Posts Tagged ‘birds’

note to Readers:  This is a Cento poem, an assembly of another writers words: actually two other writers in this specific instance.
While reading, imagine two different voices, each speaking their lines to you (italics vs not), with perhaps even a third, saying the chorus parts (prolog, interlude, etc.). Your ear will add more dimension that way.


the universe begins with
an empty face because

    (being a poem in two voices and a chorus)



    The woman and the man dreamed that God was dreaming about them.

We were laying on her bed with a mohair blanket covering us.
In places where there was nothing, the seventh day put soil; the eighth plunged its hands and feet in the soil.

The first sun, the watery sun, was carried off by the flood.

That night, there was a full moon encircled by ice crystals.

She was dying in the same way she was living, consciously.  All that lived in the world became fish.  I kept expecting Mother to appear.

When women were birds, we knew otherwise.  
The thunder birds left the little girl in the fork of a tree.  “You’ll live here,” they told her.

I will say it is so: My mother’s voice is a lullaby in my cells.

“We’ll come every time you sing.”

Her absence became her presence.

No one will be able to sleep, nor to keep secrets, and every body will know who is people, who is bird, and who is beast of the forest.


    They will be born and die again and be born again.

    Two parrots appeared out of the sky.
    No sooner had they alit on the ground than they turned into women.

Between the silences, we played together.

When she saw the fleshy fruit at her feet, she picked it up and bit into it.

Water is essential.  She felt a strange pleasure and became pregnant.

A mother is essential.  And God thought, “The rabbit is so small.  Yet he did all this.  If the rabbit were big, maybe I wouldn’t be God.”

My mother’s transgression was hunger.

Before the sun arrived, the woodpecker pecked at the wooden girl below the belly.

Thus she, who was incomplete, was open for the sun to enter.


    I like the idea of erasure.

    synonyms:  abolish blot cross out cut dispatch efface eliminate excise expurge gut kill launder negate nullify obliterate scratch out stamp out strike take out trim wipe out withdraw

When a Guarani child dies, he rescues its soul, which lies in the calyx of a flower, and takes it in his long needle beak to the Land Without Evil.

The jaguar gave him a bow and arrows and taught him to defend himself.

Turn the pencil upside down, erase.  He learned that fire illuminates and warms.  Pencil upright.   Begin again.

In a family that hunted, I learned the names of the ducks my father would shot.

God came up softly, stroked his back, and suddenly caught him by the ears, whirled him about, and threw him to the ground.

Solitude is a memory of water.

And every day I am thirsty.


    They will never stop being born, because death is a lie.


cento poem assembled by neil reid © june 2012


Written for the We Write Poems prompt #110,  
Stringing pearls!
That’s a graceful way to say the more mundane – take two different “cento” (prose) source materials, from two different writers, and interweave them together in a “conversation” of sorts. Simple but challenging, huh? (Read the prompt.)

So, define “conversation”? Not so easy now! Not in this respect of two tangential voices laid together, side by side (whether willing or not!). So, think this way – two actors, performers, standing upon the stage, side by side, saying their respective lines. Each one does by content, by physical proximity, by intent – then each inform the other by what they say. Moreover, there is a “third” involved in this conversation – that third is you! Meaning too, you, reading this. So that’s where the conversation exists, and “is” in a very real and present sense.

Now the “topic” here, that’s simply chance (if you so care to believe). These are two of the books I am reading right now. And both writers very powerful of word and masters of imagery. I simply followed.

cento with cento sources:

(voice one) Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds.

(voice two) Eduardo Galeano, Genesis, Memory of Fire.

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counting pebble skies


thirty-eight birds on a wire.
clear bright spotless blue otherwise.
shadow limb roosted leaves unmoved
in summer middle-day heat.  silent green.

slumbered earthen white truck beneath
claws itself awake, clears its’ throat.
unexpected growl.  startled all
into flight.

feathers leap into elliptic waves all
in less space than one random thought.
become a broken road round river


oddly enough, fifty-three return.
one is white.


neil reid © october 2011

written for We Write Poems prompt #77 instant poetry!
by Joseph Harker, write a poem about something that takes place in an instant (say five seconds or less), and keep the observations attentively direct without consideration toward meanings. Please read community responses here.

