Posts Tagged ‘Prompt’

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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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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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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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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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.

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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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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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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.

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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!

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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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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)

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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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being a twelve part study on the propagation of waves in near vacuum realities, or, why is willingness important to rain.

    heaven’s open.
    touch.   real thirst.
    resist.   learning loud.
    open mouth.   drink.


neil reid © july 2012

Prompt says, Simply, write a poem that uses twelve (12) words, no more, no less.
Mind, the prompt says, “a poem” of twelve words, but nothing about the title length! (My odd sense of humor perhaps. No pretense of a rule too small to be ignored.) And yes of course, it sets the stage for the poem that follows (which is fair I think!).

Actually, more interesting than I’d expected it to be. Neither so easy nor unrewarding, this brevity thing. (And I bypassed the few questionably clever tricks I’d thought to employ, because there is something in allowing words to have their own “space” to fill. Certainly could have made connections more obvious, tighter threads, but I delighted in the wavering connections in this most Spartan mode.) Worth doing more.

Written for the We Write Poems prompt #115,  Counting fingers plus two.

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far and white

far and white


I paint your face in
the mountains I see so far
distant and west, bright
white, ragged stone silhouette
like you are now, from my side.


neil reid © june 2012

Write a “tanka poem” (here in the 5-7-5-7-7 form) says the prompt. Rules, rules, and what am I doing counting syllables? About the last thing I’d expected to write, but oh, for the desire to participate! But surely, feel safe, that you’ll never see me do an attempt at deliberate rhyme. Counting fingers and toes is as far and fallow as I go. And a “tanka” this is or is not – so many variations of the rules I found, what’s the bench?

But thank you Hannah Gosselin for leading me this far astray!

Written for the We Write Poems prompt #112,  Tanka you!.

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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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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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forks left beside the plate


would it even have been a choice, a father gone?

would that have been different muscles in my thoughts?

he took the other fork, left the plate an empty space.
same face, like twins, but that’s all, nothing more.

or just a different misguided sense of self?

might the oceans have been red, not blue?
might I have been born a fish?  two fins scrolling sand?

might feet have been a balance one step aside?

left step, right, or crippling shy?  is that a fork?

what if I hadn’t been ill when the alphabet was being
learned in school?  is that choice?

same same baseball too.  a left-hand glove given
a right-handed hand.  that’s simple math.

what if there had been a wife, blonde hair, steady
job, white house green lawn?  children, my god!

what if after a fifty mile drive and forgotten rings,
we just turned back to home unwed?

do omens count?  yet would hindsight ever choose
the pain of being annealed?  unlikely thought.

would that otherwise man ever have dared ask,
listened, taken pen to poem?  unlikely too.

yet maybe forks don’t ask you to choose.
they’re just forks.  and gravity ever adds its curve

to your forward stride.


neil reid © may 2012

As per Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken”, write a poem about the forks and roads, taken or not taken, in your life.  That was the prompt for this week.

An interesting idea, and thank you Donald Harbour for suggesting it, which I took in sort of flashlight mode to review a few forks in my life.  And sorry, but with some haste to finish, if not begin, during this busy week.  Does it oft seem the poem writ in my head has more charm than what wiggles out through my pen?  Now there’s another next and a couple more pending after that.  So be it, moving on.

Some surprised arriving at the moments of “not-taken” missed reality, that it was harder than I’d thought to well imagine past and into what might have been without it turning muddy inside thought.  So is that a hint of where to go poking more another time?

Written for the We Write Poems prompt #106.  
Forks in the road, by Donald Harbour.

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this is not about being human


how do you define what it means to be human?

laughter, that’s the best first response!  is it right
but also a joke for us to answer that question?

and as soon as you say, what then about all those
many mirror faces you didn’t include?

see?  anyone doubt god has a sense of humor?!

go ahead child, tell us about thought before
your first thought.  describe new born feelings too.

it just gets more transparent – and – more opaque.
handshakes you didn’t anticipate.

and here’s this.  it isn’t where the walls are placed,
it’s where the traffic wants to walk.

here is where I place my mattress my sheet.
here is where I lay myself down to rest.


neil reid © april 2012

Write a poem about how you define “humankind”, asks the prompt.

Well I’m off to my most delighted beginning – being contrary!  Actually this poem came to wriggling fins by that first and best answer alone.  While watching an otherwise reasonably well thought-out interview, the guest was asked this exact question, and his first real response was a bemused laugh to himself.  Just perfect I thought!  The rest of the poem is simply hooking fish.

