Archive for the ‘Draft’ Category

eating this
here, describe this meal.  burning
bread and crying cheese.  just like poems
are not about rounding words, but rather
fingering spoons.  hand to mouth and it’s
the motion that counts.  your hand inside
mine at the eating tabletop.  tell me how
it is your little finger moves, pull that string
to the beginning end.  tell me where the
nurture is.  cooking, we begin.  hunger
don’t mean what goes in mouth.
please or no, another dawn.  whether
or no, you think your hands assemble
a prayer, you do.  one cat whose nose
made home in my scent, dirty shirts
waiting turns on the closet floor.  did
she recall that first open door not lost?
and fed me wanting for months and
days.  here, here’s a mouth.

neil reid © october 2013
written for We Write Poems prompt Food, Glorious Food by Pamela
with thanks and credit to Dylan and his mom Liz for that phrase, “crying cheese” (cheese crying). please do read her post about her autistic son and how his experience reveals something new about our regard for language.

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like an arrow only rarely, spent
bending bow or tense impending shaft
choose or not, you will, you do
soft soles no matter what
blister feet, turn aside, whistle midnight
and dawn, or a blanket drawn, out of sight,
just plain forget, trinkets in a closet box,
maybe wind on your face, doubting clouds,
thankful for shade, some say pray, some
meditate, you do, you don’t, another spoon
on the table, or resist, same meal in the
bowl either way
then there’s a mule on the road
here’s the choice, obstacle
or ride

neil reid © october 2013

for we write poems, the road, prompt by Pamela

me thinks, not so bad this poem if you only change the beginning and the end, oh yea, and rewrite that middle too. participation got the better of me. my excuse.

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transparency, a conversation
what flower are you blooming in night?
water.  I rest beneath your sighs, enter, leave,
become the contours of your sleeping breath.
what purpose your scent, lingering?
that you remember me inside candle dreams.
dreaming what into my sight?
dreaming light.  light.  moon faced by night,
then cloud belly sky by day’s surrendering.
all dreams begin with some light inside.
what wandering sense, your words?
between your toes, what fingers thread,
thinking, not theirs.  devoted better leaves, stars
moons, binocular, listen.  falling.
what harbor where lines draw taut?
here before mother turned to grass.
follows father, fish beneath sheets, becoming
dawn.  eclipse.  you inside these lips

neil reid © september 2013

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the rabbit and the moon

the rabbit and the moon
the rabbit rose early that eve, nibbling at the sliver moon.
I am the moon, rabbit said.  maybe moon won’t see.
the moon rolls into shadows.  playing with the day.
playing with the night.  he smiles, the way moons do.
rabbit nibbled at both the dark and the crescent, bright.
I am the moon, she thought.  maybe moon won’t hear.
moon pours himself into the sea.  closer now.
moon feels shy so he sings.  song becomes water,
raining stars into the ebbing sky.
rabbit hears.  she knows, moon was listening.
rabbit sees the moon in the sea, looking back.
rabbit feels the grass beneath her feet.  then
the grass becomes waves, becomes a song, then
the moon.  then her cloak, then her belly full.
now that you’ve climbed into sky, rain becomes
my voice.  I am the rabbit, sings the moon.
and here, beneath the empty sky, and then
the dream began.  closer now.

