Word Poetry




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Sample Poems by Reed Wilson


My son's hands hid his face,
and his narrow shoulders shook
with sobbing. He had no metaphysics

yet, so the pastor's voice bleated
enselessly over the grave
of his grandmother, and suddenly

I understood those cultures
that provision their dead, that heap
funeral altars with candy, baked goods,

favorite magazines, and trinkets
they once loved. Each time
my son would visit her,

she'd give him a box of cookies
he rarely ate, but knew the value of,
and always, before he left,

a peanut butter and jelly sandwich
and a jar of apple juice
with the lid screwed tight

so none of it would spill, just in case
he got hungry or thirsty on the long ride home.


My daughter claimed she wanted to play
in the cornfield. Later that week, she insisted
we build a secret shelter in the thicket
that overgrew her grandmother's garden.

We never visited it again. Toys
she'd known for years got quick
inspection, approval, neglect. Her smile
caught on her braces, and her words

tangled in their dull metal. On the lawn,
cartwheeling and tumbling, she practiced
the more graceful engagements of her new
long beautiful body. The rest of that summer

she would devote to her fresh passion
for reading, face close to the page,
legs folded beneath her like a fawn.
That cornfield I see now stood

for harvest: row on row of bold
stalks crowned by imperious tassels,
broad leafy shoulders guarding
mysterious shadows in thick August heat.

Late Summer

When my daughter flew away
to her new home across the country,

I was left with the hard practice of not
thinking summer is over or time

to get back to work, but soon began
to practice too much not

doing, as in not going into her room,
closing her drapes, lifting the water glass

from her desk, dry but still marked
by her fingers and lips, and not

turning to her empty closet,
not sliding closed its mirrored door,

and so not seeing
I'm Hanshan and Shide both,

words in one hand, broom
in the other, sweeping it all away.


Someday, my children, to your children
they will mean nothing.

I am almost afraid to touch them,
but I want to hold them forever:

vessels and figurines in chipped
unfired clay, raucous tempera faces

on brittle yellowed paper freckled
with each year's stealthy grit.

I know you have other things
to do now, but look, this morning

I with my red stubbly heart-
shaped face and ludicrous

wiry arms have made us
this poem.