Archive for the ‘Commentary’ Category

gone fishing…

greetings.  on the small chance you haven’t guessed by looking here, this blog is no longer actively in service.  it served well in its time (and really I mean you, the many of you who participated with me in a variety of writing communities).
thank you.  no interest in the story of why or what changed to put this blog to sleep.  so it is.  however nothing new will be posted here.

what’s here?  most of what was written 2009 – 2014.  some good (hard for me to say), some not much.  thought of editing out my notion of “lesser” poems, but I’ll let that go.  there’s some merit in transparency.  and writing is a process, not a single result.  and the process paints something of the community engagement, which is always a part of what poems mean.

do I still write poems?  yep.  but the process is different.  I am different.  I am seven hundred miles from where I used to be.  judgment is pointless, but it is different being here.  I produce poems less often.  I am less willing to write for the sake of craft.  genuine honesty of self expression has more of my attention, whether realized so well or not.

there is a new poetry blog.  words were poems first  you’re welcome to visit.

neil reid

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Nelson Mandela

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cowboy shoes
small_cowboyWell this isn’t a poem, not yet. But yea, it, meaning me, does wanna come out to play.

There’s this prompt, write a poem with your “shadow voice”. That’s your (or my) voice that got left behind once upon a time, some part that didn’t seem safe or acceptable inside my vision of the world. Simple huh? But simple can be more confused than something complex often enough.

I keep going back to this picture of so so younger me. I felt the connection, but it was light, maybe even a slight-of-hand. Not that I mean my shadow is a child. More playful. More happy, for no good reasons at all. I held those “thoughts”. But even as I wrote the prompt for WWP it became obvious that I was still holding those “dangerous” attitudes at arms length and had to rewrite the prompt totally from scratch. That precisely is the challenge of this prompt for me!

My shadow plays. My shadow is more spontaneous. My shadow is more willing to be visible, to take a chance. He’s good natured. He will tell you what he is doing, and will invite you into the play. He’s easy to understand. It’s not so much that the world is more trustable, but he is. And that is the root of his life.

Writing that prompt was sort of my poem for me.

So that will have to do for now. Lots of work here and there to do and poems are riding in the back seat right now. Yet wanna respond to this prompt. My shadow does. And I agree.

The tip of my hat, and we’ll be back again. Soon and more more often, we both wish.

Written for the We Write Poems prompt #149,  write a shadow voice poem.

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small stones and writing for healing and peace

autumn dry leaves
hurl themselves
into my winter face


neil reid © december 2012

If by some chance you know my blog here, yet not We Write Poems, a community of poem writers, then please allow this special invitation.

In response to the recent events in the east, the loss of so many young lives and those who cared for them, WWP is engaged with a gathering of writers and words to share our response to that experience. If you read, if you write, yes you qualify, then please be invited to come and see and listen, even share your own words with us.

Our prompt-posting, Writing for Healing and Peace, is now open and will remain that way for any who wish to participate.

We cannot say what life brings to us, but we are responsible for our response.


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Pre-analytic observations taken from a hard stone perch
(not a poem, but observational notes)

There’s the rhythmic low splashing chorus of reflected sea bay waves some fifty feet to my right.

Sitting on stone cobbled aggregate uncomfortably below knee-high, then swing one then two legs over the land bound side, feet anchoring to one point of the breakwater boulders below.

Facing away from the shoreline to a cleft in a rising bluff, a large long grown shrub now centered in middle view.

Sounds begin to change my ear. Voices easy to ignore. Voices with wings.

Dense green foliage as a crown gives shuttered view to the spider-web of sheltered branches within its skirt. As a dress blown aside, limbs are more exposed lower and to the right, three-some feet below the summit rock wall.

Air drops away beneath.

Sporadic gull squawks clamor for attention, but there’s a lower ground of voice and wings scattered about and many within that green.

Small of voice yet swiftly crisp, focus gathers close. Swift and brief as is their flight from out the hidden core of limbs, then too seeing leaves shimmer in response to their returning roost.

First one then another, another, then add one more. Maybe a tribe of ten, maybe twenty inside that unkempt resting nest.

Each in turn makes a three-quarter elliptic flight out then back, unhesitant. Maybe one-second’s thought of flight. Small brown mostly body, yet a wide fore to tail bar of white held in private on the earth-side of each wing. A stoke or two of wings and the task of flight is untied, back on a hidden limb.


neil reid © october 2012

Not a poem. Obvious? Just some ribbon of observations. While the prompt suggested multiple visits to some specific place, work and the season drew more limits than I’d expected. So this is just “something”, or “whatever”, which so ever you choose. While the suggested observation wasn’t suggested to be “about” any one thing in specific, because of what I’ve been reading of late, yes, for me the real focal place was about birds. And yes, there were more birds all about than I would normally notice, most of them being less raucous then what more easily draws attention away.