neil reid © september 2013

image: Lunar libration with phase Oct 2007, via Wikipedia in the public domain

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adam’s apple
a prose poem in ten parts
8 AM, fan pretends the day won’t scorch. purgatory rolls off the tongue. adam awakes upside down in bed. the usual.
the snake was just a dream he thought, but the apple was good. she even had a name if he could remember it now. he couldn’t. like ripe fruit, he fell.
word was on the tip of his tongue. remember that taste? lightning scratched on bare thighs. desire? if only he knew! 9 AM. he had to think about work.
a warm sand beach. what am I doing here? unreasonable, but shy about the serpent story, and everywhere he turned another apple burst into flame.
adam’s gaze lingers outside the bus window. placards at the intersection proclaim “remember me”. remember what? but he takes it personally. smiles.
she says to him, here be dragons. my life will be like a single breath. he lunges. smoke through his fingers. again. nothing makes sense. desire remains.
falling remains. dark, he remembers, no, feels like a twisting rope. two limbs surrender words. bright nonsense. he fills a book. lets go that breath cupped in two hands.
a blue boat with yellow sails. another made of glass, swans for heads. anomies between salt wet rocks. it was there from the beginning. desire’s waves.
what if the sky loved me, and I never guessed? is wind a kiss? more than thought, sensibility. in his pocket, a compass, circled by finger’s touch.
childless he thought. but words pour out. what began as a seed becomes a fruit. and the snake was always meant as a kindly cheshire jest. just like dawn.

neil reid © june 2013

Written for the We Write Poems prompt series the protagonist
being a ten part series by Irene, beginning with prompt 154 who is your protagonist? and concluding with prompt 163 found treasure Please go read.

First, with thanks to Irene for doing this wonderful series of prompts. Second, I haven’t written much of anything for several months. Don’t believe in writer’s block, but still, no poems had room to find place with me. Third, didn’t want to let this series pass without some contribution in appreciation. So my response, all ten prompts written in one brief prose poem. Dusty me.

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i s a a c

standing on the edge, the eve
seen from these eyes surely will
unfurl to be untrue, colored as it is,

and falling will begin to welcome
rising truth

the colors of far valley trees
the colors of our eyes, the mirror
bent inside itself

and falling will be the unshaken

meanwhile old coats old shoes will
fall away, inks will change their hue,
none of which I can say from here

write me when the apple lands


neil reid © april 2013


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b r e a d

bread is body.

earth is bread changing bodies.
we see faces.

rain and earth rising into wheat.
here, a hand to kneed and want.

Egyptians gave bread ears,
a simple pinch of thumb and finger

making an ear that prayers
might be heard.

and given, offering.

as a loaf remembers hands.

process does not linger,
yet shape implies.

what a life does feast
with thumb and lips.


neil reid © march 2013

is this one of several very drafty poems to come? some ideas that I like, yet making that impression inside into visible words – illusive. but ain’t that the trick of the craft?

here, an image ripe for harvesting. little referenced, but that the Egyptians sometimes pinched “ears” into their bread, that their prayers might be heard and crossed over with their offering of the bread. beautiful and intimate, poetic, inspired. think this poem does not do full justice to that grace of regard.

but I can only write what I have, and this is it.

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b o w l

so it was a high mountain stream that
sat beside my thirst.  and two palms that
cupped and drew an answer there.

is it interesting that of so many creatures
god gave us this bowl of our own to drink?


sky is a bowl you wear like a hat.
consider all that is given you.

consider thoughts like light.
consider clouds that souls imply.


consider the word, inside.
consider the illusion, we say, edge.


here, a potters hands imagine a bowl.
clay reflects makingness.

breath is a bowl drinking sky
yet fills only when empty first.


some bowls have names,
some do not.

some bowls are full of words.

a bowl will hold the mosaic
of my doubts, and then

one day I looked and it was aches
and pains.  yet bowls heal simply
by turning rightside upside down.


everything real is inside a bowl.

what’s outside is a mystery disguised
as stars.

all things are held in equal calm.


a bowl will teach, although that’s not
the meaning meant.


a bowl is one half of everything.

bowls don’t care when I’m confused.


your lips are a bowl.
so’s your love.

a bowl is a shape nature adores.


a bowl is known by another word.
the word is choice.


bowls can count to ten.

things that look like a bowl to me.
the pockets in my pants.
my mouth.  yours.  ears.  eyes.
your hand in mine.


neil reid © february 2013

this poem is all over the place. I first imagined something else, but here’s all I got, and the choice is choosing this or nothing. so maybe that’s about right.

oh, and in terms of counts I did a search. the word bowl appears in about 40 of my poems thus far, and now, 41. guess that qualifies.

