She wears one mask

She wears one mask,
and beneath blue sky’s face, hers
is more calm, a pacific tide dressing
waves that siphon sand from under
my feet.
She wears one mask,
contours her face embosses in the air,
with veiled smile, easy affection, like
some curtain drawn in warm embrace.
Eyes that linger do arrive.
She wears one mask,
and in the twinkle of her eye,
my gaze given way, she lets go
the chrysalis gauze, desire thus
draped, now undone silk by
silken breath.

She wears one mask,
lips like leaves she stirs the wind,
tucks me within hushed embrace,
till begins this apple bloomed,

       Am I leaf or wind?

And behind each mask unmade,
the one who wears us both,


like being a dog

        We should all be as simple as a dog, shouldn’t we.   But we’re not.

      To feel alive in this world.   I remember in the arrogance of youth I thought if I have to take pills to stay alive… well now, I do.   And my sense of belonging is questionable.   Me and Spirit, just us, it feels
      like all the real that is.   But then, thoughts move like tides.
              Feelings, to the Moon and back.
              And yea, it’s the ocean we are in.

something like being blunt

I write because what else engaging is there to do with a pen in my hand.
I write because empty spaces keep finding their way to my desk. I write because those spaces aren’t empty. Yes, I write to get them outside of me.
I write to make them go away. I write because that seems like a good idea.
I write because I have no other good ideas. I write because the Earth, she
is spinning beneath my feet. I write to keep my balance standing here.
I write because my mother, she is gone.

I write because we are in the ocean, and she is big. I write because she is a woman. I write because I hope she will notice me. I write because her hand is in the air and she is waving to me. I write because she might just be god.

I write because I’m afraid. I write because I am not afraid.

I write because I can’t make up my mind. I write because I love the taste of language on my tongue. I write because I want to witness the world in person. I write because I want your company. I write because I want sweetness into your life. I write because your face keeps filling me with words. I write for beauty’s sake. I write because I never know how it will end when I begin. I write because the world is not a mystery. I write because we were always meant to see, to understand. I write because this is a blessing.
I write because my hand moves through words like through water. I write because feelings remake themselves when I do.

I write because the truth is uncomfortable. I write because I want to say what’s so. I write because I lie. I write because words are spider webs. I write because it never gets better than this. I write because I’m afraid this is as good as it gets. I write to make opportunity. I write because it isn’t yet all lost. I write because of friends I have lost. I write wanting me to be enough. I write because the mountains weren’t always mountains. I write because we get bigger. I write because we get smaller. I write because I’d rather write than go fishing.

I write because I forget.

I write because every day is like a bookend, but there’s only one. I write as an act of faith. I write to discover. I write to remember. I write to forget. I write to ease the pain. I write as an answer to death. I write what passion says. I write to pray. I write to meditate. I write to listen more better. I write because words sometimes confuse themselves. I write because I believe in language.

I write to be playful like a child in a pile of leaves. I write because of the Moon. I write like a knife because it is dangerous. I write like a knife because it is surrendering. I write as ritual. I write to walk away from hate. I write to dream. I write to stay awake. I write to the kindness of heart I have abused. I write to forgive myself. I write to loosen knots. I write accidentally. I write when I am wrong, especially when I am wrong. I write even when it doesn’t matter, which it always is.

I write to appreciate my life with you. I write to see heaven in front of me. I write that you might also see. I write to make small history. I write to make solitude not being alone. I write to remember. I write to let go. I write to speak for the birds, the plants. I write to the rain. I write to the Moon when my eyes are closed. I write to remember breathing is a choice. I write to discover meaning. I write to look beneath the leaves. I write because I am filled with stars. I write because I am broken.

I write because this is how I cook. I write because this is how I eat. I write because a fork and spoon. I write to make a plate. I write to fill a cup, to fill a bowl. I write because this is how I sleep, this is how I walk, this is how I stoop to drink from the well. I write because this is why I love.
       I write because this is how I love.

