what to do with life

    when the universe was
    born, so were you.  implied.

    after that

    dust the shelves.  OK then
    do it again.  endlessly.  then
    listen too.  listen carefully.
    someone might be speaking
    to you.  some voices are not
    loud.  likewise look.  look at
    the sky the birds the spiders
    too.  might be marbles at
    your feet.  they are not
    always as close as you could
    wish.  if not, wish better,
    closer.  fish will listen to you
    but don’t expect response.
    they’re too busy figuring
    out what water is.  eat
    something good.  do that a
    lot.  life is short.  oh yea,
    learn to cook then go and
    make friends with a dog.
    really, be polite.  they only
    have nice things to say
    about you.  feed a cat.
    they’ll think happy things
    about you too.  unless you
    are really really honest and
    sincere leave the lions and
    jaguars alone.  sharp teeth
    have been known to be
    disagreeable.  so well done
    starting up.  that’s animals.
    now time for humans.  we
    count too but require more
    carefully monitored regard.
    unpredictable is a word
    we’ll use.  if disappointed
    don’t be surprised.  it can
    take weeks to master
    relationship.  brush your
    teeth.  don’t bite your
    friends.  remember what
    your mother said.  clean
    underwear always counts.
    comb your hair.  don’t spit
    on sidewalks.  gross.  pick
    up after yourself.  put your
    tools away as soon as you
    are done with them.  make
    something with wood.  folks
    will like you more.  paint a
    picture.  don’t forget, pet
    the cat.  tell a friend how
    you feel.  write a poem.
    don’t have to be good.
    play with pencils.  draw.
    read a book.  read two.
    call a friend on the phone.
    reason why is just because.
    talk.  talk more.  say some
    things you’re afraid to say.
    take a ride in a boat.  water
    is good for you.  the ocean
    especially.  sing yourself a
    lullaby.  peace.



my fingers my handwriting reveals a face
I don’t recognize.   write less I think to myself,
remain a better unknown.   my fingers holding
chopsticks, holding a pen.   same result.

my skin is water.   finally cooling waves.
waiting has arrived.   fish starfish and rocks,
a moving bough in a small universe.   water
holds us all.   like a child’s dream.

my lips.   dry, crackling, a fire while I catch my
breath.   they remember more than my thoughts
can describe.   they know it when home arrives.

my feet don’t go so far as once they did.   down
the slanted ground, will balance be of good faith?
socks or no socks are the questions today.

chest is where the air goes inside.   a space
bounded by me, my ribs, my unsatisfied breath.
desperate is a word I’ve used a lot recently.

tongue waits for something chocolate or maybe
even just sweet.   waits.   waits.

eyes, they write the words first, inside.


standing on the balcony.
well below body temperature.  I feel.  a token name.
moisture squeezes from sky above.

feet on damp wood, there at one end of me.
legs like wooden stilts.  do they bend?

relax posture from bone to muscle.  feel.
feel tension discover itself.  upright.
two legs.  pillar pairs.  wordlessly ripe.

one center in between.
that’s where weight is held in breath.
a little more here.  then there.

balance.  amazing.  amazing.

uplift.  erosion of doubt.  surprising.

balance moves is the truth.

trees in the forest

        what is body doing now?

my body is feeling gravity.  my feet, the dirt.  my hands, my tail, the metal bench.  my body is moving blood.  shake it down into fingertips.  see the pink emphasis.  my body is moving food.  or is food moving, twisting and turning my bodies path.  my body is moving air.  feel the breeze in nose then throat.  pressure inside.  greater than.  swallow the atoms we want to keep.  see breath in cool morning air, reflecting out of me.

my eyes are seeing trees.  seeing leaves, thinking autumn falling down, seeing stone made by hand, seeing knees, seeing hands.  seeing a woman crossing the street, then two men.  seeing bright across the street and above, seeing shadow, like thoughts sometimes.  seeing birds, only in swift glancing flight.  seeing the time of light, seeing change.

my hands are holding shapes.  sculpting shapes.  tenderness.  curiosity.

        here, come close.

skin feels air.  more at the back of my neck when I don’t wear a hat.

my feelings feel thinking, but thinking does not think feelings, just impressions the way water does.  horse and buggy would be an analogy.  feelings feel in several voices all at once.  feelings keep moving south and west and east and north.  is it a matter of heart?

when a tree in the forest falls, the forest feels it fall.  relationship.  
relationship holds us to its breast.  be at ease I inform myself.

and sleep becomes the mirror image of that breath.

no promises

maybe it’s not so easy living that meditation wherein we see ourselves in all we see.  clouds and trees and a lady opening her refrigerator door in the dark of evening time.  and gravity.  and home.  the pages of a book.
      what is, is. what isn’t, isn’t.
maybe I should say how writing began for me?
should I say prayer?  or say meditation, if that’s a more comfortable word.

