Archive for the ‘Poems’ Category


ears: bowls that fill without your hands, that left right mirror, generous.
sand: reasonable between your toes, don’t question obvious.
ribbons: scribbled in rock, gravel, dirt, feet, then too there’s wind making curls.
sapphire: mother’s color between fingertip thoughts, nearly sparks,
(ruby: the passion idea left behind while running from the flood).
starfish: when he got just rewards, bending over to steal stars from the sea. patience does.
Eugene: she was almost there, clueless from either lighted door.
rain: her waterfall hair, an island culling blues, yet I still said no. pigments dry.
the road: the ribbon the sea the sand, the crusade. a banner lurches to steady itself, touches earth.
memory: how I story myself.

neil reid © 2014 march

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looking at poem

l o o k i n g   a t   p o e m
nose nose.  mirror close.
smell poem’s breath.  poem
breathes mine.  steam reveal,
fingers paint.  inhale, lay
motionless.  awake,
disguised under sheets.
poem inside, doesn’t sleep.
here, feel, dusty feet.
cat leaps onto bed.  unfed, leaves.
some poems too, closing their eyes.
mother father, child.  reflection bears
no fault.  if you had a thousand eyes
that’s exactly who I’d be for you.
language contains this bowl.  monarch
wings.  see how they heel counter
compass into lofted wind.  see
how poem measures itself.  knotted
twine that holds the sway.
some other sail, bent, bitten word.
what calls itself, newmoon face.
poem, mirror, me.
and when it stands alone, one breath,
the way wind breathes on leaves

neil reid © 2014 february

maybe possibly the first in a group, not so much “progressive” but looking to say what this poem really wants to really say. ie. if a poem could speak, what would it want to say? (without my help to stir up the mud)

go see the WWP prompt, if for nothing else save the video included.
about poems, about you

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beside the road near Mt. Shasta
assume words haven’t decided their meanings yet.
assume that field of stones are lovers teeth, and
what stone means or teeth or lovers, you don’t know.
your senses breath, unlike books, unlike words.
assume that field is earth and me and field, they
are the same.  and if you strode onto that field
there would be no waiting given leave.
assume the very air agreed.  wind written
into curving pliant skin.  another moon.
exposing meaning like rain unpeels.
and your belly, a white translucent thaw.

neil reid © 2014 january

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2014 0102 reasons


reasons are so needless blunt.
your voice here, the warmth
of a match atop winter snow.
good to read. that’s a verb

neil reid © january 2014, numerics

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Nelson Mandela

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how do we let you know
the cat walked out the open front door. that was three days ago. then the phonecall letting you know. nothing more to do.
then four, then five. imagination calling out a name, a click of the tongue. not like a child lost, but barrels more than losing keys. now six. now seven. time gets pale.
then today, leaving for work, and how do we let you know? the cat waiting outside the black front door.
quick, set out some food in that bowl I’d set away unused. you come, you must be famished, you sniff, no thanks, you say.

neil reid © november 2013

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let the oceans be milk with the gathered light of old photographs
wrap me in a blanket, something soft. no box. something with your scent, the way coyotes recognize home.
do you think when dogs or cats circle their bed before lighting down, that what they are doing is erasing the history of that spot? that way dreams are more direct.
swift, these people inhabiting this space surrounding me. I’m so still. things to tend, no rush, my feet like fallen leaves on the ground. do you suppose dead folks decided to sit down for a while, then just thought they’d stay? even my thoughts are maple sap, my most busy right now, being you.
why is it eyes seem like windows to us? not figurative but literal. really. who do you see in a stranger’s eyes? maybe the earth is a lens. one moon soaking into light?

neil reid © november 2013
credit due. writers do steal another’s words. as I did with the title here, slightly paraphrased from a poem by Tung-Hui Hu, Greenhouses, Lighthouses. with thanks.

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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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found in a museum attic somewhere I don’t know
there’s an old tender touch shirt, red dimly
in the shadowed sky-blued glass above wooden
floor. it creaks upon meeting your feet. oh yes,
soft patterned, it’s flannel, that’s what it is.
was it mine or hers? yet there upon her contours
that dark mountain grove where kissing discovered
itself, and fumbling at buttons beneath the fleece.
standing night trees said nothing but blind.
eagerness wanted to become something more.
it didn’t rain till morning then.

neil reid © october 2013

accidentally written for Margo Roby’s Poem Tryouts: If You Build It

you know, if you’re walking in a museum and this or that thing pleases or interests you and all that is nice enough. then unexpectedly something becomes personal, and you recognize yourself in what you discover, find, not for the first time. like this. and pardon my being roughshod with this prompt, but it was just that one word, museum, that kept coming back to me. here, one very brief touch.

