push down above the heel,
bundle the gathering of footsteps

pull from the toe, remove the day.

grant feet peaceful pause, likewise

naked feet are closer to the dirt,

just in case.

there are finger prints lingering on my cat.
I’ve been there and still remain.

before fancy fractal words, summer meant
fingering free the larger hill slope rocks
from their binding ochre talc nest.

new dishes. they make me wonder if they’re
getting ready for when I’m not here anymore.
I tolerate the change but not in a friendly manner.

the cat curled to sleep less than two feet from my head.
this is radical accomplishment.

secret identities.  I live by tactile recognition.  Ahh… I’m here.


the nature of air

          you are but a whisper on the lips of God.
          as a whisper, you pass on ever so soon,
          like a line of poetry written on the waters of creation.
          yet the greatness of a whisper is that it is passed on…

                    C.P. Thorp.

wind breathes the whole world to your face

all of it, all

imagine, imagine how that is

because, because it is real, it is

all that is, a catspaw whisper on your ears

it is touching the skin of your face

it is tasting your mouth, the inside of you

it is breathing, you

sahara dusting the sky.  that salt water forest cove that no one
yet has found or mapped.  that oak scrub hill down two blocks
when you were this much tall.  a field of unbound wheat visible
after climbing the western ridge.  that place where there is yet
only your feet for memory.  stone and salt and gulls inside the

your lovers kiss between the sheets.  your lover twenty years ago.
that baby you touched inside its damp eager grasp.

your mothers breath
neil reid
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maybe I’ll remember color

          You can start having strange thoughts in trees.
                    Wolf Erlruch

terra cotta flower pots in grandmother’s bedroom nursery.
then a grilled cheese sandwich carried to me on a plate.

then the sea, every shade of everything other than blue.
although it wasn’t color, it was down deep I remember,

how you roll with the breathing pulse of water over rocks.

then me a salt fish and no memory of me above the waterline.
then an anemone thirsting for touch.

then pie, easy to redraw in single thought.
apples, peaches, both telling the truth.

then snails blooming from the shrub, here
beside the bench where I linger at dawn.

how arms and legs are akin more to roots than limbs.
how faces behave like rain.

memory is only another moment of now itself.
like tides, I go where water says.

or maybe the texture of dusty skin
or that scent native only to you.
maybe I’ll remember color when
maybe color will say my name
neil reid
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to the person who breathes the same air as me,
to the person whose feet know the same floor as me,
to the person whose fingers visit the same cabinets
and drawers as me.

to she who opens the refrigerator door,
to she who shares the butter dish with me,
to she who cooks and cleans the pots and pans,
the same as me.

to she who lays beside me in bed each night.
to she who sleeps and wakes and sleeps and wakes
beside me in bed each night.

to the one who hates driving to the hospital in the
late dark of that same night, but who does anyway.

to she who lives on the spiral arms of my compass.

and when night makes a pillow of the sky,
it’s not about solitude, it’s about gratitude.

for she whose dawn caress leans false dreams
to easy rest.

my colors pale without you remembering.

neil reid

where poems come from

maybe a good idea will fall out of the sky
and land on my head.

sky knows many words and listens to all
that’s ever said.

wind spreads far, repeating, repeating
what was said.

I take these as gift to pass along.
maybe a single phrase will materialize,
then I go looking for more kin.   by name,
by deed, by glad happenstance.
maybe from your lips or your fingertips.

maybe you’ll say or write something that
teases my ear.   I’ll welcome it into my home,
give it food, see if it wants to curl into my lap.

your words are as good or better than mine
and besides, we share everything, earth and
air and water.   and words.
neil reid
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randomized belongings

          two fish swimming. third comes swimming past.
          morning boys, third fish says, how’s the water?
          says first to the second, what’s water?

          paraphrase from a commencement speech given by
          David Foster Wallace, Kenyon College, May 21, 2005

each moment, smaller than an atom is.
each excited body more fleet than half a radius.

least and forever holding hands like kin.
brother, sister, unpredictable till past tense.

light illuminates objects.   no objects, no light.
swimmers know water by touch.

no caress, no body.

what do we hold onto and what do we let go?

lay down.   here’s creation being supple.
all around and inside.   you too.

swimming.   how we exchange a mouth for food,
how we cook using two palms, how we pray.

swimming.   by touch we observe, take, change,
make bigger, make smaller.   lingering.

unfolding real time on our lips,
the time it takes for [story] is the same as [you].

quiet gestures get learned like arteries and veins
in trees.   seasons change color but not substance.

after observation shadow begins to emerge.
what is and what is not.   flesh becomes the same.

see [shadows of string on white walls].
see [shadows of your face etched in light].

let poems choreograph your shape.

devotion.   the notion of devotion implies nothing
about the object of devotion.   devotion don’t need
to be a two way street.

somewhere between soak and the scrub I’m hoping
for a sudden breakthrough into new named skin.

use your tongue to taste the air on our

what we see tells us who we are.

real poems

          What is human existence?
          It turns out it’s pretty simple:
          We are dead stars, looking back
          up at the sky.

          ~Dr. Michelle Thaller
is a poem real?   take it off your leash,
discover how it wants to play in your
define real.   is it how we occupy space?
do we know by touching boundary lines?
how does it share the space with us?

how do we integrate a poem into our life?
pardon me, can you make room for me on the bench?
is there body heat being this poem-close with you?
poems begin far before their voices announce.
they arrive an unraveling thread.   your hand
will make it right.

and making the destination uniquely your own.

no poem stands alone.   it’s a matter of choice.

even quiet poems await becoming your skin.
who you are, how you hold my hand, all these
matters matter here.

what makes a poem real?
your willingness, allowing heart room to change.

here’s the part of the poem that’s invisible.
it’s each and every different you.

is this poem real?   are we?
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how poems move

          more than can be held in my mouth at once
perhaps an outreaching finger
from an outstretched arm.
perhaps, more cordial, both arms
waving into the sky.

sky moves too.   like kin.

maybe poem takes a first breath,
chest taking wind like a sail, then
breathing out, mixing its taste into
where we breathe ourselves.

how does a poem arrive?   notice how
it walks into the room.   does it stride
right up to, or sit quietly waiting you
to notice the space it occupies?

does it drop stones or pebbles at your feet?
does it swerve around obstacles or sit right on top?

do they bite?   or patiently nibble toes?
does it scratch its head wondering, or wait you
to catch your stride?

does it crawl on all fours, gauging your willingness
to look down?   look down into its face.

do wings sprout or does it stride on four feet?

see the rocks pile into ocean waves.
see legs dance between stances too
fragile to keep.   they arch like
horizon does.
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who I am

there are three of me at the least.

one so young that now he forgets.
he began of a light as joy, although
no name was given it.

this was moving light to dim.

most that followed was middleness.
time was given over in search of what
was never missing anyway.

          you say to me otherwise
          yet it seems to me that just the
          other day we were holding hands.

that endured a long long time.

          for all the days of love professed
          now life says simply… show me.

now is the transition to being me
with no shape whatsoever.

          like tongues written on water.
          don’t hesitate!

being closer to words surrendering
their clothes.   closer to the beginning
than the middle is.

and dim will hand over all meaning
to one bright face.

words will be all poem again
as light will speak.   me too.