cowboy shoes

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.

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.


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.


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.

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.


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.

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”.

When birds leave first

When birds leave first

You don’t know.

Here is the ordinary paradise.  What
you expect of checkers, the moves you mark,
blessed ordinary choices made.

What color socks, scanning the landscape
and what will please your tongue, maybe
that box of cereal, a bowl, some milk.

These shoes seem to fit your life.  You
pull tight the laces, big loop goes around
and the sky paints thoughts blue.

Then.  There’s always a then.
What’s that sound at the back of a perfect
thought.  Yours alone?  Read their eyes.

Other faces begin to say, doubt has a name.
Arriving like a wave, recognition has found
your face.  We run like wind would do.

Towards or away from, some burning
need, a dull aching breath, inside this fog.
We hold tight whatever tree seems strong.

Then scattered clothes, holes in snow,
what memories are.  Translucent grace.
Smoke become faint, laying on the ground.

Faces that seemed far, now inside a single
gasp, a breath that doesn’t stop.  Elusive
now, turned to rain gone down the slope.

You don’t know how to plan, anything, anymore.
The day is blue the sky is clear, a child is gone,
a wife, a mother, a marriage torn,

the face who brought you water in a glass
fallen now back beneath the sand.  Some
stranger wraps a cloak around your snow.

This is how paradise is.  This is how life
takes a breath and another and another.
This is how you live.  How you go on.

You gather what scarred hands can find.

I don’t take care of my fears anymore.


neil reid © december 2012

This poem is written in support of the open prompt at We Write Poems, Writing for Healing and Peace (in series as presented).

Both that prompt and this poem here are offered and meant in a more general sense. While the initial spark was from that elementary school shooting in Connecticut, there are more than enough other incidents. In a manner I take that event as a sort of natural disaster (albeit by our own hands), and however harm comes, the sense is much the same, what seems lost in aftermath.

So here this poem, the images, the movement are annealed of several such experiences. Some of the phrasing is directly as shared by one of the survivors from the great south Asian sea tsunami a few years back.

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.


how to make water

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.

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



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.

a paper dragon landed on the windowsill

a paper dragon landed on the windowsill, quietly burnt orange.
granted, it wasn’t very large for a dragon, illusion confessed to me.
maybe it was just another autumn leaf afterall.


neil reid © november 2012

(How boring having a cold and the kinship of a more than usual thickness of thought.) Perhaps part my excuse (with thanks sincere) to my friend Irene, who unbeknownst to her, gave me the title for my poem this week. Nice poem and title she did for her own poem.

I feel an odd sense of whatever a “perfect sentence” means. At one end is Hemingway’s six word “story” about a pair of infant shoes. At the other is much of the writing within the astounding novel, “Cloud Atlas” by David Mitchell. If you haven’t read yet… well worth a browse! The density of his language is breathtaking.

What’s here however, is neither of those!

Written for the We Write Poems prompt #132,  Times three…. Write a poem composed of three perfect sentences. Read the prompt for more detail if you wish.



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.

Learning to paint in France
Cobblestone roads well worn by now.  How much so does ancestry burnish down the stone, or how much up, embossing pliant feet?

Here’s where we decide about shoes.

Then those days, crystal pearls on a thread, when it rained outside.  Very hard.  Like smooth white bone.

When the storm was met by the fabric of grandparent’s woven cloth.  Some bundled limbs the fury did not sway.

We followed ourselves into rain.

Discovering pigments right there at our fingertips, all along.  No tapping cane to merit the path for feet to scuff.

Who will dare say when all the apples are ripe?  Even in winter’s shadow dawn is sweet.


neil reid © october 2012

and simple thanks to a lady in France

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.

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.

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.

sixteen thoughts going on six
here’s a dream about me being awake

and in that dream someone suggested I am wiser now

than once upon some other time

like when I was sixteen as they suggested to me

so I wondered in this dream what is it now

what more do I know now more than then

if in fact I do? and I thought a list just like this in my pocket place

    learn to distill honey from bitter salt words

    forgive broken dreamers no matter how many

    trust your heart even if it’s tempting to forget

    embrace the awkwardness of learning – that’s the choice

    you are here for more than you

    learn to dance

so what would I tell that young boy if I could

and then I thought sixteen? well that’s not right because it’s much too late

because by then I was already long long far lost and dark

so it was obvious six or seven or eight and then at least there’d be a chance

making some difference then

I thought just who am I writing to and how would I understand

because me as the world was all different then

because if I’m doing this shouldn’t I make it really real? for that boy

so what are the words that would make sense of all this experience in sum

that now is me? and realized that only experience can honestly teach

and not words like a parent who’s already dead or

in this case not even yet born and can only express by intent of care

and besides who am I not to love to allow to let that child fall

through those many pains and become

the child like a weed inside me right now right here

and wondering what’s the better truth

and then I thought maybe he is already reading all of this

or someone is and maybe understanding happens outside me outside time

just like becoming born from nothing is and

then I found this wrinkled scrap of thought and it said

    welcome home


neil reid © september 2012

This poem becomes the “process” itself of the prompt idea, here laid out as a draft of string. A draft because I can’t do it better for now, because what it is was the result of over a week’s considering, evolving, yet when came was near in all one breath, just a few minutes in time (and more fuss would only make it less honest). Oft enough I’ve said, when you’re looking to resolve an image but see nothing other than your tangle of thoughts, that small dilemma, then take that process itself as the result – so my own medicine delivered here.

