Posts Tagged ‘words’

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

neil reid © 2014 january

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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.

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      your mouth is an arc over the story you say

      your mouth suckles a flood of poem milk

      your mouth leaves town when lights go out

      your mouth sleeps, near me now.

      your mouth sings not knowing faces you describe

      your mouth imparts rhymes to smooth round stones

      your mouth drinks rain like a river does, falling

      your mouth awakes, saying me.

      your mouth puts tea in honey, drinks drinks

      your mouth guards the voice painted inside

      your mouth stumbles words like trees

      your mouth is water, washing me.

      your mouth is like fingerprints beside the well

      your mouth dances when you read the threads

      your mouth carves round round words, and

      your mouth is a silhouette.


      neil reid © june 2012

what to say?

falls like rain, the meanings I mean.

do you say draft when the chance of being revised or rewritten is slim?

having written so infrequently of late, this is uncharacteristic of me.

an exercise in simply writing words.  almost no editing past becoming ink.  but what’s exercise mean?  practice for what?

bees make honey, I do this.  which is the better crop?

summer gets nearer north.  only I know what that means.

I’ll give you this poem instead.

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Measured child

Measured child

First thing he read in a newspaper was only a shape.  Taken from the backside, held by other hands.  The carpet floor was rather thin.

Four feet measured the threadbare couch.  Two more the chair next door.  Paper and yarn in hand.  The third fretted about something fret worthy we suppose.

Clouds would seem closer than the ceiling was.  Summer up there, winter here.  Doors were polite, not sentinels.  A child is a rose with thorns inside.

Five feet, six feet tall, moved like wind passing through the living room.  Maybe more storms than wind.  Just a matter of kinetic momentum, not intent.

More than squares and circles, some people moved like spears, just that swift.  Might as well be more printed words, just that much mystery far.

There were potato chips on a plate ten feet tall.  Melted cheese among grandmother’s plants.  Ballpoint pens weren’t invented yet, nor better clues.

Down from the backporch a cabin with rusty window screens.  Later that would be a mistake.  Till then a young man slept but his feet were already wind.

Faster than a black crow one day the cabin held only dust.  And no one seems to say goodbye to a child that much young.  Snow sheets and he was out of sight.

Grandmother’s nose inside a rose. Then, what you’d expect.

neil reid © february 2012

could say stolen but it’s not really the same, different as ink blotted on another page. besides I think she’d understand, the one who makes me look this way. best not take me seriously.

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I am not the words

I am not the words

I am not the words.  I am the sleeve.

I am run out of cleverness.  I have run

my mile and here, my shoes are spent.

There is nothing lost to claim, nothing

with a name attached, neither any

ribbon to undo.  Neither are we

emptiness.  Rather, simply, we thirst.

Vanity has tendered its’ best, failed

twice, tried to live on seemly crumbs.

We move from light to light.  I forget.

Release my name with your breath.

That will be the better truth of me.

Old comforts are forsaken now.

Poems are bones, shells on the shore.

One comfort alone endures,

I am not the words.  I am the sleeve.

neil reid © december 2011


    I pray, nay, I beseech you to see
    that you are but a whisper
    on the lips of God.

    I beseech you to see
    that as a whisper, you pass on ever so soon,
    like a line of poetry
    written on the waters of creation.

    But yet the greatness of a whisper
    is that it is passed on…

         C.P. Thorp.

7-December-2011 post-Commentary

This poem was written before the WWP prompt was even selected. The poem and prompt were tangentially coincident. However I do think the poem applies, well enough at any rate to share as responsive to the prompt. (All Good Things, write about an ending while also looking forward toward what might be the next relevant beginning.) Thanks Nicole.

Regards the prompt I wrote a list of “endings” I might write about. However I knew I’d really already written the poem, this one right here – that it was and is about an ending to my poem writing (and no, I don’t mean I’ll stop writing poems). Yet I clearly feel some ending (but don’t ask me what that means), and what that means in terms of change (can’t answer that either yet). Maybe the change won’t even be obvious (being just how ignorant I am at this point).

