Posts Tagged ‘language’

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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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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the language of


it’s the language of attractiveness
like gravity like red cells swimming
inside arteries like summer nights
like jasmine says to a nose

and steady stance won’t you come
listening like a bee surely does
fluttering wings and molecules

a hunger for something sweet
like unreasonable beauty does
like honey on your tongue

all that’s wanting waiting to be
already is, like frosty breath like
hands in pockets huddled twice

till dancing toes draw the map
like does the sea like does the sky
and the moon and shadows too

and I wouldn’t speak your name
except I got nothing more to say
of matter much, besides

the flowers are shouting now

neil reid © january 2012


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late autumn phrase


late autumn phrase

what language a winter tree bereft
of leaves save some scattered folk?

is it a curtain furrowed clean to reveal
seeds? or breath amidst bleating oars?

a chance for splayed phrases to
gather round a swaying sketch.

birds grey on a wire high like some
sentence gone silent in

flightless hieroglyph.

yet when my sight departs
what thought remains of early
morning frosted breath?

bare, but for some few whited

neil reid © january 2012


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writer’s shoes

how a writer may navigate new shoes to say (smiling that same smile) and beg or borrow or feast upon another’s words, the ripeness of life.





      an infant.



      a child idea.



      new bare feet.



      tadpole toes.



      learning to express.



      mother’s milk.

neil reid © july 2011

This is really a one-word-poem. Been thinking still about writing styles and how I’ve learned along the way. “Stealing” I like to think to myself; but I’m not really that bad, just a dramatic, amusing way to imagine – pirate poetry! But actually mimicry, yes, that’s been of valuable use to me, although not so deliberately, but just what-I-read, it’s sort of like eating and it just gets echoed often in what I write following a meal.

So, what is the word. I like “adopt”, to take within as your own; I think that rightly applies, homage to the source as well. And the poem itself, it satisfies, however…

After several lengthy poems (with short titles), time I thought to reverse the roles. And the poem borders close on being obscure, so I wanted the title to really set the stage. Thus that monster three line title thing. Maybe that sets the scene, but I’m not so sure I got it right. However – it does amuse me too, and that counts.

Any better title ideas?  Suggestions welcome

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far sighted

prompt # 033
Say what you want…
by staff@wwp

Write a poem about what you want.

far sighted

see with the eyes of a dog.

take that walk across the street.

broken doubts can wait by the curb.

I want a boat and tree, escaping town.

I want to fall under the wheels of your fuzzy face.

I want to scratch eager chins.

my willing belly awaits rolling affection.

I want every dog and cat on the street,

running water under the road.

I want you to lick my face.

no, I don’t mean dogs and cats.

I mean raining you.

I mean without a hat.

I mean winter skies exposed.

I mean every touch, every drop.

I mean everything counts.

some waves look like birds like clouds.

unabridged beneath the pier.


notice how our language leans.

meaning with all your words.

meaning with all your blood.

meaning with all your breath.

graze the field full of moons.

fill the bowl, bring your spoon.

the delight of homeless dreams.

meaning nothing much.

meaning every glance.

each brow the roof of truth.


I want your poems.

tuck them inside pillow seams,

where gulls proceed a storm.

I want wet kisses.

meaning you.

I want your smile close.

fly where eyes go underneath.

I want the sky like breath becomes.

that’s not a lot to ask.

see with the eyes of god.

neil reid © december 2010

Want? So easy to think, less so to say. Another poem that feels somewhat drafty, this one. Not trying to answer any great scheme. Merely one moment that came into view and grew from there. I’ve got boxes of stuff; I’m not impressed. One simple face more fills my sky. But how do “we” relate? What lines emboldened by language keep some distance close? (Ha! Even this comment could be better writ! It’s been a too long stretched out week.)

Of poetic form, I wanted to keep a simple map. Thanks Elizabeth for a poem of yours that sent me this way, although this is still more verbose as yet. Smaller can be bigger too.

