Clouds - Michael Brownstein

The Official Cloud Creator of the Tattoo Garden of Capella
traces ink across the vapors in his fire and brimstone cavern,
colors the clouds greens and shades of blue, adds a touch of ruby
red and lipstick, forms ripe sunset papayas, Mexican yellow,
Waimanalo orange, and yellow fleshy Kapoho, gathers
mangos, peaches and pears, dips them deep into his molten liquids,
lets them simmer and flame, then opens each lid one after the other,
balancing the clouds with color as they float into the sky.
Why must a cloud be a shade of gray? he explains, his hands exuberant.
White? Cotton made? Why must the sky be blue? The sun yellow?
Everything should be a sunset even in the brightest part of day;
everything should be a forest of blossoms and new-grown leaf.

Michael H. Brownstein writes: You’re on the roof of your old house, the roof in serious disrepair, but you walk on it as if you’re on a boardwalk – a squirrel falls through where you just stood – what is left to do but go to all fours, tread carefully until you’re on safe ground, call the roofers (you can’t fix this), and write a poem.

You’re walking across a great field, firecrackers exploding. You swat away at dozens of mosquitoes. Near where you teach, the security guard tackles you and points out a sniper who has been shooting at you as you crossed. There is nothing else to do but conduct a poetry workshop in your algebra class.

You go camping, and a rattlesnake crawls into your sleeping bag. Prayer and poetry – they really do go together.

On and on. Take a break. Write a poem.