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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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too small to be a door

too small to be a door
the window was weeds because that’s what you saw.  the window was a ship counting souls.
the window sent them on their way, north or south, obvious enough.
although some walked on into the east.  west being reserved for falling gulls.  the window each day kept some of the sun for itself.  of the moon, it gave everything.
the window is a plate for spiders who are spent.  the window keeps no book of dates, yet soup is hot, poured into a bowl just when it’s due, ready to be sipped.  here, rest your feet.  windows are the last pocket you’ll ever need.
windows are the space between walls.  try calling them by names of your ancestors.  dead is not exactly what you think it means.
windows come home Sunday eves.

neil reid © september 2013

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red skirt

red skirt
the girl in a short red skirt, reading those same familiar white shells, washed and burnished in years of salt, twice more than tides reveal.
sugar and lemons, someone danced as absence bleaches tender bones. the way sand is window to waves.
then, someone said then, and it all resolved itself.  the way sleep does and doesn’t do.
roof-top sun on drying stone.
earth don’t change.  sea don’t change.  even gulls.
yet put hand to where land ends.  you feel the difference.
     she was here.

neil reid © september 2013

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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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not winter not snow

not winter not snow

it isn’t winter. it isn’t snow. it isn’t visible.
no limbs broken in a turbulent storm.


      writing poems with beginnings, endings.
      no middle feet.
      meanings like waves, then gone.

smaller than a morsel of salt.
dissolved in a sea of words.
and drink.

neil reid © june 2013
comment: not writing a poem.

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untitled love poem number two

lips finding me    e v e n   i n   d e a d   o f   n i g h t
mid-stride in thought, then    t o s s e d   a s i d e
rosetta flowers pressed    i n   t h e i r   b o o k
poured ladles wanting more    a s   e a c h
breath    e s c a p e s
lips and teeth and jaw
just that fierce,    b o n e   t o   p u l s e
fire    w a s   a   t e n d e r n e s s

coda pas de deux:
a kiss decades close    l a y i n g   h e r e
h o n e y   a s h e s   o n   t o e s


neil reid © june 2013


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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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morning poem

bright early morning sun taking turns with lumbering clouds overhead.
this morning wasn’t meant to be a poem but here’s what it is.

I slept in my bed again, rather than just where I happened to be.
there’s a difference between which floor you choose to sleep upon.

then again it matters
what you bring inside
into your dreaming self.

I listened to a native man on TV the night before.  His words well observed, sharp like a knife, bright like an arrow point found in the dirt.  But under the sharp was the dull ache of being hurt, a shaft broken that won’t come out.  He was a good heart, suffering.  He had no god.  Not ours, no matter that, nor of his people from whom he stood alone, but neither any plural he could feel of his own inside.  So he just had his beautiful words to live within, kind of lonely that way.

a scentless bloom.  truth don’t like sleeping alone.
neil reid © april 2013

Written for the We Write Poems prompt #151,  morning poem.
And maybe it’s my NaPoWriMo poem too (if one will count?)

But really, written for me. How long long since the last I wrote. Neither was I even trying and mostly this is from a conversation I was having, then thought, well it all counts, all the words, and shouldn’t it all be poems anyway. So here, a ball of mud tossed onto the wall.

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getting here from there
being a cento poem of small epiphanies

    so it was when love slipped inside us
    it looked out face to face in every direction

the question hinged in your knees, your ankles

lightning, like luck, lands somewhere

it is like the origami held inside a plain sheet of paper
some thoughts throw off a backward heat

a cat fills only a cat-sized hole
yet your whole body turns toward it

as a bell unstruck for years is still a bell

but how else learn the real, if not by inventing
what might lie outside it?

if truth is the lure, humans are fishes

longing even when running away

being a cento poem assembled by neil reid, march 2013
all lines by Jane Hirshfield, from her book “Come, Thief”
line breaks and associations at my whim, with thanks

I like, I enjoy, cento poems. They are good to eat. Reading counts, and it’s a lot like learning too! And they are especially good when I got less to say.

Written for the We Write Poems prompt #147,  Epiphanies bonfire!.
Read the poems of others here.

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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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no joy.  no sorrow.
no doubt.  no certainty.
no cardboard box.  no manuscript.
no publisher.
no desire.
nothing to correct.
no spare change.  nothing to change.
no poem.  no ink.
no waiting page.

no emptiness.

no eyes.  no ears.
no voice.  no lips.
no nose.  nothing to judge.

no father.  no mother.
no history.

no emptiness.

no nothing.

beginner’s light.


neil reid © january 2013

new year.  what you reading?  now my several books all want reading at once.
here, some shards.  and yea, too clever still.  but then, it’s fool’s january.

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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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