Written for the We Write Poems prompt #127,  take some time to simply observe a natural setting. Read the prompt for more detail if you wish.

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R e v e r a n c e

This posting is about poems, not mine nor poems rooted in language, but rather in directly pure and visceral experience within our physical reality. Might also seem to be “about” waves or the art of big wave surfing, but neither that in nor of itself, rather within the relationship, human with elemental energy, that takes this stage to express itself.

So what is such a posting doing on a poetry blog? Fair question, but not so hard to understand from several points of my personal compass here. From an intellectual stance, many aspects of life can be viewed as poetic, and all the more when performed to an exceptional degree of devotion and ability. But that’s not my motivation for sharing this post.

Read the full article and video links

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blind haibun joe, number one

being what we call “practice” here

the fox came upon the small woodland house quite unplanned.  the half-flaked paint, broken window panes, both framed the open door not in welcome, but in challenge to curiosity.  disheveled contents of the bedroom suggested some scuffle there, yet dust clung to everything.  fox had no clue of this as the threshold drew near, then one paw reached into shadow through the open door.

    undisturbed dust in
    late day rays of light
    leaving old secrets intact


neil reid © october 2011

comments:    Is ignorance bliss?

And what exactly is a “haibun” poem?  Well not exactly, it is a joining by tangential or oblique relationship, both a short segment of prose with a haiku poem.  Nan suggested this recently in a post of hers, while coincident (charming accident!) so did Margo Roby in her Tuesday Tryouts.  All too much for me to resist!  And actually I wrote this “exercise” before reading Margo’s post, so I make no claim to doing this precisely “right” (but when has that bothered me?).

Many a poet I suspect is just itching to also write some prose, so here’s a perfect opportunity.  (And just enough.  Novels don’t interest my pen.)  Meanwhile reading Stanley Fish‘s informative book, How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One, has peaked my desire in that direction too, looking for that “perfect sentence”.  So it is the prose aspect of a haibun that most interests me in the moment.  As well the rightness of the associated haiku I make no pretense about at all.

The first desire in the prose here was simply to create a certain mood without causing physical movement, and actually there is no real movement within the body of text aside from that final one paw reaching into shadow.  Yet the reader’s eye does get to move, and wonder some, but all overlain on the most quiet of a scene.  (Yep, some fun doing this exercise.)

Thank you Nan and Margo too.

Read Simon Blackburn’s review of Stanley Fish’s “How to Write a Sentence”.

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lefty-handy, it’s really true

please click image for larger version

Being one segment of my left-hand written poem as published earlier.

Just as evidence, it is really true.  Not pretty, as I said, but legible and yes, there is something about penmanship that interests me (by either hand).  And posted here mostly for my own amusement, and to demonstrate, hectic as I am, that I still have too much time on my hands as so demonstrated to colorize!  (merging a little poetry with a little art, and that makes me smile) 🙂

Actually I’d like to post some (shorter) poems in actual hand written form. (Is that a silly desire?) And equally would be interested to see some others do the same. I don’t know what the pen shows but I think it shows something, no matter any meanings in that way. There’s a flavor – something like that.

Oh, and does this append the “rules of poems”? To colorize or not to colorize? Bring out your crayons please!


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A Statement in Remembering
September 11, 2011

Many have had something to say marking this day in our nation’s history.

September 11th some years now past was indeed a day of worthy notice for us here.

I have then and now seen and listened, considered how this meaning has arrived.  I feel, I understand, the startled pain enclosed in that day.  I have no lack of care, of regard for those many lost, lives now spent, and those many of us by common relation, also touched.

Yet I felt something more, both then and now.  And at neither date have I heard the situation so attuned nor questioned for us to understand in most meaning all equal to the challenge given here.

This remembering is here framed in acknowledged spiritual regard – and so said, stay or leave as you desire.  (This is not bound to any single religious creed but rather some elemental notions of understanding our existence here.)  But this is how it begins for me.  There is this classic statement once given into childhood ears that, “god is everything”.  I took that to mean, as it says, literal.  And nothing of many years since has bespoken that spirit as instead something, anything, less.

That said, then we are in essence a unity even if under the illusion of our perceptions and material sight.  So then one question arises first – who of us can possibly be outside of us?  Including even those we might be tempted to otherwise despise.  Now, isn’t the issue of our mutual agony moved in-house?

That being considered so, and if you accept, then here we are, the one receiving the blow and the one from whose hand it comes.  Might we not also append, is there any living creature, any being who desires good life, who would deliberately wish for a life in a state of pain?