Sorry to have been so little present this April NaPoMo in both writing and visiting.  Month began with a rather brutal new work schedule and these last three weeks have been of rather debilitating illness.  I am happy and honored however to have played my part in providing the WWP NaPoWriMo community space.  That’s sort of been my poem for this month.  With thanks to all who came and filled the space with your poems!  ~neil

Written for the We Write Poems prompt #103 Humankind.
Responses of others are linked here.

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do pockets dream of being inside out?


what difference between me and the big deity?  show of hands.

whose tableside is most near the shakers of salt the shakers of pepper?

what quest to engage, untying the knots laces sometimes mistake for certainty?

will it be bananas or pizza this morning to eat?  calories no measure here!

a spoon or fork to stir the coffee?  how much sugar too?

do the laundry or is that shirt good for one more day?

which side of toast to butter first?  how’s gravity feel about that?

do we say who to love, and who not?  notice that may not be a prize.

what brand detergent or beaten with rocks?  no stone unturned.

step by step or taken leap?  how do we feel about broken bones?

do you choose?  buttons or chocolate beneath the sheets?

although nothing nothing is ever without consequence.

even not-knowing is flagrant choice.  the way water rolls uphill.

even disbelievers count.  ten fingers ten toes.  matter matters.

how do you handle sadness, doubt, water wandering feet?

then again navigation is turn left turn right turn left turn right, you see.

what if choice is merely thought?  describe your thirst.


neil reid © april 2012

Write a “spiritual” poem, so asks the prompt.

Seems a fair enough request and challenge too. Delicate subject? Some ways yes, yet again, rather core to the notions of why are we here – of course! Although not to preach. Maybe even more, be not all too obvious? Bread crumbs. (I like that.) Make a question, make a wondering. Worthy I’d think. Like fish in the sea?

Written for the We Write Poems prompt #102 Poem spirits!.
Responses of others are linked here.

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I want chocolate cake.

nested within near eggshell thin bakery
pink cardboard woven into confusing flaps

testing youth’s eager appetite.

two halves of existence.  one side cake,
one side me.  that is to say cake and

everything not-cake.  including me.

even learned the rightmost recipe for
being marooned alone at home with cake.

half-glass grapes & velveta cheese
gives a convincing ill performance,

mom, I really should stay home today.

earnestly, just to nibble right from the box!
oh, but that’s forgetting mother’s hindsight

from my forks reluctant retreat.  thus
were neat slices invented to confound

one truth.  more than this boy’s motto,

what isn’t chocolate might just kill you.
it’s possible!


neil reid © april 2012

For We Write Poems, prompt #101, although cake not pie.

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s i g n s


Five or six paces, all that’s needed, your shoes impressing the rough marble dirt, angling down and tendered away from more rigid concrete, a footpath border of a city street, now near and far.  The continued fall toward the fenced off crawling creek in sight below.  Halt, then sit upon a narrow aggregate cemented ledge, become like that soft pawed creek, those swayed draping limbs, green with sifted sun, ribboned with winged color, tens of fluttered hands moving as they desire no matter the wind.  Like them now, we join – invisible.

A simple cloistered, lunch in a bag, pristine of spirit, if not otherwise untouched, place where the sun is shy overhead.

Water below moves as if half-asleep, or maybe half-awake.  Some finger writes words within its body for any to read.  Who’d guess a creek speaks our same native tongue.  Maybe it’s been listening all along, and that’s as much as I care to divulge.

Leave some leaves of bread crust on the ground.  Being more than filled and who knows what else here might happen along through the day and the far-some night.  What prowling hunger might arrive?

Next day gone.  Too large for six-legged ants, too slight for creatures with only two, so that leaves a blur of wondering of all those slight of feet in between, no obvious pebble disturbed.  All that’s certain – offering received. Perhaps not token at all.

Every place no matter how small or sleight of hand deserves some thanks, just as I am finding rest in the shade of noon high sun.


neil reid © march 2012

Rather hasty but still, a gesture towards the prose side leaning of what a poem might become. Neither the best of sentences, although yes, with some purpose drawn into longer, slower, threads. As it is, so be it.

Written for the We Write Poems prompt #98 Signs by Irene.
Responses of others are linked here.

