the boy who only spoke poems
by Neil Reid

raised by decent farm folk but who spoke
in dirt & trees & hammers & nails. orchard talk.
he didn’t have much to say.

he played with sticks and cats and things that
made sense to him.

neither rakes nor hoes nor brooms, nor even
a mother’s typewriter tongue engaged his ears.
only an old green yellow glowing radio
as tall as the floor was not and sprouted,
reached to the limb where he perched.

mystery, a faceless voice made right sense to him.

as years grew a few inches more he tried and tried
to speak, but it came out like dislocation and sorrowful,
none of that true, all of that lies. but worst part was,
he began to believe the made-up part.

he spoke in masks. painted bright, reds & yellows
& sea-green blues, but all of that remained steadfast,
a lie. the way clouds lie about stars.

then he thought language must be about the box,
about fingers & toes & arms & feet, although legs
almost made a bicycle leap
over moon-eyed restlessness.

then studied, like the king’s english said he should.
but couldn’t stand poems till that day, discovered,
it wasn’t poems, it was what they didn’t say.

so he wrote bad poems all day long. changed his ways.

even wrote this poem you’re reading right now.

CHESBRO SLOPES they say winter, but it’s not, Neil Reid

Chesbro slopes
they say winter, but it’s not

by Neil Reid


Photograph © Neil Reid

I’m missing your hips, like some
soft brown lover who never quite
arrived in this bed. even while
I’m yet just arm’s length close.

who wouldn’t be joined after those
sweet summer scents breathed
into me. pillows cheek to cheek.

even mostly yellowed dry fleece
impart brazen thistle seeds along
the trailed edge of a passing gasp.
carry me away with you.

blown thigh high hugging near
the curve of breasts, and as no
child wonders, will I land in dry
wind or damp cleft?

manzanita bones or oaken ripe
ribs where lizards tease their
shadows swift. a forked tongue
or two between the stones.

that shattered soil inhabits
every inch of limb and thought,
dust like new born talc. never
all brushed out of clothes.

suppose no tears left the
watershed for any child who
fell, orphan from that communal
ravenous choir.

paws that would willingly feast
on any wayward child lost inside
the backside woods. no
greater love.

now, if I were to leave
it would be only me who
misses you.

but yea, your wandered
curves are drawn in me.

some thistles here remain.

Neil’s process notes:
About “place” that we call home. This is mine. Whether close or far I feel this inside of me. Don’t know another, only one, this one, but suppose not uncommon how one place feels more in rhythm with myself than another does. Homing instinct? What sets the compass inside each of us. My home is more dry yellow-brown than green and the very soil has a scent strong as any other presence here. So much might be well settled, civilized, but there is a wildness yet close at hand and it looks just like this.

farmers, Neil Reid

by Neil Reid

life on the farm is a practical life.

I mean you’re practically bare, just you
and the dirt, and yea, the blessings of
sky, the curses of blights. or maybe no.
maybe you just grow dirt.

some of us clean and straighten olding
rusting nails. any waste is food missing
from your plate.

but mostly, practically, you just work,
work and wait. blossoms come brief.

mostly, practically, you just start
things out, leaning in with a shove.
then wait and watch for the wheel
to turn. it’s hard work. even doing
nothing is labor’s slow rhyme.

yea, sometimes it’s amusing like
when cows chase an old worn tire
down the hillside slope. or when
uncle slips, falls into the pond and
comes dripping back into the house.
although we try not to laugh, not
too much. we each take a share
that way.

and when things go bad or ill or
broke, like when the cat gets sick,
you make a bed from an old blanket,
hope for the best, take what you get.
tell the children, don’t get attached.
you don’t spend on what don’t grow
the crops. practical bones.
maybe us too.

and maybe that’s some part why
we gave up the farm, chasing tires
down the hill.

Neil Reid writes poems when things make sense to him. That don’t happen just every day. He likes poems that perhaps learn something along the way. Something practical. But then sometimes he just writes something altogether different. Poems should be real, he’s pretty sure of that. Except sometimes.