There are significant changes (endings) in my life currently, however where I personally sense it the most is in poem sensibility. I feel both “done” with something and waiting for “next” to arrive.

Neither feel quite done with waving goodbye yet. My only clarity is my lack of clarity. I wonder what the good poets are doing tonight?

You may read other’s We Write Poems prompt responses here.

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don’t call me poet

me, is not poet.  me is something other.
me is some one one other than name.
me is not even not.  spiral tongue.
words I use.  you taught me that.
these are lingual furnishings.
my face not paper.
my fingers not ink.

shave away whisker history.
there me goes down the drain.
flows right to the bay they say.
see how your gravity sorts things out.

mooning fish, the casual catch.
tie on new bright bait this day.
wiggle a finger like this, like that.
dare you observe, say how a miracle is?
are you the one beneath the pulse?

just to see you swim, my better eye.
my breath my life, melting snow.

me, a bowl of sugar.  no spoon.
pour some in.  dish some out.
use your hands.

poem draws the map.  not me not you.
should that be disdain’s circumference?
does poem owe me any ascent?
found in pocket, some foreign coin.

poem sits some while inside the bones.
but don’t call that home.  just vagrant romance.
allow that dance had the idea long before
there was even an us to observe.
we just conjugate.  we touch we fall.

don’t call me poet.  words just fall.

neil reid © april 2011

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Do poems burn?

Do poems burn ?

Words like to keep me awake.
They are not really so polite.

They land from the sky the same way
bison do. Not wise to divert your gaze.

Sometimes they laugh, maybe smirk,
sometimes jump right into the pan,
bringing their own kindling along.

Yet oft only a spoon’s full falls
no matter how much salt I shake.

Sometimes it rains whole words,
but that’s only seasonal whim.

Or campfire days in the wilding woods,
and surely bubbling phrases will arise
if only there’s some birds for broth.

So, do poems burn?
It’s cold this morning. I hope they do.

neil reid © november 2010

Making empty my pockets here. Back from two weeks apart from this one home (a moreover better home away, but not yet to keep). Some say there’s no “excuse for vacationing”, that it’s just another place, not another life. Suppose I agree. But writing is a little fussy for me I have learned; I like my usual chair, my usual routine. Till that arrives new found, here are some few that came along for the ride back with me.

And all mere things here do also sit aside a dear companion in some considered pain yet unresolved. I’ll write, because that’s what I do. It is largely what I have to offer you. Although honestly I’d be as happy or more just to go fetch some milk from the grocery store. Honestly.

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Circling Mount Kailash


(Another day in the rocks.)

Maybe I did read all these pages before!
Didn’t mark my spot yesterday.

Thought by now I was into fresh clear words again.
But then, there’s a passage I know I read last day.

Lost in tattered breeze like colored flags.

Wanted to underline in ink, but didn’t.
A hardbound book – is that my rule? Only paperbacks?

But it’s not about preserving paper, it’s about
retaining the track. Understanding wants to fill the bowl.

A better student I imagine possible, need to be.
Here’s my pen. Here’s my hand. Eyes to see.

Easy to fall asleep on the freeway driving home.
It could end (tear, wither the bloom) just like that!

You don’t have to fall off a mountain to loose your place.
Any ravine will do, especially an idyl thought.

Following is not a passive path.

neil reid © september 2010

Suppose like real life, doubts, stubbed toes, plenty of rocks and what to do? Exclude nothing, no editing what lands in my hand. Landslides do happen. Observe how life moves, unexpectedly.

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prompt # 018
Need to Know Basis
by staff@wwp
Read the full prompt and poem responses by other participants.

Write three attributes of yourself, important for someone else to know. Write three attributes of another person(s) or group you know about them. Having those, tie the two lists together in a poem.

This wasn’t so obvious or easy actually. I imagined myself and just one other person; that simplified it some. Culling just three, and three that had some meaning was still some challenge – and how personal to get? Magnify that some for the “other” person imagined here. Wrestling those in turn was actually the easier part of the prompt, although I used a some fanciful and abstracted restating of both positions attributes. They are here intermixed, sort of almost a third unison of persons I suppose. Think this is a prompt that might well be addressed again and again, getting to better illumination. But as it is, so be it.