Interesting to take a moment, only one moment, almost a still life in time, and attend only that. Here the movement is slight, is brief, from still to motion to still again. The “observation” of counting sets that beginning and ending here. And yes, I cheated a little, took two moments instead of only one, as that most brief motionless second moment created a wonder almost without wondering (yet still, without actually “doing” anything). However the poem remains true with the prompint’s notion of avoiding reflection for meaning, and simply makes a second observation, which yet changes the energy of the whole, (fair I think) and (even if I’m being bad).

Thanks to Joseph for this one (as I had nothing till lunch and thirty minutes to see and write this poem) and his new poetry journal Curio Poetry for which this prompt is their site theme. Interesting too, what takes a literal few seconds, then takes thirty minutes or more to (barely) describe.

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Thanks to Deb for beginning this poem.

round eyes like windows are

what’s the fare of being a bird?
brown, winged, featherweight.  but you don’t always fly.
sometimes you perch, ripe-apple-like
sitting like another walnut in a crowded backyard tree.

delicate eager plum, aged oak, hybrid walnut arms open
wide.  how many trees in just this one neighborhood?
how many limbs where you might imagine in between
shadow and aerobatic brown-eyed navigation?
what difference all those twigs stems glistening oval
drooping leaves?  a chorus by any slight breeze.

would you even think why? why your eye scans for crows,
boasters in black or landscaped lurking stealthy cats.
first nature, you just do.

no time to consider consequence.  the danger of small
boys below.  a function of earth and light.  certainly you
would forestall any big ravishing cloud getting close.
but your science is all bone and sinew and fleeting eye.
ready for swift blue somersaults.

yet unready for the near trajectory of a small copper
clad ball coming into rest beneath your feathers now.
ripe-apple-like, you fall into dirt.  dried grass for feathers
now, falling wings, falling breaths.

the boy runs with Mercury feet, so seldom, well never
before actually, making his mark.  for that moment that
measure of time taken for a spark to go blind,
it all had seemed a good idea.

then looks down.  then master no more.

holds no hand that can undo done.  only witness change,
the way time never apologizes.  the way two boy hands
can’t hold water back from falling out.  nor the life of
one small brown bird.  he hates that now it requires
a second blow to punctuate the suffering with a final
stop.  a period mark.

the boy as well too slight to understand the science
of physics, the way life responds and gravity willingly accepts.
you might leap skyward but gravity is always the patient home.
here, here, summed in simple phrase,

      you can take,
but you cannot make, not a world, not a singular life.
a book might suggest, a parent might preach, yet
nothing teaches like what lays at your feet.  like one
life may give everything within itself that a boy might
see outside inside beneath an old walnut tree.

that’s the window opening.

neil reid @ may 2011

Thanks again to Deb Scott and her poem Diving in at A FINE KETTLE OF FISH, the new collaborative blog for Deb, Carolee and Jill. Credit due for lighting a match.

Deb’s poem touched an old memory for me, and with what? seven words of encouragement, began my own willingness to consider doing this poem here. Proof I suppose that “being ready” don’t actually count for much!

Read the full commentary

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Soft landing

When I fell to your planet here,
Earth, as you say, and I understand,
but a little presumptuous anyway,
I decided to stay a while.

The milkshakes I like a lot.
Cocoa, unusual, yes!
Don’t have that on Mars,
no, not yours, ours, our home.

Laundromats, I’d agree,
some necessity but not nice.
Square tables, that’s the problem.
They should be round.

Beating memories on stones
down by the creek, we like that better.
Same as your people once did.
Why’d you stop?

You might sing more to your birds.
In time you’ll learn they hold the world
together by their wings. Not logical,
we know, but true all the same.

When the skies fall down,
you’ll be glad you did. Then
you can fly, just like we do.
Farewell, and thanks.

neil reid © june 2010

neil reid © june 2010

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