(Poems is hard.) writing ain’t easy of late.

Written for the We Write Poems prompt #144,  In your own words.
Identify words you use more frequently in your poems, then take a look what one of those words really means for you.

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solo anagram

solo anagram

admitting some surprise.
an unpleasant awakening.
an embarrassment perhaps?

no warning.  none at all.
expectations, quite something else.

a fair enough image painted on
a wall of thought.  you look.  you see
a reasoned landscape, edges
blended smooth.

we emboss, we sketch a given name.

you read their words.  well confirmed
of shape.  texture too.  tempered by
experience.  a breathing wind.

forecasted fair and clear, expectations.
good hair.  slender built.  likewise,
same face, same eyes.  studied hands.

shadow puppet play on a mosaic wall,
broken thoughts we attend to mend.

suppose we’re soon accustomed after
birth, to see what we see.  how a story
begins.  chapters grow from measured

we play along.  fact and fiction strummed.
made to fit.  what we don’t ask matters
as much.

what then when the mirror speaks?
a voice rendered as a nail does.

who’s this pretender tearing groomed
meanings aside?  what my ear does not
and does recognize!  my own voice in
my ear, playing back to me.

years of careful architecture undone.
any other ear can hear.

even words restrained close to the chest
say aloud.  there’s more than seen of me.

I speak with the voice of a stranger inside.
yet recognize meanings implied.

word of mouth.  (even lies reveal truth)


neil reid © january 2013

Well, an interesting prompt. However, at first glance, nothing at all comes to mind. So why not then alter the formula a bit? I found another “other” that I might notice – my own self (if you hadn’t already realized). And (spoiler alert as they say) that other, more specifically, was myself hearing my own voice for the first time in life from a recording outside of my own real-time voice. Something of a shock, as for many folks I’m told.

Being rather shy, and with reasons why, I had over years “presented” an acceptable image of myself to others, as well to myself. Hearing “that” voice was both hearing a stranger speak and in the same moment hearing what was within and under the voice, aspects of me I was not so keen to reveal.

How well does this poem accomplish that dual recognition? I’ve reworked it now three times. While better expressed than the initial draft I still think it falls some short of what I’d hoped for it to do. But as it is, time enough for now.

(Poems is hard.) (huh!) (but interesting)

Written for the We Write Poems prompt #139,  A Moment Unexpected.  As you come unnoticed upon a person you well know, describe the physical elements and your emotional response.

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Tell me what this poem is saying to you

What’s the message do you think?  When leaves
turn autumn bright, fall to an upturned bowl.

Is it fall or flight?

Memories of quenching rain and radiance,
brilliant sap twisting buds and

here, disembodied snow become earthly
fruit, another language feeding roots.

Not all bowls are right being right-side up.

Here’s this phrase, Grandmother made a mistake.
Now, how’d that glyph land inside of you?

Language is immediate.  Either side of that
synapse, swift limb to lace of root.

Stories move like water does.

How far can a voice imagine itself?
Tell me what this poem is saying to you.

Do your fingers trace the words?
Do your lips trace the sounds?

No sense of feeling goes idyl here.
When buddha hand touched the earth

compassion became a bell.

Here’s the rake.  Here’s the dust for your shoes.
Make affection of these leaves.

Tell me what this poem is saying to you.


neil reid © january 2013

This poem began before the prompt, but seemed mostly well enough to be companion to the prompt. Rather “drafty” as it doesn’t go really where the initial image wanted to go, but maybe another day. (busy head thinks too much) (listens less) But doesn’t that actually seem the hardest gradient writing… getting myself out of the way? Does to me. (OR, one might ask… Where’s Waldo?!!)

Written for the We Write Poems prompt #135,  Peas in a pod.  Write a poem from a gathering of “ideas”.