Thimble and needle

Like sparks, like something is broken.
Dare to look, even more to say?

Words, hands, old worn tools in the box. Red rust.
Words are like paint; brushes spread them about.
Splashes will do like continental pioneers.

Edges of maps imply more than otherwise said.
Somewhere witches just might be real.
Confusing sometimes, holding all of that.

Meals on the counter know how to combine
but like me, they like our company all the same.
Wild roots, rambling limbs, all genuine.

Some maps will conspire. Others remain
tattered in another room. Odd moments
assemble themselves.

Stories only suggest bare ideas.

neil reid © september 2010

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Self-indulgent? Perhaps. Probably. What choice sometimes?

Half-shells, number one

Words are sticks are stones
they have weight they are not birds.

Each uttered is a birth delivered
a solstice falling into long earth.

Brush strokes on canvas more
thousands now. But we don’t count.

All threads, like the call unanswered
last night. Another now eyes closed.

I can’t say happiness. Meanings
could break a spine too adorned.

Quick. Pull the covers before dawn
before sun can see my face.

Morning calls from folded wings.
Scattered seeds the sound they make.

Prayers before first day flight?
Maybe that’s how.

Kissing cousin, invisible moon.

Would your hand brush my bare arm
in casual conversation? Told you
last night, you could make my day.

Just so easily like a breeze.

neil reid © july 2010

neil reid © july 2010

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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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in the beginning there was the word

a man sleeps

the man dreams pictures

the pictures are people

and people are mountains

and people who are rivers

one who is the sky

the man wakes

the man writes words

the words are poems

the poems used to be words used to be dreams

pretty sappy, the man thinks to himself

but he knows it is true all the same

the man smiles

the man writes a poem

then another

sometimes he smiles again

pretty funny, he thinks of dreams and himself

then he writes again

then he awakes from waking

and he understands dreams

understands life, because it makes him laugh

the man becomes a poem

and the man loves

love was the poem all along

the beginning

neil reid © may 2010

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read write poem   napowrimo #13

prompt by Sarah J. Sloat   smoke a dubie

Today is Day 13, also known as your lucky day. Sarah J. Sloat has a wonderful prompt for you; it’s bound to get you going! She says,

I’m partial to the tried-and-true prompt that calls for starting a poem with a line written by another poet. For this go-round, it would be interesting to see what poets can launch using a line from Norman Dubie.

In his poems, Norman Dubie tells stories, sets scenes and paints landscape, sometimes lush and sometimes wretched. His writing is sure and vivid, and his language is beautiful. As you’ll see below, his similes are incomparable. If forced to compare him with anyone, I’d be more likely to pick a painter than another writer.

For this prompt, take a Dubie line to jumpstart a poem of your own.

(Going on a diet of words today.)

Poem Starting with a Line from Norman Dubie

A light in the mountains

The loons together made a sound worthy of birthing dragons.

Clouds don’t so easy surrender mountains back to sight.

Lone wolf stalks, watching time’s borrowed charm.

Wind blows and blows, knows better rhyme.

Hold fast your standstrong walking staff.

The trail strides by light to dark to light.

Keep feet between the rocks.

Roots understand.

Words like light.

Words like light.

First line by Norman Dubie, from “The Spirit Tablets at Goa Lake”.

Neil Reid © April 2010

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read write poem   napowrimo #08 two

prompt by Jill Crammond Wickham unusual love connections

Just a second poem for this day, and just because. Still some related to Jill’s prompt, but also after reading some, this is what arrived.


All fall down

since birth, falling forward into time

feelings like gloves, thin and wooly thick

used then dropped behind, chrysalis

fingerprints like faces line up

bricks laid like thought,

memory’s goat on a leash

metered flood of prayers

every word ever said, all of them

all scoured and licked

groomed into wings

stout or not

your few words in this rain

make such difference

upon the tongue

and all these layers shed

toward what remains downstream

of me

Neil Reid © April 2010

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