THE HUDSON, Carey Danielle Rasmus

          i am from
          (the hudson, part I)
          by Carey Danielle Rasmus
i am from a city on the hudson
          trees envy me
     because i walk with the legs they dream of

this river is like sap in my veins
     rooting me
          to this land
     touching me
          with beauty
     chaining me
          with invisible threads

my prayers go out to the river
dropping like child thrown pebbles
     and then forgotten
          as waves devour the ripples
          of my concern

i envy the trees the simplicity
     of their capture
     they need the land until death calls
     there is no question
          only dreams

i have the possibility of distancing myself
     the physical     foot     follows foot     ability

but my roots dig far into this soil
clenching at bedrock
refusing to give me wings
          (the hudson, part II)

the problem with poetry is that
          the truth changes
there was a time i wrote about the hudson
     and how it was the blood in my veins
          how i couldn’t leave its banks
          how it held me there

it was truth
i ricocheted
     away and back
ebbing and flowing like its tides

it     was     truth

but my truth has changed
     i have aged and moved
          i am 3000 miles distant
and cannot go back

what was once life-sustaining
     feels more like poison
     tainting me still
     breaking down my shores and sanity
          breaking down my self

this is my truth
i haven’t lied
it’s just that     the truth
          is tidal
Carey Danielle Rasmus is a special education teacher who specializes in at-risk adolescents. She now lives in the San Francisco bay area with her husband, son, and two cats. She grew up in the Hudson Valley of New York state.

GOD– , Cathy

by Cathy

You need to be more thunderous with your love of us.
Who knows? Maybe a thousand of misplaced souls
will be saved or destroyed, depending on your thousand moods.

Just don’t count and save this charming soul.

This she, would rather be alone with the red sunset of a May 3rd.
However, this sunset was dressed in the blessed bridal gown
of rain clouds and no rain fell upon me like the Holy Spirit.

Can the rain clouds be the bride-to-be for the night?

Alas they are not and no messages from the above.
God will dress up tomorrow acts of being uniquely sane.
No instead, the devil and I will undress the new day
from its holiness and the prayers that adorn it so well.

Yes God! You can chop me up and put the bloody bits
in your daily lunch of soup. Surely–

I would serve you better that way, one does hope.

Why must something pulsate like that, from my mind
and then it dare ask me–to spit upon God’s open hand.
What have I done? What has God done for all this trouble?

Say aloud a meek prayer for the souls who curse thee
for that’s all I have left now, standing before this world.
Then again–

I’m alive. I’m alive.

Cathy–a 40ish poet, who lives in Northeast Pennsylvania. When she is not writing poems, she is usually working on her photography or enjoying nature. She’s bit of a private person, so no last name.

THE HOLINESS OF PLACE, Christopher Hileman

The Holiness Of Place
by Christopher Hileman

Some of us build on
the people in our strange lives
and some build heart on
the places they go,
they have been in former lives.

What is it I do
that so provokes you
I ask? And why is it that
you take me away
again and again?

I am from forests. Aspens
quake in my back yard
and I shiver to
their time, taking their green shape,
continuing my
eternal return.

Christopher Hileman moved to Oregon in 1973. He had retired to live on the volcanic bluff overlooking Willamette Falls in Oregon City, Oregon. He ascends the stairs from his basement digs to improvise on his Yamaha keyboard or the house Playel grand when the calico cat releases him from below. The part-Irish Wolfhound here likes him.

Christopher blogs at View From The Northern Wall.

OSPREY NEST, Grace Harriman

Osprey Nest
by Grace Harriman

When the blizzard moved
Out to sea
I broke the deep drifts
Out to the last pine
A lookout over New Meadows River. Close by the tree
I found a winter crime scene:
High winds had knocked down
The Osprey’s mammoth nest.

I lifted the heavy nest,
Fingers tingled
As I turned it right side up.
From its private center,
Spiraling outward
In widening bands of sturdy sticks,
Aligned by mud and sea grass,
The nest expanded
To find its ideal width.

I have spoken, touched, gestured,
But what I leave behind will not reflect
The intention and care
In this fallen nest.

But I have, standing knee deep
In snow that has finished off a winter,
Worked at meaning and words
With similar persistence.
To see the interior of the fallen nest
Is not only a sacred gift,
But a fossil cracked open for me
To read the hieroglyphics of effort.

The Osprey’s sticks
As words expanding
Until they are a poem.
Sticks, an alphabet to build,
From what we have gathered,
What we hope endures.

BABY SABOTAGE, Grace Harriman

Baby Sabotage
by Grace Harriman

When I was four
I sat in a sunny window seat.
My hand grasped
My mothers’ heirloom choker
12 rows of tiny seed pearls
With an engraved gold clasp.

I had to jam and twist the scissors
Between the tight rows,
Until the strings gave,
Sending the seed pearls
Scattering across the floor.

When dressing for an evening out:
The necklace was the final touch:
Black velvet dress
With cream satin collar.
A fresh gardenia in her hair.
Silk stockings slipped into
Strapped and pointed high heels.
Perfume on the inside of her wrists.
The seed pearls fastened,
The final touch
Before departure.