So now the question fostered becomes, for whom and how did the notion of crashing their body and others out-of-the-sky, how even remotely did this come to seem like a good idea?  What tortured bowl of labored pain did this spirit reside within to cast it in so shallow worth?  Consider being prisoner within such dire thought.

How do the best and brightest of us feel when we might harbor pain or anger or hate?  Does it not put teeth into the life of us, dim and darken the experience of the very air we inhale?  How else would or could it be, for any of us!

This is neither to welcome nor justify an action that resulted in such dire harm.  But it does inquire, do we say anyone is stranger, is “other” to us, or merely reflecting back or passing dark on an older pain done, or so perceived, to them?  And whether we, us here, are directly or indirectly, consciously or casually, responsible in common share for some history of harm.  Why in some other mind did we seem, true of not, to merit this ill regard?  There are more than ample dark national histories enough to have reasonable suggestion for some introspection in this regard.

Can we even declare innocence if some sister, some brother, some neighbor lives in pain or need and we disavow, turn our heads, walk away?  Even in distant ignorance, what excuse?  Where then will we say, draw the line, these lives count and these others don’t?  This is not to make villains of any one, yet to allow that if a bear in pained hunger takes some bite of us, should we be all surprised?  Not an issue of fault nor blame, but simply responsibility – the ability to respond to what is so in this life.

I have neither ability or desire to paint my own notions onto yours.  Yet I would treasure our willingness to allow some questions, some healthy doubts, so to breath right out in the public air.  Then you look, you examine your sense of experience, and you decide how to be who you most genuinely are and want to be.  That’s for you to say.

Love should be this big.  Love is this big.

This is what I’ll call remembering.

neil reid

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I don’t do Cinquains, no not me!

Much ado about nothing much.

Dedicated to Margo Roby. You know who you are!

Those of you who know me some, know I don’t do formal poem forms.  No villanelles, no triolets, no sonnets, and god help me, what’s a sestina they boast about, nor a single Burmese climbing rhyme (only by fortuitous accident do I approach any rhyme), no tankas, not even the pleasant haiku, not even for you.  Alright, alright, maybe a cento or two, some gentle thievery tastes too good for letting pass untouched.  I’m mostly all dusty jeans in your backyard dirt.
And now Margo says, “cinquains”, and what the heck are those!

You can read Margo’s whole posting here.  Otherwise, at its most basic it is 22 syllables.  (But please, don’t ask me to count, more than fingers, more than toes!)  And of the few variants, she says this…

The personal cinquain is the easiest as it allows you to work around the syllable count, if you wish, and focus on the number of words: 11. You may, of course, stay traditional and work with the syllable count instead: 2, 4, 6, 8, 2 in which case, don’t worry about the number of words.

I.     ONE word for the person—a name or another descriptor.

II.    TWO words that define or describe the person.

III.   THREE words that describe an event related to the person.

IV.   FOUR words that express the person’s attitude toward the event.

V.    ONE word that sums up or otherwise concludes the previous lines.

So alright, it must be moon-stroke, but here’s my one brief stray into cinquain:


    wonders why
    tripped by how
    dusted off, swims away.

So there, so brief, and you just kinda gotta look sidewise to catch the drift (of being a fish, never so much caught as when you think you’re not). And ain’t it odd, so little for so much commentary! (But fun is fun!) (or, I’m easily amused)

Margo further suggested,

Because a cinquain is short it is important to keep in mind the following mantras:








Alright, alright, do I hear a gauntlet being dropped? (Just me I know.) But just too delicious not to respond! And so,

    poem being bad (mantras revisited)

    poems sit. (politely said, meditate.)
    poems relax. (dusty jeans seem just right.)
    poems wander. (cover the desk with random notes.)

    each word has travelled far, has history
    and maybe will provide a hint (reluctantly).

    a good poet is optimistic,
    hopes he doesn’t land on his face.

    but might.

neil reid @ june 2011

poem “stuff” for Margo Roby’s Tuesday Tryouts, The Cinquain Form, wordgathering prompt (my entrance, only a polite one month late!)

Dear Margo (so the commentary begins… ),
Alright, if you haven’t guessed, I adore what you contribute to this gathering around the internet fire. Me, I’m seat-of-the-pants, intuitive (if you’re polite), lucky (if I’m good), a copy-cat when I want (mimicry is praise indeed, my rational, my classroom too, osmosis-like). I’m a rock beside your well tended knowledge, garden-like. Admired. Appreciated. Yet here’s the rub, tell me some words “not to use”, as you’ve itemized, and with a smile, I’m all eager to employ every one! Delicious fun! Such is the humor of rocks and bears. But thanks, sincere.