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how to make water

observations had long since revealed the clumpy clumsy nature of the
dusty envelope embracing stellar point IRC+10216.

carbon then silicon monocides gifting out their oxygen whirly bits into untraviolet songs. pudding proof, as the gathered crowd proclaimed.
and hydrogen,

hydrogen everywhere!   so there, the Herschel ledger reveals truth as it
already is,

water comes to the sky.

there is a bone that also started this way, alone.   a femur that stood then walked upright.

so if someone asks, is your life like a poem?   don’t snarl,

but answer thus, if near nothing can imagine and make a glass of water, what’s one poem more or less from a bone that talks?

thus informed water from light, poems from bones?

poems is easy, just like falling off a star.


neil reid © december 2012

I started going right, this poem was going left. Still didn’t quite get where either of us thought to go. Such are poems! (so much for what I think I want)

Written for the We Write Poems prompt #135,  My life as a poem.

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twelve words not to do without

twelve words I’d not do without.

imagination.  the source of all pain.  the only hope.   pain.   cousin to flesh.
bareroot companion to forgetfulness.   sky.   where smoke goes home.   my
blanket at night.   a comfort I mean.   glass.   so I can read.   what holds my
drink, makes window bright.   comfort.   how I imagine others take breath.
question.   more than breath.  what others give me without knowing it.
recursive.   second nature.   why seeds are beneath.  where water goes.

ink.   what my eyes make and my hand portends to be.  it’s subtle and slight and passive with age.   choice.   the best illusion that was never mine to withhold.  the most flat edge of every coin.  tidal.   even when breath stops, tide remains.   go look.   see, that’s how you measure truth.

wrist.   where decisions are made.  what never lies.

uncertainty.   the only hope.   some say, casting loaves like waves.


neil reid © december 2012


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s e v e n s

it’s Monday and rabbit goes down the open hole.

Tuesday then, and gopher snake curls into a waiting mouth.

Wednesday it rains.  puddles amused, swallow the pouring skies.

Thursday makes witness, slender green shards arise, an alchemy of dirt.  earth itself a limb of some greater tree.

my narrow garden spade lurches into softened soil, although Friday whispers, no, we’re not chasing that mole, just finding shallow fruit.

Saturday’s palm aligns with Sunday’s moon, awakens sweet summer sage, landing in all the craddled bowls, earth plowed by our feet.

Sunday says, this trail, this high tide here, it comes for you.


neil reid © december 2012

Ha! Five minutes of initial writing, followed by times five or ten, trying not to make it worse! (Oh, and bad. Did a couple more edits since posting this. No shame.)

Written for the We Write Poems prompt #134,  Time counts, really it does…. In your own manner and specific topic, please write a poem that gives witness to the changes of time and season. Read the prompt for more detail if you wish.

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one cheek yellow oxidized, burnished down from her right handing eye.  the other, red, a late falling dusk afternoon wildflower remembering, a trace of legs striding through long limbered stalks.  a scent of water bent, a river moved, more pervasive than.  here’s what drew the bees into step danced story regard for her.  one last taste of flame, then sleep.

one eye, a reasoned logic fair, sympathetic, a sail’s salt thirst eager to be spent.  you’d give your breath for a glance.  even just one.  the other, beneath an arching sliver of greenish cheese fragrant moon, then just here, right aside where your fingers blush a yearning touch, begins from afar laying across a field of snow.  one star at the apex of unvarnished sight.

a nose that is the scent of earth and skin just after rain’s first fall.

lips, two rubies embedded over blacknight beneath wind sheared sheets.  hear how they render meaning into whispered words like a kiss.  please, once more!, takes flight more swift than thought.  no fence will sway depart, in other words.  we follow as a canyon does your voice.

hair as windswept nest to crowning thorns that all summits are.  then stir the sky, holding blind day and stalking night into a single radiance.

at root a jill-in-the-box, a song’s refrain is how she breathes and how we know her name.  our voices a circle of tone.  here’s the painted proof, pudding done right, the sails gone tight, a tillered hand.  a brush that fingers hold, no ordinary face, her gaze that answers snowy doubt.

vision gathers experience.

she, a perfect wife.


neil reid © november 2012

An abstract view of an abstract portrait. Answer to the question, what is it? A draft. (because I’m sick, and focus don’t wanna come out and play) Also and unexpectedly, a response to the prompt, write a love poem without using the word “love”. Didn’t think this poem was “that”, but realized in writing it, that it was. My attraction to the abstract I realized is more than simply a matter of taste, but expresses how I feel in relationship with the experience of being here.

