birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

It's EZ

This is EZ.
Well, it’s not easy,
because even the appellation gives me pause.

You may notice—
this too may be about him—
this keeps trying to turn into a poem.

I’ve always called him Ernie,
but he does call himself EZ—
initials of his first and middle names.

He is easy—laid back and calm,
with a slow and low, resonant voice.
He has black hair [oh, gray now!] and dark brown eyes.
His eyes also focus long and slow, like his voice.

And, he has his very own viewpoint,
has had as long as I’ve known him
—nearly fifty years.

I don’t know many folks
who have their “very own viewpoint.”
Certainly an 18-year-old with his own corner of truth, uninfluenced by peers and other pressures,
is a rarity.

And, Ernie [EZ] was a rarity—
seeing, and showing,
the world through his camera’s lens.
It was almost as if his relationship
to the world and its people
existed because of that lens.

In my recollection
it was the camera that led the way to friendship.
He wanted to take my picture.

He wanted to take a lot of people’s pictures.
(He took pictures of lots of things and places too.)
It wasn’t just a pick up line.
And it functioned that way sometimes—
though I couldn’t say how much.

But he had this way of seeing people,
with the camera lens,
that led to conversations
that led to heart-to-heart
—that led [us, at least] to fifty years as friends.

My grandmother insisted,
through my four years of college,
that Ernie and I would marry one day.
She was so impressed
with his patient and tenacious hanging around.

Sometimes it seemed
that was what he wanted,
but not really I think.

Mostly, I think, he wanted to be seen—
In the same way his camera saw people and the world.
I always had the sense that his camera was looking for,
And capturing,
Souls.

Holiday-Birthday Train

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