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Language becomes

Language becomes

Words we use are fingers and feet
treading ground already made.

We speak now in symbolic bowls,
a bride’s red gown to what we mean.

In the beginning was the word.
And word was water in the dark.
And when it flowed, became all light.

Should be a word saying. breath-that-breathes,
not symbolic, that feels all of itself warm-close-ear,
making-life-to those where its-touch-is-received,
no copy but genuine.

Science even says no observation is without effect.
Merely to see, changes the being-ness of being.

There should be more ripe words for love
tenderness passion touch taste, as our cloth of skin,
transparent to word, moves like boundaries aren’t.

Embrace should embrace.
Nor leave doubt. It is not a measured distance,
it is the reception of willingness that flows by lips.

There should be a word for lovers who
never touch except by word. It should
mean the same, just differently,
like clouds are, differently.

Word   makes   real   of   nothing   at   all.

Understand. Receive whole word by word.

I once refused for years to listen to music
sung in any language I understood. I wanted
to hear the music inside meanings instead.

And love can mean home where
deepest fear and deepest love
without even the space of doors.

Or you tell me what heart says home means
to you, and that’s what I’ll mean saying to you.

That unknown cat across the street came
at the first hint of tongue, greeted romance.
Silly do you think? But tell me your secret
heart would not hunger for such a meal.

There should be a word for strangers that means
You don’t need to prove worth when you already are.

And everything here came from word,
when word was singularity, the all and
nothing-of-all, including seeds
that stick to wandering feet.

Lay beside me, speak sleepy to me
beneath the sheets of words, translate
with your lips down to meanings like
a child understands. I follow you,

Just gotta find the red rocks inside words.
Rub till my face goes bright, till every drop
of blood knows your name, whispers loud.

There are whole vocabularies in wind
the way it rolls dust in from the north, or
on small feet idyls itself between my home
and shed teasing flowers to dance.

Words don’t all need be understood,
just received. Let them play in your hair
kiss your cheeks, remind you that bees
make honey from desire unbound.

Ten fingers ten toes just like roots.

Word   makes   real.    Makes   grow.

So toss this poem out, put it in the dirt,
maybe weeds will grow, maybe you’re
smarter than me, more loving than me.
You’ll let me know, won’t you please.

Here  to  be  defined.

neil reid © june 2010

neil reid © june 2010

To be revisited. Perhaps you’ll knock on the door. Till then, begun.

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what hearing will

talk to me     of     twigs and bones

we’ll put them in an old coffee     can

shake and rattle them     listen

that’s the new language     we’ll    speak

mixed with tattered books old fish bones

simmered in broth        just like you said

the rustle walking     down     the street

leaves impart as silence     leans

into a throat and every     syllable

nuanced in your eyes     right where

meaning will     search till     found

common soil and     long     lost

relatives like     firelight

can you hear it now?

the sound the words,

incantation crackling like

fingerprints in sand

neil reid © may 2010

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U n t i t l e d

Untitled, that’s how all these poems begin

an empty old battered pot. (Says so

right here in soot and thumb.)

Will I ever love you rightly or enough,

lingers in thought past when eyes close to sleep.

And do you wonder who? I mean you.

I look for a word. I look for a life.

Some feathers fallen onto this path.

But not really only of mine. Something from

this spiral arching net, a thousand thousand

seaward fish. Some omen I might translate.

Make invisible into soup, some flavor

we’ll both understand. Some language

we both enunciate.

Is that your Spanish or Chinese tongue?

Or just an old English psalm? Honestly,

all more than easy-as-butter led-astray.

It comes to what a heart is willing to reveal,

willing to give away before some last breath

claims me back again.

I’m not afraid of going home,

but empty-handed, of that, yes.

It would just be a shame not to appreciate.

A shame to pretend I didn’t care, didn’t see

what’s feral turned friend.

And I do understand. Just as is a rose,

untitled or named. Like you.

