Thursday, May 3, 2012

Cloud Contest!

 Some man-made clouds I've come across lately:

In Michael Chabon's short story "A Model World," from his collection of the same title, a student plagiarizes a pretty much unknown piece of scholarship on cloud formation over the Antarctic. When he suspects his professor might suspect his attempted deception, things get tense, and that tension is likely amplified by the grass they're passing between each other:
"As he inhaled, the professor raised his eyebrows, and lowered them as he blew out.  He and Levine passed the pipe in near-silence for several minutes.  The room filled with miniature cumulonimbus clouds."
And the last line of the story (in a way that doesn't give anything away):
". . . the human race is now only a few years away, by most reckonings, from total dominion over the clouds."
Lastly, a poem by Dean Young, titled "Frottage":

How goofy and horrible is life. Just

look into the faces of the lovers
as they near their drastic destinations,
the horses lathered and fagged. Just
look at them handling the vase
priced beyond the rational beneath
the sign stating the store’s breakage
policy, and what is the rational but
a thing we must always break? I am not
the only one composed of fractious murmurs.
From the point of view of the clouds,
it is all inevitable and dispersed—
they vanish over the lands to reconstitute
over the seas, themselves again
but no longer themselves, what they wanted
they no longer want, daylight fidgets
across the frothy waves. Most days
you can’t even rub a piece of charcoal
across paper laid on some rough wood
without a lion appearing, a fish’s umbrella
skeleton. Once we believed it told us
something of ourselves. Once we even believed
in the diagnostic power of ants. Upon
the eyelids of the touched and suffering,
they’d exchange their secretive packets
like notes folded smaller than chemicals.
They told us nearly nothing, which
may have been enough now that we know
so much more. From the point of view
of the ant, the entire planet is a dream
quivering beneath an eyelid, and who’s to say
the planet isn’t. From the point of view
of the sufferer, it seems everything will
be taken from us except the sensation
of being crawled over. I believe everything
will be taken from us. Then given back
when it’s no longer what we want. We
are clouds, and terrible things happen
in clouds. The wolf’s mouth is full
of strawberries, the morning’s a phantom
hum of glories, morning glories.

We / are clouds, and terrible things happen / in clouds.

It was close, but Dean Young wins the cloud contest.

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