Neither is this my usual with words, any care for cleverness cast aside. Make it real came standing in front. What can we say to a child, the language, the understanding being all different then – but maybe so, even right now. Thus in the end, the process was circular and genuine.

Written for the We Write Poems prompt #122,  Words of Wisdom
In this case, meaning this – If you could go back in time and impart a bit of wisdom to your sixteen year old self, what would you say? An almost deceptively complex and powerful prompt I think.

hand me downs

hand me downs
(perhaps a love poem you didn’t expect)
they lay quietly in pockets away from curious eyes.
they harbor patience impatiently.  here, hold on.
they worry motionless when my stomach aches.
they whittle worldly uneveness, unmindfully.
they cover the lips of doubt.  sometimes lies.
they scatter dirt over mis-spent dimes.
they hold a pen, writing.  obedient shelves.
they stir the pot no matter the logic pro or con.
they count edges, yet only appreciate surfaces.
they covet ambergris when not amused.
they welcome an urchin kiss.  bend me down.
they brace betwixt stones, yet hold nothing in place.
they tithe to your waiting brown summer slopes.
they sniff like dogs.  remember this.
an eve’s wood burnished shadow eye, aroma like rising dough and red fruit given fair consent.  here, a table laying down distance, being polite.  horse soldier hands the only players on that divisible plain.  I would’ve hid.  I did.  some excuse, a trickle of darting moth-like slight of touch.  there was a splash.
you traced where maps don’t go over rough raw edges of fingertips where touch fell shattered, broken threads silent before.  you didn’t hesitate.  fingers, hands, they received what a mind would not.  and even while a stone was still a stone, you weathered me.  turning into rain.  unseasoned.  disheveled.  fluid.
nearly did you make a shadow swim.
what meaning when flawed hands surrender fault?


neil reid © september 2012

Drafty seems become a way of life. Perhaps that’s only natural. And here an odd gathering – basically a list poem to begin, then it had something more a say and suggest (an old memory cloaked, we’ll say here, for poem’s sake). I’m considerably less sure about the second prose-poem part (not the form, but the content) (some things just don’t feel right to say aloud) (not yet?). So be it.

I rather find repeatable intent by the prompt idea, hands as verbs. Lots of territory there to wander within. More later? While obvious, yet I was surprised how much hands do.

Written for the We Write Poems prompt #120,  What do hands do?
Describe your hands as verbs!

(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).

where landscape does

where landscape does

there is a shadow inside each pebble here.  no sun
will dare fade our place.

there is water making shape around each pebble sleeping here.
we accept sweet water haze like a river is.

there is a note a tone a harmony performing each pebble here.
lay your ear upon our shallow breath.

there are marching shoeless feet dancing each pebble here.
evenings we drink the sharp edges smooth.
there are hearts where each pebble slumbers here.  feel our
pulse the way stone seeds bide their time.

learn your face in the mirror sand.  we feast you here.
we are lost water where your shadows land.

there is a bending back, a reaching arm, a pinch of fingertips,
a heft in the palm, your keen eye beside each pebble here.

here, where we gather breath.
do you notice what shadows do?  have far strangers
at thirst, become this curving sky?


neil reid © august 2012

Easy, historic, to think of our moon this way.  However is there such, as being a love poem to (or with) our kin, farther reached red Mars?  Maybe that’s what this poem is.

And remembering the final closing scene from Bradbury’s “Martian Chronicles”, a moment of recognition renewed.

Written for the We Write Poems prompt #118,  Far far landings….
Write a poem, howsoever inspired, by one of the initial photo images of the far planet Mars as given us by our new, just landed rover Curiosity. (see prompt for photo image) (or click here for the full size image)

do chickens dream of us?

it seemed like a mostly usual night, like a mostly usual dream

however it began with a couch and

there was a man with a beard and a woman with red hair
standing inside a crowd and

there was a hammer and nails and something was changing
something made of wood and

it was a house for chickens to live inside
or it was more like a stage where they’d perform

and when they came outside they stood on stepping stones
surrounded by dirt by muddy dirt

so someone in the audience said and maybe
it was the poet or maybe not and

that there should be more stones so the chickens
wouldn’t have to stand in mud and

then further announced

that only the hens knew better to step on stones
and not the mud

and just then

someone else stepped inside and stole every word
of this dream right away and


neil reid © august 2012 (and one willing dreamer)

And here I testify and certify this dream is for real.  I know because I’m the one who stole the words!  (with permission of course)  (although where would most writers be if not for an occasional raising of the skull and cross-bones!)

And to demonstrate that poems (including dreams) need not justify themselves nor have a point besides being exactly what they are, and we would do well not taking things all so seriously so much of the time!

Ever ride one of those small old-fashioned roller coasters?  This dream, this poem, they’re kind of the same.  To smile is like a door.


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….

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