Ten Years After

It has been four months since I stopped Risperidone, the drug which lobotomized the creative part of my brain which danced hand in hand with Bipolar Disorder. And I have not kept this blog up, which is not a good sign. And I still struggle to read serious poetry, which was at the center of my life–reading and writing–ten years ago.

Perhaps I set the bar too high by diving into John Berryman’s The Dream Songs as my acid test, poems as much sculpture as language, incantatory magic of a sort which I once sought to model my own writing after and to which I have lost the underlying text or language. Today I decided to read Timothy Donnelly’s poem “The Cloud Corporation”, which spawned a prairie fire in my brain when I first read it in the last decade, and raved about it being “The Wasteland” of our generation.

And today I began to see a glimmer behind the clouds. Somewhere the fires of inspiration are banked behind the clouds, and my largest goal in life is to find them I still hope to find them.

I am also heartened that I wrote a brief, political think piece about the Trumplican hysteria over inflation, and I think I will share it here. This will generalize the blog beyond its original intent, but I once again feel compelled to write at length Even if it is not poetry, it is a start.

I am sharing the poem below without prior permission of the author, although I plan to go ask forgiveness. Found at The Poetry Foundation.

The Cloud Corporation

BY TIMOTHY DONNELLY

1

The clouds part revealing a mythology of clouds

assembled in light of earliest birds, an originary

text over water over time, and that without which

the clouds part revealing an apology for clouds

implicit in the air where the clouds had been

recently witnessed rehearsing departure, a heartfelt phrase

in the push of the airborne drops and crystals

over water over time—how being made to think

oneself an obstruction between the observer

and the object or objects under surveillance or even

desired—or if I am felt to be beside the point

then I have wanted that, but to block a path is like

not being immaterial enough, or being too much

when all they want from you now is your station

cleared of its personal effects please and vanish—

not that they’d ever just come out and say it when

all that darting around of the eyes, all that shaky

camouflage of paper could only portend the beginning of the

end of your tenure at this organization, and remember

a capacity to draw meaning out of such seeming

accidence landed one here to begin with, didn’t it.

2

The clouds part revealing an anatomy of clouds

viewed from the midst of human speculation, a business

project undertaken in a bid to acquire and retain

control of the formation and movement of clouds.

As late afternoons I have witnessed the distant

towers borrow luster from a bourbon sun, in-box

empty, surround sound on, all my money made

in lieu of conversation—where conversation indicates

the presence of desire in the parties to embark on

exchange of spirit, hours forzando with heartfelt phrase—

made metaphor for it, the face on the clock tower

bright as a meteor, as if a torch were held against

likelihood to illuminate the time so I could watch

the calm silent progress of its hands from the luxury

appointments of my office suite, the tumult below

or behind me out of mind, had not my whole attention

been riveted by the human figure stood upon

the tower’s topmost pinnacle, himself surveying

the clouds of the future parting in antiquity, a figure

not to be mistaken, tranquilly pacing a platform

with authority: the chief executive officer of clouds.

3

The clouds part revealing blueprints of the clouds

built in glass-front factories carved into cliff-faces

which, prior to the factories’ recent construction,

provided dorms for clans of hamadryas baboons,

a species revered in ancient Egypt as attendants

of Thoth, god of wisdom, science, and measurement.

Fans conveying clouds through aluminum ducts

can be heard from up to a mile away, depending on

air temperature, humidity, the absence or presence

of any competing sound, its origin and its character.

It is no more impossible to grasp the baboon’s

full significance in Egyptian religious symbolism

than it is to determine why clouds we manufacture

provoke in an audience more positive, lasting

response than do comparable clouds occurring in nature.

Even those who consider natural clouds products

of conscious manufacture seem to prefer that a merely

human mind lie behind the products they admire.

This development may be a form of self-exalting

or else another adaptation in order that we find

the hum of machinery comforting through darkness.

4

The clouds part revealing there’s no place left to sit

myself down except for a single wingback chair

backed into a corner to face the window in which

the clouds part revealing the insouciance of clouds

cavorting over the backs of the people in the field

who cut the ripened barley, who gather it in sheaves,

who beat grain from the sheaves with wooden flails,

who shake it loose from the scaly husk around it,

who throw the now threshed grain up into the gently

palm-fanned air whose steady current carries off

the chaff as the grain falls to the floor, who collect

the grain from the floor painstakingly to grind it

into flour, who bake the flour into loaves the priest will offer

in the sanctuary, its walls washed white like milk.

To perform it repeatedly, to perform it each time

as if the first, to walk the dim corridor believing that

the conference it leads to might change everything,

to adhere to a possibility of reward, of betterment,

of moving above, with effort, the condition into which

one has been born, to whom do I owe the pleasure

of the hum to which I have been listening too long.

5

The clouds part revealing the advocates of clouds,

believers in people, ideas and things, the workers

of the united fields of clouds, supporters of the wars

to keep clouds safe, the devotees of heartfelt phrase

and belief you can change with water over time.

It is the habit of a settled population to give ear to

whatever is desirable will come to pass, a caressing

confidence—but one unfortunately not borne out

by human experience, for most things people desire

have been desired ardently for thousands of years

and observe—they are no closer to realization today

than in Ramses’ time. Nor is there cause to believe

they will lose their coyness on some near tomorrow.

Attempts to speed them on have been undertaken

from the beginning; plans to force them overnight

are in copious, antagonistic operation today, and yet

they have thoroughly eluded us, and chances are

they will continue to elude us until the clouds part

in a flash of autonomous, ardent, local brainwork—

but when the clouds start to knit back together again,

we’ll dismiss the event as a glitch in transmission.

6

The clouds part revealing a congregation of bodies

united into one immaterial body, a fictive person

around whom the air is blurred with money, force

from which much harm will come, to whom my welfare

matters nothing. I sense without turning the light

from their wings, their eyes; they preen themselves

on the fire escape, the windowsill, their pink feet

vulnerable—a mistake to think of them that way.

If I turn around, the room might not be full of wings

capable of acting, in many respects, as a single being,

which is to say that I myself may be the source of

what I sense, but am no less powerless to change it.

Always around me, on my body, in my mouth, I fear them

and their love of money, everything I do without

thinking to help them make it. And if I am felt to be

beside the point, I have wanted that, to live apart

from what depends on killing me a little bit to keep

itself alive, and yet not happily, with all its needs

and comforts met, but fattened so far past that point

I am engrossed, and if I picture myself outside of it

it isn’t me anymore, but a parasite cast out, inviable.

7

The clouds part revealing the distinction between

words without meaning and meaning without words,

a phenomenon of nature, the westbound field

of low air pressure developing over water over time

and warm, saturated air on the sea surface rising

steadily replaced by cold air from above, the cycle

repeating, the warm moving upward into massive

thunderclouds, the cold descending into the eye

around which bands of thunderclouds spiral, counter-

clockwise, often in the hundreds, the atmospheric

pressure dropping even further, making winds

accelerate, the clouds revolve, a confusion of energy,

an incomprehensible volume of rain—I remember

the trick of thinking through infinity, a crowd of eyes

against an asphalt wall, my vision of it scrolling

left as the crowd thinned out to a spatter and then

just black until I fall asleep and then just black again,

past marketing, past focus groups, past human

resources, past management, past personal effects,

their insignificance evident in the eye of the dream

and through much of the debriefing I wake into next.

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