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        in review

        A Poet’s Meditation on Peace

A film by Haydn Reiss based upon the life, journals and poems of World War II conscientious objector and poet William Stafford (1914-1993). Stafford wrote in his journal, “The question, ‘Wouldn’t you fight for your country?’ begs the real question which is, ‘What is the best way to behave here and now to serve your country?’ So the real answer would be, ‘If it was the right thing to do, I would fight for my country. Now let’s talk about, what is the right thing to do?’”

Reiss states, “… I think this is what Stafford is saying, ‘Yes, we do and can make war. But what else can we do?’ The undiscovered possibilities in human behavior are what we should pursue. The die is not cast; imagination and creativity are not in short supply.”

This beautifully crafted film documents Stafford’s stance on culture and humanity through both poems and journals (named as is this film, “Every War Has Two Losers”) and as expressed by fellow writers who knew or admired him, such as Robert Bly, Maxine Hong Kingston, Naomi Shihab Nye, Alice Walker, and including his son Kim Stafford, an adept poet himself.

Read the full article

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@April turns to May

Well, April did step outside the conventional sense of time! Saying farewell to the brilliant community site, Read Write Poems, after an all too brief journey with them. Yet going out in a blaze, as they sponsored their own site group participation for the National Poetry Writing Month (napowrimo). I’d never written with that sustained a level of frequency before – one poem a day throughout the month. (No pretense for the quality of those “30”, but a few seemed fair of face.) Then add to the mix, sticking out my toe into the muddy, and co-founding one of a few poetry sites that emerged from the ending of RWP, We Write Poems. Unexpectedly, writing even taking a backseat for near half a month!

Short-fallen in several ways. Didn’t have time or energy to read and comment on other people’s poems near at all so much as I’d thought to do (or should have). The daily chore of work, then site development, and oh yea, a touch of food and sleep, left me with sometimes only a few minutes to write – poems that is. So the commitment became more prime than considered labor toward any hoped for quality. (Learned to accept “lesser” poems of necessity. Is that good?) Banged my head into bricks for a while along the way. Yet April’s gone, and I remain.

So be it, is about the best I can say. It near feels like a new year beginning here. And much remains to discover, learn, appreciate.

Thank you to the many who joined with April’s labor in good care. As well, you all who’ve also remained in this greater community of us. ~Neil

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Posted with a tack to the top of the blog. Newer postings below.

Saying Farewell,


Thank you to Read Write Poem

Thank you to Dana Guthrie Martin, RWP founder, and to all the many fine talented generous staff and contributors!  Thank you, all who participated and shared their poems with us.  Well done!  April 2010

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Why are you a poet?

William Stafford was once asked, why are you a poet?

You’ve got to ask the right question, he replied. We are all born this way, so the question really is, why did you stop?

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Season’s greetings

My version of a season’s greetings for all and each of you, dear readers, dear friends, the community and family that we make. I’ll keep this simple, simply said my most sincere thanks and appreciation. I have learned here through this weblog that strangers can become friends. It is all a matter of willing willingness. As we say it is, each to the other, so it is.

And now just a few season “sights” to share with you. You might think of them, season lights that are here for us every day, every night.

The Milky Way

Lagoon Nebula

A full view of the Southern Sky (and dedicated to Sean)

Some might look and feel how small they are. I look and wonder delight that creation includes all of this, including us, and I smile with the thought. (Click each page for the full expansion as you wish to reveal the glory in whole.)

May Peace and Love fill your heart. Every day. Every night. Love, Neil
May this begin your purpose in life.

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Home again, home again…

Home again my friends.

Much to catch up on (not the least of which is sleep!) since my visit north to Washington. My thanks to all who’ve visited. My apologies if I have missed keeping up with any comments (I tried). Will now take me a few days to get my feet back into this place. (More poems too that I didn’t have time to really complete rightly before.)

My continued thanks to all who visit, and especially those who also teach me by their comments and what you post yourselves! Sincerely that is meant. You do!

And for those of you following the “comics”, my return was by way of driving back (a plane was kind enough to get me there) from Seattle to here near San Jose. Seventeen hours straight through! (Don’t ever think I don’t include a healthy dose of stubbornness! But the “goal” was simply getting back, and beating any storms across the mountains to home.) And bless the highway road rest stops! (And a special appreciation for the Washington state rest stops – scenic, visitor friendly, with free coffee too. Well done Washington!)

Never meant to do it all at once, but once the fire was alight, each next mile just seemed like I could do that much more. (And stubborn, like I said.)

And part two, yes, my time away, visiting went beautifully. Both questions answered and new ones found. What else to ask for? And whether or not the faces were all obvious, much of what I found was also in those poems written while I was there.

Later my friends. -Neil

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