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spirit in three parts


holding my heart inside my grasp.
holding my heart inside this open bowl.

wondering if the canvas is broad enough.
it thrums inside my fingertips.

fear is one answer between the beats.
meanwhile, oh there’s my back.  illumination.

all I see is so dark with crafted shape.
all around my spine, brightness, brightness.

then voices.  your name.  then mine.  found
then lost, two moon ethers, one breath alight.

light becomes arms becomes swimming tails
becomes no memory.  someone not me

is writing all this down.

names have elbows.  they land like rain.
wind has breath.  it begins in the chest.

please, don’t say lies.  all those words.
a hand an ear a brow a belly like earth

like a mouth.

here is where the water flows.  wings
flutter on the roof.  my attention goes.

then you then me then only light.
then one touch.  then the river, right.

swimming bright without a mark.


I rake and rake and still there’s more
leaves more thoughts lapping up wet

along my thighs.


no hand would be within reach
without also notknowing lapping

in between our fingertips.


neil reid © march 2012

I was much excited to discover what might come from this series of photo images. What sort of transitions? More to the point, how much could I stand aside, simply listen, allow the images to say what they might. (I get bored often with what feels like my own familiar poetic voice.) While the prompt suggested “story”, I took that as a purely linear progression or response to the transitions, image to image, for this poem. That’s simply next to next, story enough to satisfy.

Almost immediately I found two voices inside how I felt about the images and allowed them a conversation of sorts. While I wasn’t trying to make it that way (so maybe it’s less obvious), neither did I want to condense or suppress those two threads – foreground, background, left or right, whatever whoever they might be.

I feel rather content with the initial primary section of the poem but partly because of the title (three parts), I wanted that to be more overt, thus the two short additive endings, which I do yet feel less certain about (more my own voice?) (and it has been a difficult week for me as well; meaning more doubts). But so be it. We can always say “draft”, but really, why that pretense?

Written for the We Write Poems prompt #97 A study in Transitions  Write a poem (of transitions) based upon three photo images provided.  Responses of others are linked here.

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haibun poem exercise, number two

the mountain summit gleaming like a star, even when clawing its mark into lowering clouds, and so our necks turn the quarter hour just to appreciate from so far of foot.  lower down the goats and bears take their ease, a second gift.  feet held slower by jealous eager mud make more reverent our approach on hills yet shallow, not so much lofty as familiar, terrain we feel the comfort of between our toes.  more shortness of breath, mud pudding turned razor rock, these await.  our appreciation is two animals, one we’re willing to have at our backs and the other wild, whose eye we keep in step and wariness.  first steps will not be like the last.

    a summit far bright
    while foothills slumber close
    untamed future only glimpsed


neil reid © march 2012

comments:    Is ignorance bliss? Still working on that!

An interesting form a Haibun is. A combination of short prose obliquely associated to a haiku, usually following. This is my second play with this form. I think I like my initial attempt somewhat better than this second (done with less time and attention available, but I still wanted to engage the WWP prompt with a fresh write now). First haibun, is blind haibun joe, if you care to read.

Admittedly I enjoyed the prose section more than the haiku, and haiku is also not much done by me, so is awkward still. Suspect the prose is “too much”, could be much edited down else produce not one but several haikus following.

This second is itching for revision I think.

Written for the We Write Poems prompt #96 Haibun party fun! (including links for more information about this poetic form). Responses of others are linked here.

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when she ate my fingers with hers,
broken bleeding family of tin names,
when the walls fell down.

when colors proceed me but shadows
don’t.  each night condensed into
bare naked gloves.

here’s what first taught me the braille
of the deaf landscape, arms and face
and chest and thighs and yes,

unaccountable first sighs when
no body else was speaking me, when
body and truth were both eagersmall.

when they handed her buttons more
honest than reticent words.

but I’d be a centipede if fingers
were counting lies.

when the dirt was hard clay and
fingers grasped the spade for all
their worth, spooned a place

when a cat turned hard dead,
black shirt laid close to her.

same as held your hips inside
my smiles.  it rained that night.

when poems were told to speak
fingers did the work.

neil reid © february 2012

part two, of a body series

Maybe my fingers are more honest than the rest of me. Is it less passion or honesty tied by lies? I think my writing has yet some good manners to set aside in favor of what really is. We folk most oft look to eyes to lips for hope of seeing truth, one to another. Yet it is fingers that do the deeds of our lives more than most, so there’s more and more to listen here. This poem a beginning far more than end.

Maybe some disjointed by appearance but that’s just a briefest history counted on less than ten. But began by one memory, first time another stepped aside from personal boundaries, walked right inside. Some say we spend a lifetime trying to hide away our flaws and a lifetime wanting nothing more than unconditional regard for the whole of us. A drama perhaps? (good humor will also do)

Written to We Write Poems, prompt #93,
Finger painting, The Body, a series, part 2.

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