Written for the We Write Poems prompt #131,  Unexpectedly, love. Read the prompt for more detail if you wish.

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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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Letter to the Commander at dusk
Commander, the mounts you requested have been reaped from the plains, and riders, they’ve taken their names from the dowsing hat you gave to us.  Bonded, they are now like wind, ready for the message you seeded in them.

Our thanks abound for the draftsman planner given to lay our map upon the encampment, saying where the rivers run and the hills swell above first sight.  The sky you imagined is a perfect azure blue, making easy contemplation of the book.

I confide in you, certain doubts about the buttons, learning to uncover quiet voices like you always said would be our companion in this time of peaches turning their faces ripe and sweet.  Honestly, you’ve become better song in my listening ear.

Like you said, the words are light.  Like you said, we are the words.

More to be drawn upon the dawn.  We ride!


neil reid © october 2012

I used to have a clever answer to the riddle, what’ya write when you have nothing to say? This ain’t so clever, but more immediately honest anyway. And right now, if I didn’t write this, I wouldn’t write anything at all.

It kind of responds to two different prompts: write a letter poem and write from another identity. It’s both symbolic, yet more specifically real than might first be imagined. Although the writer’s identity is unspoken here. You can fill that in if you wish, at least to a few faces I think.

Are symbols real? Within the reality here, yes.

And everything I write these days, they’re all drafts, not yet home.


Written for the We Write Poems prompt #126,  write a persona poem and prompt #124, write an epistle, or letter, poem.
Read the prompts for more detail if you wish.

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what’s the nature inside the nature of one wolf?
a wolf drinks what rain has risen from earth, drinks melting snow that has answered first thirsts of others and falling for the valley crease river down below, drinks those last lasting moments of fear then pain then longer night, drinks sadness doubts regrets and with equal pleasure joy and the sweet taste of new grass, drinks what you never said to mother but thought about repeatedly, drinks a father ghost, drinks those buttons you gave away for a kiss that took years to arrive, drinks the baby’s smile like dew, and the baby falling to the dirt, drinks waving wheat farther than an eye can imagine yet.

so there’s the matter, the measure the manner of a life, all justified by sharp willing teeth.  how much harm or laughter matters the meaning of spirit in flesh?  here belly, here mouth, take this wedded bliss.


neil reid © october 2012

Write a stream of consciousness poem, was the prompt for writing this.

No great shakes as a poem, just a poem-in-play, but true to the process as I sense the quality of this prompt. Most all simply as it arrived over a few minutes time; not edited much at all. Did have to resist the desire to edit/add in more material afterward. Time does play a role in writing like this, sort of how broad the river goes. Would be good to do again.

Amusingly, the title, done long after the (prose) poem went through far more “thoughtful editing”, changing many times until!
Written for the We Write Poems prompt #125,  Streams of consciousness
Read the prompt for more detail.

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(a very drafty poem) About feet

Untie, unbuckle, unloose your shoes.
Quit your socks from their embrace.

Bare feet illuminate.

Now then, what’s between your toes
depends whole heartedly upon the direction
you face.

Which less commonly thought, includes
the ups the downs, the later being the usual

So what and where do you trek if
there’s only blue between your toes?

And that reminds me.

Oh yea, sometimes it’s glowing thoughtful
white bleach, sometimes new fawn shadow
grey, sometimes even stars bare and naked
peeking shy from beneath my feet.