      I asked what should I do next in life?

no break in the clouds, no ray of light, no god speaking from afar.  yet a day later one word came in reply to me.


no italics.  no quotation marks.  no period ending dot.

just that one doing-ness to do.  nothing else.  nothing else.
not what to write.  poems were my choice.  not write well.  not write and publish.  nothing else.

not write and heal the world.  nor even heal me.  maybe one cat or a few,
but that’s not a poems realm, just my own.
not write and be well read.  certainly no fame.
not write and fix my car.
not write and do my laundry.
not write and change what language says.
not write and not grow old.
not write and fix my broken blood.
not write and live another day.  maybe today will do.
not write and be loved.  but maybe, maybe, writing -is- loving.
not write and be satisfied.
not write and be happy.

I think I know what was meant by that first word.

I’ve always likened it to father asking me to go mow the lawn please son.
and with gratitude, I did.  I do.

because I was asked.  because it is my honor to respond.  a very good word
is simply – yes.

now my living depends upon the medicine I daily take.  there is another layer in how I look, how I see the world.  invisible until you arrive.

maybe my words will break.  but not yet.  not yet.  and I think I’ll keep mowing the lawn.
maybe we are meant to live with our insides out?


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…
                    Charles 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 blazing into space.  that forest sea-breeze cove that
no one yet has found.  that park down two blocks when you were
only this much tall.  a field of unbound wheat visible after climbing
the low hills crest.  the place where you first felt yourself alone.
stone and salt and gulls inside the wind.

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
revised 2019.10.13  (inc. the former title, breathing)


chuck said, our Father did not make the world to be a mystery, for the parent to be unknowable.

earl said, you can’t convince anyone of anything.   don’t try.

earl said, love don’t belong to you.   all you can do is attempt to make it unseen.

chuck said, about creation all you need know is woof, woof.   (the rest is gravy.)

chuck said, the world isn’t neutral.   the world includes affection.

earl said, experience is about process, not substance.

william said, threads are necessary to get anywhere.

mother said, please, take me home.

anna madrigal said, dear, I don’t object to much of anything.

shannon said, if there were more men like you, there’d be more women like me.

chuck said, when they say we’re made in god’s image, image means imagining.   get it?

william said, to his child – and as I spoke, I swam.

chuck said, you are but a whisper on the lips of god.

chuck said, be with me.   whatever you need of me, I will give to you.   ask.

earl said, everyone, everyone, is doing their best to express love as best they understand.

william said, to listen you must first be silent inside.

earl said, the true nature of existence is poetry.

judith said, don’t stop seeing how you see, a needle and thread.

chuck said, there is no such thing as vacation.

god said, just one word to me.   write.

chuck said, faith includes doubt.

william said, mostly listen.   but when you do have something to say, trust it.

god said, you are the creature in the garden who doth teach me the most.   you are my beauty-fly.

I said, the true nature of a thing is in everything you don’t see of it.

I say, this right here, right now, is heaven.   literally.

what is your imagining willing to embrace?
neil reid © 2016
read footnotes about this poem

the book of lies

lie is not bad, it is just not accurate.

sin is not unforgivable, sin is forgiven.  sin just means “not ripe”, not ready.  that’s all that Jesus meant.  notice it, correct it, done.

wrong is like right.  it’s just what’s left after what’s so is said.

bad is not “good”.  it means simply, be something kind instead.

hate is an emotion that’s gone astray.  no pot of gold at your feet.

fear just means look out!  when there’s a bear close by, fear makes some sense.  no bear?  then look, consider your perceptions.

disgust should simply say, “no, thank you, not for me.”

anger is a wall like bricks.  to start, consider using something softer.  cotton will do for one.  then consider what’s different and what’s the same.

doubt is a part of trust and faith.  it is not opposite.  it is only looking that isn’t yet done.

loneliness is just a feeling.  and really really it’s not even true.  go walk, feel the earth, your feet, see the sky, your eyes.  trees are good to start.  go make a friend, who might just be wishing you.

regret is just stuff you haven’t done.  none of us will ever do everything.  move on.

self sacrifice.  don’t do it.  if you damage yourself you’ll have nothing left to give.  give freely, or don’t do.

getting even.  this is just fantasy of a hurtful sort.  don’t do it.  the one who gets hurt will be you.

shouldn’t.  you know.  you shouldn’t.

vengeance.  just don’t.  even God gave up on that.

unforgiveness.  simple.  forgive yourself.  the rest will just follow of itself.

repulsion is only natural.  but so is attraction.  choose.