Neil Reid © March 2010

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read write prompt #115,
what do you believe by Carolee Sherwood

What do you believe? Make a list. Elaborate. Then what don’t you believe. Ditto.
Stir, and see what poem comes.

Read the RWP prompt for full descriptive details.
Read other participants responses to this prompt.

A promise kept

I believe in no-edges.

I believe my-breath-becomes-you, and yours-mine.

Since you were a child you’ve breathed inside of me.

Simple science can figure that. Don’t need no math to calculate.

A pair of eyes can see and pronounce. Beauty-first-in-hand.

A father’s lingered gaze. Generous.

Mosaic reflected sense plows earth & clean.

Say it’s a lie. You can. I won’t stop you.

Better language may plead, but won’t cajole

without shared willingness unbound.

I believe no-secrets. I believe beauty.

I believe what Keats Grecian urn had to say!

I believe your feeling becomes my feeling.

I also believe mine might sleep in yours (do we dare).

I believe better angels have something to illuminate.

I believe indifference and mean-ness were on that tree

because nothing and no-thing could be left aside

because there is no aside that isn’t also here.

But that’s mere knowledge, not the deed.

Just choose what’s ripe.

I believe a million mouths have something to say.

Yes, choose what’s ripe.

I believe the earth is round.

And so is the better gravity of heart.

Round like coming-round, like fruit & eat,

like bread & bake, like fish-make-swim.

Like our great circle lives do navigate home.

I believe in atoms & all that stuff

and that gravity attracts for a reason too.

I believe in words like gravity. Feel yourself in that embrace.

We are a great multitude of distant binary pairs, we dance.

And may I please, have this one? Dance and close.

Whitman wasn’t an accident.

Words will speak because language wants.

Given sweet or pain, trusting to what voice will become-and

fall into more better self. We are chorus here.

And for all these ceramics of thought as best I might,

existence, faith is the greater bowl. Heaven is written

inside your choice & no matter regrets.

Make your magic be  g o o d   w  o  r  d  s

Neil Reid © February 2010

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it is

a matter of silence.


I know we

all understand.


Don’t-wanna-wanna-stop. Won’t-can’t-because-because.


Again    and    again    and

let go

let go.

I don’t know what we will find.

Let go.


I don’t know what we will hear.

You, there, across the room

close as a couch, flannel I can touch.

Red & black & white & buttons (undoing) plaid

Fingers mumble, we listen them then.

Language in the native dark, illumination-like.

Even at the other far away end of a thread

like letters co-mingle us, long breaths in between.

Flashlight becomes punctuation, comma’s curl

like lips, a new cocoon makes brushes of hands

Magellan painting on the sea.

Vocabulary waves.


Spare everything spring-thirsty-leaves like clothes, and emerge

where words left off. Your voice in primordial dark, could-be should-be

any night like any-night-might-be, becomes deaf-speak by fingers first.

Assemble vowels of open chords “without audible friction” (they say)

“a unit language, a cell & nucleus” (like they speak) becomes syllable

phrasing on close wet lips. So ordinary, just like an apple wanted to be.

And that was the meaning meant all those slumbered days.

Here, the dawn is hours walking distance now, take my hand.

Stir, like leaves-lips does salted abiding breath and realize

what was once fear famished becomes full, given way like a prow

does the water bay, and cleaving makes whole in wake.


It is not wisdom. It is nothing clever at all.

It is patience. It is willingness.

It is standing sentinel, drinking pulse of phoenix sun.

It is grapes & stems in the bowl. It is a coyote howl

blackbird grace, fallen forest trunk & what’s that mean?

It is becoming human into one skin of experience.

Neil Reid © February 2010

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Flower is a word

Flower is a word

Four feet tall

poem group index

I use a word it is called hammer

sits inside resides like language

does into hands into feet

into eyes into all I speak all

I feel and love and taste and

bite and sit and swim

floating as I do with you in this

ocean deep blue green splashing

undulating words into fins

into lips kissing you is

really is my face your face

as a tulip is

Neil Reid © January 2010

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