A full dipper to ladle our plate.
Bare feet walking the sky.

Maybe we’ll leave you a slice
of moon.


neil reid © august 2012

An odd scrap of a thing, this poem is. Wrote another first, but more than less, it felt so “usual” for me, and I wanted something more. But what. Then this arrived. It don’t really feel all grow’d up to me, and the ending feels weak, but there is a quality shift in style and voice that I like (so it’s here, better and worse such as it is). Not a rule that poems need be “all done”, so a draft this is. This poem (sort of purposely) walks up to the edge of the pool, but doesn’t yet jump on in. And it might get swallowed up into something else I’ve been playing with now for weeks and weeks (we’ll see).

Besides I want to demonstrate (“X” marks the spot) that sharing a draft is both valid personally and as something to share with the community (hint, hint). Why does everything we write need to be perfectly polished? My favorite line from “Tales of the City”, as the landlady speaks to the new “midwest girl” in the big SF town, in query about “the rules” she responds, “dear, I don’t object to much of anything!”

Wouldn’t that be a good attitude to nurture in ourselves??

Written for the We Write Poems prompt #119,  This reminds me….
Inspiration from the story “Big Fish”, shoes off, socks off, feet in water, then the thought, this reminds me… Write from that position. Common enough but bare feet, yea, that changes things. Experience and imagination both get more intimate, more connected (so’s the thought anyway).

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g r a v i t y


insists, faultless stone, some circled route,
parchment round-about, close fever thread,
less my own than another’s call.

attraction brutish bright with sightless mass.

I fall to you.

I don’t resist.  even when I do.  I don’t resist.
io non resisto.  anche quando faccio.  io non resisto.

your eyes your cheeks your lips, rivering,
describe my touch.  in wilderness.

even when they don’t.  they do.
anche quando non lo fanno.  fanno.

neither time’s measure mapped,
given charter of tempest thirst
to describe to adore, to drink.

farther breath stands like a shard.

because yes dear, this bowl is real.
dare shed torrent’s consequence?

none fallen less.

no less acquaintance, a simple manner of matter,
surely meanings narrative, timeless yet not for any
single breath, counting kisses, counting

relentless eloquence, then comes laid down
upon a brow



neil reid © august 2012

Write a poem that begins and ends with a one word line, that word being the same at both beginning and ending.  Yet allow the body of the poem to create that shift in meaning for that one word.  Such was the prompt for this week from WWP.

Do you like me sometimes consider writing a poem, or more, a specific prompt, and think – I don’t wanna!  (Well, granted, it’s not a rule.)  However I begin to wonder, “when”?  So it was this week.

Then again, also thought, do it, do it now, or scribble at least.  Simple surprise that, while drafty, not studied enough, a poem came by shear impact of pen.  True, true, like they say – are those words really mine?  At least because I found something really of interest in the way words can not only change a meaning, but literally “lure” it one way or another even as a flag might flutter in a breeze.  I remain impressed with what language can do (much as it lies most of the time, one step or more away from real experience).  Much to be said for simply getting “out of the way”.

Written for the We Write Poems prompt #117,  What words mean….

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make your own poem, day one


describe your morning just before noon

describe what you didn’t do

describe how water feels in your mouth

describe speaking a lie

describe honey at first dawn

describe a pause unvocalized

describe the moon when you’re listening

describe the breath of a sail becalmed

describe the missing button from your shirt

describe in fewer words your pathway home

describe how this all relates



neil reid © july 2012


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the boy who gave me writing

(being prose bordering on poetry)


my mother’s penmanship was the practised grace of her generation.

styled the way she was taught as correct, a smooth flight of pen, letter into letter, like a swan might move tracing curves of a creek.  maybe that’s what was taught as an expectation of proper hand movement for a young woman then.

maybe it was meant as a sign of obediance and acceptance within the greater whole – how, as they say, to rightly behave.  I some so surmise as that’s what they tried to teach me in my schooling too.

