrast between their sweet words and the brutality of their actions?  Is it narcisism. ignorance, or denial?  Sneaking around, twisting words, lying.  None of those behaviours make you friends of worth.  Eventually people figure out who you really are. 

When we’re faced with such people, what do we do as watchers?  When we listen to someone who feels the manipulation and doesn’t know how to respond, do we step in?  Do we try to show the perpetrator the reality they’re ignoring?  Draw their attention to their erroneous impressions?  Even if we face them down, what are the chances that they will actually accept the information and change their behaviour?   I’m thinking that for most people, ignorance is bliss.  I suspect they imagine they are existing with impunity because no one has observed the dichotomy of their lives.  Therefore, they will continue in their ignorance, while they wonder why people stop interacting with them and their relationships fall apart.   At first glance, people might be attracted to the façade, but it won’t be long before they realise the shallow reality and break the relationship.  After all, once people see how dishonourable someone is, they usually don’t stick around for long.   

Like the old adage that you can give someone enough rope to hang himself with, eventually people watching will see that the words and actions don’t co-exist.   The weakness becomes obvious to all.   When your smile doesn’t reach your eyes and your nervousness shows everyone that even you know you’re lying, truth will show itself.

Words will be the weapons of their self-destruction.


finger prints July 11, 2010

Filed under: Pondering — Shawn L. Bird @ 6:38 am
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our finger prints don’t fade from the lives we’ve touched

(Will Fetters)

and on our journey we never know which lives we’ve touched and which ones we haven’t. Those we remember most fondly may not remember us at all.  We might have no memory of a person, and yet s/he clings to a memory of us. I suppose this means that we are advised to live our lives so that anyone who remembers us will have a worthy memory. We should strive every day to be inspiring, loving, and considerate to everyone we meet, to give a positive gift of ourselves that will leave them better for having known us. We probably don’t, though.

A young lady who requests to be anonymous recently remarked, “just because you don’t remember it, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.” We can move through lives blissfully unaware of how our words are impacting others for better or worse. An innocent comment or a thrown away observation that means nothing to us, lost as soon as it’s uttered, may rest heavily on a heart for years. What can we do about that? We only own our actions and reactions, we can’t be responsible for those of anyone else.

Words we think are kind can be reinterpreted unintentionally, or twisted by someone who wants to believe the worst. Innocent situations can be re-written in memory to mean something else. It would an awesome goal to aim to speak only words that are uplifting and kind, in order to lessen the possibility of someone being inadvertently crushed. Such intentions can never be fulfilled, but we should do our best.

We never know when or why they’ll be dusting for our prints.


The pebble tsunami June 9, 2010

Filed under: Pondering,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:35 am
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I’m thinking today about action and reaction.

We have no way of knowing whether an off-hand comment with no emotional import for us will cause an explosive reaction in someone else. An innocuous observation can suddenly start a chain reaction of events that can be completely unexpected and sometimes horrendous.

Words have their own life once they’ve left you, and you have no way of controlling that life. A pebble is dropped and the rings expand and expand until they’ve touched many unexpected places.

Words can reveal hidden secrets, secret dreams, and powerful truths. Sharing our own secrets, dreams and truths is one thing, but sometimes as Jacob Black says in New Moon, we know secrets that aren’t ours to share. If we accidentally let those out, the reaction that was a pebble ripple to us, might turn out to be a tsunami for someone else, destroying all those beautiful beach front homes they’ve so carefully built up.

It’s no good trying to say it’s not really a tsunami. Perception is reality. If it feels like a tsunami to them, then it is one.

There’s no way to take back the pebble and stop the tsunami. We can only be there to help clean up the wreckage our words have wrought.


Words May 28, 2010


We fill our days with them.  We speak them.  We read them.  They shout at us from billboards.  They whisper at us from between the notes of a song. 

 We celebrate upon a baby’s first words.  We’re empowered when we first read words.  We grieve when a stroke steals words.  We hover around a bedside to hear last words.

This weekend is a celebration of words.  I will be attending the Shuswap Writers’ Festival.  I had just finished Grace Awakening last year when I attended my first writing conference here in the Shuswap.  I thought meeting some professional writers and  mingling with the writing community was bound to be a good experience.  It was all  new. I wasn’t sure what a blue pencil was, and why I’d want to participate in it.  It was enlightening.  Every workshop offered gems.  I hung on the edge of my seat listening to Andrea Spalding share her experiences and work.  Words filled the weekend and led to more words.  On the basis of my experience I was encouraged to be brave  and travel to attend the huge Surrey International Writers’ Festival 5 months later.  That conference  was also phenomenally inspiring and led to some new writing friends and connections.

Now I will be hanging on the edge of my seat again.  What words will be shared this weekend?  Will a book sell?  Will a career launch?  Who will I meet?  What will I learn?   I am eager to meet the professionals and soak up as many of their words as I can.  I’m hoping to hear some encouraging words.

Words are waiting to change my world again.  Whose words willl they be?


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