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Ten Examples of Clouds

contrails © Adam Laceky

Ten Examples of Clouds

Poet, Adam Laceky, sent us this 10-part poem about clouds. We thoroughly enjoyed each section dedicated to a particular cloud.

1. Cumulonimbus

It looks like a fist of cauliflower
on the dish of a toddler
who is irked
that he has been served
cauliflower
for the third time this week.

He is perturbed.
Flashes of yellow and purple
inside the cauliflower
correspond to his ire.

Cumulonimbus clouds form
when the situation is about to get real.

2. Funnel Cloud

The klaxons panicked, so we descended
to the cellar,
where we debated the pros and cons
of various tornado shelters.
We bonded.
And when the poem had passed,
we ascended.

It looked like a bomb had gone off.
It looked like a war zone.

The original poem was gone.
Twistered metaphors were everywhere.
The only words to remain intact
were the title, and the word “yokels.”

This poem was erected
on the foundation of that wreckage
as a tribute to human fortitude
and, perhaps, foolishness.

3. Nimbostratus

Before she enters the conversation
she peeks from behind the edge
of the opening door of her face.

She keeps one toe in the hallway,
one finger on the doorknob
of her opinion, just in case.

If you knew anything about her
and about nimbostratus
you would see that they’re roughly the same.

4. Kelvin-Helmholtz Formations

Pretend for a moment you’re real:
not a character in this poem, but its reader,
and for the first time, everything is clear.

Each moment precedes logically the next;
your assumptions are all correct.
You can produce documents, if necessary.

But how do you explain this implausible sky?
Look at it. It is preposterous. It does not follow.
And you remember you’re part of the poem again.

5. Large and Small Magellanic Clouds

They don’t even belong in this poem,
but if you must know:
they are dwarf galaxies, our nearest neighbors
(notwithstanding Canis Major).

They orbit the Milky Way
at fifty-five kiloparsecs, on average,
from the galactic center at Sagittarius A,
where they are distracting us
from more immediate matters.

6. Lenticular

Lenticular clouds come in peace.
They are citizens of the sky.
You can look at them as much as you please;
they’re not shy.

Lenticular clouds want to serve mankind.
You can look them up on Wikipedia.
Like them on Facebook, if you don’t mind.
Take them to your leader.

Lenticular clouds tend to appear
at the intermediate nexus of the troposphere
and the endogalactic reticulum.
[citation needed]

7. Contrails

A jet airliner, flying in a straight line, traces
from horizon to horizon, an arc
that defines
almost perfectly the curvature
of the Earth.

It partitions the sky to its vanishing
according to schedules and trajectories
that were determined
months beforehand,
for reasons beyond misunderstanding.

The sky looks like a parking lot
where no one is allowed to park.

8. Mammatus

Another thing named after breasts.
Add it to mastodon, mammoth, and mammal,
and the ever-popular preverbal mama.
If women had managed nebular nomenclature
maybe these clouds would be named after testicles.

9. Horseshoe Vortex

It goes galloping across the sky,
spinning like an errant lariat,
spilling luck along its trail
because it was improperly nailed
to the atmosphere.

10. The Last Cloud

You watch it dissipate
like a wisp of vapor
commending its spirit
into the hands of the heavens,
because that’s what it was.

Before it disappeared
it looked like a bunny.
It looked like a tribe of Maori.
It looked like everything
that every cloud
has ever resembled,
and everything
that clouds never got around
to looking like.

It looked like my grandmother
before she died
and after.

It looks like an empty sky.

© Adam Laceky

2 Comments
  • Catherine Howard

    Catherine Howard

    July 17, 2019at11:12 pm

    What a fun poem to read! Oh, whoops, I forgot I’m part of it….

  • Mary Churchill

    Mary Churchill

    August 6, 2019at9:45 pm

    I will second that– what a fun poem to read–and to think about. Thank you.

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