they tried.  tried and failed.

mother took it inside, becoming another right hand, part of knowing who she was – to us who read her mothered pen, yet more, to herself as well.  even the secretarial short-hand she later learned to craft – it carried the same regard.

not me.

oh, I learned, my writing was good and proper enough, I passed my grades, but it never belonged to me.  their pen, their paper, their script in shallow heart.

seventh or eighth grade says the clock, and Larry Mukai, that was the name. my best friend.  of rather few those days.

left-handed he was.  me, nothing in particular – stew.  so I wanted with all my intent – be like Larry, write like Larry.  I trained my right-handed me to write inside a left slanted stroke, falling the way his did naturally.  I became second-nature to my intent.  no labor at all.

yet it was still the shell for that unwelcomed school-taught-script.  still not me.  ask, and I wouldn’t have said, but the feeling was true.

maybe it was some meteorite of fallen far space, too slight to draw a crowd, yet still, landed in my finger-tips, made an accident of purposeful result.  there was probably a sign, forgotten now.

building under construction, fingers being counted still, results uncertain yet.  watch your step!

inside that mystery, script turned to block print, lord knows precisely why, with only a hint remaining to tracks in the sand.  now an upright block script that runs near so swift as anyone’s hand.

there’s the hearth, the fire, the pen come home, albeit two steps to the left of expected perhaps, and said with some slight glancing grin.

and now this day, these shapes retain their stance.


neil reid © june 2012


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      your mouth is an arc over the story you say

      your mouth suckles a flood of poem milk

      your mouth leaves town when lights go out

      your mouth sleeps, near me now.

      your mouth sings not knowing faces you describe

      your mouth imparts rhymes to smooth round stones

      your mouth drinks rain like a river does, falling

      your mouth awakes, saying me.

      your mouth puts tea in honey, drinks drinks

      your mouth guards the voice painted inside

      your mouth stumbles words like trees

      your mouth is water, washing me.

      your mouth is like fingerprints beside the well

      your mouth dances when you read the threads

      your mouth carves round round words, and

      your mouth is a silhouette.


      neil reid © june 2012

what to say?

falls like rain, the meanings I mean.

do you say draft when the chance of being revised or rewritten is slim?

having written so infrequently of late, this is uncharacteristic of me.

an exercise in simply writing words.  almost no editing past becoming ink.  but what’s exercise mean?  practice for what?

bees make honey, I do this.  which is the better crop?

summer gets nearer north.  only I know what that means.

I’ll give you this poem instead.

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a practical poem


crumple this poem.  we’ll call it kindling then
in case you’re cold and wet.  got a match?

did you wash your face?  brush your teeth?

are you wearing clean underwear?  mother said!

are your shoelaces undone?  it’s important to check.

did you bring a towel?  might be a beach close at hand.

got gas?  got cash?  got spare change?

remember to feed the cat?  lock the door?

did you remember your keys?  hand in pocket now.

leftover cassarole is on the refrigerator, second shelf.
about two minutes in the microwave will do.

it’s exactly ten thirty-two a.m. now.  a practical truth
at least once each day.  truth is kind of like that.

loving you like my own life.  maybe that takes meaning
at least one moment each day too.  maybe more.

test for being a writer.  pen in hand?  paper?  words
on the page?

test for being a good writer.  you’ll never know.
can you live with that?

in case of fire, stop reading this!


neil reid © may 2012

A big time DRAFT this poem is! Wrote this much, but then a whole other format and approach came to mind, however no time to work on something near new by comparison. However so be it for today. Not “wrong”, just unpolished – and – not what I later thought to write.

Says the prompt this week, write a “practical” poem. I like the idea because it is so odd, so unexpected for what a poem might be. Thus then comes whimsy to pen, and whimsy I like. Although, true to the prompt, this poem does render (mostly) sincere and practical admonitions. That’s a twofer! Not all poems need be “serious” (and poets included too!) would you also think?