I write because of the middle of night. I write because it is how I answer doubt. I write because I breathe. I write because blood, because heart. I write because it is a glorious waste of time. I write because of hands and arms, and because of color. I write because of chocolate. I write because of spiders and their webs. I write because ants get into the sugar bowl. I write because I don’t like wearing shoes so much. I write because I like the sound it makes inside my head.   I write because Spirit asked me to.

I write because words are threads.
          Why do you write?
I want to acknowledge and thank the better graces of Terry Tempest Williams who opened this gate and asked who else was willing to join her curiosity.   A response, Answers you see, they are implied in the question,
in the process itself, like using an abacus.
The two photographs are of the country hills around my old California home.
Oak and scrub and grass (all dry summer).   Very typical.   That was home for decades, and it still looks like “home” to me.

And a Manzanita summer scent, unmistakable.

REVISED.   stanza 10 added, new.   10.22.2022

Saving mother

Maybe this time I’ll rescue my Mother.
Pearl Harbor will just be a sleepy port of call.
Nobody came & nobody went away from home.
Nothing lost.  No wedding bells.

We’ll gaze at the mist of plum blossoms
on the wide valley floor.  Feed my lambs, someone
said.  Someone loves like wind.  No shunted hopes,
no brown uniform thrown on the bed.

His face won’t be in that photograph.
His face won’t look like mine.  Nothing
gambled, lost in the high desert dust.
No frozen clothes on a winter line.

Brothers will just be brothers, won’t
go speechless in the silent light of home.
Although that one of them, he’ll still
go to Alaska on a tall sail ship.

He’ll still die, an artful youth of a man.
Some things just gotta be.  Else no
wonder of clay, no sister on my desk.

Maybe Grandfather & Grandmother
will harvest ample roots on the rock-strewn
sides of farmers hills.  No drought.

Maybe Mother will land covered in Spring rain.
Maybe she’ll smile, never knowing
I changed everything, including me.
read footnotes about this poem

the wish fulfilling jewel

    a Found poem, for his Holiness the fourteenth Dalai Lama
the same crow in the morning awakens us.
the same bowl of rice.    tell me a story.

you never cried.

on the roof a pair of crows nested when
you were born.    like before.

a door speaks before it opens.    listening.
he says he wants to go where heaven begins.

you are here to love all living things.

mother mother why do you leave me here?
these shoes are mine.    too big, but mine.

to look is to have confidence in one’s
own ability to end suffering.    all beings
desire happiness.

separation has an abundant face.
I don’t want you to go.

what can I do?    I am only a boy.

I will take those sheep.    all of them.
inside my care.

I write without writing.    I write words inside thoughts.
I write air.    I give my breath to you.

make no barrier where a face is meant to shine.

to  l o v e        it takes a long time.
how long holiness?    I don’t yet know.

all things will become nothing.    I will become nothing.
yet here I am, inside you.    we say our names, continuous.

the moon is full.
these stones we pile for you, saying where we have been,
saying our way home again.    change is this much high.

we give this sand back to you.
this home.    these fingertips.
we pour ourselves into the seas.

I am a reflection of the moon on water.

why?        to be a good man.
neil reid © 2015 november

read footnotes about this poem

t o u c h  s   t   o   n   e

poem in progress, not done yet

t o u c h  it comes in twos, doesn’t it?

dark, no, late into the body of the night.  truth resides
anywhere it wants to do, no difference a frown.

it takes the place of gold.  landscape face.
it is joys first step.  landscape feet.
no matter the dress, always welcome at the door.

so that says the who we mean when we say who.

it is everything we care to want.  it is heavens coin.
(it is in every single pocket.) (it wants to be found.)

its favorite color right now is red.  no big deal, you know,
changing desires is as fast as lightning is.  as fast as
I turn the page.

say your name into the air.
feel the reflections coming back (no surprise)
now listen as well, echoes.  inside what feels,

how they mean differently.

charming.     charming the way heaven works.

even tells tales.
there are shelves abundantly.  fall leaves do fall,
do make this floor celebrate.

amber and rust, we say, pretend not by saying yes.
but true, we thirst then joy then thirst, then yes,
your eyes were always first.  not my fault.

it is only to joy they fall.  there is no other soil.

middle of the night, you know, and I could believe
just about any small boys tail, the way they wave

the way they dance.
neil reid © 2015 october

a real live boy

I just wanted to be a real live boy.

