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
company.
 
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?
 
 
 
read footnotes about this poem

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.
 
 
 
read footnotes about this poem

rocket at dusk

vision gets intimate with only a half-evenings blush.

standing on the porch looking south.   there.   you see?   half a block
over, what you could easy do in bare feet.   round past the white wood
trim shed in back, an open yard, no fence, just imaginary lines.
there.   the pocket market and gas.   Bill’s.

neon brights in the half-dusk-dark.   a yellow billboard with red ink
letters.   the door a shadow indent.   behind, silhouette trees make
the horizon seem high above the conjured water line.

there’s a rocket in my backyard sky.

tonight we’re going to the moon.   count my toes.   leap that far.

tonight we’ve a thin white feather and red tail shaped like wind.

we are leaning into sky.

moon & me will be in the same sentence soon.

breathless life.   was it the same before?

moving.   moving fast.   here we go.

hold my hand.
 
 
 
 

 
one from a gathering of personal snapshots, taken by residents, of shuttle-craft launches. I am immersed within by their ordinary intimacy of a shared exceptional experience.

how it would be if I were King Kong

I am my own gravity.

night Moon is my kin.

stars nest in my palms. I know each by name.
same as water does.

morning Sun sees summer when it finds my face.

rivers tell me all they hear.
I drink their listening. following.

birds call out my real name.

wind carries breath farther than my arms.

you breathe me, even if you don’t know.
I breathe your sky across far broad seas.

trees, they don’t change my path.
rivers, I can wade them all.

landscape measures itself by my strides.

I lean into blue sky, trusting as you would
trust rivers to seek their grace in stone.

trails in wilderness follow my feet.

birds sing to me how they die. I carry
these hymns home to their nest.

here, boats sewn to the shore by threads.
I make waves that bring them fish.

of this realm what doing is most dear to me?
 
 
I’ll follow you.
follow till you see I am loving you.

counting, ones

do you hear? one wall plus more than three and a roof within.
that’s how it arrives. inside first.

rain, rain.

many voices offer names. none are taken home. instead,
willow cloud petal thirst. bright and bright.

meaning less. more free.

these received are your face in all the shades of light and sleep.
oh stillness beside. here, these hands.

drink, drink.

two palms will rend the drought. and you, you within.

show & tell

taller people are not necessarily smarter.  (although they may feel it’s true)  the yogurt in your bowl don’t see any difference, tall from not.  all it sees is your spoon.

some might wager taller is closer to heaven, or at least closer to the stars.  but that just depends whether you’re looking up or looking down.  who’s closer then!  so, no.

a mountain may be very tall, but mostly what they see to appreciate is looking at their feet.  feet are important to mountains.  it’s where they came from and where they’re headed next.  gravity is the smile they contain.  my daddy was once a Southern mountain, but then he was gone.

mother’s family, they were rocks, big ones.  but there was nobody to tend their opened fields, so they left.  they moved to a land that harvested fewer hard stones than before.  grandmother fed the cats, no matter their size.  it was exactly the way she spoke goodbye to me.

words are shells where someone else used to live.  now we put them in pockets, toss them far as our arms willingly reach on the Water’s face, or, collect them sorted by Color and Shape as if they still belong to someone else other than us.  sometimes we eat them.  but only rarely.

when eaten we become another life.  another life.  another star.  but we’re still the same.  the same as the first thought we thought.  like stars will do.  thoughts shimmer, do you see?

other eyes see us from far far away.  more than ten toes, more than my nose.  I am the I who is looking from here, and this is the sea and where we swim.

2016

threads

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

I’m probably wrong about most everything

I’m largely and less disconnected from most things here.
Thoughts ramble & callous like they own the space.

Mostly I believe in all my mistakes.  I am the opposite
of what I might become.  All because it was thought.

One writers vanity is to think I am what I write.
Or worse, if writing nothing at all, then so am I.

I don’t believe in can’t say words, only unwillingness.
Maybe I’m right about that.

Brush your teeth.  Tell the truth.  Keep open
wounds clean.  Wash your hands.

Still, I favor using random blemished words.
A fortune of omens found.  Maybe go fish.

All the best ideas turned to be only best ideas.
Nothing more.

Old feelings get written in ink.  No matter how,
we mistake years of wear as wisdom’s bark.

Whispers say, first – break the rules you own,
no keys, no locks, no thirsty cheshire grace.

See trees as faces, faces trees.  Look for clues.
Simple is the shorter thread.  No hiding,

Except by the imagined rules of circumference.

No speak, being the genuine lie.
 
 
 
neil reid © 2016 february
 
 
for This is Not A Literary Journal, prompt, The rules