Written for the We Write Poems prompt #107,  Let’s get real.

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two first days


first day is grandmother’s roost, nested green.
potted planets draw circumference around her
standing throne.  I am seated where she stands.
I am alone.  a meal is perched in the air.  ample
leaves like semaphores.  mother’s hand becomes
a plate.  sweet crusted gold toasted wheat and
corn melted milk well sheaved inside a diagonal
cut.  two half moons face to face.  perfect young
fingers fit their place, thinking feast.  an olding
metal watering can near my feet.

second day is bare toes curling into wet sand.
water pulls on me.  strange gravity speaking
tongues in whitened froth.  I know this place.
I like this feeling space with sky at my feet.  then
grey floating in grey foam.  what is meaning in
this shape?  says a tall nearby voice, and now
we see his legs deeper out than mine, a shark,
he says.  danger?  step back.  his hands reach
down, dead, he said.  pulls a mystery onto
dryer sand, here, see.  we dare touch sand-paper
skin.  cautiously.  then forever name this shallow
place, “shark’s beach”.  more adult than I felt.

did I paint any words?


neil reid © may 2012

Write a poem about your very first (or maybe two) memories of being in this life, asks the prompt.  Try to give the child more voice in this; less of the adult “editor”.

Rather raw this draft.  So challenging to gain the child from the adult.  More simple the images, that at least.  Not that young (another judgment you see), but when I looked, these were what was available to me in company with the notion “first”, although each here are years apart from each other.  I could certainly speak during both these times, and sure I did, but that part of the memories are gone right now.  Almost feels too, that what I call “first” is moving forward in time.  When I pass, will that last breath then seem first?

Think I could stand to do this prompt more times than this, if just to get closer to the emotional moments, more more simple than me now.

One grilled cheese sandwich and one dead shark.  So be it.

Written for the We Write Poems prompt #105.  Old beginnings

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what language did

one day life came into our earth.  how it was
before nobody knows.  no one spoke and for
all we know, for all we don’t know, it was dark.
no water moved.
because of life, smoke began to weave.  it spun
itself into twine, twisting silent thought.  flames
arose upon new feet, began to dance.  moon
observed a waking wind, spoke, said to sun,
let them see!  so brightness rained from the sky.
life inhaled.
yet no stories were being told.  nothing really
made any sense at all.  so then language
decided to take on life.  dust began to whisper
shadows, then seek the spaces between all
things such that connections might embrace.
awareness took root.
rocks joined in, became a chorus.  clouds
began to sing about the sky the water the land.
water pronounced a willingness to fall, so faith
began.  then worms and leaves.  then limbs
and four-legged beasts with mouths to eat,
growing and falling apart.  words piled up
like crisp autumn leaves close underfoot.
words began to move.
then men, then women, so that all those
stories might be harvested and given birth
and given death.  like all real stories must.
appreciation became a smile upon the lips
of men.  every story mattered, no matter
the voice.  so quite unexpectedly thus did
listening come into the world.


neil reid © may 2012

A lovely clumsy draft? But I don’t care. (guilty pleasure?) Since first reading Stephen Mitchell’s translation of Gilgamesh, a desire began. Then more recently, the amazing work of Eduardo Galeano and his Genesis, Memory of Fire Trilogy. (clearly I’m way beyond my depth, splashing as best as I can)

While I’m rather lack “classic” leanings, something about these lyric mythic voices sounded and tasted right to me. So something to play with here; a stumbling step, but how else to begin?

And how dare one of casual accord approach such myth? I’m no student that way. Yet too, where do any myths begin? They represent our understanding of experience, so we, any of us, do qualify. Nothing carved in rock. Mostly I just wanted to approach that lyric voice, so this result. Worth more more engaging with I think.

And credit due, I love and borrowed Galeano’s phrase, language decided to take on life. Wonderful.

PS. REVISION, replaced “gathered” with “harvested” in the last stanza. Re-reading it was just obviously better, so much better. 05-12 neil

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