I just wanted to dance, but refused.

I wanted to be bigger than me.
I wanted to let go of that bench.
I wanted a father who was not.    a sky around my arms.

I wanted threads to connect not bind.
I wanted to be not alone, but was, by my word.
I wanted a grilled cheese sandwich.
I want our distance to melt like sugar does.
I want poems to make a difference.    like meals do.
I want my child to grow.    tall corn reaching the feast.

I want this poem in a pie.

I want seeds to be my feet.    you will find me in weeds.    everywhere.

I want dawn to be fresh turned dirt.    new meanings eager to be.    and are.

I want close to be ripe apples on your limbs.
I want discovery to matter more than measured history.
I want dreams to keep their sleep.    let eyes answer more than doubts.

I want the world to change because I asked.    by world I mean you.
by change I mean raise your hand.

I want your world to look exactly like you.    I want leaves that rise and fall.
I want to share this poem with someone reading me.

I want words better spent upon your lips.

I want what is to be.    I will call it home.

I want wanting to be as water is.

I want a world bigger than my imagination.    your face in each dawn cloud.
imagine feet kissing earth.

imagine children being found, not lost.

imagine no discomfort without mending embrace.

imagine when you speak heart the world listens you.

imagine blooms like waves.    and the sea.

imagine enough.    that is who you are.

imagine your voice contains what you want life to be.    make it so.
my legs are trees that walk.
my arms are feathers rooted in sky.

my thoughts do what windows do.
my feelings are water.    and clouds.

my fingers are painting curious.

lips thirst for another thirst.
feet define my home, my shoes.
I am here to dance with you.
neil reid © 2015 october

things I’ll do when I master space & time

make pizza suddenly appear on my plate.

make all dogs friendly, including bears.

kites would fly, with or without any wind.  (and I’d learn swiftly to run into the wind instead of running downwind breaking my kite into little bits)

make hair grow where I want and not where I don’t.

learn to pronounce cacophony.

not confuse yoga and yogurt, ever again.

let trees decide which way the wind will blow.

make hunger be satisfied.  neither shall they thirst unquenched.

think only of good things to do.

pretty people will all smile at me.  OK.  everyone.  see?

try out sunsets in green.  wouldn’t that be nice?

have afternoon tea with the dalai lama.  lama lama lama.  and we’d laugh & laugh.

learn to write upside down.

people will see heaven, right in front of them.

I won’t be “careful” about what I say.  not careless I mean, but honest, simply that.

and rain, whatever it wants to do, that will be exactly fine by me.
neil reid © 2015


the sky is inside a shell,  
earth too and mountains, the least of them.
rivers aswell and oceans and fish and balls
of rice.  all shells.  this chair, this book
I read, the very light in the air.  that hat,
cousin to your brow, also a shell.
pleasing the way our fingertips feel that
texture just below our beaks.  it’s only
that sometimes we forget how fragile the
face, how easily misplaced but then
rain forgives a lot.  and when we awake,
new feather wings, and when we sleep,
sky is all curves.

curving beneath new-made wings.

poem to someone I don’t know, number two

I could wonder what it would be to share a kitchen with you.  spoons and pots and plates, and pleats.  brushing against you casually without a second thought (well alright, a few).  to lounge on the sofa, book in hand, you reading yours or adrift in meditative intent across the room.  or to awake, in bed, your face horizon’s light.
here’s why the moon adores the dawn, surrendering.  maybe all is only one cup’s measure of truth.  not this day the intimacy of soft familiar shoes, but yes, wanting
to be.  yours, sincerely.

read footnotes about this poem

don’t be Chinese

don’t be Chinese if you’re not, you’d only do it wrong.  don’t be too tall, lest you’re bound to leap.  don’t be slow if you cross in the middle of the block, cane in hand. (then) (take a breath)  that’s my son!, said following the twisting running hollering boy.  about right for relationship, one full breath after another one.  father hurries along.  some things are right, some things are hidden.  it’s a matter of being ripe.  
desire don’t always count the way we think it does.